International regulatory

The Universal Postal Union (UPU) is a UN specialised Agency and a platform for the coordination of international postal policies. The global postal network is based on decisions taken by the UPU bodies.

UPU congress

The highest decision making body of the UPU is its congress. The last congress was held in Istanbul, in Turkey in 2016. This congress decided upon a moderate increase of the Terminal Dues between 2018 and 2021. Terminal Dues are the remuneration applied between USO Providers for the handling and delivery of inward cross-border mail. The new remuneration system is a better reflection of the practice and needs of customers, in particular for e-commerce related transactions. Facilitation of e-commerce volumes is one of the UPU’s main priorities. This supports PostNL in his strategy for 2020.

In line with European postal regulation, PostNL supports an organisational separation of regulatory and operational responsibilities within the UPU. A Congress proposal, aimed at integrating the regulatory role of the UPU’s Council of Administration and the operational role of the Postal Operations, Council was successfully rejected thanks to fruitful cooperation between European Postal Operators and Regulators. European operators and governments remain committed to reforming UPU in order to make the organisation more effective and efficient.


PostNL constantly adapts its service offering to meet the rapidly evolving needs of e-commerce customers, both senders and receivers. Inspired by the European Commission’s strategy to facilitate the development of the Digital Single Market, European postal operators, together with counterparties in North America and Asia, have embarked upon a comprehensive product development program, called Interconnect.

E-commerce customers demand reliable transmission times, flexible delivery and returns options, easily accessible Track & Trace facilities, and responsive customer service facilities. Customs processes and security levels are facilitated by advanced data-exchange in standardised formats. The Interconnect program enables PostNL to offer its customers a suitable range of cross-border products.

EU postal and parcel regulation

As foreseen in the Digital Single Market strategy, the European Commission launched a proposal to regulate cross-border parcel deliveries in May 2016. The postal operators organized in PostEurop, the association of European public postal operators, have firmly expressed their concerns regarding this interference in an open, competitive and strongly growing market. At the end of 2017, a compromise was reached by amending the European Council and Parliament, which primarily limits the intervention to market monitoring and tariff transparency. With remarkably high rates for cross-border single piece parcel shipments that fall within the universal postal service, the regulator will check whether the fare meets the requirements of the European Postal Directive.?

The EU Council Working Party for Post informed the Commission that a considerable number of Member States expect a more flexible interpretation of the USO based on changed consumer needs. Without this flexibility the (financial) sustainability of USO will be at risk in some Member States. A revision proposal for the EU Postal Directive (last amended in 2008) is foreseen for 2021-2022.

Postal regulation in other EU Member States

In contrast to the Netherlands, certain other EU Member States have defined the scope of the Universal Service Obligation more extensively. As USO can in principle be exempt from?VAT, the VAT advantages connected to the USO are considerably larger in most of those countries than they are in the Netherlands.