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Postal Service and Mail Delivery

France - Postal Service and Mail Delivery

The postal service in France is called ‘La Poste’ and it offers a full range of postal and even banking services. The website is also available in English for those who have difficulty with the French language.

Post codes in France consist of a 5 digit number. This is made up of the 2 digit number of your département and 3 digits to show which area you are in. If you are living in Paris the last two digits are the number of the arondissement. If you need to find a post code for an area in France there is a code finder on the La Poste website.

The standard format for an address in France is that line 1 is the title and name of the person, line 2 is the company name if applicable, line 3 is the name of the building and the number if applicable, line 4 is the street name and number and line 5 is the postcode and the town. For example:

Mme Dupont
Rue de Flaubert 45
12345 Paris

France has two different stamps which are used for the standard postal service. The red stamp is the one which is used for a quicker delivery and letters should take between 1 and 3 days to arrive. This is the equivalent of the first class service in the UK. The green stamps offer a slower service, between 2 and 3 days, the equivalent of second class deliveries in the UK. The stamps can be bought in books of 12 from many outlets such as newsagents, although you can purchase a roll of 50 stamps at the post office. When you go to the post office you can use one of the desks operated by a cashier or a self service machine which will weigh your items and give you a postage label instead of a stamp. These machines have an English language option which makes them easy to use.

Anything under 3 kg in weight can be send on a letter rate, but items over this weight are sent at the package rate. If you need to send a letter which is not in a hurry you can choose the Ecopli service, which can take between 3 and 5 days and is much cheaper than standard mailing options. For letters being sent abroad there are blue stamps which are valid in the EU. If you need to track a letter then you should use the ‘Chronopost’ service, or for a tracked parcel you can use the ‘Colissimo’ service. There is a wide variety of options for those who need to send parcels and letters including recorded delivery and varying rates.

PO Boxes are available in France although these are very rarely used domestically. The postal service in France is considered to be one of the strongest in Europe and even in remote areas there are regular deliveries. PO boxes are generally used by companies. The reliability of the postal service is currently very good and gives little cause for concern.

If you are moving house in France then you might want to take advantage of the mail forwarding service run by La Poste. You need to give a minimum of 5 days notice and simply fill out a form to give the post office your new details. The form is known as a ‘faire-suivre’. This mail forwarding service can be used for up to 6 months after you have moved, although you can opt to use it for a much shorter period of time if you prefer. You will need to have proof of identity and give proof of your old address to reduce the possibility of fraud.

For those who are going to be away and do not want post delivering in their absence, there is also a mail holding service. You should make the request a minimum of 5 working days before you go away and there is a small fee for the service, although there are no refunds if you cancel the service early.

All of the services offered by La Poste are easily accessible online and you can book any of them at any time of day or night. Using the site is easily as much of it is available in English and there is a help section which can answer any questions that you might have.

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