House & Home

Poste Italiane: the Italian postal service

Need to send a package or find a post office in Italy? Here is everything you need to know about navigating Italy’s postal service, Poste Italiane.

Poste Italiane

By Martina Di Gregorio

Updated 13-3-2024

Although sending letters and postcards is perhaps less popular than it used to be, post offices are still vital in our daily lives. Whether you want to send a care package to a loved one, pay your bills, or get connected with a phone service, understanding how the post offices work is an important skill.

However, with so many services now available at Poste Italiane and other couriers, navigating postal services in Italy can feel overwhelming. To help you get started, this article covers the following:

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Introduction to the Italian postal service

The Italian post office (better known as Poste Italiane) was established in 1862 and was originally state-run. However, it was privatized in 2015 along with a large group of other public companies. That said, 30% of its shares remain controlled by private citizens.

Two people standing outside a post office in Venice, Italy.
Photo: Giacomo Cosua/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Interestingly, Poste Italiane has evolved over time to become more than just a mail delivery service. For instance, nowadays, you can pick up your latest online shopping there, as well as pay your bills, insurance, and even annual road tax (bollo).

And it doesn’t end there, some of the extra services include:

Although Poste Italiane provides many services, the competition has been increasing in the last few years, with multiple companies now offering national and international shipping. These include DHL, FedEx, Bartolini, and even Amazon Italia Transport (the second-biggest option for package delivery in 2021).

Sending and receiving mail

There are a few things to consider when sending a letter in Italy. For instance, if whatever you need to send weighs up to 2kg, it will count as a letter. Anything heavier than that is classed as a small package and has a different process for sending.

Letters will be placed directly in your mailbox, but registered mail (Raccomandate) will need to be signed for by someone at that address. If it is not signed for, it will be sent back to the post office and will stay there for up to 10 working days. If the recipient does not collect it within this timeframe, it will be sent back to the sender.

Stamps in Italy

That said, sending and receiving mail is relatively straightforward, although it can initially be overwhelming when you first move to Italy. It might be easier to simply head out to your nearest Poste Italiane branch to buy envelopes and ask for the best delivery service to meet your needs. Once you have become more confident, you can stock up on stamps at the post office or tobacco shop (tabaccheria), and shop for envelopes at the stationery store (cartoleria).

You will find that Italy has multiple stamps, and which one you need will depend on the service you require. Here is a quick overview:

ServiceType of stampCost starting atApproximate delivery timeNotes
Poste1Stamp A€2.80About 1–4 business daysCan be tracked
Poste4Stamp B€1.20About 4–6 business days
Lettera online€1.22Upload your letter digitally and the Poste will print it and send it

All you have to do is pick the right stamp and write down the address on the envelope. This includes the recipient’s name, address, postcode, and city. It is also a good idea to write down your own address on the back of the envelope in case the letter gets returned.

Postcodes in Italy

Every address in Italy uses a postcode, or Codice di Avviamento Postale (CAP). The first two digits of the CAP indicate the region and province, while the third number specifies if the city is the region’s capital. Finally, the last two digits pinpoint the town or delivery post office. For example, all CAPs within the province of Bologna start with 40.

You should place the postcode after the address but before the city name. You can search for a city’s postcode through the Poste Italiane or through the Pagine bianche (white pages).

Sending and receiving packages and large items

If you are living in Italy and want to send a care package to someone in the country, there are multiple services available to ensure that it will arrive with them intact and on time. Poste Italiane allows you to send large items nationally and internationally from €9.40.

To send a package, you must fill out a Lettera di Vettura (consignment note). Here are a few things to consider before you head to the post office:

  • The weight of the package: note, the maximum weight allowance is 30 kilograms
  • The maximum size of the package: this varies according to the service you choose
  • How fast you want the package to arrive at its destination: this will determine the service you choose

Some of the services on offer include:

Poste Delivery StandardMaximum 20kg€9.40Possible collection at home. Delivery in Italy in four working days.
Poste Delivery International StandardMaximum 20kg€24Delivery time is around 10–15 working days
Poste Delivery ExpressMaximum 30kg€13.90Delivery time in Italy is around 1–4 working days. Requires signing at delivery, tracking available.

Just remember, if the recipient is not home to receive your package, Poste Italiane will keep it in the post office for up to 10 working days. After this period, the package will be sent back to the sender. If the sender does not accept the package, the post office will consider it abandoned.

If the package arrives damaged, you should let the delivery person know, request to sign with reserve (Accettazione con riserva), and contact customer service immediately. 

Poste Italiane is not the only courier that offers package pickup and delivery in Italy. There are several companies that provide this with different pricing and delivery times, including:

Post offices and post boxes in Italy

Finding a post office is quite easy, given that there are more than 12,000 dotted throughout Italy. Post offices are easily recognizable and have a yellow sign with blue writing. Although opening hours vary from city to city, they are usually from 08:20 to 13:45 on Monday to Friday, and from 08:20 to 12:45 on Saturday. Keep in mind that post offices are not open on Sundays or public holidays.

A close-up shot of a red mail box mounted on a brick wall in Verona, Italy
Photo: Tommaso Pecchioli/Unsplash

Before making a trip to the post office, you should check the opening hours and exact location on the Poste Italiane website to make sure your trip is not in vain.

If you only need to send a small letter, you can do so at one of the 29 million red post boxes dotted throughout the country. These are placed all around the cities, although they are slowly being replaced with smart letter boxes. The last post collection time is usually between 10:00 and 12:00 on Monday to Friday, so make sure your letter is safely in the post box in the morning. 

Because it can sometimes be difficult to get to the post office, Poste Italiane has created a Punto Poste Da Te. This is a locker where you can drop off and pick up packages any time of the day or night without worrying about opening hours or staying home for the delivery.

Overseas shipping in Italy

There are multiple ways of sending items overseas, including by heading to the post office or requesting a private courier to pick up your package.

You can send your letters and packages at Poste Italiane through different international services. The cost of the service depends on the one you choose as well as the zone you are sending your letter or package to. There are three zones, as follows:

  • Zone 1: Europe and the Mediterranean Basin
  • Zone 2: Other African countries, Americas, and other Asian countries
  • Zone 3: Oceania

If you send a package, you will need to compile the Lettera di Vettura (required for all packages sent nationally and internationally) and a customs declaration (Dichiarazione doganale) for non-European countries. This outlines what the package includes. All the forms are available on location and online, so once you get the hang of it, you can send everything from the comfort of your home.

It is very important to check which items can be sent abroad because your package might be opened and confiscated at the border if it does not follow the guidelines. For instance, forbidden items include perishable food products, temperature-controlled goods, and plants. Depending on the value of the package and whether it is private or sent by a store, customs charges might also need to be paid outside of the European Union.

Overseas shipping companies

It is important to keep in mind that international packages sent via Poste Italiane take a minimum of two days to arrive. If it needs to get there sooner, it might be better to use another delivery service such as the BRT Bartolini Priority service. This ensures that if you send a package before 12:00, it will arrive by 12:30 the next day.

If you have larger items to send, are carrying out a removal to Italy, or are looking to transport a collection of belongings overseas, it’s worth looking into overseas shipping companies such as:

Business mail in Italy

If you are starting your own business in Italy, Poste Italiane provides multiple options for sending goods to your customers. For instance, similar to private sending, businesses can ship items nationally and internationally in a minimum of one day.

An entrepreneur happy with next day delivery.
Photo: LeoPatrizi/Getty Images

They can also enjoy a discount and support for return packages. You can use Poste Italiane’s calculator to find out the exact cost of these services per month. Other mailing services, such as DHL, also provide business shipping.

Mail forwarding services in Italy

Moving from Florence to Rome and worried about missing a letter? Because letting everyone know your new address can be time-consuming, Poste Italiane offers the Seguimi service, which you can set up either at the post office or online.

Starting from €8.47, letters and packages can be forwarded to your new address, and you can decide which type of mail can be forwarded. Notably, the service is also available for international forwarding from €36 per month. 

If you receive letters intended for a previous occupant of your new home, you can let the postman know or go to the post office to inform them of the issue and have them amend it.

Additional postal services

Italy has a few extra postal services, including PO Boxes and lockers. If you have just moved to the country and don’t have a residence card yet, you can get a PO Box (casella postale) with Poste Italiane. From €100 per year, you can arrange to have everything placed within the box, which is accessible during post office hours.

If, on the other hand, you have a home but prefer to receive packages elsewhere, then a locker (Punto Poste Da Te) might be your best option.

You can find these in more than 13,000 tobacco shops and 80 supermarkets, as well as bars and shopping areas throughout Italy. They are accessible almost 24/7. This means that you can pick up your post any time of the day and don’t have to worry about staying home to receive it.

Mailing tips

Almost ready to head to the post office? Before you do, here are some tips to help you post in Italy with ease:

  • Write the return address on the back of the envelope to ensure it does not get lost
  • If you need to send cash to someone, use a vaglia postale. This is a printed document that you can buy at the post office and send to someone to exchange for money at another post office.
  • Make an appointment in the Ufficio Postale app to avoid the long queues at the office and quickly send your package
  • If you have an important document, send it as raccomandata con ricevuta di ritorno (registered mail) to make sure it is delivered to the right person
  • If you are sending a package, make sure to pad it with packing paper to protect it