3. La Poste Parcel Delivery in France - Colissimo and Chronopost
Parcel deliveries through La Poste can either be made by the main service, called Colissimo, or by an express service called Chronopost.
The Chronopost express delivery service has an associate status with La Poste with an agreement to send express parcels and letters from La Poste offices. They are mainly used by the business community, but equally available to individuals.
It is also possible to use a private company such as TNT, DHL, or UPS. We do not review their rates in these pages.
Both Colissimo and Chronopost offer a national as well as an international service.
Parcels can be delivered by either service up to 30kg in weight and 2 metre in length, breadth, or height.
There are various different types of offers within these two services, notably relating to the speed and level of security of the service. They also offer the packaging (emballage) in which to put the goods, but at a price.
The Colissimo service undertakes to deliver within 48 hours in France. Indicative dates for international delivery using their Colis International service are 4 to 8 days, depending on destination
The tariff system used by La Poste is complicated and somewhat opaque. Nevertheless, the basic tariffs for sending abroad from France are shown on the following table. If you require packaging or express delivery then you need need to ask for currrent rates at La Poste.
The rates are those that apply from January 2013.
International Parcel Tariffs
Zone A: European Union, Switzerland and Norway
Zone B: Eastern European Countries (outside of the EU), Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria
Zone C: Africa (except Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria), Canada, the USA, Near and Middle East
Zone D: Other destinations
There is also a cheaper Colis Economique International service with indicative dates of 9 to 15 days delivery. However, this service is not available for parcel delivery within the European Union, Switzerland, and Norway.
Likewise there is also a cheap international service for books and brochures called Livres et Brochures. Strictly speaking, the service can only be used for posting educational, scientific or cultural material relating to France, but we have it on good evidence that the service is used by many savvy users to send any type of book! The service is not widely publicised, and you may well find counter staff do not know about it, or they are unwilling to let you use it.
Within France, there is also a cheap service for small low value objects, called Mini Max. This service does not have international delivery.
If you need proof of delivery then you need to send the parcel Colissimo recommandé, for which there is an additional charge. The basic Colissimo service for delivery of parcels within France offers no signature on delivery, or acknowledgement of receipt back to the sender.
Avis de Réception
All international deliveries require a signature on delivery, although you need to pay more (€1) if you want a signed delivery receipt (avis de réception).
We would recommend you always send a parcel using the recorded delivery service with acknowledgement of receipt to the sender.
In all cases, you will be given a waybill that you will need to complete that will be stuck to your parcel. The document will contain the name and address of both sender and receiver, as well as the package number. You retain a tear-off portion of the waybill as proof of posting.
If the parcel is being sent outside of the European Union, then you will also need to complete a customs declaration. You will also need to complete a form for parcels to Guernsey, Jersey, and Isle of Man. There are no formalities to complete within the EU.
There is an automatic insurance of your parcel in the event of loss or damage, but you need to check on the amount that applies on the particular level of service you have chosen. You can also take out additional insurance cover (Ad Valorem), but with a limit on the maximum amount, depending on the destination.
If you are delivered a parcel, and you are not at home the postman will leave an avis de passage notifying they have called and advising the parcel can be retrieved from your local bureau de Poste within 15 days.