Universal Postal Union

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Universal Postal Union

Flag of the UPU

UPU member states
English name Universal Postal Union
French name Union postale universal
Organization type Specialized agencies
status active
Seat of the organs Bern Switzerland
Chair Bishar Abdirahman Hussein Kenya
Member States

All member states of the United Nations and Vatican City (except Andorra , Marshall Islands , the Federated States of Micronesia and Palau )

Official and working languages

Universal postal language French. English is
another working language

Other official languages



October 9, 1874


Until 2003: Gold
Francs special drawing right

Upper organization

United NationsU.N. United Nations

The special stamp for the 50th anniversary of the Universal Postal Union in 1924 shows co-founder Heinrich von Stephan .
75 years of the Universal Postal Union with a picture of Stephans, first edition on April 9, 1949

The Universal Postal Union (UPU; English Universal Postal Union , French Union postale universal , short UPU ) was founded in 1874 and governs today the international cooperation of postal organizations or authorities and the framework of cross-border mail services . The headquarters of the Universal Postal Union has been in Bern , Switzerland , since it was founded . As of October 4, 2011, it has a total of 192 member states. The main legal bases of the association are the statutes (Constitution) of July 10, 1964, supplemented by the general rules of procedure (Règlement général) , as well as the Universal Postal Treaty (Convention postale universelle) .


On October 9, 1874, a general postal association of 22 states was founded in the town hall for the outer stand of Bern ( Switzerland ) on the proposal of the German general postal director Heinrich von Stephan . This is one of the oldest international organizations . The Universal Postal Treaty was ratified by 20 founding states and entered into force on July 1, 1875.

These were: Egypt , Belgium , Denmark , Germany , Greece , Italy , Luxembourg , the Netherlands , Norway , Austria-Hungary , Portugal , Romania , Russia , Sweden , Switzerland , Serbia , Spain , Turkey , the United Kingdom and the United States United States of America . France joined the Universal Postal Union on January 1, 1876, and Japan in July 1879 .

The postal association regulates the international cooperation of the national postal administrations at its postal congresses . At the second congress, held in 1878 , which was General Postal Union for the Universal Postal Union , the same year that created value letter agreement and the postal order agreements . In 1881 the postal package contract came into effect. At the Universal Postal Congress in 1885 , additional agreements followed to the Universal Postal Agreement, the Value Letter Agreement, the Parcel Agreement and the Postal Order Agreement. The Mail Order Agreement and an ID Book Agreement came into force in 1886.

At the Universal Postal Congress in Vienna in 1891 , all existing contracts were renewed. The changes came into effect on July 1, 1892, the newly added Postal Newspaper Agreement on January 1, 1893. The improvements achieved at the Washington Congress in 1897 came into effect on January 1, 1899.

On July 4, 1947, the Universal Postal Union became a specialized agency of the United Nations . With 192 member states, it is the international forum for cooperation between postal administrations (or the relevant postal ministries and regulatory authorities) and postal companies .

The Universal Postal Congress is organized from Bern every four years (until 2004 the interval was consistently five years). General Director of the International Office of the Universal Postal Union has been Bishar Hussein from Kenya since January 1, 2013.

The World Post Memorial there reminds of the importance of the city of Bern for the global postal system .

Purpose of the association

The Universal Postal Treaty of 1874 regulates international cooperation between postal companies and authorities, the framework conditions for cross-border postal traffic and the billing of the postal charges incurred. To this day, the main task of the Universal Postal Union has been to ensure the global, timely delivery of letters and parcels across national and language borders. The need for a coordinating body like the Universal Postal Union becomes clear in view of the figures that describe the global postal system (as of 2014):

  • 5.2 million postal workers
  • 680,000 post offices
  • 327 billion letters (of which 3.5 billion cross-border)
  • 7.4 billion parcels (of which 101 million cross-border)

Numerous agreements (arrangements) on the Universal Postal Treaty were concluded at the Universal Postal Congresses. At the 1999 Beijing Congress , for example, B. the Postal Payment Services Convention was adopted, which brings together the Postal Giro Convention, the Postal Order Convention and the Cash on Delivery Convention.

The official language of the Universal Postal Union is French ; since 1994 English has been the second working language of the International Bureau.

The Universal Postal Union was of practical importance for individual postal customers, especially when items were lost. For example, the amount of compensation for a lost registered item was initially based on the gold franc (for a registered item there were 75 gold francs), and later on the special drawing rights of the International Monetary Fund, with a conversion always taking place in the currency of the sender's country.

The Universal Postal Union also issues the international reply coupon (Coupon-réponse international) . This coupon can be exchanged for postage stamps in any country in the world , the face value of which corresponds to the cheapest international letter . In this way, a sender can cover the cost of a reply letter. The reply coupons exchanged for postage by the postal administrations are sent to the Universal Postal Union, offset against the income from the sale of reply coupons of the respective postal administration and, if necessary, reimbursed any additional expenses.

Universal Postal Congresses

  1. Universal Postal Congress 1874 in Bern
  2. Universal Postal Congress 1878 in Paris
  3. Universal Postal Congress 1885 in Lisbon
  4. Universal Postal Congress 1891 in Vienna
  5. 1897 Universal Postal Congress in Washington DC
  6. World Postal Congress 1906 in Rome
  7. Universal Postal Congress 1920 in Madrid
  8. Universal Postal Congress in Stockholm in 1924
  9. 1929 Universal Postal Congress in London
  10. Universal Postal Congress 1934 in Cairo
  11. Universal Postal Congress 1939 in Buenos Aires
  12. Universal Postal Congress 1947 in Paris
  13. 1952 Universal Postal Congress in Brussels
  14. 1957 Universal Postal Congress in Ottawa
  15. Universal Postal Congress 1964 in Vienna
  16. 1969 Universal Postal Congress in Tokyo
  17. World Postal Congress 1974 in Lausanne
  18. World Postal Congress 1979 in Rio de Janeiro
  19. World Postal Congress 1984 in Hamburg
  20. 1989 Universal Postal Congress in Washington DC
  21. 1994 Universal Postal Congress in Seoul
  22. 1999 World Postal Congress in Beijing
  23. World Postal Congress 2004 in Bucharest
  24. World Postal Congress 2008 in Geneva
  25. World Postal Congress 2012 in Doha
  26. Universal Postal Congress 2016 in Istanbul

(General) Directors

The first nine directors (until 1966) all came from Switzerland and were elected by the Federal Council. After that, the choice lay in the competence of the Universal Postal Congress.

  1. 1875-1892 Eugène Borel (1835-1892)
  2. 1893–1899 Edmund Höhn (1838–1899)
  3. 1900–1919 Eugène Luffy (1854–1919)
  4. 1919–1925 Camille Decoppet (1862–1925)
  5. 1925–1937 Evaristo Garbani-Nerini (1867–1944)
  6. 1937–1944 Reinhold Furrer (1875–1944)
  7. 1945–1949 Alois Muri (1879–1971)
  8. 1950–1960 Fritz Hess (1895–1970)
  9. 1961–1966 Eduard Weber (1901–1970)
  10. 1966–1973 Michel Rahi (1912–1973; Egypt)
  11. 1973–1974 Anthony Hubert Ridge (United Kingdom)
  12. 1974–1984 Mohamed Ibrahim Sobhi (Egypt)
  13. 1985–1995 Adwaldo Cardoso Botto de Barros (Brazil)
  14. 1995–2005 Thomas E. Leavy (USA)
  15. 2005–2012 Edouard Dayan (France)
  16. since 2013 Bishar Abdirahman Hussein (Kenya)

Top-level domain

At the beginning of August 2012, the top-level domain was registered .post in the root zone of ICANN . The Universal Postal Union acts as a so-called sponsor of the generic domain and is also responsible for assigning it to third parties and companies. However, due to the foreseeable high demands on registrars, there are currently no providers that allow the registration of .postdomains.

See also


  • Fritz Koller, Hans Friedrich Leinung: 40 Years of the Executive Council of the Universal Postal Union , in: Yearbook of the German Federal Post 1987 pp. 9–100.
  • Marc Moser: 100 years of the Universal Postal Union. (Continuation article ) In: Archive for German Postal History 1974 No. 1 pp. 3–26 and 1975 No. 1 pp. 21–78.
  • Hans Paikert, Armin Gasser, Dietrich Oldenburg: Union Postale Universelle UPU. The UPU study. Philatelic documents on the subject of the Universal Postal Union , Düsseldorf 1979.
  • O. Veredarius: The book of the world post , Berlin 1885.
  • 100 years of the Universal Postal Union. In: Collector Express Issue No. 17/1974, p. 390 f
  • Moussibahou Mazou, L'Union postale universelle - Passé, présent et avenir , Maisonneuve & Larose / Servedit, Paris 2004
  • R. Egidy: The Development of the Universal Postal Union. In: Illustrierter Briefmarken-Journal , No. 17/1910, pp. 403–405
  • 140 years of Universal Postal Union - across borders ; in: mint never hinged - Das Philatelie-Journal; Issue: September – October 2014 No. 5/2014; Pp. 26-27.
  • A memorial in memory of the founding of the Universal Postal Union In: Schweizer Illustrierte , Vol. 7, 1903, pp. 526–527. ( e-periodica )

Web links

Commons : Universal Postal Union  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Universal Postal Union  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. See Art. 22 of the Articles of Association; Law on the contracts of September 15, 1999 of the Universal Postal Union of June 18, 2002 ( Federal Law Gazette II p. 1446 ).
  2. s: contract concerning the establishment of a general postal association
  3. ^ UPU announcement on the assumption of office of the new Director General ( Memento of April 13, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) of January 9, 2013 (English), accessed on February 24, 2013
  4. Loss business with parcels from China In: Tages-Anzeiger of June 11, 2016
  5. ^ Web administrator [Gil BEZ]: Universal Postal Union - 2014 Results. (No longer available online.) In: www.upu.int. Archived from the original on March 11, 2016 ; accessed on December 27, 2016 .
  6. New top-level domain .post goes live. In: united-domains blog. August 8, 2012, accessed August 13, 2012 .