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How sending parcels in Germany changed in January 2021

Starting in January, Deutsche Post is no longer selling stamps for packages, but rather requiring customers to purchase a special code through the company’s app or online.

How sending parcels in Germany changed in January 2021
DHL packaging centre in Ottendorf-Okrilla, Saxony. Photo: DPA

Looking to post that belated holiday gift? You might be affected by a change that Deutsche Post and package affiliate DHL have introduced for customers this January.

It will apply to anyone in Germany who wants to send smaller items weighing up to two kilos, whether to a domestic destination or abroad.

Stamps for the usual small parcel rates of €3.79 or €4.39 are no longer available in stores or online, but Deutsche Post will accept them until June 31st 2021 so that anyone who still has a supply will have a chance to use them.

Customers can now purchase and print out labels online or through Deutsche Post’s and DHL's app, or simply drop off the package at the nearest post office.

But those who don’t have the option of printing out a label at home can generate a QR-code with the app, which they simply write on the package. A parcel label is later printed out and scanned by an employee at the closest post office or DHL shop. 

The function is also available for letters, although it is still possible to purchase and use regular stamps for these as well.

A woman writes the QR code on a letter instead of using a stamp. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/Deutsche Post DHL Group | Deutsche Post DHL Group

For an extra cost, a DHL courier can come to your home to pick up the parcel. However, it’s free if you hand over your package to a driver who rings your doorbell anyways to deliver your parcel – or have you watch that of a neighbour's.  

In recent months, Deutsche Post had already announced that in future it would focus on digital services such as letter notifications and more precise parcel tracking through its app. 

Deutsche Post said that post and package prices, which were last changed in September 2020, would stay the same through the end of 2021.


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Can you rely on Sweden’s Postnord to deliver cards and presents on time?

Wednesday marks the last day you can send first class letters or parcels in Sweden and still hope they'll make it in time for Christmas Eve. But how reliable is PostNord, the company which runs Sweden's postal service?

Can you rely on Sweden's Postnord to deliver cards and presents on time?

What can you still send and hope for it to be delivered by Christmas? 

The Christmas deadline for letters and parcels outside of Sweden already passed on December 12th, as has the deadline for ordering anything online and hoping for it to arrive on time, with most e-commerce companies advising customers that anything ordered later than December 19th will not arrive in time. 

But if you’re sending first-class letters, pre-paid parcels, and small packages for delivery through the letterbox, you can still send them up until December 21st. The same goes for other parcel services such as Postnord MyPack Home, PostNord MyPack Home small, PostNord MyPack Collect, and Postpaket parcels.  

And if you’re willing to pay a bit extra, you can send express mail letters, express parcels, and first class ‘varubrev’ small parcels up until December 22nd. 

“Those dates still apply. We have written in a press statement that if you send by those dates you can be pretty sure that they will arrive in time,” Anders Porelius, head of press at PostNord, told The Local on Tuesday. 

But can you trust Postnord to deliver when they say they will? 

Not entirely.

The Swedish Post and Telecom Authority, Sweden’s postal regulator, ruled on December 8th that the company was failing to meet its regulatory target of delivering 95 percent of all letters within two working days, with 28 million letters delivered late between June and November. 

An investigative documentary by TV4’s Kalla Fakta (Cold Facts) programme, was sent pictures showing huge piles of late, undelivered letters in one of PostNord’s terminals, and interviewed postal workers who said that they were unable to complete their deliveries now they had been moved from daily to every other day, as they had twice as many letters to deliver on the days when they worked. 

“You get yelled at by the customers, and rightly so, you get yelled at by your bosses, and you scold yourself because you feel like you’re not able to do enough,” said Emilia Leijon, one postal worker. “We pretty much never manage to deliver a whole satchel. There’s too much post and too little time.” 

What is PostNord doing about the delays? 

The Swedish Post and Telecom Authority has given the company until January 30th to carry out an analysis into why it is not managing to meet its targets, and to draw up an action plan of how it is going to improve.