Germany has the fourth-lowest letter postage rate in Europe

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According to DHL’s latest mail price study, postage for sending a standard letter in Germany is becoming increasingly inexpensive compared to the rest of Europe. The researchers report that this is because most postal companies in Europe have raised their prices since the last mail price study by Deutsche Post, while postage in Germany has remained unchanged despite substantial cost increases.

A comparison of purely nominal letter mail prices in Europe shows that postage in Germany, at €0.85 (US$0.88), is almost 64% cheaper than the average European price of €1.33 (US$1.46) and is still below the price level in Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Romania, for example. When macroeconomic factors such as labor costs and purchasing power were taken into account to obtain a meaningful comparison of European mail prices, Germany is the fourth-least expensive country. Only Switzerland, Cyprus and Malta offer more affordable postage. This is confirmed by this year’s mail price benchmarking by Deutsche Post, which compares postage in the 27 member states of the EU and the UK, as well as the EFTA countries of Iceland, Norway and Switzerland.

As in previous years, Denmark is the most expensive country in which to send a letter, with customers having to pay the equivalent of €4.30 (US$4.72) to have mail delivered the following working day. At €0.37 (US$0.41) for a standard letter, Malta has reportedly been Europe’s least expensive postal service for the past 15 years, despite a modest price increase in 2021. Overall, domestic mail postage in Europe rose by €0.08 (US$0.08) to an average price of €1.33 (US$1.46) due to increases in 21 of 31 evaluated countries. Postage costs now even exceed €2 (US$2.20) in five countries – Denmark, Italy, Belgium, Finland and Iceland.

Letter mail prices have increased by a nominal 57% in Europe since 2018. Romania topped this list with an increase of 250% over the past five years. Postal rates in Germany have been raised by only 21% over the same period. Overall, the price of a standard letter rose more significantly in 24 of the 31 reviewed countries than in Germany.

The Deutsche Post study revealed a similar situation for cross-border letter mail delivery in Europe. Here the average price has even surpassed the €2 (US$2.20) mark for the first time due to increases in 17 countries and now totals €2.05 (US$2.25). On average, it costs almost twice as much to send a letter to another European country than within the same country. In Portugal this factor is even higher, at 4.5 times more expensive; in Germany, the factor is only 1.3 more expensive given prices of €1.10 (US$1.21) for letter mail delivery to another destination in Europe and €0.85 (US$0.93) for domestic letter mail. Thus, only in Lithuania and Cyprus does it cost less than in Germany to send a letter to another European country.

When adjusted for inflation over the past 10 years, European letter mail rates in the evaluated countries have increased by 89% since 2013. This is the highest figure ever ascertained through the Deutsche Post mail price comparison. Over the same period and accounting for inflation, Germany’s letter mail price rose by only 26.2%. Here as well, the price for a standard letter in Germany rose by the fourth-lowest rate in the European ranking. Only in Cyprus, Switzerland and Lithuania did mail prices increase by a smaller percentage when adjusted for inflation. By contrast, Italy is the undisputed leader at 267.7%.

In its 22nd edition, the Deutsche Post letter mail price survey also uses the example of an industrial worker to show the number of hours that need to be worked in each country to be able to afford the postage for a standard letter. This gives an insight into how affordable the postage rate actually is. In Germany, a worker only has to work 1.51 minutes to earn enough to buy a stamp. Only in Switzerland (1.50 minutes) is postage less expensive. The European average is 4.70 minutes and Latvia has the least affordable rate at 12.22 minutes.

However, in Finland, Posti has discontinued next-day delivery and now only offers delivery after two days. As this product is somewhat less expensive, Finland has improved significantly in several rankings. Indeed, most European postal service providers now offer a slower letter service that takes several days, as well as letters with next-day delivery. In eight of the countries evaluated in this study, the national postal companies no longer offer regular next-day delivery at all.

Ole Nordhoff, who is in charge of product management at Post & Parcel Germany, explained, “In Europe, it is normal and in the customers’ interests to distinguish between transit times. Our neighboring countries have long since come to the realization that it is not expedient to promote competition in a rapidly shrinking letter mail market. Instead, a suitable regulatory framework should be put in place to promote a reliable and affordable universal service with good working conditions, as well as a more rapid transition to climate-neutral mail and parcel transport.”

Read more key mail updates from the parcel and postal technology industry, here.

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As the latest addition to the UKi Media & Events team, Elizabeth brings research skills from her English degree to her keen interest in the meteorological and transportation industries. Having taken the lead in student and startup publications, she has gained experience in editing online and print titles on a wide variety of topics. In her current role as Editorial Assistant, Elizabeth will create new and topical content on the pioneering technologies in transportation, logistics and meteorology.

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