It's going to be busier this year
Deutsche Post alone processes five million parcels on a normal working day. And during the Christmas season there are always considerably more: up to eleven million parcels are processed a day at the peak of the holiday season.
But because of the coronavirus pandemic that's keeping loved ones apart, more post is expected this year than ever before. So get your packages or cards sent as early as possible.
What are the deadlines for letters and cards?
If you want to send a Christmas card or a letter within Germany this year, you must post it by December 22nd at the latest.
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If the letter is for another European country, your mail must be sent as early as December 16th.
Sadly, the deadline for letters and postcards to arrive in countries outside Europe at Christmas has unfortunately already passed: it was December 7th. It might make it for New Year if you send it now.
What about parcels and packages?
For larger gifts in parcel form, Deutsche Post subsiduary DHL's deadlines look a little different.
Christmas parcels should arrive on time in Germany if you hand them in at a post office for delivery by 12noon on December 19th.
However, in order for them to be delivered on time to neighbouring countries such as Austria, Switzerland or France, the parcels must be sent as early as December 14th. Or you can opt for premium which makes the deadline December 18th.
For all other European countries, the deadline is December 10th. But with premium shipping you have the option of posting your Christmas parcels by December 14th and they should arrive on time.
Parcels from Germany to the USA or China will also not arrive in time for Christmas – the deadline for this was November 30th.
If you miss the deadline to post your Christmas mail, you can still get some parcels on their way in time at a slightly higher price.
With DHL's ExpressEasy option, you can still post parcels that are delivered within Germany until December 23rd. However, depending on the weight of the gift, this can cost between €10.72 and €43.87, according to DHL.
Parcels to capitals in other EU countries will also still arrive on December 24th with this service if you post them by December 23rd.
But keep in mind that letters and parcels posted on the last day of the deadline will only be delivered on time for Christmas if you drop them off at your post office branch.
Deadlines at Hermes and DPD
The other big parcel service providers, Hermes and DPD, give slightly later deadlines than DHL.
Hermes says it can deliver packages within Germany before Christmas if they are handed in by 12 noon on December 20th.
The last date for shipments to other EU countries is December 15th. DPD promises to deliver parcels within Germany by Christmas Eve if they are posted by 12noon on December 22nd at the latest.
For the express option, the latest delivery date is December 23rd, also 12noon. For shipments to other European countries, the deadline is December 18th.
However, if you want to be absolutely sure that your parcel will arrive on time before Christmas, you should not wait until the last day.
Hermes advises you to send your Christmas parcels by mid-December at the latest.
When are post offices open on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve?
Most post offices are open until 12noon on December 24th and December 31st.
What about letters to Der Christkind, St. Nikolas, or Der Weihnachtsmann (Santa Claus)?
All boys and girls should send their Wunschzettel (wish list). You should receive a reply if the letter arrives by the third Sunday in Advent (December 13th in 2020).
For more information on the tradition read our story here.