Shipping & Receiving Packages in Germany

Mailbox Deutsche Post

Sev­er­al mail and pack­age car­ri­ers oper­ate in Ger­many. The most pop­u­lar are Deutsche Post, DHL, Her­mes, and DPD. In many ways, ship­ping and receiv­ing work the same way in Ger­many as any­where else in the West­ern world, but there are a few par­tic­u­lar­i­ties that are worth know­ing. Read on for our guide to suc­cess­ful mail­ing in Stuttgart!

Mailing and Shipping

When you address a let­ter to a des­ti­na­tion in Ger­many, be sure to use the stan­dard Ger­man for­mat:

Name
Street then num­ber
D‑ZIP code then town
Ger­many

(Please note: “D-” and “Ger­many” are only need­ed if you’re send­ing from abroad!)

Deutsche Post

Deutsche Post is the offi­cial Ger­man mail car­ri­er, although it has been pri­va­tized since 1995. They oper­ate not only through Deutsche Post offices but also Post­bank loca­tions and DHL Paket­shops. You can of course buy stamps and postage at all such loca­tions.

If you have already pur­chased cor­rect postage, you can drop off let­ters and small pack­ages inside the large yel­low mail­box­es marked with DP. If you are just send­ing a nor­mal let­ter or post­card it’s pos­si­ble to pur­chase postage using your cell phone. You sim­ply send a text mes­sage and receive a code to write on the enve­lope (although it is rather more expen­sive than what you pay in store).

Deutsche Post also offers the Post Mobil app, which includes such fea­tures as look­ing up Deutsche Post loca­tions and open­ing hours, check­ing mail­box loca­tions and pick­up times, track­ing let­ters and pack­ages, and cal­cu­lat­ing postage.

» Web­site » Apple App » Android App

DHL

DHL’s pri­ma­ry share­hold­er is Deutsche Post and they share head­quar­ters in Bonn, so it’s not sur­pris­ing they use DHL as their pack­age send­ing ser­vice. They offer sev­er­al dif­fer­ent ways of send­ing a pack­age. You can go to either a post office or a DHL Paket­shop to buy postage and send. It can be slight­ly cheap­er to buy your postage online or in the DHL Paket App, then drop it off at a Paket­shop or Pack­sta­tion.

DHL Pack­sta­tions are auto­mat­ed lock­ers where you can both buy postage and drop off pack­ages. A big advan­tage of using a Pack­sta­tion is that they oper­ate around the clock and on Sun­days.

It’s also pos­si­ble to orga­nize a time for DHL to pick up a pack­age from your house (par­tic­u­lar­ly use­ful for heavy or bulky box­es!) with­in a set time win­dow. This “Abhol­ung” ser­vice does cost an addi­tion­al fee but it is quite rea­son­able.

The DHL Paket app makes every­thing relat­ed to ship­ping and receiv­ing pack­ages eas­i­er. Look up store loca­tions as well as Pack­sta­tions. Cal­cu­late the cost of ship­ping dif­fer­ent types of pack­ages domes­ti­cal­ly or inter­na­tion­al­ly. Pur­chase ship­ping for a pack­age to print at home or down­load a QR code to show when you drop your pack­age off at a Paket­shop. Enter a track­ing num­ber to fol­low the progress of a pack­age on its way to you or your cho­sen recip­i­ent as well as chang­ing the deliv­ery options.

» Web­site » Apple App » Android App

Hermes

Her­mes is an inter­na­tion­al logis­tics com­pa­ny based in Ger­many and spe­cial­iz­ing in ship­ping pack­ages. Her­mes allows you to choose to ship to a pri­vate address or direct­ly to a Her­mes ParcelShop. It’s pos­si­ble to reg­is­ter to receive noti­fi­ca­tions about your pack­age via text mes­sage or email. They also offer an app with expand­ed ser­vices, includ­ing divert­ing a pack­age to a neigh­bor or a “safe place” like a shed or garage, pur­chas­ing reduced postage for pick­up or dropoff, gen­er­at­ing a QR code to show paid postage at a ParcelShop, a facil­i­tat­ed return ser­vice, and even inte­gra­tion with Alexa.

» Web­site » Apple App » Android App

DPD

DPD start­ed as a Ger­man com­pa­ny called “Deutsch­er Paket Dienst,” but they were lat­er bought by a French com­pa­ny and renamed “Dynam­ic Par­cel Dis­tri­b­u­tion.” Today DPD is an inter­na­tion­al com­pa­ny and Ger­many is one of 18 coun­tries in which they offer email and push noti­fi­ca­tions regard­ing the exact expect­ed deliv­ery time of your pack­age, which makes it much eas­i­er to ensure it will be received the first time. You can also reg­is­ter for an online account or down­load their app to access live pack­age track­ing, spec­i­fy deliv­ery pref­er­ences, pur­chase postage with a mobile label, and eas­i­ly return unwant­ed pack­ages.

» Web­site » Apple App » Android App

Receiving a Package

You might find that receiv­ing a pack­age works a bit dif­fer­ent­ly in Ger­many than you are used to. First of all, because there are sev­er­al mail car­ri­ers, you may get mail and pack­ages from dif­fer­ent com­pa­nies at dif­fer­ent times of day (Mon­day through Sat­ur­day).

Apart­ments don’t usu­al­ly have num­bers here, so the deliv­ery per­son will be try­ing to match the name on the pack­age with the name on your mail­box or on the door­bell. If your name isn’t there, for exam­ple if you are sub­let­ting from the main ten­ant, you will need to make sure the pack­age is addressed to you “care of” or “bei” that per­son.

If your pack­age won’t fit through your mail slot or if a sig­na­ture is required, you will need to buzz the deliv­ery per­son into the build­ing (and per­haps sign an elec­tron­ic tablet) to receive your pack­age.

What if I’m not home?

If you’re not home, the deliv­ery per­son will do one of the fol­low­ing things:

1. Leave a note in your mail­box telling you where you will be able to pick up your pack­age as of the fol­low­ing day. That’s usu­al­ly at the clos­est post office or a near­by store with the rel­e­vant pack­age ser­vice.

2. Deliv­er your pack­age to a neigh­bor and leave you a note telling you with whom they left it so that you can pick it up there lat­er. This is nor­mal in Ger­many, so don’t feel shy ring­ing your neighbor’s door­bell and ask­ing after your pack­age!

3. Leave you a note ask­ing you to set up a new deliv­ery date and explain­ing how you can do so (usu­al­ly online with a track­ing num­ber).

Sending to Pickup Locations

If you know you aren’t usu­al­ly home dur­ing typ­i­cal deliv­ery times, you might want to arrange for pack­ages to be sent to a place where you can pick them up more con­ve­nient­ly.

With DHL you can go online or use their mobile app to change the deliv­ery options so that your pack­age will come to a DHL Paket­shop or Pack­sta­tion (the auto­mat­ed booths avail­able around the clock). Her­mes and DPD sim­i­lar­ly offer diver­sion to a near­by shop, a neigh­bor or a “safe place” of your choos­ing, such as inside a garage, a clos­et, or a stor­age shed. They also give you the option of resched­ul­ing your deliv­ery to a day you expect to be home, includ­ing Sat­ur­days.

Ama­zon offers a sim­i­lar ser­vice to DHL Pack­sta­tions called Ama­zon lock­ers. When you order from Ama­zon you can look for the most con­ve­nient Ama­zon lock­er, whether that be close to your home or to your office or child’s school. The advan­tage is that it does­n’t mat­ter which ship­ping com­pa­ny the Ama­zon sell­er uses: you’ll be able to pick your pack­age up at the lock­er of your choice.