Here is our quick guide to everything you need to know about the postal service in the Netherlands, from receiving important packages and sending letters overseas to finding your nearest post box.
Although it might seem like everything is done online these days, the postal service still plays an important role in all our lives. From paying bills to sending gifts abroad, mail services are often essential when it comes to setting up home in a new country.
However, understanding how the postal service operates in the Netherlands can be challenging for expats. To ensure you know your postboxes from your post offices, this helpful guide includes information on the following:
- Introduction to the postal service in the Netherlands
- Post offices in the Netherlands
- Sending mail and parcels in the Netherlands
- Receiving postal deliveries in the Netherlands
- Business post in the Netherlands
- Useful resources
Introduction to the postal service in the Netherlands
Many of us don’t think much about snail mail in the era of rapid digital communication. However, we still rely on the postal service for things like package delivery, receiving notifications from municipal or tax authorities, or occasionally sending that funny postcard to friends back home. Even though there continues to be an annual decrease in mail volumes (the amount of things sent by post in the Netherlands decreased by 9.2% in 2019), the Netherlands continues to run an efficient postal service throughout the country, built on over 220 years of experience.
As of February 2020, Saand and PostNL merged their parallel networks; now, all national mail services in the Netherlands are delivered through PostNL. Each day, PostNL processes an average of 6.8 million letters, serving nearly eight million addresses through 1,500 post offices, 11,000 letterboxes, and 20,000 delivery personnel. This ensures that there is a reliable service network available to you when and where you need it.
Post offices in the Netherlands
Post offices are found in every city, town, and village across the Netherlands. Generally, they’re open Monday to Friday from 9:00 to 17:00. If you’re looking for a post office, keep an eye out for the orange PostNL triangle logo. Some are standalone service outlets where you can send and receive letters and parcels, inquire about pricing, purchase stamps, boxes, and other packaging accessories. Post office desks are also available in many tobacconists or stationery shops such as Winter or Primera; at these locations, you can also pick up cards, pens, and other paper products.
Use this handy tool to find the nearest post office, postal box, or location where you can buy stamps in the Netherlands.
Sending mail and parcels in the Netherlands
If you’ve got something important to mail in the Netherlands, your first port of call is likely your nearest post office. Here, you can buy postage, send mail or parcels, and access a range of delivery options. Payments are made in-store using cash or card. You can also arrange all the details for your delivery through the PostNL Online Portal. An option to also available to add a Track & Trace code to your parcel or letter. Once you send your item through PostNL, you can keep track of its current status until it arrives at its destination. In addition to the recipient’s name and address, you must include the necessary postal code; Dutch postal codes (postcode in Dutch) are four numbers followed by two capital letters. If you are unsure of the postcode, you can search for it by entering the address on the PostNL Postcode Finder.
The price you pay for postage depends on both the size and weight of whatever you want to send. For the most up-to-date price estimates, consult the PostNL price guide. The general postal costs are the following:
|Weight||Letters within the Netherlands||Letters outside the Netherlands|
There are plenty of places to pick up postage stamps in the Netherlands. In addition to post offices, you can also pick up stamps in many supermarkets, petrol stations, and some bookstores across the country. Domestic postal stamps cost €0.91 and are generally available in packages of 10. International postal stamps cost €1.50 and are available in packages of six.
Parcel sizes and delivery times
If your letter or package is at least 14x9cm or under 38×26.5×3.2cm in size and weighs under 2kg, you can mail them directly at a post box. Postboxes in the Netherlands are easy to recognize, as they are the same bright orange color as the PostNL logo. The right slot of the post box is for letters for nearby postcodes (usually within the same city or immediate area), while the left slot is for further destinations. Pick-up times are on the post box. If you drop off your letter or package before this time, it should arrive at its destination in the Netherlands sometime the next day (except for holidays). Items dropped off on Saturday, Sunday, or Monday are generally delivered on Tuesday.
If your package cannot fit through a standard postbox slot, then you have to send it through a post office or other courier service. A package sent within the Netherlands that is under 100x50x50cm in size and weighing under 10kg costs €7.50. Packages between 10–23kg and up to 176x78x58cm in size cost €13.50. Consult with the post office staff for prices on international shipping or on domestic shipping that exceeds these limits.
In addition to PostNL, there are a number of private companies that provide a variety of delivery services, both domestically and abroad, over a range of prices. These include DPD, DHL, FedEx, UPS, and Eurosender.
Receiving postal deliveries in the Netherlands
Household deliveries happen daily on working days, generally before 18:00. Parcels and other special delivery items (tracked deliveries, for example) are also delivered to homes on Saturdays.
If you are not home at the delivery time, PostNL generally tries to leave it with one of your neighbors. In this case, they’ll leave a note indicating the delivery time and at which address you can find your parcel. The PostNL tracking tool can identify where your parcel is located. In certain cases, a parcel goes to your closest PostNL pickup point. This can be the most nearby post office, licensed retail store, or a parcel shop that is connected to the delivery company that is handling your parcel. You can find the nearest PostNL pickup point here.
Bring valid ID (e.g., passport, Dutch driver’s license, EU residence card) and sign for your parcel upon pick up. Depending on the parcel’s value and country of origin, however, you may need to pay additional import duties and taxes. Parcels not picked up within seven days are returned to sender.
If your parcel is lost or stolen, or if a portion of your shipment is missing, you can find information on your recourse options and how to file a formal complaint through PostNL’s Customer Service.
Business mail for companies
If you run a company in the Netherlands, you’ll probably need to use PostNL services to stay in touch with contacts and clients. If you’re a small business owner, you may not want to share your home address with your customers. In this case, you can consider using a PostNL PO Box instead.
There are several options when it comes to postal services for your business. These include scalable discounts, international shipping, tracking in multiple languages, package insurance, customer return services. For more information on international and domestic shipping services consult the PostNL business solutions page. When you have a clear picture of your shipping needs and volumes, you can request a cost estimate for your company.
- PostNL – General information on postal services in the Netherlands.
- Post box finder – Find the nearest post office, postal box, or location where you can buy stamps in the Netherlands.
- PostNL Customer Service – Information on filing complaints or locating lost or stolen items.
- International Service Alerts – Latest information on shipping times and conditions related to
- DPD, DHL, FedEx, UPS, and Eurosender – Alternative private shipping companies offering domestic and international services in the Netherlands.