International Post

For parcels and other loads above approximately 30 kg, see the removal companies page.

Anyvan. Delivery auction for everything from parcels to full removals.

Parcels Please. British company shipping to France and other countries. Parcels up to 30 kg at competitive rates. Recommended by expats.

French Post

The French post is working quite well. For most types of mail and packets, you have the choice between priority and economy service, although the inland economy service for packets was scrapped in 2006 to increase revenue. While for international destinations there is a clear difference in delivery time, this seems no longer to be the case for national French mail. A priority letter can take a week to be delivered from one end of France to the other - or even from one end of a city to the other, while an economy letter may arrive in two days. My recommendation is that unless a letter is really important and urgent, then don't waste your money paying for priority letters destined for France. Pay the economy rate. And even if it's urgent, then you can't rely on La Poste delivering it 1-2 days later anyway. Next-day delivery is guaranteed with the expensive Chronopost service, although it's not flawless. Letter rates are available at


Although EU rules have assured free competition, it has in reality only been large businesses who have had any alternatives.


Mondial Relay

now proposes an alternative to La Poste for inland packets up to 20 kg, but only for posting between relay points. For those working office hours, the relay points are in fact an advantage, since post offices are mostly closed outside office hours. The service is secure, since an ID and signature are demanded in all cases. For individuals, the service is called C. pour toi (an abbreviation of "c'est pour toi", meaning "it's for you").

1 + 1 < 2 (French Logic)

The steppings of postage rates have been created with such logic that it's sometimes cheaper to split up a letter or packet into two or even in rare cases three separate units

Example for a priority letter to the UK weighing 110g:

The postage rates are (as of 1 July 2010):

20g: €0.75
50g: €1.35
100g: €1.80
250g: €4.10

If you send it in one envelope, it costs €4.10.

If you split it up in one envelope of 100g and another of 20g (counting the additional weight of one more envelope), it costs €1.80 + €0.75 = €2.55. Voilà, 38% saved by using your head instead of your stamps. Of course, if you're posting a book, it may be undesirable to cut it in two.

Hint about figuring out when this is possible: When the difference between two adjacent rates is larger than the lowest rate available for any weight, then there is a possibility for saving by splitting.

For example, from 20g to 50g, the difference between the rates is €0.60. This is less than the lowest rate, €0.75, so there is nothing gained by splitting up a 50g letter.

From 100g to 250g, however, the rate difference is €2.30, which is more than all the rates for 20g, 50g and 100g. This means that even sending 2 letters of 100g each is cheaper than sending one letter of 200g.

Here is a bit of poesy to help you remember this:

If between rates there is a vast gap
Then the cost you can fast cap

As an exceptional gesture to my readers, I grant you unlimited use of this exceptional item of poesy that I have donated to the public domain.

Beware of the splitting possibility if your letter or packet weighs just a bit more than a limit, even though in the case of 100g + 100g being cheaper than 200g, 200g is a lot more than 100g.

Don't count on the post office employee telling you this. They are trained to sell you the most expensive products and even mislead you in some cases.

Packets and French Post

Save 5% on all packet rates by using to pay packet postage.

Post Small Objects as Letter

It is possible to send small objects at the cheaper letter rate (écopli up to 250 g or lettre up to 3 kg) rather than the more expensive parcel rate (colissimo). La Poste has often objected, but the Regulator for Electronic Communications and the Post (ARCEP) has ordered la Poste to accept this, as they are obliged to do under EU Directive 97/67/EC on common rules for the development of the internal market of Community postal services and the improvement of quality of service. In December 2011, La Poste was fined €1 million by the ARCEP for not respecting this obligation. You don't get any receipt or refund in case of loss if you use the letter rate, but certain objects have so low value that it doesn't matter.

Concerning the Directive, Article 2 defines a 'postal item' as "an item addressed in the final form in which it is to be carried by a postal service provider. In addition to items of correspondence, such items also include for instance books, catalogues, newspapers, periodicals and postal parcels containing merchandise with or without commercial value". Article 3.4 stipulates that the universal service shall include "the clearance, sorting, transport and distribution of postal items up to two kilograms" (France has increased the limit to 3 kg). Article 3.6 stipulates that "The minimum and maximum dimensions for the postal items in question shall be those as laid down in the relevant provisions adopted by the Universal Postal Union". Article 19 of the Universal Postal Convention signed in Lausanne 1974 defines these dimensions as L+W+H <= 90 cm and maximum side <= 60 cm. France has increased L+W+H to 100 cm.

It is thus very clear that EU law obliges la Poste, which is the supplier of the universal service in France, to deliver merchandise under the letter rate within the EU within the above mentioned limits.

To send an object at the letter rate:
- write LETTRE clearly on the packaging (or ECOPLI if the packet weighs 250 g or less),
- secure the packaging with sufficiently solid materials and solid, sticky tape and avoid string and staples and anything else that could jam the sorting machines,
- be sure to respect the maximum dimensions L + W + H = max 100 cm, and no side exceeding 60 cm.

Be prepared for some discussion in some post offices. It may be wise to arm yourself with copies of the following documents:
- Summary of ARCEP's decision to fine La Poste €1 million in December 2011, English version.
- Summary of ARCEP's decision to fine La Poste €1 million in December 2011, French version.
- Full decision by ARCEP to fine La Poste €1 million in December 2011, in French.
- ARCEP newsletter September/October 2007
- Informal guide for posting objects at letter rate

Deadline for Packet Delivery, Compensation

The post office removed the economy rate for inland packets in 2006, leaving only the more expensive Colissimo rate that "guarantees" delivery (or at least presentation) in 48 hours (the second postal day after posting, provided that you post it before the time of levée shown at the post office) and that can be traced online. The trouble is that the 48-hour delivery is sometimes not respected. When that is the case, you are entitled to a voucher for a free packet delivery. The voucher is valid 6 months and is valid up to 30 kg unless otherwise indicated.

Send a letter to
Service Clients
BP 7500

Don't put postage on the envelope but just write "POSTE" where the stamp usually is.

Within the envelope, put a copy of the posting slip, a printout of the online trace from Colissimo showing the delivery or first presentation date, and be sure to write your name and address clearly, and that it is a "Réclamation avec demande d'indemnisation". They can take between 2 and 8 weeks to respond. If the compensation packet is again delivered late, you can ask for compensation again and thus keep sending free packets. 

Exceptions: In special circumstances, the post may prolong the guaranteed delivery time, for example during summer when lorries are not allowed on motorways during the weekend because of holiday traffic or during winter in case of severe weather conditions (2 cm of snow is considered a severe weather condition in France). Check signs at the post office or before complaining.

At the Post Office in France

It could appear that staff at the post offices are instructed to suggest the most expensive product to ignorant customers. The best defence is to examine products and prices before going. is the post office site.

La Poste Online

Trying to make you to buy the most expensive product is not limited to physical post offices. If you print your own stamps online on, the system won't let you choose economy rates. It uses priority rates without asking you, whether inland or international. It also doesn't tell you that you are allowed to post small objects at the letter rate. In most cases, letters are not urgent, so economy rate is sufficient. If the system won't let you choose the rate you need, it is nevertheless, according to their FAQ, tolerated to use the stamp for another purpose than what the system generated it for.

For example, if you need to send an inland economy letter weighing 100g, costing €0.95, you can generate a stamp for a priority inland letter weighing 50g which costs the same (rates as of 1 July 2010).

In other cases, it is more difficult to find an equivalent rate. An inland economy letter weighing 250g costs €1.75. To obtain that value on the stamp, one can use the priority letter rate for Outre-Mer 1 (overseas territories): 70g costs €1.40 + 70/10x€0.05 = €1.75. You'll need a calculator or spreadsheet for this. If you have difficulties finding a way of printing the value you need, have a look in the letter rates for items posted from Réunion, Guyane, or Guadeloupe-Martinique to find further rates,

If you print your own stamps, beware that according to the conditions, you are not allowed to supplement the stamp you printed with another stamp, whether a classic one or one you printed. It is all or nothing.

Although the rates are the same as when using classic stamps, printing your stamps online isn't just a matter of comfort. As you can credit your stamp-printing account with as little as €5.00, it means you don't need to buy a large stock of stamps in advance. It doesn't save you money, but it improves your cash flow.

Beware the dates when increased letter and packet rates enter into force. Every increase of letter rates is splashed all over the press, but not the packet rate increases. They don't enter into force the same day as letter rate increases, so beware. If you send a lot of letters, it may be a good idea to buy a stock of non-denominated stamps just before the rate increase, but count the cost of the reduced cash flow.

La Poste. French post. Order stamps online. Many online services, including temporary or permanent mail forwarding. Download postage rates. Send recorded and standard letters online. Pay packet postage online and save 5%.
Montimbrenligne. Pay and print your own stamps online.
Mon timbramoi. Design your own real stamps. A service from French post.
Tracking on Twitter. To start, follow suivi_avec_lisa which will follow you back. To track a letter or parcel, send a Direct Message with one or more 13-character tracking numbers (blank separated). You will get a new tweet for each new event.

Technical notes: some of the online services are not very stable technically. In general, some of them are plagued by the problems that many new electronic services suffer with bugs and poor design.

I have had several technical problems with Montimbrenligne. While customer service has always been speedy and helpful, one needs a certain IT knowledge to debug some of the problems. If you don't mind this, Montimbrenligne can be a handy service, and it doesn't cost more than paper stamps.

The latest design of recorded letters online has introduced a prepaid account, but la Poste have not been smart enough to introduce one single common prepaid account for all their online services. You need one prepaid account for each online service. A nuisance with the prepaid account for recorded letters is that the minimum amount to credit is €15, so if you only occasionally post a recorded letter online, it's not a good solution. There is a more serious issue in that their new version needs the upper right corner of your letter to be blank so they can print the name and address of the addressee themselves. First of all, it means you may have to change your letterhead for each online recorded letter, secondly, the certified copy they give you does not contain the name and address of the addressee but just has a blank space where it should be. They only print that on the version posted. The online recorded letter is more expensive than the paper version. Until the problem with the addressee has been solved, I discourage use of this service so as to prevent disputes about the validity of the letter.

Colissimo online makes it possible to save 5% of the postage, but there is no way to contact customer service about problems unless you already have a tracking number. But if the problem is about the payment, then you have no tracking number yet. It has been impossible so far to pay with a non-French credit or charge card, but there is no explanation informing the user if only French cards are accepted. Apart from this payment problem, though, the site works very well technically, and it is worth getting the 5% reduction. It also speeds up things at the post office that all the paperwork is ready.

Business and Self-Employed

La Poste for professionals. Portal for businesses and professionals. Order self-adhesive stamps online in rolls (the rolls sometimes contain a few more stamps than what you pay for).
ColiPoste. Packet services for businesses.

In some post offices, it is possible for self-employed and business owners to apply for a free Carte Pro that gives you priority access to a business counter, thereby saving you waiting time.

If you have a business, you may have the choice between business rates and public rates. Beware that if you are not registered for VAT, then you cannot recover the VAT invoiced on postal services, and the business rates, VAT inclusive, are often higher than the public rates. On the other hand, if you are VAT registered, you recover the VAT, and the business rates net of VAT are sometimes lower than the public rates. It is in some cases impossible to obtain a VAT invoice for postal services if you use the public rates.

Tipping the Postman

Tipping the postman in December may well assure that you get a better service, particularly at the countryside, where they may only be obliged to dump your mail in a letterbox near the road instead of near your house that may be 300 metres down a path. Tip him well, and he may only be happy to bring your mail to the door and collect your outgoing mail, even registered mail, and bring you back the receipt a couple of days later. I calculated that even giving him €30 for Christmas is much cheaper than the annual cost - and time consumption - of daily 7 km trips to the post office to post my mail, since I work from home. I cannot guarantee that everybody will do it, and if they don't provide a better service, then there's no reason for tipping either.


In case of a dispute about a postal service, and if the internal complaints procedures of the postal company have not resolved the problem, you can complain to

ARCEP - l’Autorité de régulation des communications électroniques et des postes.
ARCEP: explanation of the complaints procedure.

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