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 for Colissimo, the main service, can be delivered up to 20kg 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 packaging (emballage) for 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 current rates at La Poste.
The rates are those that apply from 1st January 2016.
International Parcel Tariffs - Colissimo
|Weight||Zone A||Zone B||Zone C|
|Up to 500g||€12.15||€16.20||€23.70|
Zone A: European Union and Switzerland Zone B: Other European Countries (outside of the EU), Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Norway Zone C: Africa, Canada, the USA, Near and Middle East
There is a cheaper 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 authority 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.
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.
All international deliveries require a signature on delivery, although you need to pay more if you want a signed delivery receipt, called avis de réception. However, as this service relies on the postal service in another country to provide the receipt it cannot be relied upon.
In all cases, you will be given a way-bill 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 way-bill 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 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 receiving a parcel and you are not at home the postman will leave an avis de passage notifying you that they have called and advising the parcel can be retrieved from your local bureau de Poste within 15 days.
It is also possible to use a private company such as TNT, DHL, or UPS. Other companies may be less known to international property owners, such as Geodis (Calberson), Mory Ducros, and France Express.
Although we do not review their rates in these pages there is a useful website at Tarif-Colis, where you can compare tariffs offered by La Poste and the main private delivery companies, for both national and international delivery.
In general, Chronopost have comparable delivery times and frequently better prices for national delivery, although their international delivery rates are often higher than those of the private companies.
Much of the legal framework is now European wide, as a result of EU regulations.
The most common problem encountered is late delivery of the goods.
In the case of on-line sales, the law requires that suppliers notify the buyer of the actual date for delivery of the item, which must be within 30 days of the order.
Accordingly, a supplier cannot get away with laconic assurances that delivery will be in ‘three weeks’. They are required to give a precise latest date for delivery, eg 23rd December 2016.
If it is not delivered on the specified date you can cancel the order, but only provided the date of delivery is stated as 'essential' in the contract.
Otherwise, in relation to on-line sales, in the event that delivery does not occur within 7 days you are entitled to cancel your order.
Following the Order
The supplier cannot require use of a premium-rate telephone number to follow orders made or for other enquiries.
Cooling Off Period
You have 14 days from receipt of goods to withdraw from the purchase. No reasons need be given. This right to withdraw does not apply to travel or concert tickets, food and drink, personalised goods or DVDs you have unsealed.
If the supplier advises you they have posted the parcel, but it appears to have gone missing, then this does not exonerate them from their responsibility. The fact that the parcel may have been lost by the delivery company is of no concern of the buyer.
If you complain about non-receipt of the parcel, the supplier is either obliged to prove it has been delivered to you (signed receipt), or to send you replacement goods.
However, they are entitled to make their own enquiries before they do so, a process that may take several weeks. In such circumstances, you may simply want to cancel your order and seek a full refund.
Parcels at La Poste
If the postman advises you that a parcel awaits your collection at the post office (by a notice called an avis de passage), then you have 14 days in which to collect it.
If you fail to collect within this timescale La Poste will send the parcel back to the supplier. You need to be careful here, as this does not signal non-delivery of the item, and grants you no automatic right to cancel the order. You need to make contact with the supplier, who is likely to impose an additional delivery charge.
If the goods arrive, but have been damaged during transportation, you need to act quickly. You have three days (excluding Sundays and public holidays) in which to send a recorded delivery letter of complaint to the delivery company.
You should also copy the letter into the supplier. You would be well advised to provide photographic supporting evidence.
An even better idea, particularly if you have the slightest doubt, is to examine the parcel before the delivery lorry departs. If it is damaged, then refuse to accept delivery, and indicate your refusal on the delivery note (bon de livraison) that you will be requested to sign.
The supplier has 14 days in which to reimburse you following your claim, after which you can claim interest on the outstanding sum, although you would probably need to go to court to enforce it.
The level of the reimbursement includes the delivery charge paid, but does not include the cost of sending the product back to the seller, which is at the cost of the buyer, but only provided the supplier advised you it would be at your cost at the time of the order.
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