Die Förmliche Zustellung

… or my second day in court

A few weeks ago I was called to appear as a witness at a local court. I’m not going to go into the details of the case, but I learnt a new part of the postal service in the process.  The “förmliche Zustellung”.

We’ve spoken before about the different options for sending post in Germany, ie. the Einschreiben for proof of sending, the Rückschein for recorded delivery and even options like the Einschreiben eigenhändig to ensure that only the receipient signs for something.

But the court has another option, that I was unaware of until now.

Förmliche ZustellungThe förmliche Zustellung comes in a yellow envelope. On the envelope there is space for the postal worker who puts it into the letter box to write the date on it. This is the date that it went into the letter box, and the court is then informed that the post has been delivered.

There is no notification like with the Einschreiben. If I understand it correctly, the letter is considered to have been received, and if you don’t check your post box regularly or are on holiday then that’s your problem.

I guess this gets round the problem of people refusing to sign when they see who the envelope is from, but I do wonder what would happen if I had been out of the country for a few weeks, or even if the postman had put it into the wrong letter box by mistake.

Post Pack

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If you need proof that you have sent a letter by post, then you send it “per Einschreiben”. In return for paying an additional fee to the normal postage you receive a receipt as proof of posting and can choose between different methods of delivery.

These methods are: the postman documents that he or she put the letter in the recipient’s postbox (Einwurf), the letter is handed over to someone at the recipient’s address who then signs of it (Übergabe), the letter is handed over only to the recipient in person (Eigenhändig), the letter is handed over and is signed for on a postcard which is returned to the sender (Rückschein) – similar to Recorded Delivery in the United Kingdom.

The Einschreiben method is often used when proof of sending and receipt are very important, eg. when cancelling contracts.

To hear a simple explanation and a short discussion in German, listen to the podcast:

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