Afdeling pakketten Amsterdam 1925

The royal history of PostNL

Delivering special moments for 220 years

In the Netherlands and beyond. On foot, on horseback and later by postal train. For a very long time, PostNL was the only postal company in the Netherlands, successively known as PTT Post, TPG Post and then TNT Post. And since 2011 our orange-clad deliverers have hit every corner and every pavement in the country under the PostNL name.

Missing Resource with key: usp-offscreen-label


PTT Post: 1928 - 1998

We started under the naam PTT Post in 1928 (Staatsbedrijf der Posterijen, Telegrafie & Telefonie) – a trusted brand for many decades.


TPG Post: 1998 - 2006

In 1998 we switched to TPG (TNT Post Groep).


TNT: 2006 - 2011

In 2006 we adopted Thomas Nationwide Transport (TNT Post) as our new name, refocusing our strategy to also include the international market while switching from red to orange as our signature colour.


PostNL: 2011 - nu

You’ll have known us as PostNL since 2011 – still sporting the familiar orange colour. The Dutch government has entrusted us with the universal service obligation (USO), which ensures that we deliver the mail in every street in the Netherlands five days a week. That’s how we continue to deliver special moments.


How posties dress: then and now

In the Netherlands, we all know how what our postmen and women look like, but what were their uniforms like in the past? Let’s take you back in time.

Postbode 1878

Postman in 1878

In 1878, the postman’s uniform consisted of coat, trousers and cap. This is what they looked like in the early days of the company called “Administratie der Posterijen en Telegrafie”. The rather grand outfit suited the government in the 19th century. Postal design, typography, architecture and decorative elements all derived from successive periods of history: classicism, baroque and renaissance.

Postbode 1964

Postman in 1964

Many years later, in 1964, the grey uniform was made up of coat, trousers, cap, shirt, tie, scarf and gloves. For the first time, the postie’s clothes were made of synthetic fibres. Despite the compulsory cap, postmen were increasingly seen without them and the obligation to wear one was scrapped in 1973. Those who liked their caps and wanted to keep wearing them were able to request and wear one

Postbode 2011

Postman in 2011

In 2011, we devoted a lot of attention to the clothes worn by our post and parcel delivery men and women. Their orange clothes are water-proof and the lining is removable, while they have lots of clever pockets. All designed to make it comfortable for them to deliver our post and parcels, no matter the weather. Rain, snow or sweltering heat. Our signature colours spark instant recognition – this is a PostNL deliverer!

Postbode en brievenbus

The evolution of the postbox

The orange postbox that’s so instantly recognisable to every person living in this country is very different from how these boxes used to look. You’ll find them everywhere: strategically placed in the streets or inside at PostNL locations. In the old days, they were designed mainly for elegance, whereas today’s postboxes are modernist and primarily functional

Brievenbus 1850

Postbox in 1850

This majestic postbox graced the country’s streets for no less than 110 years. By the end of 1850, the first dark-green letterboxes were placed in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht. By 1869 they were given a second slot to put mail in, after stamps for printed matter were introduced.

Brievenbus 1960

Postbox in 1960

In 1960, PTT trialled twelve new postboxes in The Hague. A state-of-the-art postbox in the company’s red and white signature colours. After two years, the first twin letterbox was launched in 1962, separating local mail from post going further afield elsewhere in the country or abroad. Easier for sorting.

Brievenbus 2011

Postbox in 2011

By 2011, streets across the Netherlands sported over 19,000 postboxes – easy to spot thanks to our bright orange signature colour today. A great deal of thought and time went into the design of our new livery in 2011. And of course our postboxes join in the fun at special events: at the Gay Pride festivities in Amsterdam our postboxes in the nation’s capital went temporarily pink!

Vervoer post en pakketten vroeger

Transport over the years

We deliver shipments in over 190 countries using a wide variety of transport. Our mail and parcel deliverers have a lot more options available to them these days. Can you imagine how our postmen used to walk long distances, sometimes for days on end, to deliver the mail? How things have changed! A few highlights:

Postauto 1928

Mail car 1928

This mail car with closed boot was protected by bars on the inside. Both the back and the sides of the car said “posterijen” (postal services) in white lettering. The typography was very modern for the times and is considered PTT’s “second house style”.

Mobiel postkantoor 1939

Mobile post office 1952

A means of conveyance and a post office in one, weighing in at 19 tonnes! Yes, you read that correctly. This post office was first used at the road racing circuit in the Dutch town of Assen, locally known as the “TT Assen”, on 28 June 1952. The post office had three window-counters, a postbox, three stamp vending machines, a telex machine and no less than three phone booths. The vehicle was sold to Circus Toni Boltini in 1970, which went on to use it for their tills. Why was it sold? It was too expensive to run and not very practical in use.

Roodrunner 2001 PTT

Roodrunner 2001

In 2001 we introduced the so-called “roodrunner” (“rood” being Dutch for “red”). Its name says it all: it was fast! These e-bikes allowed our people to cover long distances while expending less energy. Sustainable! This cargo bike has a metal frame and a plastic pannier (capacity 125 kg). The deliverer won’t hurt their back when ferrying this around, as it’s an ergonomic model with only the wheels turning to change direction, not the entire container.

Volume pakketten en post geschiedenis

Numbers of letters and parcels a year

Smarter sorting processes and more efficient transport have helped us increase our mail deliveries. In a separate development, there’s been a massive rise in the number of parcels we deliver – a trend that continues to this day.

  • Year

    • Mail

      Number of letters

    • Parcels

      Number of parcels

  • 1875

    • Mail

      45 miljoen

    • Parcels

      1 miljoen

  • 1900

    • Mail

      100 miljoen

    • Parcels

      2.5 miljoen

  • 1925

    • Mail

      250 miljoen

    • Parcels

      7.5 miljoen

  • 1950

    • Mail

      423 miljoen

    • Parcels

      13 miljoen

  • 1975

    • Mail


Meer weten?

You’ll find more historical information at iconenvandepost.nl. And if you’re curious about our stamp designs, why not check out postzegelontwerpen.nl, which is part of the Museum of Communication.