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Shipping To/From the Netherlands with PostNL: An Expat’s Guide

Moving to a new country always presents a unique set of challenges, and figuring out the local postal system in the Netherlands shouldn’t be one of them. While the digital age has revolutionized communication, physical mail and parcel deliveries still hold their own importance, especially for expats setting up their new lives. Whether it’s sending postcards back home or receiving essential documents, understanding the Dutch postal system is key.

This expat’s guide will walk you through the ins and outs of using PostNL, the primary postal provider in the Netherlands, covering everything from sending letters and parcels to receiving and tracking your shipments. We’ll also look at alternative options for “nl post international” shipping and how to track packages with “nlpost track” and “nlpost tracking”.

Table of Contents

Understanding the Dutch Postal System

PostNL: The Backbone of Dutch Mail

PostNL stands as the dominant force in the Dutch postal landscape, boasting a rich history spanning over two centuries. Throughout the years, PostNL has consistently evolved and adapted to changing demands, solidifying its position as a trusted and dependable service for millions of households and businesses. The merger of Sandd and PostNL in February 2020 further cemented its role as the primary national mail service provider, making “PostNL Netherlands” a synonymous term with postal services in the country.

This robust infrastructure handles a staggering volume of mail daily, with over 6.8 million letters processed on average. Serving nearly eight million addresses nationwide, PostNL’s network encompasses an impressive array of resources: 1,500 post offices strategically positioned across the country, 11,000 bright orange letterboxes readily accessible for quick drop-offs, and a dedicated force of 20,000 delivery personnel ensuring efficient and timely delivery. This means whether you’re in bustling Amsterdam, charming Utrecht, or a quaint village in the countryside, you’ll be able to access PostNL’s reliable network.

Cracking the Dutch Postal Code

To ensure your mail reaches its intended destination without a hitch, understanding the Dutch postal code system is essential. Unlike some systems that rely primarily on numbers, the Dutch format combines both numerical and alphabetical elements. A typical Dutch postal code, known as postcode in Dutch, consists of four numbers followed by two capital letters. For instance, “1012 AB” is a valid postal code.

PostNL provides a user-friendly online tool called the Postcode Finder on their website. This tool allows you to quickly and accurately determine the correct postcode for any address in the Netherlands, eliminating the guesswork and ensuring your mail arrives promptly.

Sending Mail and Parcels with PostNL

Navigating Post Office Services

PostNL offices, easily identifiable by their distinctive orange triangle logo, are conveniently located in every city, town, and village across the Netherlands. These offices offer a comprehensive suite of services, catering to diverse needs. Whether you want to send letters or parcels, inquire about shipping costs, or purchase stamps, boxes, and packaging materials, the post office has you covered.

While many post offices are standalone buildings, you can also find designated post office desks conveniently integrated within numerous tobacconists and stationery shops such as Primera and Bruna. These outlets offer the added convenience of picking up cards, pens, and other stationery items, streamlining your errands.

Typical post office opening hours are generally from 9:00 to 17:00, Monday through Friday. However, it’s always advisable to check the specific hours of your local branch on the PostNL location finder tool, as some might have variations in their schedules. You can also use the location finder for “nl post office tracking” to see which offices are open near you.

Sending Letters: A Step-by-Step Guide

Sending letters with PostNL is a straightforward process. The cost of sending a letter within the Netherlands (domestic mail) is currently €0.91, with stamps generally sold in packages of 10. For international letters or “nl post international” shipments, the postage cost is €1.50, and stamps are typically available in packs of 6. You can purchase stamps at post offices, supermarkets, petrol stations, and some bookstores.

The bright orange letterboxes, strategically placed throughout the Netherlands, provide a convenient way to send letters. If your letter is relatively small (at least 14x9cm) and lightweight (under 2kg), simply follow these steps:

  1. Choose the Correct Slot: Postboxes in the Netherlands have two slots. The right slot is designated for letters addressed to nearby postcodes, typically within the same city or immediate area. The left slot is for letters destined for further locations, whether within the Netherlands or internationally.
  2. Check Pick-up Times: Each letterbox displays its specific pick-up time. If you drop your letter before this time, it will generally be collected that day.
  3. Expect Next-Day Delivery: Letters dropped off before the pick-up time usually arrive at their destinations within the Netherlands the next day, excluding holidays. Letters mailed on Saturday, Sunday, or Monday are generally delivered on Tuesday.

Sending Parcels: Navigating Sizes, Costs, and Options

Sending parcels with PostNL presents a few additional considerations, particularly regarding size and weight. For parcels small enough to fit through a standard letterbox slot (under 38×26.5×3.2cm and under 2kg), you can follow the same steps outlined for sending letters.

For larger parcels, you’ll need to visit a post office or consider alternative courier services. Here’s a breakdown of the standard domestic parcel shipping costs:

  • Under 10kg and 100x50x50cm: €7.50
  • Between 10-23kg and up to 176x78x58cm: €13.50

To determine the exact cost for international shipping or “nl post international” deliveries or for parcels exceeding these limits, consult with the post office staff. They can provide you with up-to-date pricing information and guide you on the best shipping options.

In addition to PostNL, several private companies offer domestic and international parcel delivery services, each with varying prices and delivery speeds. Popular options include:

  • DPD
  • DHL
  • FedEx
  • UPS

These companies offer competitive services and may be more suitable for certain shipping needs, particularly for urgent deliveries or shipments with specific requirements.

The Power of the PostNL Online Portal: Streamline Your Deliveries

For added convenience and control over your shipments, PostNL offers a comprehensive online portal. The PostNL Online Portal provides a range of valuable functionalities, including arranging deliveries, purchasing postage online, and even printing shipping labels from the comfort of your home. You can easily manage your “nl post” shipments through this platform.

Tracking Your Shipments: Stay Informed with Track & Trace

Sending something valuable or time-sensitive? PostNL’s Track & Trace service provides peace of mind by enabling you to monitor the progress of your letter or parcel. Simply enter your unique tracking number on the PostNL website or app, and you can follow your shipment’s journey from the moment it leaves your hands to its arrival at the recipient’s address. This is particularly helpful when you’re expecting an “nl post international” delivery or need to perform “nlpost tracking” on a domestic package.

Receiving Mail and Parcels in the Netherlands

Deciphering Delivery Times and Procedures

Understanding PostNL’s delivery procedures will help you receive your mail and parcels smoothly. Here’s a general overview:

  • Standard Deliveries: In the Netherlands, standard household deliveries occur daily on working days, usually before 18:00. This means that letters and standard parcels are generally delivered Monday to Friday.
  • Saturday Deliveries: PostNL extends its parcel delivery service to Saturdays, accommodating the busy schedules of many residents. This includes parcels, tracked deliveries, and other special delivery items.

Missed Deliveries: What to Expect

If you’re not home to receive a delivery, PostNL will try to leave it with a neighbor. They’ll leave you a note indicating the delivery time and the address where your parcel can be found. If a neighbor isn’t available, your parcel will be taken to the nearest PostNL pickup point, which you can locate using the “nlpost track” service online.

PostNL pickup points are conveniently located throughout the Netherlands and can be easily found using the online location finder. They are typically situated in post offices, licensed retail stores, or designated parcel shops affiliated with the delivery company handling your parcel.

To collect your parcel, bring a valid form of identification, such as your passport, Dutch driver’s license, or EU residence card, and sign for your package upon receipt. It’s also important to remember that you may have to pay import duties and taxes for international parcels, depending on the parcel’s value and contents.

PostNL has a seven-day holding period for unclaimed parcels. If you don’t pick up your parcel within this time frame, it will be returned to the sender.

Dealing with Lost or Stolen Parcels

While PostNL strives to provide a reliable and secure delivery service, unfortunately, parcels can occasionally be lost or stolen. In such cases, PostNL provides recourse options and a formal complaint process. Their Customer Service page on their website provides comprehensive information on how to file a complaint and seek compensation or assistance in locating your lost or stolen items. You can track the status of your claim through “nlpost tracking”.

Business Mail Solutions with PostNL

PO Boxes: A Secure Address for Your Business

For businesses in the Netherlands, PostNL offers a range of solutions tailored to meet their specific needs. For instance, if you’re a small business owner and prefer to keep your home address private, a PostNL PO Box provides a secure and professional alternative.

A Suite of Business Solutions: Tailored to Your Needs

Beyond PO Boxes, PostNL offers a comprehensive suite of business solutions designed to enhance your company’s efficiency and streamline shipping operations. These solutions include:

  • Scalable Discounts: Depending on your shipping volume, you can benefit from significant discounts on postage costs.
  • International Shipping Expertise: PostNL’s extensive international network enables you to reach customers and partners across the globe. You can easily manage your “nl post international” shipments with their specialized services.
  • Multilingual Tracking: Conveniently track your shipments in multiple languages, facilitating communication with international clients. Use the “nlpost track” system to follow your shipments across borders.
  • Package Insurance: Protect your valuable shipments with comprehensive insurance coverage, safeguarding against loss or damage.
  • Customer Return Services: Offer seamless return options for your customers, enhancing their satisfaction and loyalty.

For a detailed overview of PostNL’s international and domestic business shipping services, visit their business solutions page. To obtain a personalized cost estimate tailored to your specific requirements and shipping volume, fill out the cost estimate request form available on their website.


What is the average delivery time for a letter within the Netherlands?

Typically, letters sent through PostNL arrive at their destinations within the Netherlands the next day if mailed before the letterbox pick-up time. This excludes holidays, and letters sent on weekends or Mondays are usually delivered on Tuesday.

Can I send a package to a neighbor’s address if I’m not home?

No, PostNL requires the recipient’s correct address for delivery. While they may try to deliver to a neighbor if you’re not home, they won’t deliver to a different address than the one specified on the package.

What happens if I miss a parcel delivery and it’s not left with a neighbor?

In such cases, PostNL will take your parcel to the nearest PostNL pickup point. You’ll receive a notification with the address of the pickup point, allowing you to retrieve your package at your convenience.

How long do I have to collect a parcel from a PostNL pickup point?

You have seven days to collect your parcel from a PostNL pickup point. If you don’t collect it within this period, it will be returned to the sender.

Do I need to pay import duties for parcels from outside the EU?

Yes, you may be required to pay import duties and taxes for parcels sent from outside the EU. The specific amount depends on the parcel’s value and contents.

Where can I find more information about PostNL services?

For comprehensive information, visit the official PostNL website. They have dedicated sections for individuals and businesses, covering various topics from pricing to tracking.

Are there other courier services in the Netherlands besides PostNL?

Yes, several private companies offer domestic and international shipping services in the Netherlands. These include DPD, DHL, FedEx, and UPS.