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.
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.
You may also be interested to read an article from our Newsletter: What can you do if you have parcel delivery problem in France?
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