Post in The Netherlands: Packages, Letters and Mail (2024)


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The Dutch postal system is efficient and reliable, but it might initially seem daunting for someone new to the country and possibly unfamiliar with the Dutch language. This guide aims to simplify the complexities, providing you with an informative overview of sending and receiving posts in the Netherlands.

By the end, you’ll find that, with a little knowledge, the Dutch postal process is straightforward and user-friendly. So, let’s embark on this journey together and ensure your postal experience in the Netherlands is as smooth as possible!

Key Takeaways

  • The Dutch postal system, spearheaded by PostNL, has deep historical roots and a modern touch.
  • Sending and receiving mail in the Netherlands is a straightforward process, with options for both domestic and international correspondence.
  • PostNL Service Points, often integrated within other commercial spaces, are easily accessible and offer a variety of services.
  • Online tools, like the PostNL website and app, enhance convenience with features like Track & Trace and online postage.
  • Foreigners in the Netherlands can benefit from understanding the local address format, knowing basic Dutch postal terms, and staying informed about national holidays affecting postal services.

Sending Mail & Packages in The Netherlands

Sending Mail & Packages

Sending mail and packages in the Netherlands can feel like a new adventure, mainly when you’re still familiarizing yourself with the process. Yet, once you grasp the basics, you’ll find that it’s a streamlined and efficient system, tailor-made to meet diverse needs.

Here’s what you need to know about sending letters and parcels in the Netherlands through PostNL.

Steps to Send a Letter or Package

Addressing Your Mail: Before anything else, addressing your mail accurately is essential. The Dutch addressing format typically begins with the recipient’s name, followed by the street name with the house number, then the postal code, and finally the city or town name. Always ensure the address is legible and correctly formatted to prevent any delivery hiccups.

Choosing the Right Postage: PostNL offers a range of postage rates based on the weight, size, and destination of your mail. Whether it’s a light postcard, a standard letter, or a bulkier package, ensure you choose the appropriate stamp or postage label. You can purchase stamps at PostNL service points, some supermarkets, and kiosks.

Dropping Off Your Mail: Once your mail is ready, you can drop it off at one of the numerous PostNL postboxes scattered across cities and towns. For packages or larger items, you may need to visit a PostNL service point.

Service Points and Postboxes

Understanding where and how to send your mail is key.

PostNL Service Points: These are locations where you can send packages, buy postage stamps, and access other postal services. You can find them in various shops, including some supermarkets and bookstores. They’re typically marked with the recognizable PostNL logo.

PostNL Postboxes: For standard letters, PostNL’s iconic orange postboxes are your go-to. You’ll find them conveniently located in public spaces, often near shopping areas or transit points. Simply drop your letter in, and PostNL takes care of the rest.

A Few Handy Tips

Avoiding the Queue: If you’re sending a package, consider visiting the service points during off-peak hours to avoid long waits. Early mornings or late afternoons on weekdays are usually less crowded.

Track and Trace: For peace of mind, especially with important mail or packages, use PostNL’s ‘Track and Trace’ service. It offers real-time tracking, so you always know the status and location of your sent items.

Receiving Mail & Packages

Stepping into the world of the Dutch postal system, it’s not just about sending items out into the world; it’s also about the thrill of receiving them. Whether it’s an eagerly awaited parcel, official documents, or a delightful surprise from friends and family, knowing how the receiving process works ensures you never miss a thing. Here’s a helpful guide to streamline your experience with receiving mail and packages in the Netherlands.

Understanding Mail Delivery

The Dutch postal service, spearheaded by PostNL, is renowned for its efficiency. Here’s what typically happens:

Standard Mail: Letters and standard-sized mail are delivered to your home or apartment’s mailbox. For those living in apartments or flats, communal mailboxes, usually found at the building’s entrance, are common. Each slot is labeled with the resident’s name and apartment number.

Package Delivery: If you’re expecting a package, the postal worker will attempt a door-to-door delivery. If you’re not home, several scenarios could unfold:

The package might be left with a neighbor, and you’ll receive a notification indicating which neighbor has it.

If leaving it with a neighbor isn’t possible, a note is often left informing you of the next delivery attempt or directing you to a nearby PostNL service point for collection.

Missed a Package Delivery? No Worries!

It’s not uncommon to miss a delivery, especially if you have a busy schedule. Here’s what you can do:

Check the Notification: PostNL usually leaves behind a note with instructions. It might indicate a future delivery attempt or provide details about where you can pick up the package.

Package Collection: If your package is at a PostNL service point, remember to collect it within a week. After that, it might be returned to the sender. When collecting, ensure you have a valid ID with you.

Moving Houses? Keep Your Mail Coming

If you’re changing your address:

Redirecting Mail: PostNL offers a mail redirection service. For a specified period, all mail addressed to your old home will be automatically forwarded to your new address. It’s a hassle-free way to ensure you don’t miss essential correspondence during the transition.

Receiving International Mail

The thrill of receiving mail from abroad! However, it might take a tad longer than domestic mail, depending on its origin and the postal service used. For packages:

Customs Declaration: Some international packages may require a customs declaration. If duties or taxes apply, you might receive instructions on how to pay them before the package is delivered or when collecting it from a service point.

International Mail

International Mail

Navigating the realm of international mail in the Netherlands can be akin to embarking on an exciting global voyage. With loved ones and professional connections spread across different corners of the world, understanding the ins and outs of international mail becomes pivotal.

Fortunately, the Dutch postal system, with PostNL at its helm, offers a seamless bridge to the world beyond the Netherlands’ borders. Here’s your informative guide to sending and receiving international mail.

Sending Mail and Packages Abroad

Setting sail with your mail to international shores is simple if you know the essentials:

Choosing the Right Postage: International mail requires different postage rates depending on the destination and weight. Before sealing your mail, check the current rates at a PostNL service point or on their official website to ensure accurate postage.

Customs Declaration: When sending packages outside the European Union, you’ll typically need to attach a customs declaration form. This form, available at PostNL service points, declares the content and value of your package, helping customs authorities process it efficiently.

Safety First: Ensure your package is securely sealed and adequately cushioned, especially if it contains fragile items. The journey overseas might be long, and a well-packed parcel withstands the voyage better.

Receiving Mail from Abroad

The joy of receiving international mail is unparalleled. However, there are a few things to keep in mind:

Delivery Duration: While PostNL prides itself on efficiency, international mail’s delivery time can vary based on the origin, the postal service used, and customs procedures. Patience is key!

Customs and Duties: Packages from outside the European Union may be subject to customs inspection. If any customs duties or taxes apply, you’ll be notified about payment details. This might slightly delay delivery, but it’s a standard procedure to ensure compliance with international regulations.

A Few Tips for Smooth Sailing

Track and Trace: For crucial international mail or packages, consider using PostNL’s ‘Track and Trace’ service. It provides updates about your mail’s journey, offering peace of mind as it traverses continents and oceans.

Clarify Addresses: Given the variations in addressing formats worldwide, ensure the address is clear, legible, and includes the country name in English. It helps postal workers across different nations process the mail efficiently.

Stay Updated on Restrictions: Different countries have specific mailing restrictions or prohibitions. Before sending something unusual or unique, check if it’s permissible in the destination country.

Post Offices and Service Points

In the dynamic landscape of the Dutch postal system, Post Offices and Service Points stand as cornerstones, providing essential services to residents and expatriates alike.

These hubs of activity are not just places to dispatch or collect mail; they’re vital touchpoints, guiding you through your postal journey in the Netherlands. Let’s dive deeper into understanding these pivotal entities and how they can be of assistance.

The Evolving Role of Post Offices

Traditionally, post offices were standalone buildings, exclusively dedicated to all things postal. However, with changing times and the diversification of services:

Integrated Services: Modern-day post offices in the Netherlands have often integrated into larger commercial spaces like supermarkets, bookstores, or stationery shops. This offers the convenience of multitasking, allowing you to shop and manage your postal needs simultaneously.

Diverse Offerings: Apart from standard postal services, these centers often offer additional services such as bill payments, mobile top-ups, and even basic banking in some locations.

Navigating PostNL Service Points

PostNL Service Points are the beating heart of the postal system. Here’s what you can typically expect:

Ubiquitous Presence: They’re strategically spread across cities and towns, ensuring you’re never too far from one. Whether you’re in bustling Amsterdam or a quaint village, a PostNL Service Point is usually within reach.

Multifunctional: These points are not just for sending mail or packages. You can purchase stamps, weigh parcels, get advice on international shipping, and even collect packages that couldn’t be delivered to your home.

Personal Touch: The staff at these service points are trained and knowledgeable. For newcomers to the Netherlands, they can be a valuable resource, guiding you through the nuances of the postal system.

Locating Your Nearest Service Point

With PostNL’s expansive network, finding a nearby service point is a breeze:

PostNL Website & App: The official PostNL website and mobile application have a user-friendly locator tool. By entering your postal code or address, you’ll receive a list of the closest service points, complete with their operational hours.

Physical Indicators: Keep an eye out for the distinct PostNL logo when you’re out and about. Given their integration into commercial spaces, you might stumble upon one during your regular shopping excursions.

Online Services

Online Services

In today’s digital age, the boundaries between the physical and virtual worlds continue to blur. The Dutch postal system, always on the cutting edge, has gracefully embraced this transformation.

By leveraging online services, it ensures that your postal experience is not just efficient but also aligns seamlessly with the convenience and speed of modern living. Let’s delve into the online realm of PostNL and explore the myriad services at your fingertips.

The Digital Face of PostNL

PostNL’s online ecosystem is comprehensive, offering a multitude of services designed to simplify your postal activities:

Website & Mobile Application: The official PostNL website and its mobile counterpart are user-centric portals that act as your primary gateways. Here, you can access a range of services, from tracking shipments to locating service points.

Track & Trace: One of the standout features of PostNL’s online offerings is the ‘Track & Trace’ system. Whether you’re sending a package or eagerly awaiting one, this tool provides real-time updates, ensuring you always know the status and location of your items.

Online Postage: No stamps at home? No problem! With the online postage service, you can easily pay for and print postage labels from the comfort of your home. This is especially handy for bulky packages or when you wish to avoid queues.

Empowering the User

Beyond the basics, PostNL’s online services are geared towards empowering you with added features:

MyPostNL Account: Creating a personalized account on PostNL’s platform offers a tailored experience. You can store frequently used addresses, manage your shipments, and even set delivery preferences.

Parcel Redelivery: Did you miss a package? The online platform allows you to reschedule delivery or choose a different drop-off point, ensuring you have control over when and where you receive your parcels.

Customs Declaration: For international shipments, the online system simplifies the customs declaration process. Instead of manually filling out forms, you can submit the required information digitally, accelerating the dispatch process.

Safety and Security

Embracing online services invariably brings up questions about security:

Secure Transactions: PostNL’s platform employs advanced encryption protocols, ensuring that your payments and personal data are safeguarded.

Privacy First: PostNL is committed to protecting user privacy. Data is never shared without explicit consent, and robust measures are in place to prevent unauthorized access.

History and Role of PostNL

When delving into the postal intricacies of the Netherlands, one name prominently stands out: PostNL. As the primary postal service in the country, PostNL has a rich history and a pivotal role in ensuring that mail and packages reach their intended destinations.

The Historical Tapestry of PostNL

In its initial avatar, PostNL wasn’t the name that graced the country’s postal landscape. The service can trace its roots back to the late 18th century when it began as ‘Staatspost’ (State Post).

Over the centuries, the Dutch postal service underwent various mergers, rebrandings, and transformations. It wasn’t until 2011 that the current iteration, PostNL, came into existence, representing a modern, dynamic, and customer-focused postal service catering to both domestic and international needs.

More than Just Letters and Parcels

While the primary function of PostNL is the delivery of letters and packages, its services extend far beyond these basics. The company has evolved over the years to cater to the multifaceted needs of its customers:

Parcel Services: With the boom in online shopping, PostNL adapted by offering specialized services for e-commerce businesses, ensuring timely and safe delivery of products.

Return Solutions: Recognizing the dynamic nature of online purchases, they offer easy return solutions, making the process seamless for both sellers and buyers.

Digital Services: In keeping with the digital age, PostNL has introduced online services, including electronic mailboxes, ensuring that even digital communications are streamlined and efficient.

An Institution of Trust

What has remained consistent throughout PostNL’s history is its dedication to its core values. Serving millions of households in the Netherlands daily, the company prioritizes reliability, transparency, and innovation.

For foreigners trying to find their footing in a new country, knowing that there’s a dependable postal service at their disposal provides a comforting assurance.

Tips for Foreigners

Tips for Foreigners

The thrill of setting foot in the Netherlands, with its picturesque canals, historic cities, and warm-hearted people, is unparalleled. However, the challenges of adapting to a new environment can sometimes feel overwhelming, especially when it comes to the nuances of the local postal system.

To ease this transition, we’ve curated a set of tips specifically tailored for foreigners navigating the Dutch postal landscape. Consider this your friendly guide, ensuring your postal journey in the Netherlands is as smooth and delightful as a serene boat ride through an Amsterdam canal.

1. Address Format Familiarity

Understanding the Dutch address format can prevent potential delivery confusion.

  • Dutch addresses typically follow this pattern: [Recipient Name], [Street Name] [House Number], [Postal Code] [City].
  • Always ensure the postal code is correctly written; it’s crucial for efficient mail sorting.

2. Local Language Basics

While English is widely spoken and understood, knowing a few Dutch postal terms can come in handy:

Brief: Letter

Pakket: Package

Postkantoor: Post Office

Verzendkosten: Shipping Costs

3. Stay Informed on Holidays

The Netherlands has several national holidays when postal services might be limited or unavailable:

Familiarize yourself with Dutch public holidays like King’s Day or Liberation Day, as these can affect delivery times.

4. Be Proactive with Missed Deliveries

If you’re not home, PostNL might leave your package with a neighbor or at a service point:

  • Always check any notes or notifications left behind.
  • Utilize the online services to reschedule or redirect missed deliveries.

5. Use Transparent Envelopes for Official Documents

Some official institutions in the Netherlands, like the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND), prefer receiving documents in transparent envelopes. Keeping a few handy can streamline processes.

6. Embrace Digital Communication

Many Dutch institutions, from banks to utilities, prefer digital communication:

  • Set up a Dutch email address and check it regularly.
  • Consider opting for digital invoices and statements where possible.

7. Seek Assistance When Needed

The Dutch are known for their helpful nature:

If unsure about postage rates, customs, or any other aspect, don’t hesitate to ask at PostNL service points or even your Dutch neighbors.

8. Update Your Address Promptly

When moving within the Netherlands:

  • Use PostNL’s mail redirection service to ensure a continuous flow of mail to your new address.
  • Inform banks, utilities, and other important institutions about your new address.


While the meandering journey of adapting to a new country brings its set of challenges, the beauty lies in learning, exploring, and connecting. With these tailored tips, we hope your interaction with the Dutch postal system becomes one less thing to ponder and one more thing to cherish.

As you immerse yourself in the Dutch way of life, always remember: that every letter sent or received is not just a piece of mail, but a chapter in your Dutch adventure. Happy mailing!


Pieter van der Meer, our Lifestyle Coordinator at, embodies the vibrant and diverse Dutch lifestyle. Born and raised in Utrecht, Pieter has a deep-rooted love for his homeland, which reflects in his in-depth knowledge of the Netherlands’ culture, traditions, and lifestyle.

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