Universal and non-universal postal services

Universal postal service

The universal postal service includes both domestic and cross-border services and comprises the following:

  • the clearance, sorting, transport and delivery of letters, newspapers, periodicals, direct mail up to 2 kg;
  • the clearance, sorting, transport and delivery of postal parcels up to 10 kg;
  • the delivery of postal parcels coming from other Member States up to 20 kg;
  • the services for registered items and insured items.

Non-addressed items are not considered to be postal items. Companies delivering unaddressed publicity for instance are consequently not subject to the postal regulation.bpost is designated by law as universal service provider until 2018. This means that bpost is obliged to provide the universal postal service on the entire territory at a defined quality and a reasonable price.

Other companies may also provide universal postal services albeit that for the delivery of universal letter post - registered or not - a licence has to be obtained from BIPT.

Designation of the universal service provider

bpost is designated by law as universal service provider until 31 December 2018. This means that bpost is obliged to provide the universal postal service on the entire territory at a defined quality and a reasonable price.

After 2018 one or more providers will be designated to provide the universal postal service for a 10-year period. The designation procedure has to be completed by 31 December 2015 at the latest and consists of an open mechanism. 

Non-universal postal services

Addressed items that do not fall within the weight limits of the universal service (2 kg for letters, direct mail, newspapers and periodicals - 10 kg for postal parcels and 20 kg for parcels coming from other Member States) are considered to be non-universal postal items.

Regardless of the weight of the items postal services are clearly different from the universal service and therefore do not form part of the universal service scope if they meet at least the following features:

  • the individualisation of the postal item where each postal item is registered separately as soon as it is injected into the postal network. The postal item is tracked individually during the entire route:
  • the postal service is laid down in a special agreement between the sender and the provider in which at the least arrangements are agreed upon regarding the time of collection and delivery, the tariff, the delivery guaranty, the individualised tracking of the postal item and liability.