Post and Mail – How to send a letter or parcel in Germany? (With Examples)

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Moving to Germany or new in Germany? Check out our Resources Page for all the help you need!

Do you feel confused when you have to send a letter or parcel in Germany? You are not alone. When you move to a new country, simple things like sending a letter or a parcel can become challenging. In this article, you will learn about the German postal system, how to send and receive a letter or a parcel in Germany, how much does it cost, the German address format, the delivery time, and more.

Introduction

Deutsche Post is the most commonly used postal service in Germany. It was a public company in the past but was privatized in 1995. In 2002, it acquired DHL. Now, It is the largest postal service company in Europe, delivering about 61 million letters every day in Germany.

When you live in Germany, it is important to know how the postal system here works. After moving to Germany, you will need to open a bank accountget the necessary insurance, extend your visa, etc. To do all of these, you will need a postal address so that you can receive important posts such as those from the banks, insurance, visa office, or the tax offices. 

Keep on reading to learn how to post and also how to make sure you can receive your mails in Germany.

Post offices in Germany

There are not so many dedicated post offices in Germany. However, you can use the postal services at different postal outlets in Germany instead. There are thousands of shops, kiosks, supermarkets, and DHL Packet Shops throughout Germany. You will see the below Deutsche Post logo outside of these outlets. To find the nearest postal service in Germany, you can use this finder.

post office logo_Deutsche Post_post and mail_how to send a letter or parcel in Germany
Image by Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay

Postboxes in Germany

You can find post boxes all around different towns and cities in Germany. The postboxes are yellow and you can see the Deutsche Post logo on them. You can find a post box near you here.

The postboxes are usually emptied several times a day. You can see the collection times written in the front of the post boxes. Before putting your letter in a post box in Germany, make sure you have the right postage stamp on your letter. 

post letter box_Deutsche Post_post and mail_how to send a letter or parcel in Germany
Image by Gina Janosch from Pixabay

How to have a virtual mailbox?

A virtual mailbox is a service that receives physical mails on behalf of you. Your letters will be scanned so that you can read them digitally. Then, you can decide what to do with the mail. For example, shred them, forward them, recycle them, etc.

A virtual mailbox like Anytime Mailbox can be useful for expats. For example, if you move to Germany, you may still want to receive mails from your home country, without asking your friends or family to take care of your mails.

Similarly, virtual mailboxes are commonly used by long-term travelers or digital nomads. As they rarely stay at home, it makes sense to have a virtual mailbox so that they can check their mails digitally. The great thing about this service is that you can have a physical address in almost any country without living there physically. So, virtual mailboxes are also very popular among online business owners.

Deutsche Post also has a similar service, where it scans your posts in Germany and lets you read them digitally. The service is called E-Post. You can see more details here.

How to send a letter in Germany?

Sending a letter in Germany is quite straightforward. You have to put your letter in an envelope. Write down the address in the correct format. Then, you can bring your letter to a post office or other postal service outlets in Germany. Pay there and get your letter sent. 

Alternatively, you can also drop your letter in a post box instead. In that case, you need to make sure you have the correct postage stamps on your letter. Keep reading to learn about how to buy postage stamps.

How to buy postage stamps?

The traditional way is to buy your postage stamps at a post office, or at other shops or supermarkets in Germany which display the Deutsche Post logo. But nowadays, you can also get your stamps without physically visiting a shop. 

For example, you can buy your stamps directly at the Deutsche Post website online. Simply pay online and print your stamps right away. You can print them on printer paper, labels, or directly onto an envelope.

If you are sending letters within Germany, an even better way is to use the Post & DHL App called #Porto. With this app, you can pay and get a code, which you can write on your envelope. The code is served as your stamp. This is super convenient because you basically only need your app and a pen. No need to buy any physical stamps or print anything at home. 

How to send a parcel in Germany?

DHL is part of the Deutsche Post and it is the most common parcel sending service to use in Germany. There are different ways to send your parcel:

Drop it off at a post office or postal service outlet in Germany

This is the traditional way to send a parcel in Germany. The good thing is that you get to talk to the staff if you have any questions. If you need, you can also buy packaging materials and boxes at the post office or postal service outlets in Germany.

Drop it off at a Packstation 

Packstation consists of automated lockers where you can either send or receive your parcels in Germany. No staff is needed and you can do everything by yourself. The good thing about using the Packstation is that you can drop your parcel off at any time. You can read more about Packstation here.

Ask DHL to collect the parcel from your home

If you pay a few euros more, you can use this page to arrange for DHL to come to your home in Germany and collect your parcel. 

Before dropping off your parcel, make sure you have the correct postage stamps. It is usually a little bit cheaper to buy your postage online. You can read more about buying postage stamps here

What is Packstation?

When you order something online, it is possible to have your product delivered to a Packstation, instead of your home address. Packstation is a local pickup point, where your package will be stored in an automated locker and you can pick it up at your convenience. 

Packstation is very useful, especially if you know you will not be at home when the package arrives. I use it very often when I expect a package on a day that I have to work in the office. 

There are more than 8,000 Packstations across Germany. They open around the clock and it is free to use them. You can register here and start receiving your parcels at the Packstations.

You can also use the Packstation to ship a parcel. In this case, no registration is needed. You can just go to a Packstation and drop off your parcel. This is super convenient as you can drop your parcel any time you want.

packstation_Deutsche Post_post and mail_how to send a letter in Germany

How to write the address correctly on the envelope in Germany?

I still remember that once I had to send a letter at work in Germany. And I had no idea where I should put the address correctly on the envelope. I had an international team in the office. And nobody seems to know the correct format. In Hong Kong, we always write the recipient’s address in the middle of the envelope. And the return address at the back of the envelope. However, in Germany, this is not the case.

Where to put the address on the envelope in Germany?

Recipient address

In Germany, you should put the recipient address at the bottom right-hand side of the envelope. Since sorting is done by machines in Germany, make sure that there is 15 mm space to the right, left, and bottom of the envelope. Besides, there should be 40 mm space to the top of the envelope.

Return address

The return address should also be put on the front side of the envelope. You should write it in the top left-hand corner.

Postage stamp

The stamp should be put in the upper right-hand corner.

envelop format_with examples_spaces_post and mail_how to send a letter or parcel in Germany_my life in germany_hkwomanabroad

In German, “Absender” is the sender and “Empfänger” is the recipient. If you want to be very clear, you can also write the abbreviation “Abs.” and “Empf.” on the envelope. This is only optional. Below is how your envelope should look like:

envelop format_with examples_spaces_post and mail_how to send a letter or parcel in Germany_my life in germany_hkwomanabroad

What is the address format in Germany?

You should write the address in the correct format to avoid any delay. Besides, as the sorting is done by machines, make sure your handwriting is as clear as possible. When you write the address, it should be left-aligned. A German address format should look like this:

Full name of the recipient
Street name and house number
Postal code and the city

address format_individual person_post and mail_how to send a letter or parcel in Germany_my life in germany_hkwomanabroad

If the letter is for the whole family instead of a specific person, you can write Familie + Last name as the recipient name. 

address format_family_post and mail_how to send a letter or parcel in Germany_my life in germany_hkwomanabroad

What if your recipient’s name is not on the post box in Germany?

In Germany, most of the apartments are not numbered. It means that if you live in a building, every apartment in that building will share the same address. The postman delivers the letters based on the last name. It means that the last name on the letter must match with the label on the post box for the letter to be delivered in Germany. Therefore, one of the first things you should do after moving into a new apartment in Germany is to put your last name on the post box. 

If your recipient is not the main tenant of the address (e.g. if he is staying with a friend), his name will not be on the post box. If you want to send him a letter, you can do so by writing “z.H.”. It is an abbreviation for “zu Händen” and it means “for the attention of” in English.

Below is how you should write the address:

Full name of the person on the post box
z.H. Full name of the recipient
Street name and house number
Postal code and the city

For example, if you want to send a letter to Max Mustermann, but the name on the post box is his girlfriend Maria Schmidt, you should write the address like this:

address format_zH to the attention of_post and mail_how to send a letter or parcel in Germany_my life in germany_hkwomanabroad

How to send a letter to a company in Germany?

If you are sending a letter to a company, the address format should look like this:

Full name of the company
The department or the name of the contact person
Street name and house number
Postal code and the city

address format_company_post and mail_how to send a letter or parcel in Germany_my life in germany_hkwomanabroad

How to write an international address on the envelope from Germany?

If you want to send a letter to your home country from Germany, you should use the address format of your home country. On the last two lines, you should write the destination city and country in capital letters.

For example, if I want to send a letter from Germany to my friend Mary in Hong Kong, I will write like this:

address format_International_post and mail_how to send a letter or parcel in Germany_my life in germany_hkwomanabroad

How to send a letter to Germany when you are abroad?

When you are sending a letter within Germany, you don’t necessarily need to write the country Germany in the address. But if you are sending the letter from abroad, you will have to write the country Germany definitely. If you want to be more clear, you can also add “Deutschland” to the address.

How much does it cost to send a letter or parcel in Germany?

The cost to send a letter or parcel in Germany depends on several factors. For example, the size and weight of your letter or parcel, the destination country, and whether you buy your postage stamps online or at the post office in Germany.

To give you some ideas, I have extracted the price information from Deutsche Post and DHL below. Please note that the price is based on November 2021. If you need the most up-to-date price information, you can use this price calculator online.

How much does it cost to send a letter within Germany?

Product

Size

Max weight

Price

Postcard

L: 14 – 23.5 cm

W: 9 – 12.5 cm

500 g

€ 0.60

Standard

L: 14 – 23.5 cm

W: 9 – 12.5 cm

H: until 0.5 cm

20 g

€ 0.80

Compact

L: 10 – 23.5 cm

W: 7 – 12.5 cm

H: until 1 cm

50 g

€ 0.95

Big

L: 10 – 35.3 cm

W: 7 – 25 cm

H: until 2 cm

500 g

€ 1.55

Maxi

L: 10 – 35.3 cm

W: 7 – 25 cm

H: until 5 cm

1,000 g

€ 2.70

DHL parcel

L: until 60 cm

W: until 30 cm

H: until 15 cm

2,000 g

€ 4.50

L= Length, W= Width, H= Height
Source: Deutsche Post website

How much does it cost to send a letter internationally?

Product

Size

Max weight

Price

Postcard

L: 14 – 23.5 cm

W: 9 – 12.5 cm

500 g

€ 0.95

Standard

L: 14 – 23.5 cm

W: 9 – 12.5 cm

H: until 0,5 cm

20 g

€ 1.10

Compact

L: 14 – 23.5 cm

W: 9 – 12.5 cm

H: until 1 cm

50 g

€ 1.70

Big

L: min. 14 cm

W: min. 9 cm

L + W + H = max. 90 cm

500 g

€ 3.70

Maxi

L: min. 14 cm

W : min. 9cm

L + W + H = max. 90 cm

1,000 g

€ 7.00

Maxi

L: min. 14 cm

W : min. 9 cm

L + W + H = max. 90 cm

2,000 g

€ 17.00

L= Length, W= Width, H= Height
Source: Deutsche Post website

How much does it cost to send a parcel within Germany?

mailing cost for sending a parcel within Germany_post and mail_how to send a letter or parcel in Germany_my life in germany

Online Frankierung: If you buy the postage stamps online
Filiale: If you send your parcel at a post office or postal service outlet in Germany. Source: DHL website

How much does it cost to send a parcel internationally?

The mailing cost for sending a parcel internationally depends on the destination country. You can see below there are different geographical zones, from Zone 1 (EU) to Zone 8. You can check this page to see which countries are included in which zone.

mailing cost for sending a parcel internationally_post and mail_how to send a letter or parcel in Germany_my life in germany

Online: If you buy the postage stamps online
Filiale: If you send your parcel at a post office or postal service outlet in Germany. Source: DHL website

How to send a letter with a tracking number in Germany?

If you send an important letter and want to make sure that the recipient receives it, you can choose to send your letter with a tracking number. In German, this is called “Einschreiben”. You can do so easily with an extra fee. An example would be if you are sending documents like your tax return, your contracts, or other legal documents. 

There are different kinds of tracking you can choose from. For example, the basic type of tracking means that your letter is simply dropped into the post box of the recipient in Germany. If you pay a bit more, you can request the signature of the recipient. You can also choose to get a return receipt signed by the recipient. 

For all types of tracking, you can see the tracking information online. Your letter is also insured in case of loss or damage. You can see more explanations of different tracking types here.

How to send a letter in Germany by email?

Do you know that you can also send your letter in Germany by email? This is a service offered by the Deutsche Post called E-POST. With E-POST, you can send your letter without paper and stamp. Simply send your letter online. Deutsche Post will print out your letter, put it in an envelope, stamp it and post it in Germany.

The good thing about this service is that you don’t even need to go to a post box. And you can send a letter anywhere within Germany, even though if you are not inside Germany at the moment. 

For more details, you can check out here.

How long does it take for your letter or parcel to arrive?

Sending letters

According to Deutsche Post, about 90% of all national letters are delivered on the following business day. This is the case if you post your letter before the last pick-up time, either in a post box or in a postal service shop in Germany.

If you send a letter internationally, the delivery time will depend on the destination country. Normally, it will take a few days for your letter to arrive. But it can also take up to 2 weeks. You can input the destination country on this page to check the estimated delivery time.

Sending parcels

For parcels delivery within Germany, it normally takes 1 to 2 business days to arrive. Similar to sending letters, the delivery time for international parcel delivery depends on the destination country. It can take even a few weeks, depending on the country. Because of the Corona situation, there can be further delays. You can input the destination country on this page to check the estimated delivery time.

How to receive post and mail in Germany?

Deutsche Post delivers mails every day, except on Sundays or public holidays. If you have a parcel, the postman will ring your doorbell. If you are not at home, he will either leave a parcel with your neighbor, or he will put a note in your post box. With this note and your ID, you can pick up your parcel at the specific post office nearby. 

As mentioned before, there is usually no house number in a German address. So, if you live in a building, every apartment in that building will share the same address. The postman delivers the letters according to the last name. So, you must put your last name on your letterbox. Otherwise, you may not receive your letters.

I hope that you found this article useful to understand how the postal system works in Germany. Have you ever sent letters or parcels in Germany? Was it easy or confusing? Leave a comment below and share your experience!

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pinterest image postman edited_post and mail_how to send a letter or parcel in Germany_my life in germany_hkwomanabroad

Moving to Germany or new in Germany? Check out our Resources Page for all the help you need!

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