How to send a letter in Germany: A step-by-step guide
Published on June 2, 2023 / Updated on July 11, 2023
How do you send a letter in Germany? And why would you need to know this? No one ever sends letters by mail anymore, right? Not quite. Germany often requires legal documents to be sent by the postal service. And even when it isn’t a requirement, sometimes it can make sense to send a physical letter with tracking. Of course, there’s also the undeniable joy of receiving a handwritten letter or postcard.
So, let’s assume you’ve finished writing your letter and are ready to post it. We’ll walk you through the necessary steps and show you how to pick an envelope and stamp, where to write your address, where to post your letter and how much to pay. Need to send a parcel? No worries — we’ve got you covered there, too.
When it comes to letters in Germany, size matters. So does weight. Both determine how much it costs to send a letter. These costs are covered by the stamp. Prices can range from €0.85 for a standard letter of up to 20 grams to €2.75 for a maximum letter weight of up to 1,000 grams.
International mail is more expensive, with prices ranging from €1.10 to €17 per letter. You can check your German letter envelope format on the Deutsche Post website, where you can also calculate the costs and print out stamps. Speaking of which…
You can purchase envelopes and stamps at your local post office or at any Paketshop with a Deutsche Post or DHL Sticker in the window.
You can also order stamps and packaging materials online. With the Post & DHL app, you can not only buy stamps, but you can also print them, receive them as a QR code or get a code to write on the envelope instead of the actual stamp. The app comes with a lot of useful features, such as tracking. This is always a good idea when sending official documents.
Writing a letter is an art that comes with many rules. These rules extend to how you address the letter. In Germany, letters are sorted by machine. For the machine to be able to read the address on your letter correctly, you must stick to a certain format:
Max Mustermann/Familie Mustermann/Mustermann GmbH
If you are writing to a specific person within a household or a company (or to an authority such as the citizen’s office), you can insert the name in the second line with z.Hd. for zu Händen, which is used just like c/o (care of). The address of the addressee goes on the middle or bottom right of the envelope. You can put your own address on the top left. The top right is reserved for the stamp. Don’t write too close to the edges, and leave the side with the flap empty.
You can post your letter at a local post office, a Paketshop or one of the characteristically yellow post boxes with the DP (Deutsche Post) symbol. You can find the nearest place to post your letter with this location finder.
Post boxes are emptied several times a day, as indicated on the post box. Alternatively, you can arrange for your letters to be picked up at your door.
Now you know all about how to post a letter in Germany. But what about a parcel? If you want to send a parcel filled with German gifts to your friends and family back home, you can follow the same steps you use when sending a letter by post in Germany:
Until the 1990s, Deutsche Post was the one and only state-owned postal service in Germany. After its privatization, it is still the most commonly used provider to send a letter in Germany. DHL is the international logistics company of Deutsche Post. If you want to send a parcel in Germany, you will likely use DHL, although there is more competition than in the letter market. The main competitors you may want to consider include Hermes, UPS, DPD, GLS and FedEx/TNT.
To send a letter in Germany, follow these easy steps: Write your letter, choose the right German envelope format, buy a stamp, post the letter. For your letter to be shipped without problems, pay attention to how to address a letter in Germany. If you did everything right, your letter should reach its German destination within one or two working days. So, put in some German practice and write a letter to a friend!