German postage costs may increase by ‘up to 30 percent’

A government meeting in May is set to determine whether the humble postage stamp will increase from the current 70 to 90 cents.

German postage costs may increase by 'up to 30 percent'
Photo: DPA

While German postage costs remain comparatively cheaper than many of the country’s European neighbours, rising postage costs have become an increasingly controversial issue in recent months.

The postage stamp set to get more expensive

Reports in February said that the standard postage cost may increase by five or possibly ten cents from the current 70 cents. But recent indications are that the increase could be up to 20 cents – or roughly 30 percent. 

This would render the cost of sending cards, letters or postcards within Germany to the same level as international mail. Currently, sending cards to worldwide destinations costs 90 cents, although with rising domestic postage costs, a similar increase in international prices would be expected. 

The last price hike to the cost of domestic postage took place in 2016, with stamp prices increasing from 62 to the current 70 cents. At the time it was the largest increase since German reunification.

The historically low prices have in part facilitated a strong manufacturing and export sector.

The prices for postage are set by a federal agency, although the Deutsche Post itself is a largely privatized entity. The government only holds a 20 percent share in the national postal service.

The decision as to the cost will be made by the responsible government agency in May, with costs to the general public to increase from July 2019 onwards. Costs for businesses would not increase until 2020.

Four times the previous cost

As reported by The Local in February, postage costs increased by up to 400 percent in some instances From April 1st.

Package prices rose sharply, particularly for international postage. Costs for sending packages to the US increased four fold.

The costs associated with sending small packages was also subject to a considerable increase as it became no longer possible to send CDs or DVDs at the original letter price. 

Previously, letters containing CDs or DVDs could be sent at the cost of a card or postcard. 

The hidden cost of email

As reported in RP Online, the main reason for the sudden increase is primarily the popularity of electronic communications. 

Swiss Post told RP Online that there were fewer and fewer letters being sent, leading to a decrease in revenue for post operators.

In recent years, the amount of letters sent annually has decreased by roughly two to three percent.

Politicians at loggerheads over the way forward

The current proposal – which could see an increase of 20 cents per domestic letter – has been criticized by politicians. Pascal Meiser, from The Left (Die Linke), has argued that it represents the government favouring private interests over that of the general public. 

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Conversely, the FDP’s Reinhard Houben has called for the government to fully privatize the service to improve its efficiency.  

Member comments

  1. Actually the average rise on domestic letters will be limited to 10.63 prozent which I think makes this something of a scare story.
    The reasons for the rises are however reported correctly.The German postal service has by law the duty to deliver letters to even the most corners of Germany. That means a lot of very expensive delivery routes. Less and less letters but a cost base which is hard to reduce means increasing prices. Get used to it.

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Living in Germany: Battles over Bürgergeld, rolling the ‘die’ and carnival lingo

From the push to reform long-term unemployment benefits to the lingo you need to know as Carnival season kicks off, we look at the highlights of life in Germany.

Living in Germany: Battles over Bürgergeld, rolling the 'die' and carnival lingo

Deadlock looms as debates over Bürgergeld heat up 

Following a vote in the Bundestag on Thursday, the government’s planned reforms to long-term unemployment benefits are one step closer to becoming reality. Replacing the controversial Hartz IV system, Bürgergeld (or Citizens’ Allowance) is intended to be a fair bit easier on claimants.

Not only will the monthly payment be raised from €449 to €502, but jobseekers will also be given a grace period of two years before checks are carried out on the size of their apartment or savings of up to €60,000. The system will also move away from sanctions with a so-called “trust period” of six months, during which benefits won’t be docked at all – except in very extreme circumstances. 

Speaking in parliament, Labour Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) said the spirit of the new system was “solidarity, trust and encouragement” and praised the fact that Bürgergeld would help people get back into the job market with funding for training and education. But not everyone is happy about the changes. In particular, politicians from the opposition CDU/CSU parties have responded with outrage at the move away from sanctions.

CDU leader Friedrich Merz has even branded the system a step towards “unconditional Basic Income” and argued that nobody will be incentivised to return to work. 

The CDU and CSU are now threatening to block the Bürgergeld legislation when it’s put to a vote in the Bundesrat on Monday. With the conservatives controlling most of the federal states – and thus most of the seats in the upper house – things could get interesting. Be sure to keep an eye out for our coverage in the coming weeks to see how the saga unfolds. 

Tweet of the week

When you first start learning German, picking the right article to use can truly be a roll of the “die” – so we’re entirely on board with this slightly unconventional way to decide whether you’re in a “der”, “die”, or “das” situation. (Warning: this may not improve your German.) 

Where is this?

Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Boris Roessler

Residents of Frankfurt am Main and the surrounding area will no doubt recognise this as the charming town of Kronberg, which is nestled at the foot of the Taunus mountains.

This atmospheric scene was snapped on Friday morning, when a drop in temperatures saw Kronberg and surrounding forests shrouded in autumnal fog.

After a decidedly warm start to November, the mercury is expected to drop into single digits over the weekend. 

Did you know?

November 11th marked the start of carnival season in Germany. But did you know that there’s a whole set of lingo to go along with the tradition? And it all depends on where you are. First of all, the celebration isn’t called the same thing everywhere. In the Rhineland, it’s usually called Karneval, while people in Bavaria or Saxony tend to call it Fasching. Those in Hesse and Saarland usually call it Fastnacht. 

And depending on where you are, there are different things to shout. The ‘fools call’ you’ll hear in Cologne is “Alaaf!” If you move away from Cologne, you’ll hear “Helau!” This is the traditional cry in the carnival strongholds of Düsseldorf and Mainz, as well as in some other German cities.

In the Swabian-Alemannic language region in the southwest of the country, people yell “Narri-Narro”, which means “I’m a fool, you’re a fool”. In Saarland at the French border, they shout “Alleh hopp!”, which is said to originate from the French language. 

Lastly, if someone offers you a Fastnachtskrapfe, say yes because it’s a jelly-filled carnival donut. And if you’re offered a Bützchen? It’s your call, but know that it’s a little kiss given to strangers!