Guide to French Poste Office - La Poste

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

2. Postal Tariffs and Services

2.1. Introduction
2.2. National Letter Tariffs
2.3. 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 at a slightly reduced price (a few cents) from that you will pay buying from the post office/newsagents.

La Poste also offer you the possibility to print out a stamp etc from your home, which you can do at Courriers-Colis-En-Ligne. There is a very minor reduction in price. You can also send a recorded delivery e-mail with this service.

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 for everyday use is called the Marianne.

Next year La Poste will be introducing digital stamps, in the form of a alphanumeric code, which you can obtain using an app on your mobile phone.

The following tariffs are for households. There are separate tariff arrangements for businesses.

2.2. Standard National Letter Tariffs

There have been some substantial changes to the letter delivery services from 1st January 2023, with the abolition of two services.

  • Prioritaire - the timbre rouge first-class delivery stamp is now only available in digital form, called e-lettre rouge. If you still have the stamps in your possession, you can continue to use them.

  • Ecopoli - generally used for mass mailings, has been abolished, except for business users with a franking machine.

There are now two national standard delivery services, but with options for the main service:

i. Timbre Vert - a second-class service for delivery in 3 days, also called Lettre Écologique, for which there is an option of a basic tracking service (Lettre Suivi) and a full tracking service with 2-day delivery ((Lettre Services Plus)

ii. E-lettre Rouge - a partially digital service for delivery in 1 day, also called Lettre Prioritaire en ligne.

In addition, there is a recorded delivery service.

International deliveries are sent using a Timbre Violet.

2.2. Standard National Letter Tariffs

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

i. Timbre Vert

The price of the basic lettre verte remains unchanged from 2022 and prices for letters weighing +500g have been reduced.

The lettre suivi service will notify you when the letter has been delivered.

The lettre services plus has a delivery time of 2 days, with full tracking and compensation in the event of delay in delivery. It is also known as the Lettre Turquoise due to its colour.

The maximum width of the letter is 3cm, and length must not be greater than 60cm.

Table: National Letter Tariffs (2023)

Weight Lettre Verte Lettre Vert Suivi Lettre Services Plus
Up to 20g €1.16 €1.66 €2.95
21g to 100g €2.32 €2.82 €3.84
101g to 250g €4.00 €4.50 €4.95
251g to 500g €6.00 €6.50 €6.70
500 to 1kg €7.25 €7.75 €8.25
1kg to 3kg €8.85 €9.35 €9.95

ii. E-lettre Rouge

The E-lettre Rouge is entirely digital for next day delivery, although La Poste do not guarantee it. Given that most households can send an email from their own devices, it is difficult to see how this new service will have a future. There are also concerns about how the contents of such a letter could avoid the prying eyes of post office staff.

Naturally enough, it has a different tariff system, based on the number of pages, not on weight:

No Pages Price
Up to 6 pages €1.49
Up to 14 pages €3.10
Up to 34 pages €6.80
Up to 60 pages €8.80

There is an option of colour for an additional charge, plus tracking for €0.50.

The system assumes you type the letter on the template provided, although it is possible to send a word document or manuscript letter by scanning it into the system.

You can send the letter from your own device or have it scanned at the post-office.To use the service you need to go to Envoyer une lettre en ligne. One of the useful aspects of the system is that it holds templates for many different types of letters to official bodies, which you can use, adding your own specific details.

2.3. Standard International Letter Tariffs

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

Prices have increased significantly over 2022.

Table: International Letter Tariffs (2023)

Weight Price
Up to 20g €1.80
21g to 100g €3.70
101g to 250g €8.75
251g to 500g €12.90
501g to 2kg €23.55

For letters containing valuable contents up to €5,000, it is possible to insure via the service Valeur Déclarée Internationale, using stationery supplied by the post office, with prices starting at €20.90. Generally only available in the EU.

Since January 2021, letters and parcels to the UK (and from the UK) carrying goods require a customs declaration, which you can find at Douane Déclaration CN23. You would be best advised to undertake the process at your local post-office, as the online service is yet to be operational.

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 in 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.

Once again, prices have increased significantly in 2023 over 2022.

Table: National Recorded Delivery Tariffs (2023)

Weight: R1 R2 R3
Up to 20g €4.83 €5.77 €7.10
Up to 50g €5.52 €6.38 €7.65
Up to 100g €6.23 €7.10 €8.33
Up to 250g €7.62 €8.49 €9.83
Up to 500g €8.95 €9.77 €11.00
Up to 1kg €10.30 €11.15 €12.38
Up to 2kg €12.19 €13.04 €14.38

You need to pay extra if you want a confirmation of delivery slip - an avis de reception. It is €1.15 for a digital slip and €1.20 for a paper slip. Although it can make sending a letter expensive, the use of recorded delivery with a delivery receipt is recommended in correspondence with the statutory authorities, ie, tax, health, social security etc.

It is also possible to send recorded delivery on-line, which you can do at: Envoyez votre recommandé sans vous déplacer.

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

Table: International Recorded Delivery Tariffs (2023)

Weight: R1 R2
Up to 20g €6.60 €7.60
Up to 100g €8.50 €9.50
Up to 250g €13.55 €14.55
Up to 500g €17.70 €18.70
Up to 2kg €28.35 €29.35

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 tracking service for letters/small parcels, called 'Lettre Suivie', in a similar manner to the national delivery system, which is a little cheaper than recorded delivery. You can track the progress of delivery on-line with the number given. It is available to all countries. If the letter is not of a high value or importance, then it is probably as useful to use this service for international delivery than recorded delivery.

The price for international post from €4.55 (20g) to €26.00 (2kg).

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 for Réexpédition Definitive within France are €41.50 for up to six months and €69.50 up to twelve months. For an international address the charge is €105 for 6 months and €189 for 12 months. See more at Réexpédition Definitive.

For Réexpédition Temporaire there are various rates from €28.00 for up to one month in France, and from €50 to an international address. See more at Réexpédition Temporaire.

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 €28 for up to 2 months retention of post. See more at Garde du courrier.

All prices 2023.

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 charges start at €30. See more at Poste Restante.

The post is only kept for a maximum of three months.

Next: Parcel Delivery in France

Back: Introduction to La Poste

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