Guide to French Poste Office - La Poste

  1. Introduction to La Poste
  2. French Postal Tariffs and Services
  3. Parcel Delivery in France
  4. French Postcodes
  5. La Banque Postale
  6. Complaints Procedure
  7. Glossary of French Postal Terms

2. Postal Tariffs and Services

2.1. Introduction
2.2. Standard National Letter Tariffs
2.3. Standard International Letter Tariffs
2.4. Registered/Recorded Delivery Post
2.5. Redirection Service
2.6. Post Box

2.1. Introduction

Mail is delivered in France six days a week.

The use of the five digit French postcode for national post is imperative.

Stamps are sold in local newsagents and tabacs, as well as in La Poste branch offices. As there are often queues in small post-offices it pays to buy a book (carnet) or roll of stamps.

You can also buy stamps on-line from La Poste

Pre-paid stamped envelopes are also available, but they are not good value for money.

La Poste also offer a number of collectors and themed stamps, but the stamp used for everyday use is called the Marianne.

2.2. Standard National Letter Tariffs

Letters up to 3kg in weight are accepted for posting by La Poste within France.

There are three standard letter tariffs for national posting, with different delivery times:

  • Verte -The second class service is Lettre Verte with an indicative distribution period of two days.
  • Prioritaire - Delivery is one day for the Prioritaire first class service.
  • Ecopoli - The Ecopli service is the cheapest, although it is only possible to send letters up to 250g using this service. The delivery time is between 3 and 5 days. The service is more generally used for mass mailings, such as bank statements and bills.

La Poste are strongly pushing the environmental benefits of the Lettre Verte (no use of aircraft), but whether a saving of a few centimes is enough to convince the public is highly doubtful.

A summary of the charges for each service is given below.

Table: National Letter Tariffs (Jan 2019)

Weight Lettre Verte Prioritaire Ecopli
Up to 20g €0.88 €1.05 €0.86
21g to 100 g €1.76 €2.10 €1.72
101g to 250g €3.52 €4.20 €3.44
251g to 500g €5.28 €6.30
501g to 3kg €7.04 €8.60

2.3. Standard International Letter Tariffs

The standard prices by geographic zone for international letters up to 3cm thick up to 2kg weight posted from France are shown below.

Table: International Letter Tariffs (Jan 2019)

Weight: Zone 1* Zone 2*
Up to 20g €1.20 €1.30
21g to 100g €2.40 €2.60
101g to 250g €6.00 €6.50
251g to 500g €9.60 €10.40
501g to 2kg €16.80 €18.20

Zone 1*: European Union and Switzerland

Zone 2*: Other countries, Africa, America, Asia, Pacific.

2.4. Registered/Recorded Delivery Post

There is a recorded delivery service available for both national and international post.

The use of recorded delivery is widespread in France, where its use is strongly recommended in disputes and other important correspondence with official bodies.

The service comes in two main forms:

i. Recommandé avec accusé de réception - This service gives you an acknowledgement of receipt signed by the recipient, but at an additional cost.

ii. Recommandé - A letter only sent gives no such receipt, although the recipient is still required to sign for delivery.

A letter sent in either manner does have insurance cover and you can buy three levels of cover.

  • R1 gives insurance cover of €16.
  • R2 gives an insurance cover of €153.
  • R3 gives an insurance cover of €458.

Table: National Recorded Delivery Tariffs (Jan 2019)

Weight: R1 R2 R3
Up to 20g €4.18 €4.90 €6.05
Up to 50g €4.70 €5.45 €6.50
Up to 100g €5.35 €6.05 €7.10
Up to 250g €6.50 €7.25 €8.35
Up to 500g €7.65 €8.30 €9.35
Up to 1kg €8.75 €9.50 €10.55
Up to 2kg €10.40 €11.10 €12.25
Up to 3kg €11.60 €12.30 €13.40

You need to pay an extra €1.15 if you want a confirmation of delivery slip, an avis de reception.

For international recorded delivery there are two levels of insurance cover R1 (€45) and R2 (€150).

Table: European Recorded Delivery Tariffs (Jan 2019)

Weight: R1 R2
Up to 20g €5.80 €6.80
Up to 100g €7.10 €8.10
Up to 250g €11.00 €12.00
Up to 500g €14.90 €15.90
Up to 2kg €22.70 €23.70

Table: Rest of the World (Jan 2019)

Weight: R1 R2
Up to 20g €5.80 €6.80
Up to 100g €7.10 €8.10
Up to 250g €11.00 €12.00
Up to 500g €14.90 €15.90
Up to 2kg €22.70 €23.70
Up to 3kg €36.50 €37.50

As with national delivery, there is a further charge (€1.40) for a confirmation of delivery slip (avis de reception).

However, as this service relies on the postal service in another country to provide the receipt it cannot be relied upon. In practice, few foreign postal services return the acknowledgement of receipt.

For particularly valuable items you can also pay for additional cover by using a service called Valeur Déclarée.

There is also a cheap service for small low value objects, called 'Lettre Suivie'. This service also offers international delivery. We will provide more information on this service in due course.

La Poste also offer you the possibility to send an on-line recorded delivery letter, which you can do at Lettre Recommandée en Ligne. Prices start from around €6. An on-line recorded delivery letter has the same legal value as a traditional posted letter.

2.5. Redirection Service

If you are relocating within or outside of France La Poste offers a postal redirection service. The service is also available for temporary relocation.

The service is called réexpédition du courrier.

The charge (January 2019) for Réexpédition Definitive within France are €30.50 for up to six months and €54.50 up to twelve months. For an international address the charges are €87 and €150 respectively.

For Réexpédition Temporaire there are various rates from €25.00 for up to one month in France, and between €38 and €135 depending on duration up to 12 months to an international address.

If you are going away on a prolonged absence La Poste will also look after your post for you until you return, through their Garde du courrier service. The charge is €21 for up to 2 months retention of post.

2.6. Post Box

If you wish to collect your post from the post office you can do so using a service called Poste Restante.

The sender merely needs to write your name on the envelope, followed by the words Poste Restante and the name and postal code of the commune.

If there is more than one post office in the locality, then the name of the post office from which you wish to recover the post should be stated.

The cost is €0.95 for letters and €0.48 for newspapers and journals. For parcels it is €4.

Next: Parcel Delivery in France

Back: Introduction to La Poste

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