Tip of the week: Everything you need to know about sending mail in Germany

Have you ever been stumped when trying to send a letter or a parcel in Germany? We have got you covered so you know what you’re doing the next time you head to the post office.

Tip of the week: Everything you need to know about sending mail in Germany
Letters are posted through a postbox in the centre of Cologne. Photo: DPA

We all know how it feels to arrive in a new country and to feel completely baffled by the slightly different ways things work. From supermarkets to public transport, even simple things such as sending a letter can be a challenge.

To try and solve this problem, we have put together a guide to the German postal system so you know all of the options you have the next time there is something you need to send.

Sending a letter inside Germany

Deutsche Post was privatized in 1995, but remains the most widely used service for sending letters throughout Germany. If you want to send a letter you can either head to the post office or buy stamps from kiosks (which often have a Deutsche Post or DHL sticker or flag in the window). You can also buy stamps online, print them off and then pop your letter in the postbox. You can search for your nearest postbox or post office here.

It costs €0.45 to send a postcard, €0.70 for a standard letter (max 20g, and dimensions 23.5 x 12.5 x 0.5) and then prices depend on the size and weight of a letter (the maximum weight is one kilogram).

If you are just sending a postcard or a standard letter you can also use your mobile phone; you send a text and then receive a code to write on your envelope. This is more expensive (€0.85 for a postcard and €1.15 for a standard letter), but can be good if you are on the go.

Remember to write the address in the standard German format (name, street and street number, ZIP code, town); sometimes post can be delayed if this is not done properly.

It should be written in the bottom right of a letter and the stamp placed top right. Sorting is often done by machines, so make your writing as legible as possible and don’t write right up to the edge of the envelope.

A worker sorts large letters in the postal sorting office in Leipzig, 2016. Photo: DPA

Sending a Parcel inside Germany

DHL is the parcel sending service of the Deutsche Post and probably the easiest service to use to send parcels in Germany. They have various options for sending a package:

If you go to the Deutsche Post post office or to a DHL Paketshop you can buy packaging materials and send off your parcel. You can find out where they are located online (often inside other shops or kiosks). Sending a package varies in cost depending on size and weight, but ranges from €3.79 for a small package, to €16.49 for a large 31.5 kilogram package.

One thing to bear in mind is that it is often slightly cheaper to buy your postage online and then drop it off at a Paketshop or a Packstation. Packstations are automated lockers where you can both buy postage and drop off your parcels for shipping. The bonus of these is that you can go anytime, even on Sundays!

You can even arrange for DHL to collect a parcel from your house by simply placing an order online, selecting ‘Abholung’ (or pick up) and then choosing a collection time slot (the cost of collection varies from three to six euros depending on the time that you select).  

There are also options for express shipping (obviously more expensive), insurance, tracking, and weekend delivery.

A DHL worker delivers parcels in North Rhine-Westphalia, 2015. Photo: DPA

Sending Post internationally

To send letters internationally you have pretty much the same options as you do when sending them within Germany, it is just more expensive. Deutsche Post allows you to calculate the cost online and then you can either buy stamps online and print them off, or head to the post office.

You can search for the destination of your mail here in order to see how long it will take to arrive and what additional services (such as signed-for delivery) are available.

Sending packages internationally can be done at the post office. You can also buy the postage online and then have your parcel collected or drop it off at a Paketshop or Paketstation, but you can’t buy postage at these outlets.

Sometimes smaller post offices won’t offer all services, such as express shipping so it can be better to go to the main post office when you want to send mail internationally.

A postman delivers post in Stuttgart, 2014. Photo: DPA

Receiving Post

Mail from the Deutsche Post is delivered daily from Monday to Saturday. If it doesn’t fit in your postbox, the postman or woman will ring your doorbell and if you aren’t in they might leave post with a neighbour. Sometimes you might need to pick up a package at the nearest post office – remember to take ID with your name on it.

Packages are delivered separately to letters and as Deutsche Post is not the only mail carrier in Germany, some post might arrive at different times in the day.

Another important thing to remember if you live in an apartment is that as German apartments rarely have numbers, the name on the letter and the name on your postbox/doorbell must be the same otherwise your post might get lost. Make sure that people write your name clearly when sending you mail, or if your name is not on your postbox ask them to write ‘care of’, 'c/o' or the German equivalent of 'bei'.


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REVEALED: The most commonly asked questions about Germans and Germany

Ever wondered what the world is asking about Germany and the Germans? We looked at Google’s most searched results to find out – and help clear some of these queries up.

Hasan Salihamidzic, the sports director of FC Bayern, arrives with his wife at Oktoberfest in full traditional dress. Photo: picture alliance/dpa |

According to popular searches, Germany is the go-to place for good coffee and bread (although only if you like the hard kind) and the place to avoid if what you’re looking for is good food, good internet connection and low taxes. Of course, this is subjective; some people will travel long stretches to get a fresh, hot pretzel or a juicy Bratwurst, while others will take a hard pass.

When it comes to the question on the bad Internet – there is some truth to this. Germany is known for being behind other rich nations when it comes to connectivity. And from personal experience, the internet connection can seem a little medieval. The incoming German coalition government has, however, vowed to improve internet connectivity as part of their plans to modernise the country.

There are also frequent questions on learning the German language, and people pointing out that it is hard and complicated. This is probably due to the long compound words and its extensive grammar rules, however, as both English and German are Germanic languages with similar words in common, it’s not impossible to learn as an English-speaker.

Here’s a look at some of those questions…

Why is German called Deutsch? Whereas ‘German’ comes from the Latin, ‘Deutsch’ instead derives itself from the Indo-European root “þeudō”, meaning “people”. This slowly became “Deutsch” as we know it today. It can be a bit confusing to English-speakers, who are right to think it sounds a little more like “Dutch”, however the two languages do have the same roots which may explain it.

And why is Germany so boring? Again, probably a generalisation, especially given that Germany has a landmass of over 350,000 km² with areas ranging from high rise, industrial cities to traditional old town villages and even mountain ranges, so you’re sure to find a place that doesn’t bore you to tears.

Perhaps it is a question that comes from the stereotype that Germans are obsessed with being strict about rules, organised and analytical. Or that they have no sense of humour – all of these things being not the most exciting traits. 

Either way, from my experience I can confirm that, even though there is truth to German society enjoying order and rules, the vast majority of people are not boring, and I’m sure if you come to Germany you’ll meet many interesting, funny and exciting people. 

READ ALSO: 12 mistakes foreigners make when moving to Germany

When it comes to the German weather, most people assume a cold and cloudy climate, however this isn’t entirely true. While the autumn and winter, especially in the north, come with grey skies and sub-zero temperatures, Germany can have some beautiful summers, with temperatures frequently rising above 30C in some places.

Unsurprisingly, the power and wealth of the German nation is mentioned – Germany is the largest economy in Europe after all, with a GDP of 3.8 trillion dollars. This could be due to strong industry sectors in the country, including vehicle constructions (I was a little surprised to find no questions posed on German cars), chemical and electrical industry and engineering. There are also many strong economic cities in Germany, most notably Munich, Frankfurt am Main and Hamburg.

READ ALSO: Eight unique words and phrases that tell us something about Germany

Smart and tall?

Why are Germans so tall? They are indeed taller than many other nations, with the average German measuring a good 172.87cm (or 5 feet 8.06 inches), however this may be a question better posed to the Dutch, who make up the tallest people in the world.

Why are Germans so smart? While this is again a generalisation – as individuals have different levels of intelligence in all countries – this question may stem from Germany’s free higher education system or their seemingly efficient work ethic. Plus there does seem to be some scientific research behind this question, with a study done in 2006 finding that Germans had the highest IQ in Europe.

So, while many of the questions posed about Germany and Germans on Google stem from stereotypes, we can confirm that some aren’t entirely made up. If you’re looking to debunk some frequently asked questions about France and the French, check out this article by our sister site HERE.