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Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Standardisation in the postal sector

The European Commission has been promoting and supporting the process of technical standardisation in the postal sector since 1993. The postal services directive recognises the role standardisation plays in benefitting postal customers and operators.

Priority areas

European postal standardisation focuses on the key priority areas of

  • harmonisation of technical methods at EU level within the universal postal service (in particular for the external measurement of quality of service performance)
  • enabling interoperability of postal industry operators

Measuring quality of service

Improving quality of service is a cornerstone of EU policy for postal services. The postal services directive establishes requirements for setting quality of service targets, performing independent measurement, and publishing results. In particular, quality standards for cross-border mail within the EU have been set for the fastest standard category of mail services as follows

  • 85% D+3 delivery
  • 97% D+5 delivery

Current activities

Currently, the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) is working on the 2016 request by the European Commission for a standard ('mandate 548'). That work is expected to be finalised by autumn 2020.

Types of standards

The 'universal service obligation' must comply with certain quality standards, which focus mainly on routing times, regularity and reliability. EU countries have some freedom in setting these standards for domestic postal services, provided they are compatible with those set by the postal services directive for letter cross-border services within the EU.

Postal standardisation also covers other areas for postal operators and the wider postal sector players. These areas include tools for measuring and handling complaints, digital parcel boxes, labelling and exchange of data, and requirements to connect, access, participate and further develop open global networks and systems.

National standards

Quality standards for national services are set by EU countries. Some of these standards have been published in the Official Journal of the European Union.

European standards

A European standard for measuring the end-to-end transit time of domestic and cross-border single-piece priority mail collected, processed and delivered by postal service operators has been adopted by CEN in order to ensure EU-wide harmonised measurement methods.

Other European standards

Other standards concerning the measurement of quality of service are developed by the CEN technical body on postal services (TC331). Some of these standards have regulatory implications.

Contact us

grow-c3atec [dot] europa [dot] eu (grow-c3[at]ec[dot]europa[dot]eu)