The Italian Post and How to Post things to Italy

You might think that mailing something to Italy would be as simple as popping it in a letter box.  You would be wrong though, for this is often when the trouble with the Italian post starts.

I’ve lost count of the number of stories I’ve heard from expats in Italy who have lost things in the post here.  More often than not it is items sent to Italy which tend to disappear into the ether.  I know, I have had direct experience of the Italian post.  Two things which stick in my mind are a Christmas card which never arrived, and a few humble pairs of Marks and Spencer’s socks which my mum sent to me a few years back.  Said socks never made it to my house in Italy.  Yes, I know that these items were not life threateningly important, but losing them was annoying, and others have lost much more valuable items.

Other more costly items which I have heard of that have gone astray in the Italian post include a watch, and a Sony PlayStation, plus many other things which simply never arrived at their destinations here.

It’s not just sending things to Italy which can be haphazard, but also sending items out of the country.  Whether or not the letters, packs and parcels reach their destination tends to be down to chance with the Italian post.  I cannot say whether it is Italian postal workers who take a shine to whatever people are sending to one another, or whether it is the postal people in the countries through which the post passes, but I have my suspicions with regard to Italian post workers.

This how-to post, if you’ll excuse the postal pun, may help you avoid losing things to the rather erratic Italian post.  And if you think I’m being paranoid, then take a look at the comments which this post on the Italian post has attracted since it was first published in May 2009.

By way of an update for 2011, an Italian friend of mine in Genoa who often buys things online and uses the Italian post office to have them delivered has not had any problems, and has not lost anything, nor has he had packages opened. I suspect he has the things he orders posted to his offices, but I’m not sure – I’ll ask him about this the next time I see him.  The point is that posting items to Genoa (Genova in Italian) seems to be safe.  This information may help someone.  Genoa, for those who do not know, is in north Italy.

July 2015 – Items Ordered from Germany

On 15 July, I ordered a couple of items from Germany. Nearly 12 days have now passed and the items still have not turned up here in Milan, Italy.

The online store I ordered the items from mentioned that orders within the European Community area should take between 5-8 days to arrive. While Italy is part of the EC, it doesn’t follow normal rules which is why the post is, as usual, late.

Will my order ever turn up? Who knows. Such is Italy’s postal system. I’ll keep you posted. Actually, I’m happy to say that the order from Germany did get to me. It was a little late, but did arrive, even if I had to go into Milan city centre to pick it up.

December 2014 – the Missing Pure Mains Adapter

On November 9, I ordered and paid for a mains adapter for a Pure digital radio from Pure in the United Kingdom. A month has now passed and there’s no sign of the item which was dispatched on November 10. I emailed Pure but received no reply. Have now Tweeted at Pure in the hope of obtaining a response.

Pure has now responded via Twitter and are posting me another mains adapter. Fingers crossed that this one makes it to me in Italy. Will update one way or another in a week or two.

Where did the original mains adapter end up? Who knows. Yet another victim of Italy’s hit and miss postal service?

October 2011 – Credit Where Credit is Due

Although this post does not paint a great picture of Italy’s postal service, recently, I ordered some camera gear (a wireless flash kit to be exact) from a maker called Phottix in Hong Kong.  The package arrived in Milan, where I live, in good time and in perfect condition.

More Credit January 2012

I ordered, via, a memory card from a German company for my camera on January 6th.  It arrived at my home in Milan, Italy on January 10th using normal postal service.

Live in the USA? Please Read this Paragraph

Right, before you read on, if you live in the United States of America please read this USPS list of items which you cannot mail to Italy or you can only send to Italy if they are packaged correctly and please read the rest of the page too – before you send anything to Italy.  There are also specific rules regarding labelling and other aspects of parcelling items which you need to refer to.

For quick reference, here is the USPS list of prohibited items – correct as at 8th November, 2013, but I still, strongly, recommend clicking on this link to see if the list has been updated and to check the rest of the information on the page USPS list of items which you cannot mail to Italy ):

  • Albums of any kind (of photographs, postcards, postage stamps, etc.).
  • Arms and weapons.
  • Articles of platinum or gold; jewelry; and other valuable articles unless sent as insured Priority Mail International parcels.
  • Artificial flowers and fruits and accessories for them.
  • Bells and other musical instruments and parts thereof.
  • Cartridge caps; cartridges.
  • Clocks and supplies for clocks.
  • Compound medicaments and medicines.
  • Coral mounted in any way.
  • Ether and chloroform.
  • Exposed photographic and cinematographic films.
  • Footwear of any kind.
  • Haberdashery and sewn articles of any kind, including trimmings and lace; handkerchiefs; scarves; shawls, needlework including stockings and gloves; bonnets, caps, and hats of any kind.
  • Hair and articles made of hair.
  • Human remains.
  • Leather goods.
  • Lighters and their parts, including lighter flints.
  • Lithium cells and batteries — including items containing lithium cells and batteries under 135.6.
  • Live bees, leeches, and silkworms.
  • Live plants and animals.
  • Nutmeg, vanilla; sea salt, rock salt; saffron.
  • Parasites and predators of harmful insects.
  • Perfumery goods of all kinds (except soap).
  • Playing cards of any kind.
  • Postage stamps in sealed or unsealed First-Class Mail International or First-Class Package International Service shipments.
  • Radioactive materials.
  • Ribbons for typewriters.
  • Roasted or ground coffee and its substitutes; roasted chicory.
  • Saccharine and all products containing saccharine.
  • Salted, smoked or otherwise prepared meats; fats; and lard.
  • Tobacco.
  • Toys not made wholly of wood.
  • Treated skins and furs.
  • Weapons of any kind and spare parts for them.

No doubt some of the items on the list will surprise you. If you ignore the list and send items anyway, they may be seized or returned to the sender.  Exactly which of the two will happen is unclear.  If in doubt, don’t mail it to Italy.

With thanks to reader Helena for drawing this list to my attention.

Residents of other countries should check with their postal services to see what can and cannot be mailed to Italy.

The Italian postal service cannot be blamed if items on such a list do not arrive at destination in Italy.  I imagine the Italian postal service has a similar list too. If someone knows where it is, tell me and I’ll add a link.

Now, for items not on the list above, or on any other list for that matter:

Covert Operations!

Boring Envelope

A Boring Envelope

Red envelopes shout ‘rip me open!’.

Mail workers are wise to the fact that colourful envelopes from overseas may well contain greeting cards along with cheques or, even better, cash.

When sending simple things like greeting cards, do not use that flashy red or sky blue envelope that came with it.  No, pop the card in an envelope of the nice ordinary buff brown variety, like the one on the left.

If you like, you can still put that card in its original glorious technicolor envelope, as long as both are placed in an anonymous-looking boring brown envelope.

The dull brown envelope creates the impression that the contents are official, and thus of little or no value.  This discourages tampering, especially when there are all those other nice bright red and sky blue envelopes to tinker with.

December 2011 Italian Post Update

22 December, 2011:  A reader who sent a colorful package to Milan from the south USA on December 2 contacted me to say the package had not arrived at its destination in Italy.  The unlucky reader had not read this how to post before sending the pack to Italy.  Remember those covert operations 😉

Box It! Feel It!

If you can understand what is in a pack from feeling it, then you can be dead certain that someone else will too, especially someone who makes a living handling parcels.  However, it is possible that the extensive list of items which cannot be sent to Italy from the USA – linked to above  – may be to blame for certain items never arriving at destinations in Italy.  Those living in the USA need to check the list carefully before assuming Italian postal workers are light fingered.

To keep curious hands from understanding whether something is worth stealing, if you are sending things to Italy, pop items like DVDs, CDs or clothes in a rigid cardboard box.  Otherwise the chances of these things mysteriously evaporating will be considerably higher.  But note that packages may well be opened to ensure they conform to the restrictions mentioned at the start of this post.

Hold your horses for a moment.  Resist the urge to rush off to the mail box, as you are still not yet ready to post something to Italy.  Please read on.

Print that Address

Scribbling the target address on that ordinary envelope or parcel is a big no-no.  Hand written addresses are a dead give-away.  They shout ‘personal‘, ‘gift‘, and ‘money‘.

Instead, invest in those self-adhesive labels you can run through an ink jet or laser printer, and print that address.  Use a formal looking font, too. Times New Roman, maybe.  Printed addresses add, along with the boring brown envelope, to the ‘this is official, and thus of no value’ impression.

In case you can’t be bothered to take a trip down to the local stationers or computer shop to buy those self-adhesive labels, a piece of white paper on which the address has been printed, and which is then taped or, better, glued to a boring brown envelope, could be used as a do it yourself sticky label alternative.

You could, of course, simply print the address directly onto your envelope, if your printer is able to do this.

Your package or card is still not ready for the mail box just yet though.  There is the address itself.

Post it to a Business Address

From experience, I have discovered, well, my parents have, that sending a parcel, card or letter to a business address, which means a company name with ‘Srl’, ‘SpA’, or ‘SAS’ after it in Italy, tends to build upon the impression that the contents are probably boring stuff like brochures or a report.  This little distraction technique keeps those who love to tamper from fiddling with packages.

Instead, these despicable types home in on the more obviously personal packages.  You know, the ones in bright red, pink or pretty flowery envelopes, Christmas packing paper, or the things that can be squeezed.

Christmas and birthday cards disguised as official mail can probably be sent to home addresses in Italy quite safely using the boring brown envelope and printed label trick.  Well, this works for me.

December 2011 – The Christmas Italian Post to Italy Arrives Safe and Sound

My parents, who live in northern England, recently sent three Christmas parcels to Milan, where I live in northern Italy – with the technique of disguising the parcels shown here: using printed addresses and sending them to a business address.

I’m please to be able to report that all three packages arrived in good time – around a week – and the contents had not been tampered with.

Register and Insure the Item

To add some icing to the postal cake, sending your item by recorded/registered post (and insuring it) also seems to help ensure (but does not guarantee) that whatever it is you are posting will arrive at its destination in Italy, or in the country outside Italy to which you are sending something.  You may even be provided with a tracking number which can help if the package does not arrive at destination.

Oh, and beware of writing just what is in the package on it to help those nice customs people – they should have X-ray machines anyway.  Write something anonymous like ‘books’ or ‘gift’, or whatever else you can think of which will broadly describe the contents without giving too much away to the Italian post.

The package containing the watch I mentioned at the beginning of this little how-to guide arrived at its destination – minus the watch, most probably because the sender wrote on the parcel just what it contained.  Indeed, I know for a fact that the sender did indeed write ‘watch’ on the pack.  To be quite honest, it is best to avoid sending anything of value to or from Italy by post – unless you won’t mind losing it.


Once you have actually sent the item off, be patient.  Posted items can take up to two weeks to pop through that Italian letter box.  Once the two weeks are up, start checking – and read the next section too.

Customs Duty and VAT

If you are sending goods of value, such as electronic components, clothing, or furniture to Italy from outside European Union countries these could pass through customs without being flagged, however if the mail is checked and computer parts etc. are found, then someone – the recipient of the package, for example – will be required pay a 4% customs duty on the value of the item to allow it to enter Italy and Italian VAT (IVA) of 22% will also have to be paid. Some items qualify for lower VAT rates. VAT is calculated on the value of the goods, plus international shipping costs and insurance, and any import duty due.

Note that if nobody presents themselves at a customs office to claim ownership and pay duty and/or VAT, after a certain amount of time the item (or items) will be sold at public auction, so always ensure packages are not stuck in customs!

Here’s the website of Italy’s Customs service – though it is not entirely clear from the website contact section who to contact in order to understand whether your package is stuck at customs and awaiting the payment of customs duty and/VAT.

With thanks to reader Raffaele for this tip.

DHL, Fed Ex or TNT it

DHL it!

DHL it!

Last, but by no means least, if you really have to send something to Italy which is either highly important, very valuable, or extremely fiddly to replace, like a birth certificate or passport, for example, then use DHL, Fed Ex or TNT.

The cost will be high, but the chances of the package going astray will be greatly reduced.  But never, I repeat never, send raw cash this way, unless it is fully insured, and even then, it may well become lost, resulting in the long drawn out process of making a claim against the courier service’s insurance – if it covers lost cash, that is.

Sending Money

As stressed above – best avoid it, and simply do not send cash using normal postal services, especially not to or from Italy.

Indeed, US residents can only send cash and banknotes to Italy if they are placed in special packaging.

If you really must send money, either transfer it electronically via your bank, or use a service like Western Union.  A non-transferable cheque can be sent, as even if this never arrives, not much can be done with it – although the information on the check could end up in the hands of identity thieves, which is something to bear in mind.

There, I hope that helps.  The suggestions contained in this post are not foolproof, but should increase the chances that post to Italy really does get through, and arrives in one piece.  Similarly, sending items out of Italy will also benefit from a little ‘camouflage‘.

Let me know how you get on, and if you have any losses to report.  Please say whereabouts in Italy you are sending items to and from, if you do leave a comment – this might help us all identify the trouble spots.

I hope you found this post on the ‘post’ interesting.  Let me leave you with one final thought.

Ever wondered why Amazon took so long to set up shop in Italy?  Well, this post might explain why.  I hope that Amazon does not end up losing buckets of money as a result of high-ticket items never getting to where they were supposed to go.  I could be wrong, but… 😉

23 November 2010:  Amazon decided to brave the Italian market – but Amazon read this post first: Amazon Lands in Italy, but Visited ItalyChronicles/ first

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  1. says

    About Amazon. Therein lies the unfortunate part of all this. It makes Italy look second rate.

    Have they tried cleaning it up?

    • Alex says

      Hi Alex,

      “Have they tried cleaning it up?” – I do not know, but someone who has only recently arrived in Italy commented on the randomness of the postal service, so this probably means no.

      Then again, I’m not 100% certain that the problem is in Italy – could just be a problem with international mail.



      • Graham says

        Going into the post office here is horrible too, it takes over an hour of waiting to send ONE package. I’ve had a cd go missing too, also another package i reported missing to the seller after 6 weeks no delivery, only to have it arrive 2 weeks later and when i send international packages with raccomandata the tracking code only works like 30% of the time, and packages take AGES to leave Italy, then smooth and speedy. It’s the same coming in, i can track my package from north UK to Milan in 2 days, then it can take 6 days from Milan to my house in Rome, i can only imagine if i lived out of the city!

        The staff at my local PO have violently abused my packs in front of me, slamming them on the desk and tossing them about, last time a mail sticker wouldn’t stick so te guy attacks my pack with a STAPLER!! But you just have to smile and be very polite, otherwise your pack will most certainly be lost.

    • carol says

      I’ve lived in Italy for 30 years and can honestly say the postal system hasn’t made much progress since I arrived.

      I rememember my mother sending me Christmas and birthday presents that never arrived. My sister used to send packages to my son from the US which sadly arrived after his birthday or they just didn’t come.

      It boils down to simple dishonesty. They just take what they want from the pile and walk away with it. We know that thieves are all over the world but these people are Italian postal workers. Problem is, the post office knows it happens and turn a blind eye telling people ‘your package was probably lost before it arrived in Italy’, yeh.

      Almost the same thing happens at airports, they see a case coming from the US or UK and know people have done shopping, so they open the cases and just take what they want.

      I’ll never understand why Italians are so dishonest. They don’t even trust each other.

      • Jeff says

        Carol – your comment is one hundred percent accurate. I’ve sent things to Italy that have either disappeared or showed up several months later if I got lucky. It’s beyond frustrating. I also lived in Italy, and your comment:

        “I’ll never understand why Italians are so dishonest. They don’t even trust each other” Is so true. And so sad.

        This is why they will never dig themselves out of the hole they’re in with the European Union / Euro fiasco. Like Greece, Italy is stuck in the 18th century and the rest of the world has passed them by. Yet, they think the problems they are facing lies with every one else but themselves. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, is delusional if she thinks that Italians will agree to change their ways and develop the discipline and work ethic similar to the Germans.

        • emanuela says

          Thank you very much.I’m italian and I’m neither a thief or a fiasco.Anyway,the only time one of my international parcel was lost, was on the England side,it never crossed their border!

    • suzan says

      I am absolutely appalled by Italian post.Their policies appear to be nothing better than a licence to steal. I had my credit card (from my bank) opened by Italian Post and sent on to an Italian Hotel address (where I was staying) with the envelope left open for anyone to steal or access my credit card. I and the hotel were horrified and I had to cancel the card! Secondly, I posted home (to Australia) some clothes (from Venice), a small fabric backpack and minor gifts like postcards etc which were all stolen – except for the clothes. I deeply resent this theft and confiscation of my personal belongings which were not breaking any laws. Furthermore I have paid for a certain weight of post and received far less than paid for. I want my property back and a refund! I will be pursuing this through the Australian Embassy with Italian Post and am deeply offended by their actions. Mail is private and it is a horrifying that so-called government official postal workers are nothing more than racketeers! A national disgrace Italy!

      • Justin says

        “Toys not made wholly of wood.”
        USPS Customs will not allow toys made of plastic.

        I hypothesize that Italians are deprived of the good things in life and get desperate when they finally see these good things pass them by in the mail.

        That could be why they steal them.

      • Nicole says

        My partner and I just posted two large boxes of trinkets from our time overseas from Venice to Brisbane. I am now absolutely terrified our packages aren’t coming! Did anything come of you following it up??

    • says

      Hi! My husband and I are moving to Aviano Air Base in Italy soon and I was wondering if the post on the base works the same way as the post in the cities? You mention that it’s best to ship things to a business address, but what about an APO address/post office box? We are moving into a home but will retain our base P.O. Box – would you recommend shipping to that instead of our home? And does it still pass through the same “customs inspections?” Thanks :) I found this article very helpful and will be sharing with my parents for future mailing!

      • Laura says

        The APO mail is handled by the USPS employees. It does not enter the Italian mail system. It flies over using space-A, so that’s why it takes so much longer.

    • Peter B says

      Please note all those sending things from the UK, that things don’t often get delivered in the UK !
      All letters have the corners torn after someone was looking for money or cheques. parcels arrive suspiciously ripped.
      Packages sent abroad are judged fair game for the thieves withing the system.

      People are often sent to prison for tampering with the post and those who saw the undercover filming of the Royal mail some years back should be in no doubt that the problem most probably lies in the country with the highest crime rates in the developed world. Rule Britania !

  2. Giorgio, Milano says

    Hi Alex,
    actually I have always received in Italy wathever I have ordered to Amazon. With some delay, maybe, ma never loosing anything. The quirks of Fate, in my experience, are instead on the side of the custom: you never know if there will be a nice add-on to the price or not…

    • Alex says

      Hi Giorgio,

      Good to hear that Amazon ordered goods have always arrived. Thinking about it, I too have ordered stuff from Amazon USA, and this stuff arrived, and fairly quickly. Not yet been hit but the customs charges – but they worry me.

      But have you ever noticed that there is an Amazon UK, Amazon USA, Amazon Germany, Amazon France, Amazon Spain, but no Amazon Italy. Strange, is it not?!



      • says

        I too have not had any problems either receiving or sending stuff through the post, including receiving items from Amazon in the UK.

        Maybe, I too, am lucky. I shall be crossing my fingers for the next item though, as I’m sure fate will take a hand now that I’ve said it’s OK! :-)

        • Alex says

          Hi Andy,

          Good to hear that you have not had problems. Long may this continue! Hope commenting here does not tempt fate!



      • Marianne says

        I recently sent a package to southern Italy and
        Paid good money to send it, but I was embarrassed
        That they charged my relative a customs charge!!
        I guess this is a learning curve for me. How do I
        Avoid that hopping again?

      • Jen says

        Amazon does actually have offices in Italy, in Milan in fact. Those offices do report to the Amazon.UK branch of the company–think of them as the headquarters for a handful of the other Amazon Europe branches. My guess is this has to do with tax advantages more than anything else. My orders from them arrive just fine to my husband’s office in Milan. I’ve not been brave enough to have anything sent to my house. I’ve heard too many stories from other expats of sporadic mail (even within Italy itself) to risk it.

    • Joanne Jourdain says

      I’ve been living in Genoa for 12 years now. The postal service is quite irregular now. Regarding packages, I recently ordered some books from Amazon. SDA, the postal carrier, called me a week or two ago and said they would deliver the next day. I told him my house was difficult to find and to call me first. I was home all the next day, but no phone call and no delivery. Today I learned that they shipped my package back to Amazon. Better yet and not uncommon? They state they tried to consign the package numerous times. Strange since I was home on the days they mention. Welcome to Italy! I strongly suggest using a business address.

      • says

        Hi Joanne,

        Thanks for your comment.

        Although SDA is part of the Italian post office group, it’s not really the same as the post office, perhaps. Then again, if it is SDA which deals with packages on behalf of the post office, then I suppose it suffers from the same odd levels of efficiency.

        And yes, that trick of saying they tried to deliver is something I’ve heard of before – I think it’s done on purpose, but have no proof.

        As you say, a business address is the safest place to have packages delivered too – if you can.



  3. says

    Hi Alex,

    First of all brilliant post, excellent advice! I have to say that things have greatly improved over the years (and forgive me for saying this – since moving North) I know, I know, all heck will break loose when people read that but the reality is that when I lived in Rome (15 years ago) I had ENDLESS problems with receiving packages and letters.
    Since living in Milan I have had few problems and I order a lot of stuff on the Internet – mostly from the UK, but also from the US, Canada and Thailand. Purchases always arrive and I rarely have to wait very long for them. I also receive a lot of stuff from DeAgostini in the mail and their stuff always arrives. My sisters in Canada regularly send me things and I always get them. Perhaps I’ve been lucky lately, but I think your advice is spot on.

    • Alex says

      Glad you liked the post, Joanne. I hoped it might be useful to some.

      Sounds as though you are one of the not so lucky ones, like me, or at least you were when down in Rome.

      I’ve always been up north, and still worry about things getting through. Quite paranoid, I am!

      Good to hear that recently things have been getting to you without problem, but I wrote this post after having spoken to someone who has only been in Milan for a few months, and has been having post related problems. So while the problem may be diminishing, it’s not been eliminated just yet.

      As for the poke towards Italy’s south, I think it is warranted, as you will know if you catch RAI 3’s investigative documentary series Report.

      Boring brown envelopes for me!



    • says

      hi Alex,
      I post weekly to Italy and it causes me nothing but problems
      99% of parcels are stolen and never recovered.i post over 45,000 parcels a year and would class it as the most corrupt postal system in the world.
      Italians do not understand or recognise postage systems and never understand tracking references and just get upset and angry every time you try to help them.
      I have had the odd parcel that arrives 2 months late and by then it’s not worth getting it back.
      most of the time postage to Italy is a waste of time
      kind regards
      Jamie cannon

      • peter says

        I live in Rome and i believe that the Italian politicians take courses from the Italian Postal workers before they begin their careers, nothing but thieft lies and more thiefts cant wait to leave this dump and never come back.

    • Alex says

      Hi Dierdré,

      Read that post of yours. Incredible! How could it possibly take longer to post something to a major town in Italy, then to some middle of nowhere hill station in India?

      And I noticed that you ran the same post in Italian too:

      But then the words ‘Italian’ and ‘efficiency’ are not often seen together. RAI 3’s Report makes this very clear indeed. You may have heard that Italian managers have recently claimed to be some of the best in the world. However, there must be no world class managers working for Italy’s generally dire postal service.

      Thought this post might have provoked a few mail related tales.



  4. says

    great post!

    I cannot count the number of hours I spent in lines at the post office only to arrive at the front of the line and be told that the color of my box was wrong, or the lettering was too big or too small or in the wrong colour or the wrong place on the box, or the dimensions were wrong, or … whatever.

    I did order 6 books from amazon once, to be sent to my Milan address, and after something like 3 months, when they hadn’t arrived, I called them and told them. They immediately sent another order, with no questions, which I received pretty quickly. Then, 6 months later, my original order arrived. Honestly, who knows….!!

    • Alex says

      Glad you liked the post, Madeline.

      And thanks for telling us about your fun with the funny Italian postal system.

      I’d not heard of people having problems with boxes before now. Incredible.

      As for the Amazon tale, well, that’s a good example of how random the Italian mail service can be.

      Best regards,


  5. says

    this is an excellent post! i found this in a search for amazon delivery problems – in rome over xmas they are now using SDA couriers to bring packages but – get this – if you happen to be out when the courier calls, you then have to call SDA on a very expensive number to request redelivery – unfortunately they cannot give a precise time and instead suggest that you stay in ALL day in case they call?! if you miss them – they send your stuff back to amazon!!
    i’ve also had empty envelopes and packages delivered to me in rome – often with one side slit open or even roughly torn – once even a completely ripped open and unfolded amazon package was dutifully brought to my door…minus contents! i never had any problems when i lived in a rural area, however – only in rome.

    • says

      Hi Deborah,

      Glad you found it interesting! A few people seem to have, and I know that there is a .pdf guide out there somewhere with a link to it too.

      I’ve not had any experience of SDA couriers, I have to say – sounds as they fall into the ‘are couriers, but not in the way you know it’ category! TNT and FedEx seem to work normally in Italy.

      As for stories of empty packages, not a surprise. Interesting to hear that you had no problems in rural areas.

      Merry regards,


    • Dawn Graziani says

      Hello, I can scream a huge AMEN! to every single post here but this is the one I can really note. I am fortunate my husband is from Italy; we have only been here some years living both in a busy Rome area and now more toward Rieti in the mountains. There was really no difference at all. Of any of the services, we recieved mostly from usps which was delivered by SDA. In any occasion they are inflexible with time to come and in many instances we had to wait almost a week for them to make 3 failed attempts. They always came when our daughters had to be picked up from school and that was the only option we had so we had to wait.

      Once my mother paid over $100 to send a gift through USPS Global, we recieved it in time but could not get it for over a week. After we picked up our very poor package looking like it was under several trains, we had to pay 70 euro just to take it. All small packages of clothes, etc. No jewelry or anything. That is when we were fortunate to receive them at all. I get a lot through ebay from the US but have learned now to get what I can through the UK. Much faster, always comes and there are never fees to pay when it arrives.

      I have to add, however, that many things I get from have given us problems as well as the delivery companies here are horrible in delivering. Some have said they will not come all the way up the mountain so we had to wait until it arrives at the office to get while others would not let us choose the time we could pick up; the sender had to be the one to make that decision. Amazing. Bartolini (hope I spelled right) the absolute worst! I will no longer accept anything from someone sending this way. They were rude and very difficult to deal with each and every time. Would really love a solution to receiving from family in the US.

  6. Franca Garcia says

    Dear Sir I have send a Parcel (about 10 kg) to Italy 0n 23 of november and did not arrive The address is [address removed by Alex Roe] -The parcel was sent from 482 holloway Road Post office.- would be any change to find out what Happened to it? Many thanks. Mrs Franca Garcia.

    • says

      Sorry Franca – this is not something this site does.

      I suggest you ask the Italian addressee to speak to the Italian post office about this.



      PS I have removed the address you mentioned because I don’t think it is a good idea to make it public.

  7. Furious says


    I checked this what you said about shipping items to Italy or out from Italy.
    There seems to be just this kind of problem also. Even I had registered mail and simple package, Italy post workers had opened my package, took item out and just put case back in where the item was.

    It is unbeliavable what those people can do there.

    • says

      Hello Furious,

      Very sorry to hear your story. As I mentioned above, the suggestions are not foolproof -but I have used these techniques and have been lucky -so far.

      I’m afraid that while using registered mail helps, it is not always a guarantee -registered mail just means you can check that your item actually gets to destination and that you may be able to claim on insurance if something does happen.

      The downside to registered mail is that it shouts ‘something interesting inside’. Dishonest postal workers are well aware of this.

      I’ll leave your comment here in the hope that it warns others of the dangers.

      Thanks for writing.



  8. says

    Happy to report that my Christmas package sent November 29th from Los Angeles California to Bologna Italy arrived safe and sound on January 12th. That’s 44 days if anyone is counting.

    • says

      At least you are happy to report that it took 44 days! I guess those mail men cannot cycle as fast as they once did, Julie.

      It got there, that is the important thing!



  9. says

    Hi Alex

    I received a Chirstmas card in a plain white envelope yesterday (27 January) posted in the Netherlands on 22 December. It confirms all your pessimism EXCEPT the handwritten address contained 4 lines: my name, my village, ‘Tuscany’, ‘Italia’. No house number, no street address, no province! A helpful postal worker had written ‘Lucca’ on the envelope. The postina had done the rest.


    • says

      Not so much pessimism as prudence, Heather. Experience teaches you things…

      I’ve been in Italy for a long time, and the postal service has not really improved. Only the other day someone, a German, moaned to me about how slow the Italian mail service can be.

      Still, not everything is bad. Some postal workers are nice honest people, I’ve no doubt at all. From the way the card had been addressed, you were pretty lucky to have got it at all!

      Your story is a classic example of the way things are in Italy – the general problem is a lack of consistency. One day something will go well, the next day the same thing will be like taking the slow train to the moon. Painful.



  10. Sim says

    In the end, the majority of the stuff I’ve had posted to me in Rome did eventually arrive. What gets me is the sheer randomness of the timing. My parents sent two packages to me, a month apart; they arrived on the same day. I imagine they put the first one in a corner where it lay forgotten until somehow jogged back into the system by the arrival of the second! Of course, if you keep them waiting they’ll charge you – if they hold a package for you at the post office until you go and queue for it they’ll charge for storage from day 6 onwards…

  11. says

    Hello Alex!

    Great post! ♥

    I have never sent anything to Italy and I’ve only ordered one thing so far (last Summer).

    It was a lovely hand crocheted clochet hat, which arrived safely & quickly.

    Anyhow, this is not the first time I read “horror” stories about the Italian postal service.

    There’s a website where I like to shop for handmade items & there happens to be a forum & blog section where artisans get to discuss their experiences & I have to admit that a lot of them mentioned the problems they’ve encountered with lost packages and what not.

    Some were worried about sending out their stuff but would still do so anyhow, others would resort to sending insured & registered only and another group of people would just refuse to send anything whatsoever due to the high amount of lost parcels & orders.

    So, I can assure you that you’re not being paranoid.

    There definitely is a problem.

    PS: I run an informative website concerning the promotion of handmade goods and anything that goes with it (selling, packing, shipping, shopping, …).

    And I would really love to add a link to your blog post :-).

    Let me know what you think!

    • says

      Hi Miriam,

      Glad you found this post worthwhile.

      It’s always interesting to hear about other peoples experiences concerning Italy’s somewhat unpredictable mail service.

      Very interesting to hear that artisans have noticed sending stuff to or out of Italy can be problematic.

      Stuff does get through to Italy- I can vouch for that. And stuff does become lost too.

      As for linking to this post, feel free. If it helps people avoid problems, then that’s great!

      Thanks for commenting.



  12. Nobody says

    Ugh. Whenever I buy something from Italy it’s always a headache to mail it out to the USA. Usually the shipping costs more than the item!

    What I don’t understand is that Poste Italiane’s international site has COMPLETELY different prices from their Italian side. Note the price for a 1-2kg item for the USA (6.20):

    Now look again for a 1kg item (46,70!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and that’s without insurance):


  13. sabcarrera says

    I ordered a a personal item which DHL lost a second post arrived later than DHL claimed on their tracking site. So far, SDA have performed better.

  14. says

    Hi Alex,
    We run an internet retail site in the UK and have discovered the hard way about the Italian postal service. We have been trading for nearly 4 years and 80% of all of our international losses have occured in Italy in the run up to christmas 2009. As a result of this we have removed Italy from the list of countries we deliver to – which is unfortunate because there is a blog in Italy specifically linking in to our site. We do still send to Italy but only if the customer accepts that we will not accept responsibility for any item lost in the post.
    I find it very shocking that a first world country such as Italy has postal reliability to rival a third world one.
    Thanks for your blog.

    • says

      Hi Jonathan,

      Thank you for your informative comment.

      As you may realise, your story of Italian postal service woes does not come as a huge surprise. What does come as something of a surprise is that you no longer deliver to Italy via the Italian post office. That is quite amazing, and is something to be expected, as you say, of some tin-pot country in Africa, but not a G8 nation in the 21st century!

      Let’s hope someone from the Italian post office ends up reading this, and assures us all that things are going to get better. Somehow, though, I doubt this is going to happen, but I would love to be proved wrong!

      Best regards,


  15. Clare says


    My mother and I are just trying to solve the mystery of opened cards and parcels that always arrive to me from Italy where she lives. Sometimes only one item has been taken out of the parcel – but all my cards from her are always without fail opened and then re-stapled together. We’re trying to decide whether it is Italy or Uk that are opening them. Nothing else I receive from any other country or person arrives opened, but my mother says nothing else she sends arrives opened at it’s UK source, so we are perplexed….can you help?



    • says

      Hi Clare,

      Stories of opened cards and parcels are nothing new, alas. I think it’s dishonest Italian postal workers who are to blame, but cannot prove this. Some might say that it is the customs people who are opening the parcels, and this could be the case if the contents of the parcel are not marked – but don’t be too specific – that’s asking for trouble.

      As for helping, I can’t really do much aside from advise that people disguise their parcels and cards to reduce the possibility of items being ‘inspected’. Sending things to a business address with a printed label may help, if this is possible, of course, and I know not everyone can do this.

      Where in Italy does your mother live? Perhaps others in the same area of Italy have had similar problems.

      Thanks for commenting.



      • Clare says

        Hi there, thanks for your reply….she lives in Perinaldo, near Ventimiglia. My birthday card just came opened too, very frustrating! Clare

  16. Sandro says

    great post. The existence of this proves what’s happening is real. And trust me, postal service workers DO open packages and STOLE items systematically.
    In the last months 4 packages I should have received have been stolen, they also have the courage to open it, stole some items or all of them and then fake-retape it.
    AFAIK, in a civilized society, stole and open packages of others is considered a felony that puts you in jail. Do you think they’re punished? yeah right. Let’s not even start the discussion about people who work at customs!
    A friend of mine who lives near me receives packages almost everyday and they’re arrive ALL open, if they arrive of course :)
    Can you blame ebayers from leaving Italy out of their business or amazon? Come on, they made the best decision they could have made!
    We tried to report the facts you wanna know everyone’s answer? “what can you do about it?”.
    I know what I’ll do eventually: MOVE OUT!

    • says

      Hi Sandro,

      Glad you liked this post. It does sound as if Italy’s postal service needs changing. Dishonesty and unreliability will be damaging businesses – even if Italians are very good at finding alternatives.

      And you are right, interfering with the mail is considered to be a crime in other nations – here in Italy it seems to be quite normal. Odd.

      Thanks for commenting.



  17. Flavia says

    I had terrible experience with Italian post office. 2x sent gifts from US and never arrived in Rome and Naples. Shame on the mail carrier there. I’ve been sending packages and letters to Brazil (3rd world) for the past 10 years and it NEVER got lost!!! They should do something about it. It makes the “hole country” look as if everyone is dishonest and a joke. The Italian residents have the power to complain and to make them change!!! Just a “brilliant” thought!

  18. Stephanie says

    I have had success sending stuff to Italy from the USA but it takes FOREVER. But from Italy to here… two to three weeks max! I sent a package a couple of years ago and had tracking on it. It listed it as tried to be delivered for something like two weeks and then sent back to me! (thank goodness I got it back even though I had to pay $20 to get it back!!) The strange thing is, I know that the person would have been there many of the days that it had ‘tried’ to be delivered! Plus it listed as trying to be delivered at 3 am once! I think there was definitely something fishy but at least I got it back!

  19. Stephany Nezo says

    Wow, I had no idea the italian postal service was like this. I’m disheartened as well because I just sent my boyfriend 2 things to suprise him!

    What do you think of the final status of 1 small, white, handwritten, envelope and one post card (open)
    addressed to
    Ben ___ (last name)
    luncignan, italy
    zip code

    ?its such a small town I know they would know him I also addeed “vicino a cheisa” dead give away to where he is..

    do you think they will not deliver it? its such a small old town with friendly people I thought it would get there no doubt, but after reading this.. *tear* whats the prognosis??

    • says

      Don’t panic, Stephany!

      Postcard should be OK – but might take some time to arrive – depending where you are and where it is going – and how accurate the addresses are.

      Envelope should be OK too – provided that there is nothing but a letter in there. Sending money is a big no no.

      Wait two weeks and see if your boyfriend says something.

      Post to north Italy may be safer than post to south Italy. It’s not the postal workers in the smaller towns who may be the problem, but, I suspect, the postal workers in the bigger sorting offices in Italy through which the post may pass.

      At the end of the day, it’s difficult to know. Both items may get through, or one might and one not, or both might never arrive or one might arrive long before the other, but not the one you posted first! It’s very random and hard to predict, which is part of the problem.

      Let us know if the post to Italy does get through!



  20. Sara says

    I was so nervous to send to Italy a huge box of magazines which cost $600. I didn’t lie on the customs either. I sent it out October 8th by USPS Priority Mail International and she received them all on the 27th. They didn’t take anything out nor did they open it up! It did take them two days to go through customs. I guess they’re getting better! :)

  21. says

    Hi Sara,

    Hopefully things are getting better, but Italy is often inconsistent – some people have zero problems, others have infinite problems. Depends on what you are sending too – if the value of the goods is low, or is thought to be low, then there are less likely to be problems.

    Christmas is on its way, so let’s see how things go. I’d still advise caution.

    Thanks for commenting.



  22. Lala says

    Hi. I’m Lala from Malaysia. I want to send a package to a friend in Milano, Italy.
    The thing is I promised quite a lot of items:

    5 postcards
    1 bracelet
    1 necklace
    1 hand hold fan

    Can you give some tips in sending jewellery? I don’t have any idea how to disguise? Perhaps I shouldn’t declare it?
    It’s fake gemstones, so it isn’t really expensive but it looks like expensive ones…

  23. Brian A says

    American companies stop shipping to Italy because of theft (let’s not mince words) and people wonder which country has the problem. UK companies take the same steps for the same reason and people ask the same question. Half the world is scared of posting anything more valuable than a stamp to Italy. It’s no wonder.

    I live near Milan and have two ‘friends’ who live in my building and work inside the postal distribution system. I can’t say where. They openly boast about how much extra money they make from their job, and they aren’t talking about salaries. Post into or out of Italy to the UK, “richer” parts of Europe and the USA are considered prime targets. Nobody really cares when foreigners start whining about lost parcels and they can always blame foreign postal services..

    Parcels are routinely opened. They are taped back together, sometimes even after stuff is stolen. Why? They can say that the stuff arrived in Italy opened and that an Italian worker, out of the goodness of his heart, repackaged what he thought was the entire package…

    However, once every decade, a new manager arrives who doesn’t know the score (take the money and keep quiet) and makes a point of catching the least liked thief who works for that particular branch office. He is then sacked (the theif) and, after appealing, is then reinstated and even given his old job back. It’s nigh on impossible to sack someone just because he steals. Don’t believe me? Go to wikipedia and look up Umberto (I hate anyone who isn’t Italian) Bossi. He’s the leader of the Lega Nord, part of the Italian government. Failing that, look up Silvio (I have a thing for under-age foreign prostitutes) Berlusconi. Judge for yourself why criminals are rarely sacked, let alone imprisoned in Italy unless they happen to be from Africa or Eastern Europe. There are over 30 convicted criminals in the Italian state government.

    Really, you don’t need to know any more, and asking further questions is just plain silly.

    • says

      You are painting a bleak picture – but I suspect you are right – and your friends appear to support your claim. I know too that there have been cases of airport baggage handlers stealing passengers goods, and the situation within Italy’s post office is not dissimilar – unhindered access to personal items.

      The point you make about Italy’s politicians is relevant – the people at the top should set the example – if that example is bad, others will follow suit. I really do not understand how convicted criminals can stand for public office – but this is Italy – a country overflowing with rules which are, for the most part, ignored.

      As for Italy’s legal system – yes, at times it seems to be overly lenient, this is true. It is also very slow.

      I’m aware of both Berlusconi and Bossi, as you will discover if you search

      Thanks for commenting.



  24. Robert says

    What Brian says is 100% true. I would be crazy to ever ship anything to or from Italy. Why the Italian economy doesn’t grind to a complete halt is the interesting question given the rampant corruption in shipping there. I tell everyone I can whether they have any business in Italy or not, to never send anything to or from Italy. The postal service left a bitter taste in my mouth. And to Italy, enjoy your descent in the Third World squalor.

  25. says

    Some very good tips here for shipping things to and from Italy ..thanks! :-) I’ve always had good luck receiving packages and letters where I live on the Amalfi Coast. But I’ve also heard so many horror stories from expats as well! So even if there is a slight delay, I’m always thankful for my good service. I order often from Amazon UK, and the delivery is relatively fast and reliable. For me the main problem is the excessive cost and customs requirements for shipping from America to Italy. My family has had to come up with workarounds for the holidays (like Amazon UK wishlists), because it’s just too expensive and complicated to mail from America.

    • says

      Thanks for commenting Laura. Good to hear that the post in the Amalfi area is relatively reliable. But I see you’ve heard plenty of mail related expat horror stories too – like most of us expats in Italy, I suspect.

      Postal costs are another topic – its not cheap from the UK, so from and to the States must be painful. I think electronic goods are an alternative, or, if possible, relatives could purchase things in Italian online stores – but they may have to forget the nice surprise factor though.

      Glad you found the tips handy :)



  26. pgcd says

    In the last couple of years I had quite a lot of packages shipped to Italy from abroad – UK, USA and Germany. Of these, only one was actually “lost” (it was a shipment of non-tobacco nasal snuff – white powder! – from the US. I wonder whose nose it ended up in); several had long delays, though. What annoys me the most is that non-registered, non-signed-for packages actually are delivered a lot faster. For instance, I repeatedly bought nasal snuff (yep, it’s kind of a hobby for me) from Germany, from the same vendor. The first two times it was registered, trackable and signed-for packages, and it took a couple of weeks in both cases. The last two it was regular packages (brown boxes), and it took three days both times.
    After all, since there is absolutely no way of knowing who’s handling a box or envelope at a given moment, the hypothetical post-office thief will happily devote his/her time to rummage through registered, insured packages: they’re more likely to contain interesting stuff, and the thief will never be called to pay for the loss anyway, right?
    Of course, the problem is that if a regular shipment gets lost, there’s really nothing you can do.

    A final consideration: all Amazon (.com and shipments I received have been mostly speedy, and the boxes seemed to have been left alone. This might sound surprising, until you learn that 80% (ish) of Italians are functionally or actually illiterate. Amazon’s stuff is mostly books, so it’s not *that* interesting.

    • says

      Good, Pgcd – someone who has not had too many problems with Italy’s mail system – I know they do exist. Actually, I wonder what the ratio of good experiences to bad experiences is.

      I shudder to think what ‘nasal stuff’ might be! A hobby too! I’m surprised you have not had curious policemen turn up at your door asking questions!

      Where did you get your facts on 80% illiteracy? I know Italians are not great readers, and I know that Amazon will generally send books which are in English or German, and not too many Italians will be able to read them.

      From what a few people have said, it sounds almost as if Amazon boxes are not touched. Why this is, I don’t know. I would never order a camera from Amazon and have it sent to Italy – I don’t think it would get here – I could be wrong, but I’m not going to try it!

      Anyway, good to hear that some people do not find Italy’s post too bad. As for registered items, I guess they take longer because more paperwork is necessary in Italy – although everything should be electronically controlled.



      • pgcd says

        I’m sorry if I gave the impression my experience with Italian Post is anything like “not too bad” – one lost package and several “priority shipments” that were expected to take days and took weeks instead is more “rather bad”, in my opinion =)

        PS: Nasal snuff is a type of, relatively harmless, smokeless tobacco. It smells very good and seems to be effective in helping those who would quit smoking but fear the nicotine withdrawal – I wouldn’t know since I quit smoking quite some time before taking up snuff.

      • pgcd says

        I’m sorry, I realized I didn’t answer the question re: italian illiteracy; I couldn’t find the original article, so here’s a copy:
        I’m sorry it’s in Italian, but the gist of it is that only 20% Italians possess “full” literacy and numeracy, while the rest is variously illiterate (functionally or worse) according to at least two different studies. Sadly I couldn’t find either published online, but the author (Tullio de Mauro) is a rather respected linguist, and I’m inclined to trust him even if he fails to mention specific sources.

  27. Melissa says

    Great article with lots of valuable information! Thank you for sharing. I’ve shipped a couple of packages to Milan. The first time the contents were stolen, it was a homemade photo album for my friends wedding. She and I were both upset, it took me a lot of time to make and it was sentimental. The second time was just a couple of months ago. I mailed my package out priority mail from Ohio to Milan on a Saturday, it arrived in Italy on a Tuesday. Pretty quick, but then it sat in customs for over a week. I did pay extra for a return receipts where she had to sign for the box, and also insured the box. I was pleased I could track the package online, however it’s been close to two months and I never received the postcard back with her signature, but I know she received it. I wasn’t too happy that it still took a couple of weeks sending it priority mail. For the price I paid for postage I was expecting much quicker delivery time!

    I’m sending out her Christmas gift this week, also priority with a return receipt. I just hope it arrives safely. I’m going to write in books even though it’s not. I always wondered if I had to spell out all the contents in the package especially when it’s a gift I don’t like doing that.

  28. kris says

    Wow, I’ve been here for many years and thankfully, I haven’t experienced any real problems with any packages arriving…a delay, every once in awhile for certain packages arriving here, but really, I have had very few problems. (Knock on wood o tocca ferro…) Anything I have sent from Italy has most always arrived on time. My Italian husband tells me that the postal service really has improved over the past decade…and although I can’t make the comparison as he has, I can say that I have been relatively pleased with Poste Italiane.

  29. Canuck says

    It’s consoling to read that I’m not the only one who has experienced problems with the Italian postal system.

    I have encountered many problems over the past 8 years. From boxes sent from Canada which never arrived (I presume stolen – they were loaded with lovely Christmas presents) to letters which took months. Last year my order (cd’s) never arrived. In December 2009 I received no mail for 3 weeks; in February 2010 suddenly one day my mailbox was stuffed with mail sent from Italy and the UK in November 2009. By March 2010 all the extra-EU Christmas mail arrived.

    Yesterday I received a card that was sent priority from Canada… over a month ago. Issues from my magazine subscription, sent from the UK in a nice bubble-wrapped package, sometimes don’t show up.

    Then there are duty charges, which I’m sure are not the fault of Poste Italiane but you never know if there could be a link: two years ago we made a silly decision to mail some of our things to Italy from Canada rather than travel with extra bags: our old ski clothes and shoes, a couple of books. The box was delivered, but only after it was delivered and the postman left were we informed that we could not actually OPEN the box because we had to pay 600 Euros in duty. If we opened the box we would be fined. We tried everything to explain that these were personal, used items and not new items, from many phone calls to letters written, but it made no difference: customs officials showed up at the office to seize our box. So we forked out the dosh just to keep our own items.

    At this point I actively discourage friends from sending mail, unless they feel like using FedEx or TNT.

  30. Jim Brundle says

    Do not, under any circumstances, send cash to Italy by post. It will be pinched. I have personally had a couple of experiences of this. Many is the parcel or card I have had which has arrived half-ripped open (although sometimes someone has made a half-arsed attemp to sellotape it up again). I live in Genoa.

  31. says

    A senior Poste Italiane official once told me, when we were meeting on official business, the reason for the totally random delays in deliveries. These occur, he said, when either a local staff shortage or a temporary boost in quantity of items to sort (e.g., Christmas) means that the bins containing the mail to be sorted are not yet empty when the next lot arrives. These are then thrown in on top of the remnants from the previous sort, covering them. The potal workers carry on working from the top down, but until they have completely emptied a bin, the items at the bottom may have been covered and delayed several times. I asked why they can’t use a FIFO (first in, first out) system. There’s no room in the sorting offices, he told me.

    Makes sense (of a sort)…

  32. Marisa says

    Hi, thank you so much for this informative post. I sell quite a bit of stuff on ebay and I state that I only post to Ireland and the UK. However an Italian from Milan bid on an expensive bottle of perfume the week before Christmas and against my better judgement I posted it to him. Now he has instigated a dispute on ebay claiming he never received the gift and he never contacted me personally about this. Also when I checked his feedback, he claimed in the summer that he never received a bag from a UK seller and received a full refund. I should have been more wary because many ebayers say they will not post to either Italy or Bugaria. I will never post anything to Italy again.

  33. Amanda says

    Great post! Chanced on this website after i googled “italian post”. I have been sending packages from Singapore (Asia) to my sister in Milano for the past 4 over years, and 8 out of 10 times she has been taxed for them up to hundreds of euros per package.

    Today was the last straw, the customs sent her a letter asking her to pay 60 euros for a christmas package (brown box and just labelled “gifts”, registered) i sent her. Posted on 29 Dec, just received the customs letter on 21 Jan. She said i should stop sending her anything anymore. Never had such bad experiences with other post offices.

  34. Lisa says

    Very informative blog. I sent a package from NYC to Venice on November 3, 2010 via USPS Global Express Guaranteed. The package was to arrive approximately November 17. The package has not been seen or heard from since leaving NYC on November 4, 2010. I confirmed with the recipient that the package has not arrived as of January 2011. Incidentally, the address is to a business in Venice. I followed most of the rules stated above but the package is still M.I.A. I labeled the contents as ‘gift’ on the customs declaration form but regret adding that the gift included ghiradelli chocolates. The package weighed less than 1kg and had a value of about $12 USD. Of course, the cost of postage was astronomical.

    I contacted the Venice post office who directed me towards Poste Italiane S.p.A. Poste Italiane stated that they would not correspond with me since I was not the recipient of the package. So now I wait. I would be interested to hear from others what is the longest they waited for a package to arrive to Italy.

    I am going to give it about another couple of days and then send another package. If the second package does not arrive, I’ll do the next best thing to guarantee my gift arrives to the recipient – hop on a plane and deliver it myself!

    Good luck to everyone.


    • Lisa says

      UPDATE: Second time is a charm. As I mentioned above, a package I mailed to Italy on November 3, 2010 dropped off of the face of the earth. I sent another package to the same business address in Venice on February 3, 2011 and it actually arrived to the recipient on February 23, 2011 (all contents accounted for). It was sent through USPS registered mail, in a boring brown box with hand-written addressing. I originally had computer printed labels on the package but the post office made me cover it up because of the location of the labels on the box. I chose not to insure the package since the cost of the contents was under $12 USD.

      USPS sent an inquiry on February 17, 2011 to Italy on my behalf because there were no updates to the tracking information online at Italy should have posted details of the packages’ movement by February 16, 2011 based on USPS estimates.

      Thanks to the information in this article, the package is where it needs to be, the recipient is happy and I have an idea about what to do when posting a package to Italy or anywhere for that matter. Good luck all!


  35. Giacomo says

    Great article. I despise Poste Italiane. Of the 6 things I have had posted from the UK to me here – 1. Blackberry phone – never arrived and stolen en route. 2 – Birthday pack – never arrived and stolen en route. 3 – Employment Contract – arrived a month late.

    Again, I really do despise this farce of an organisation and hope heads roll until someone has an ounce of common sense to be able to sort things out. I fear I will be waiting a long time……


    • says

      Thanks for the feedback, Giacomo.

      Sounds as if you have had some bad experiences.

      Two questions:
      Where are you in Italy? Knowing this might help people know where the trouble spots are.
      Did you have the items posted to a home or work address?



        • aron says

          I have had SOOO MANY THINGS STOLEN IN ITALY via post! I live in Milan and have been here for 10 years! I have had 1) a nokia 5800 phone stolen and it was sent by courier, package arrived empty. 2) a beautiful cross 3) a do at home hiv test kit 3) face cream (expensive) 4) license…..ITALY is full of thieves. Its shocking and sad that this country is so full of moral less people… Of course NOT ALL, but MANY more than most places. Why is that? Burlosconi is as dishonest as people come, so I guess it starts at the top. its sad, I hope to move out of here soon.. 10 years ago I would have said I LOVE ITALY, sadly 10 years later, I KNOW TOO MUCH!

  36. Sian says

    Horrified to read this blog especially as my last posting to Alassio has not arrived after 10 days and is causing much upset at both ends. Having had ALL previous cards (6 since my brother moved there in August 2009) arrive opened and /or taped up, I bound this envelope up like a mummy with sellotape. My mother has a similar poor success rate and so gives presents/money on my brother’s annual trip home. Beginning to think we will have to give him all birthday/Christmas cards etc at the same time. How sad is that especially as, in every other respect, he is SO happy living in Italy. Sian

  37. Paul says

    I posted one item to Italy last year and after two months gave up hope of it arriving. It was a very low value item so spending a fiver on airsure seemed a bit of a waste of time. After the friend in Italy vaguely warned me of ‘thieves’ constantly blighting the service but wouldn’t blame the post service for reasons that seemed weird to me.

    So next time I thought I’d do things differently and when I went down to the post office got told blank straight away that airsure wasn’t offered to Italy in a slightly funny but revealing tone. I got international signed for that cost nearly as much and offered tracking within the UK. Within a few hours in the extreme early hours of the next morning the package had left the UK and was in the hands of the Italian Postal System, it then ambled along for most of the next week and took 6 working days to arrive (just within the quoted time). I feel the service was a bit on the sluggish side, for such a premium service I feel it should have been 3-4 working days.

  38. Shane Clail says

    Hi everyone! I’d say what a great blog but actually it’s quite depressing really. But congratulations for picking up on a major problem and something which obviously affects a lot of people.

    I live in the north of italy (near Turin) and I can assure those in the south that it’s no better here (can’t speak for Milan). I’ve never received anything opened, I just don’t receive things. And if I do, they take a long time….

    I accepted this as a problem only recently when I made a intensive spate of purchases on ebay…arrivals were very hit n miss and I now don’t bid on anything unless it allows me to pay for signed-for package. HOWEVER, I’m still waiting for the first packages I’ve paid extra for to have sent in this way. I’ve paid more for the postage than for the items!! I thought this would be a secure way but after reading some of your posts I’m not so confident now! My orders (mostly from England) stem from the fact that it’s quite difficult to find a lot of the things you can find easily in the UK…so I have to resort to internet buying.

    I totally agree with Jonathan who made the comment about this being a 1st world country – after being here long enough I often find myself making comparisons with developing countries. It really doesn’t deserve the status it has. Sadly.

    Does anyone remember the undercover investigation done in the UK with Royal Mail? Obviously theft must be a problem where ever you find people and valuable things together, but systems HAVE TO be in place to reduce it as much as possible. I think it was the BBC that did the investigation which was very indepth and involved an undercover person getting a job in the sorting office and befriending the people working there. He soon was given advice from his colleagues on how to know when there’s something valuable inside and how to steal it without getting caught. The broadcast program also showed the other techniques they used to steal parcels such as informing friends of addresses to which laptops etc would be delivered, and they would be there early in the morning and fool the postie into thinking they were just leaving their house…kindly taking in the parcel on the doorstep.

    This sort of investigation could be a good step – it will never stop all crime but at least blast it out into the open and shame the italian post into doing something (however short-lived it is!).

    I also totally relate to Brian A, and his comments about many other areas of the italian economy and politics…its a terrible mess and a shock that this is here in western europe.

    I’d also like to comment that I use amazon a lot, and have never had anything lost (except something thru the market place that was coming from america and never arrived). I think this may be because the postal workers are careful enough (furbi) not to stir the wrath of a huge, corporate power that might shake up their nice little earner. As said before, stealing personal things, gift etc means there’s only ever individuals complaining rather than any major body with real weight to throw around.

    I think it’s time Italy was shown a bit of people power!! Egypt could give us some lessons…..companies and money rules here and it’s not a good place to be a citizen.

  39. nancy amee says

    I wonder if anyone can enlighten me as per the regulations in Itay, i live
    in Australia and send many items of Clothing toys and other gifts even jewellery, i dont seem to have many problems, i have been doing this for a few years now, in the last 18mths when they have been clollecting there parcels or have been delivered they are paying some sort of tax, sometimes 11euro or 17 euro, i cant understand why in Italy (north) when you have a gift or parcel delivered you have to pay to receive it, we dont here…. I feel awful that as i am sending a gift they are paying to receive, does’nt seem right..I have asked at my end but they cant see a reason, not like i am sending a crate ..
    Hope someone can help ..

  40. Moy says

    Thanks, Alex, for the post (belatedly discovered). PAVIA – university town – is a bad spot for theft. I have lost 4 or 5 small gifts sent to a relative there, before I realised that this disgusting problem was widespread. Presumably one has to register everything…

  41. Cecile says

    Hi Alex

    I was just having some trouble of my own and i was wondering if you could give me any insight. Last F/W I was in Milano as an exchange student and had an awful lot of luggage to send back home through poste italiane.. i
    sent a total of three boxes, each weighing 15-20kgs. All of them were sent by boat, piu economico, no tracking number. Although they told me
    this method would take a good two-three months the first two boxes
    each reached my home in Seoul, Korea in ten days. At the end of December i sent my final box of 20kgs full of valuable personal belongings to Seoul.. that was about December 23rd. 3months have past and im desperately worried..have you heard about anything of the like? Is it possible
    that the box got caught in customs because a tiny bottle of pesto..?

    If you could answer any of my questions would be so helpful..


    • says

      Hi Cecile,

      I really have no knowledge of shipping, literally, items. I suppose the pesto might have caused a hold up – but I’d have thought they would have sent the package on minus the pesto.

      The other question is which customs?? Italy or Korea? Have you any way of contacting either? Three months is a long time and you should start doing some checking, but I don’t know how exactly. Maybe someone else will. I’ll broadcast your comment via Twitter to see if anyone else has any ideas.



  42. Cherrie says

    Hi Alex,
    Good blog but I have some sad news.

    I am an actual shipper who ships all over the WORLD from the USA, and the only country that we have constantly had a problem with is Italy, so much so that we have now stopped selling to Italy. In fact most shippers I know do NOT ship to Italy either.

    We can understand shipping delays for customs, postal misrouting packages and even the occasional loss etc but with Italy there is a MAJOR problem and THEFT seems to be it.

    You would think the Italian government would be embarrassed because this is such a well known problem but they are not.

    As for Amazon, I am sure they have had to make special arrangements with the government to guarantee their packages get through. My guess is that the carriers are on notice that if they STEAL any Amazon packages they lose their jobs, but are probably told any other packages are fair game.

    I am surprised that the Italian people are not more upset that so many online sellers will not even sell to them because their postal service is so corrupt and demand their government address this HUGE problem.

    To be fair though, France is not real good but no country compares to Italy from our experience.

    • aron says

      ITALY has no morals, can i tell you the phones i have found and turned in, can i tell you HOW many have been stolen from me! can i tell you how many packages never arrive! plus, if put on top of the mail boxes in the apartment, someone always steals them from inside the building, I hate to say it, but Italy is majorly dishonest, and i dont know if it stems from the church, the children being totally spoiled or just bad genetics, but the country is majorly screwed up……

  43. Kerry says

    I live in Verona, Italy and have done for almost 3 years in total, at 3 different addresses and only since January this year have I started having problem with the post. At the moment i am FURIOUS, hence why I went google-ing and found this blog….

    Since January, 8 PARCELS (at least) that have been sent to me fro the UK have gone missing – all apart from 2, from online shopping websites, which fortunately I think I will be refunded for. ‘Lost with our carrier’ seems to be the main excuse, apart fro one, which was apparently attempted to have been delivered 3 times, and seeing as I wasn’t home, was sent back to the company. I was absolutely furious, given that I had been left ONE delivery note and called immediately to re-arrange delivery for the following day. The didn’t show up. I called again to be told the hadn’t been in my area, and would deliver the following day again. They didn’t show up. I called again, this time with the intention of going to the depot to pick up the item – and was informed by Bartolini that the company had ‘requested the item back’!! The company have assured me that they most certainly didn’t request the parcel back, and never do that. I was then forwarded the tracking report which stated around 4 FALSE delivery attempts (most of which I would have been at home for!)

    The other 2 items, which were sent Royal Mail Standard (unfortunately with hand-written addresses, from my parents) that have never arrived, and which I fully don’t expect to, now, included:

    1 phone charger
    1 skirt (new)
    2 dresses (new)
    1 bridal tiara (new)
    2 packets of wedding favour tags

    A total cost of over £100, that I will never see, and cannot pursue as the delivery method was not recorded. I had never experienced such difficulties and I am so upset/frustrated.

    The other items I am expecting are all clothes purchased from online websites.

    It’s true that things are so inconsistent here, in all services. I know many Italian people who have never had (or won’t admit to having had) problems. My local post office has also been very unsympathetic. But I have come to realise that this is a country where ‘anything goes’ and you can’t do anything about it.

    ‘Customer Service’ is a laughable concept for these people.

    Fantastic, beautiful country to visit – but living here definitely leaves a sour taste in the mouth. I’m leaving at the end of the year – thank goodness!

  44. julie lewis says

    HI, I lost 3 out of 4 parcels sent from the UK different locations , different times to Ali Terme in Sicily, the only parcel which arrived contained school shoes for a child and these could be seen through the packaging ( so I guess the post person was not interested in these) . All the post I have sent to and from Mazara del vallo Sicily arrives safe and sound.

  45. aron says

    Love your article, its so sad, and true at the same time. Italy is full of thieves……so many things have been stolen from me via post over 10 years i cannot even count!

  46. Marco Mariani says

    I find this post and all relative comments very offensive. I kindly suggest you all to go back living to your own countries instead of staying here and spitting on Italy. Most of the stories you tell are as incredible as false. Do you happen to know that when shipping from and to the USA your packages pass through Romania? Don’t you know that all new postal services are tracked and you can always know where your stuff is? How come that E-commerce has highly increased in Italy in the last months? Maybe why people like to get robbed? Please stop writing unkind adsurdities and learn to respect a country where you all are guests. For God’s sake if you don’t feel confortable here go away. The same things you are writing here can be read on posts about US postal services, UK Royal mail and so on. Shame on you for speaking so badly abouy this country. The story of Amazon then… I’m so sorry to see how badly informed you are. Amazon was simply NOT ALLOWED to open Amazon Italy because of the local laws. They are used to sell below cost and this is ILLEGAL in Italy. Amazon, which has opened now, is being continuosly monitored by Italian Revenue Office for this. Even multinational societies like Lego don’t like what Amazon does. Lego Italy is not happy that Amazon sells to regular customers at almost the same price they sell their merchandise to the phisical resellers. Last but not least please kindly remember that Italy is divided in 20 regions. Regions of northern and central Italy have different local laws and procedures from the southern ones. Some of the problems you mentioned may have happened in problematic areas around Naples (Campania) and Palermo (Sicily) due to the particular situation of those places. I challenge you to say that in your own countries everything is perfect. London and Liverpool are the same? The State of Washington is the same of New Mexico? I visited all those places and I could see with my own eyes that problems are the same all over the world.
    Sorry for my strong words. I didn’t intend to be rude, but I don’t like reading enormities about my country. Again, if you really don’t like to stay here, please leave. We won’t miss you. Marco Mariani

    • says

      Hi Marco,

      I don’t think you can find this post offensive – there does seem to be a problem with Italy’s postal service – I’ve had problems, and, as you can tell from the many comments here, I’m not alone.

      Maybe some of the stories are false – but not all.

      Certainly when I lived in the UK I did not have the same problems and I wrote this partially to find out if it was just me and one or two others, or whether there is a bigger problem – it seems the latter is true judging by the comments – and we are not talking about people living here – the guests – but also people/businesses from outside Italy which have had problems. There are forums on the internet which moan about sending and receiving goods where Italy is concerned.

      As for the Amazon thing, I was unaware that Amazon’s pricing policy was illegal in Italy, this is true – obviously Amazon operates on tight margins to keep itself in business – it’s the pile them high sell them cheap strategy beloved of Walmart. But, if things are constantly lost in the post, then Amazon would not do at all well.

      It’s good that e-commerce is on the increase in Italy – but the what is being sold is generally not something which is posted to someone as you may have noted from my recent post on e-commerce growth in Italy.

      You did not use rude or strong words and I’m happy for you to have your say – this too is what the internet is all about.

      As for asking people to go away from Italy because the postal service has problems, well, that seems a little extreme! It would probably be easier to demonstrate that the postal system is not as bad as some people seem to think or simply improve it so people can no longer complain. And people are complaining generally because they are comparing Italy’s post to the post in their own countries – it’s not a complaint about Italy generally – but about the postal system.

      And just because the post does not work too well does not mean Italy is dishonest – but if someone has lost many items to Italy’s postal service over the years, then they may, logically, come to the conclusion that Italy is not as honest as their own countries.

      Thanks for commenting.

      When this post about the post ceases to get more comments – then we’ll both know that things have got better :)



    • Matthew P says

      Hi Marco. Italy is as close to a third world country as a first world country gets. And I’ve been all over the world too. I can understand your patriotism, but Italy can S a D.

  47. says

    Just been looking through your very interesting blog and the various links. I live (on and off) in a small town/ large village in the Cilento, and have noticed that post from abroad is unreliable. Sometimes there are no problems and a normal delivery time, but other times post just doesn’t turn up, or turns up late. For example, a package of books dispatched from a UK publisher never arrived. My husband also had trouble with a courier – the van driver called him from the marina area (we are up in the paese) and asked him to come down and collect his parcel, or else wait a couple of days to have it delivered to our door – he wasn’t in a hurry so he said he’d wait. But the parcel didn’t arrive, and on calling the sender he found it had been registered as ‘refused delivery’!

  48. Marco Mariani says

    Hi Alex,
    thanks for your reply.
    About italians’ illiteracy and the “reliable”author Tullio De Mauro… I had better to use a very, very strong word this time, but I won’t do it because I have respect for you. The article above mentioned is total bullshit and Mr. De Mauro is sadly famous for this. I kindly remember to you and all of your guests that Primary and Secondary instruction is PUBLIC and compulsory in Italy till the age of 16th. I also remind to you that our “brains” are hired all over the world, expecially in the United States and in the UK.
    Sadly illiteracy is still present in Campania and generally in the south, but it is 20% and NOT 80%!!! I can hardly understand how you can simply take in consideration similar baseless information. Thank you very much for your consideration… Expecially if you live in Italy.
    As for Amazon books, there is no secret accord with the government I can assure you. Amazon is not so powerful and somebody on this blog must have seen too many american conspiracy movies. Moreover Poste Italiane IS NOT any more a public service, but a private one.
    I kindly remember to all of you that Italy is the richest country in Arts and History. Many of the languages that you all speak derive, or have been highly influenced, by our ancient language: Latin. Italian is the closest modern language to Latin, of which it is the natural evolution. Italian is also the most analytical language, which can correctly express 100% of human thought and emotions without any risk of misunderstanding, and without any help of phrasal verbs. We have a word for everything and a proper verb for any situation.
    I’m sorry for the unrequested dissertation, but the thing of the “illitteracy” is really unbearable.
    Personally, as a typical illiterate italian, I worked hard for my two degrees and for my doctorate. And that was just for culture, because I am a musician, properly a classical singer (tenor) and also run (you never know) a medium business with the rest of my “illiterate” family.
    As an European I proudly speak and write 5 languages: Italian, French, Spanish, English and German.
    I’m sorry I had no time to do more.
    Because of my job I have travelled all around the world and, sincerely, I could’t find such Great Culture anywhere.
    I won’t tell you where for respect, but in a Great Nation I found so many people who hardly knew where Italy is and who had never heard about something called Roman Empire.
    Last but not least, I beg you to slow down with unrespectful surreal posts expecially when they have no other intent but to offend Italy and its people. I kindly renew my invitation to leave Italy to all those people who don’t like our country, reassuring again that we won’t be offended at all for such decision. Feel free to go back to your more literate countries with perfect postal services and absolutely no problems.
    No hard feelings! Take care.
    Marco Mariani

  49. Marco Mariani says

    Hi again Alex,
    there is something very important I forgot to tell you.
    In order to improve the service of Poste Italiane and, therefore, not to read any more insane statements about illiterate, thieving and dishonest italian people, I scheduled an appointment with an officer of the Polizia Postale, in order to show the complaints on this blog. I also contacted “Le Iene” TV show which is used to investigate and resolve this cases.
    Be assured there’ll be no problem for you and you blog.
    Simply it will help to move something to improve the postal service.
    Clearly the people who are going to read some posts above won’t be particularly happy, as well as I wasn’t, but I’m sure this will definitely help to wake up some asleep concience.
    I am convinced that sometimes acting is much better than chattering.
    Again, don’t worry for your blog or for yourself. As you can easily assume from Italian newspaper, in Italy you are free to express your opinion on every matter.
    I’ll keep you updated.
    Kindly do not remove any post: in particular the
    “strongest” will be of great help to shake the sleeping tiger.
    Thank you.
    Marco Mariani

    • says

      Excellent Marco! Thanks. Tell the world!

      If you can then provide evidence to refute the claims here – I’ll be more than happy to publish them. Evidence along the lines of how many items (parcels) are sent to and from Italy in an average year, and how many complaints are made about losses.

      And by creating a little more awareness – I still think there is a problem – but do not really know its extent. This post has been seen some 4,000 times, so maybe its not as great as it seems and the number of people affected is relatively small and it appears that many of them are not Italians.

      Let me know how you get on – and if someone starts looking into this, great.

      Thanks for your efforts.

      Kind regards,


  50. Andris says

    To the honorable gentleman Marco Mariani: to settle the dispute I suggest that you do some shopping over the Internet and order some goodies from the UK (just don’t shop at Amazon, which thankfully has started using SDA; and don’t buy books as they, indeed, seem to be of no interest to third parties in the delivery process). Do report back your findings 😉 …

    I do understand that Italy has a very rich history, it has many incredibly intelligent and honest people and has a lot of other things going for it. But it has hardly anything to do with the topic of this blog, which is the fact that Italian post is as unreliable as it can get in a half-civilised country. Many comments have been made here by people who had had repeated trouble with non-deliveries. And it is a fact of reality that many foreign internet companies have for this reason simply discontinued shipping to Italy because nowhere else on this planet have they experienced so many lost deliveries.

    I am neither English, nor Italian, but have lived in London for 4 years and now – more than 2 years in northern Italy. And let me tell you something – in the UK, I never experienced a failed delivery (or even a delay!) using Royal Mail (and I did buy things from foreign countries). In Italy, I have stopped using online shopping unless two things: I am buying books (100% safe!) or it’s a courier delivering. Otherwise, the hit ratio is roughly 50%, no more.

    To summarise the feelings a foreigner normally develops towards Italy, I will use this phrase of an unknown person I once came across on the net: Italy is too stylish to be hell; however, it is too chaotic to be paradise. In other words – credit where credit is due, but let’s face it – Italian Post is very unreliable.

  51. Marie M. says

    In the past year I have mailed 4 packages to Northern Italy and 2 to the Napoli region via USPS Priority International Flat Rate Mail. I’m so happy to report that they have all arrived to their intended destinations without any problems (all with handwritten labels). Only 1 out of the 6 packages could be considered “late,” but only by 7 days.

    I confess I was VERY weary to mail the gifts at first because I had read on a few blogs and forums about the unreliability of the Italian Postal system. It’s been reported to me- by my friends- that their presents arrived intact and without any package tampering.

    In the past few weeks, April 21, 2011, I mailed out a very special birthday present to one of my friends who lives in Pollena Trocchia. I used the USPS small flat rate Priority International boxes which, unfortunately, do not have the same detailed tracking features as the larger sized options. I decided to add the “Registered Mail” option to be safe. Well, it’s been 20 days and my friend hasn’t received it. I have checked both the Customs & Registered numbers on the USPS site and the last information available is that the package left the USA from NY on April 26th. I have called and gone into the US post office and am told “Registered Mail” normally takes longer then the stated 10 – 14 business days.

    But now, after reading this thread I’M WORRIED! Anyone know what the process is for “Registered Mail” once it’s in Italy? Also, how long does it normally take for it to be delivered? Lastly, if USPS cannot provide additional information once it leaves the USA, who do I call to get a status update on the package? I have gone to the Poste Italiane site and tried to track with the numbers I have (i had to try) and of course the numbers I have don’t come up as valid on the site.

    Any advice would be helpful. The gift was for my friends 21st birthday present and he just got out of the Italian Military and I wanted him to have something special from me.

    Best Regards,


    • says

      Hi Marie,

      Hopefully someone else will add some other advice, but my take is that you’ll just have to wait and see – sometimes it does take much longer than predicted for items to turn up.

      This, of course, assumes that the package actually got to Italy – it could have gone astray elsewhere.

      Anyway – wait a little longer – a week or so – I have had letters from the UK turn up 2 weeks late in the past.

      Be patient!



    • Leigh says

      Hi Marie,

      Did your parcel show up in Italy as I am anxiously awaiting a parcel from Italy. It has been about six weeks – sent on the 3/8/11. Or should I give up?

  52. linda says

    Sorry but your post is really offensive.
    First, I used to work in a postal office and none of the postal workers stole anything! Of course is illegal to act in this way! Isn’t the same in England?
    Second, I’ve never lost anything and it’s very unusual that something is lost. I bet this can happen in England too or other europeans countries, so why are you blaming Italy for this? Come back in your country if Italy is so dangerous and populated by thieves!

    • says

      Hi Linda,

      I’m sure not all postal workers are dishonest, indeed, it might not be Italian postal workers who are dishonest, but having seen pictures of luggage handling staff who steal items from luggage, and having read all the stories here – somebody somewhere is dishonest.

      Which post office did you work in? Not everyone has problems, but a number of people – including me, have: fact.

      I never lost anything in the post when I was in the UK and the post was much more efficient too.

      Not sure why stealing things from the mail is dangerous… And I did not write that Italy is populated by thieves either – perhaps you should read the post again to check.

      Thanks for commenting.



      • Linda says

        I never lost anything in the post here in Italy, but I was pickpocketed in London, but I don ‘t tell everyone London is dangerous and some people are dishonest over there only because that happended to me. So, why are you always telling so many bad things about Italy that are untrue? Dishonest people exist everywhere, even in England!

  53. Linda says

    And why you aked me which post office I worked in? Maybe you think it was the only one which never had problems? False, Italy is made by honest people, unlike most foreign people uses to think thanks to Hollywood movies. And if your post was lost, maybe it happened in England, who knows!

    • says

      I asked you so we could understand where the problems lie Linda. Strange that you do not wish to reveal the name of the post office you worked in. The location would be enough.

      As for Italy and honesty, if you take a look at the World Corruption Perceptions index – you’ll see that Italy is at position 67 for 2010 and has been getting worse:

      Corruption is one measure of honesty – and from that index – Italy does not come across as being the most honest place in the world, I’m afraid. So there is some evidence to contradict you. I did not state that all Italians are dishonest, nor did I state that all postal workers in Italy are dishonest either – try reading the comments here and spend a little time reading other articles on this site – such as the Good Italian Things section

      All the best,


  54. Linda says

    didn’t say stealing is dangerous, but it’s illegal, just to remind you in Italy there are laws and you are not allowed to do whatever you want, like most of foreigners think. Youcome here and think everything, even stealing, is allowed and it’s normal, well, it’s nor normal, and you go in jail, like in every civilized country in the World. Just to remind you, Italy is part of EU.

  55. Rowan says

    Hi Alex,
    I’m waiting on a very important parcel – our wedding rings which were handcrafted in the US! Our wedding is in 2 weeks time and they should have arrived a month ago but so far niente! We got an ominous looking slip of white paper through the door to say that there had been an attempted delivery on the 6 May, but it didn’t have an address or telephone number to contact. All we can see that suggests it’s an official courier service are the initials HB. I’ve approached our local post office twice and they shooed me away saying that unsuccessful deliveries by courier services are usually left with the local post office and when it arrives, they’ll let me know….Help!! At this rate, we’ll be putting ring pulls on our fingers! Any ideas for who to contact?

    • says

      Hi Rowan,

      Who attempted the delivery? Italian post office or a courier service used by the post office? I don’t know where you are, but there appear to be two companies called HB Express – one in Rome and the other in Naples. If you search you’ll find phone numbers.

      There is also the possibility that your gold rings have been held up at customs in Italy. Do you know where the rings arrived in Italy?

      I don’t know who you can contact really – but maybe someone else will – if you tell us where you are in Italy.



  56. christine says

    Hi, I have sent some documents to the embassy by registered mail. Is there any way to check if they arrived? I have the registered mail code but I don’t know if the italian post has any service like that. Any idea? Thanks

      • christine says

        Thanks for your reply Alex. I sent them a week ago. Actually I have read no good things about italian post service, that’s why I am worry about. I am afraid it is just an registered mail because I don’t know that kind of smart mail you mentioned. I live in Greece, near enough. And I know that the embassy doesn’t inform about receiving documents. So, I have to wait until I get them back which can take over a month. Unfortunately, mail service was the only way because courier service in Greece doesn’t support prepaid airway bill which is required from the embassy.

        • christine says

          I think that all the services that offer the Italian post for tracking are for mails that are sent from Italy only. Am I right?

          • says


            From what I remember, it’s possible to track parcels sent from another country via Italy’s postal service. This is something I’ve done in the past – but I cannot remember how I did it – and even then, it only worked with specific parcel services.

            If you have a code, you could try putting that in one of the boxes on the Italian post office website – it might work, but then again… Something for a coffee break.

            As for the quality of Italy’s postal service, ‘variable’ is perhaps the most charitable description. Lots of people seem to have problems – and stories of problems are legion. Anyway, wait another week before becoming too worried.

            Good luck,


    • Irene says

      The Italian post site says that:
      “In carico al portalettere del centro postale…”
      What does it mean? And when do you think they will deliver it?
      I forgot to mention that it is a registered mail. Thx

      • says

        Irene – as far as I know, with registered letters they only make one attempt, then you have to go pick it up – this has happened to me more times than I care to mention – not the fault of the post office – reason is because no-one was in the sign for the letter.

        “In carico al portalettere del centro postale…” – I’m pretty sure this means the letter or whatever, is out for delivery – which means either you’ll get what you are waiting for, or receive a card which tells you where to go to get it. It’s best to wait a couple of days before going to get the item.

        Hopefully, the post office you will need to got to will be close by, but if you live in a rural area, the pick up location may be in the nearest major town – the address and opening hours will be on the card. These cards are a mustard colour here in Milan, not sure about the rest of Italy.



        • Irene says

          First of all thank you for your quick response! An newer update says that “Consegnato dal portalettere del centro postale”. Does it mean that the recipient got the mail? Or it is still at the postman’s hands? Unfortunately, I will not be informed by the recipient that’s why I am a little bit nervous. What is the final message I will got by the site anyone? Thanks again Alex!

          • says

            Yes, Irene, “Consegnato dal portalettere del centro postale” means it’s been delivered, or should have been.


  57. Terri says

    I mailed a package to myself from Florence Poste IT on April 19, 2011; have the tracking number and it shows the package went from Firenza to the Roma Hub, back to Firenza and then back to the Roma Hub Espresso (April 28, 2011). After that, the package has apparently disappeared into the Poste IT black hole! I have written the Poste IT service, written two Consulate officials and have now gotten two reports from Poste IT. . . one says it was returned to sender (that was me and to the B&B Toursit House Ricci) because there were no admitted items contained in the package and the other says that there is insufficient paperwork to track the package. I copied the mailing tracking documents, the customs paperwork, and the information of tracking that I can get; what else could I possibly send??? Being totally frustrated regarding this package is an understatement. Having sent packages to and from the UK for many years has resulted in no package ever disappearing! This is the only package I have ever sent from Italy and now I truly understand the existence of this Blog site; I just want my stuff (clothing I had taken on a trip and did not want to lug around in my bags and on Ryan Air flights). Obviously, non admitted items cannot possibly be clothes I purchased in the USA, brought with me on a trip, and was attempting to return to myself in the USA. Any recommendations on what I can do to find my long lost package?

    FYI – I have sent Stephano from the B&B Touristuse Ricci an email asking if the package was returned to him and have not received a reply.

    Terri Handy, North CArolina

    • says

      Hi Terri,

      Sorry to hear of your postal problems.

      As for what to do, you’ve done it. Keep having a go at the B&B Tourist House Ricci place to find out whether or not it was ever returned to them. If the answer is yes, then maybe some other kind American tourist can bring your clothes back to the US for you. Otherwise I suspect you might have to say good bye to your clothes.

      Was there any footwear in the package? Apparently it cannot be sent from the US to Italy – not sure about vice versa.

      Good luck.


    • Leigh says

      I also had a parcel sent from Florence. The date my parcel was sent was the 3/8/11. My parcel had a dress in it and it was sent by someone at the hotel I was staying at. I do believe that the parcel was sent and they have sent me a scan of the receipt. With tracking I have learnt that it was sent to Milan – where it was last scanned on the 8/8/11. That is it.

      Now 9/9/11 and still the same tracking information. The guy at the hotel who sent the parcel has contacted the post office in Florence but no additional information as yet. My parcel is meant to be coming to Australia. I thought it was interesting that you experienced problems from Florence aournd the same time too. SOOO frustrating.

  58. Kat says

    I stupidly left my ipod in my hotel room on a recent trip to Italy (near Chianciano, Tuscany). I have contacted the hotel and they have found it. They have offered me two options for its return – A ‘Postal order’ or ‘Transfer money in a bank account’. I am not really sure what they mean (the english in the email is a bit dodgy). Do you have any advice on the best way to procede so that I have the best chance of getting my ipod back?

    thank you

    • Leigh says

      Don’t have them send it through the mail. I left a dress at my hotel in Florence and they put it in the post to me in Australia. It was sent registered post and cost about 12 euros but six weeks later and it has still not shown up. The tracking number can only tell me that it was last scanned in Milan on the 8/8/11. Use a courier service and insure.

  59. Anonymous says

    I studied abroad in Italy for a year and a classmate of mine both stayed in a convent to save money. When my friend’s birthday came around, his elderly grandma innocently mailed him $20. Needless to say the card was delivered – with scotch tape and $20 missing. He only knew about the money because his grandma wrote in the card “Here’s something to help you out.” He called his grandma and told her next time to just give the money to his mom to deposit into his back account. I learned my lesson from all this and always had valuable items sent to me via FedEx.

  60. Emy says

    Hi and thank you for such an interesting blog. I am sorry to hear about all the nightmarish experiences most of you have gone through but I am even sadder to see some ultranationalistic posts from Italians trying to defend the image of Italy by clinging to the rethoric of its glorious historical and cultural tradition.

    You know what, I am Italian but I have had so many terrible experiences with the postal service here (and I didn’t have problems in Japan, Uk, Ireland, Holland) that I can only symphatize with those complaining about the third-world service of this country. While not all Italians are dishonest (I consider myself an honest citizen indeed) I do believe there are a way too many scumbags (excuse me for the word but that’s what it is about) working in the government and for the government (and don’t tell me that poste italiane is a private company. It’s as private as Alitalia is…read: entrepreneurs make business with money from the state then any profit is theirs and any loss is to be paid by the taxpayers). The kind of attitude “if you don’t like it here move away” is the very one that is bringing this country to a fatal decay.

    We either give up our right to protest (and to be honest, daily life in Italy -especially in the south- can be so excruciating that rather than a protest a bomb would be needed) or we just follow the old saying “when in Rome, do as the romans do”, becoming complicit in more or less direct ways of the twisted and corrupted system that is now the norm in this screwed up country.

    We need to face the limits of our political and cultural system and acknowledge them rather than trying to find a justification in our history (i.e. what Italians of the past did… how about the italians of the present? But I guess that’s what democracy is about, right? We Italians have the system we voted for, after all) .

  61. Leigh says

    My parcel was sent from Florence on the 3/8/11 to Australia but to date it has not turned up. It was sent Registered mail and was given a tracking number. However, using the tracking number I have only been able to find out that it was last scanned in Milan on the 8/8/11. Since then there have been no updates and the same information is given. Should I hold out any hope of receiving my parcel or after this amount of time accept defeat and put in a claim?

    • says

      Hi Leigh,

      If I were you I’d wait until the end of September before making a claim.

      Italy goes into a form of hibernation in August – many people go away and it is likely that the mail service will have suffered. The postal service which is slow at any time in Italy will be slower in summer and very slow on the run up to Christmas too.



  62. Roberto says

    Hi Alex,
    Very interesting. Thanks a lot for all the info. Usually these happens when the mail company is from the government. No control. I know as Iive in South America.
    I wanted to ask you something: Due to weight restrictions on her plain, my daughter left some bags in England, before going to italy (we are from Argentina). Do you know a secure and cheap truck freight company or service company to send all her winter cloth from England to Venice, italy? tks in advance and best regards

    • says

      Hi Roberto,
      Italy’s postal service was, like many such services around the world, founded by Italy’s government and although private on paper, its stock is 100% held by Italy’s government. This may explain why the service is erratic.

      As for a secure and cheap truck freight company, I don’t know of one off the top of my head, but I may be able to find out. If I do, I’ll post another comment here.



  63. Teresa says

    I was looking for some info on posting goods to Italy, as I am due to move there soon, and came across this blog. The comments are not encouraging. I recall having a conversation with an Italian bank manager about having my bank cards sent too me in the post and he advised against it saying that the postal system in Italy is very unreliable. I didn’t take much notice of what he said but reading these comments I’m seriously having second thoughts about moving there.

    • says

      Hi Teresa,
      I have not had problems with bank cards – although bank does get me to go in to pick some up nowadays.

      Recently I ordered some camera gear from Hong Kong and it got to Italy without any problems and took less than the predicted time too.

      For bills and other items, Italy’s postal service works fine. Some have few problems with other items, whereas others have had real problems, as you have read. The trouble is the service is inconsistent – you never really know whether the mail will get through or not. Nowadays though, aside from big items, most of us can avoid traditional mail and use email.

      I don’t think you should have second thoughts about moving here just because the postal service is a little random! Up to you though – but ask other people – maybe a few Facebook friends who have lived in Italy, for example.



  64. An ebayer says

    google today 11. October 2011 gives:

    “not ship to italy”: 6’580’000 hits
    “not ship to the US”: 5’900’000 hits
    “not ship to the USA”: 4’330’000 hits
    “not ship to USA”: 3’020’000 hits
    “not ship to UK”: 2’390’000 hits
    “not ship to the UK”: 1’980’000 hits
    “not ship to US”: 1’590’000 hits
    “not ship to germany”: 1’960’000 hits
    “not ship to france”: 821’000 hits
    “not ship to russia”: 811’000 hits
    “not ship to australia”: 530’000 hits
    “not ship to spain”: 243’000 hits
    “not ship to japan”: 191’000 hits
    “not ship to switzerland”: 78’000 hits
    “not ship to sweden”: 47’400 hits
    “not ship to vatican”: 2 hits 😀

  65. Karl says

    I wish I had read this a few weeks ago!

    I’m British but currently in Australia and sent a birthday present to my American girlfriend doing a semester abroad in Italy. It never arrived! It’s been three weeks and I hope it’s just in customs but I have a bad feeling. Sending it registered just did not enter my thought process at all, I just took it to the post office and mailed it. I guess it’s too much to hope that paying Australia post to send something will end with them actually delivering it to Italy and then have an honest person drop it through the box. AP are about as good a a hand break on a canoe!
    It a shame because not only was it over $150 but more to the point it was her only gift on her birthday and it never arrived. I wrapped it in bubble wrap and put it a envelope then more wrap and into a second larger envelope to stop the feeling of it by the post man.
    Just incase I’m jumping in to soon, can anyone tell me how long customs hold things for?

    • says

      Don’t lose all hope yet, Karl!

      Three weeks is not that long – there is still a chance the mail will arrive at destination.

      For future reference, send items to Italy by recorded (and insured) mail – and check that it can be tracked too. This may raise the chances of the parcel arriving.

      Whereabouts in Italy is your girlfriend? A town or city is enough – but do not feel obliged to mention it. Knowing this should help everybody can understand where the trouble spots lie. If the same city crops up again and again, then hopefully the police will go and have a nose around.

      Wait a couple of weeks longer, and if you remember and have the time, pop back here and let us all know whether the package ever did arrive, or not.



      • Karl says

        Thank you for your help and advice Alex.
        She is in Florence at syracuse university. I hope that because it was sent care of her university any post person who might be tempted to have a peak will just think it’s uni supplies.

        I will let you know how this ends. I sent a letter today to see how long it takes and if it gets there before my package.

        Thanks again.


        • says

          You’re welcome, Karl.

          I hope the post does get through. Sending it care of the uni was a good idea, I’d say. I just hope it has not been lost within the university!

          Please do let us know how things turn out and thanks for the location information – this might help others.

          Fingers crossed!



  66. david clarke says

    I am a seller on Amazon and have lost count of the times things have gone missing to Italy. It is by far the top country for lost goods and am considering no longer shipping there.

    Last year there was a period of 3 months where 7 items were posted and 4 of those were lost.

    There’s definately something fishy going on.

    • says

      Hi David,

      Reading forums on the matter, I have noted that Amazon sellers like yourself have had problems sending items to Italy. The problem seemed to have lessened, but it still exists judging from your experiences. Where in Italy did you send the items which got lost? Can you remember? If you have a moment can you let us know – it can help us understand where the hot spots are.

      The scale of the problem must not yet be great enough to worry Italy’s post office, alas.



  67. Kira says

    Thanks so much for all this information. An online friend from Italy sent a package to me on September 22, 2011. It is now November 7 and the package still has not arrived (I’m in Hawaii, USA).

    To me, this seems like a really long time. Do you think that the package (just some handmade doll clothes) never made it out of Italy and got stolen? Should I just consider it lost by now? As far as I know, there was no tracking #…

    • says

      Hi Kira,

      Some socks posted to me from the UK never got to me in Italy!

      From where in Italy did your friend send the package? Some areas are more problematic than others. If you read some of the other comments here, you’ll find out which areas of Italy have caused problems.

      Hawaii is a long way away too, so your package would have passed though a few postal areas and customs too. Did you check USPS list of items which you cannot mail to Italy?

      Provided it’s not on the USPS list, don’t give up hope just yet – wait until 22 November at least. The package may still turn up – if it does and you have a moment, please let us know.



      • Kira says

        Update as of December 5: the wayward package from Italy still has not arrived. My friend shipped it from her hometown of Napoli. I’ve shipped things to her and she always have received it, but this is the first time she has tried mailing to me in Hawaii…

        I am just wondering if it takes extra long because I am all the way in Hawaii, out in the Pacific. I’m still not giving up hope, though. It could still show up one of these days, right?

        • says

          Thanks for the update, Kira

          It is true that Hawaii is a very long way from Naples. However, if you have sent stuff from Hawaii to Naples and it has arrived, then so should your package. As a matter of interest, how long does it take on average for packages to arrive in Hawaii from Naples? The trip from Hawaii to Naples should not take any longer. And there is this from the USPS listed under Prohibitions:
          “Haberdashery and sewn articles of any kind, including trimmings and lace; handkerchiefs; scarves; shawls, needlework including stockings and gloves; bonnets, caps, and hats of any kind.” – I wonder whether your parcel has been confiscated by the USPS. Just a thought. The USPS list does change from time to time. Just do not ask me why you cannot send haberdashery and sewn articles by mail!

          Assuming the items have not been seized by the USPS, there is a slight chance they will still arrive, by this chance diminishes as time passes. Wait until the New Year and then give up on it. In this instance, it’s difficult to know whether light fingered postal staff in Naples or elsewhere for that matter have taken your items or whether the USPS has officially confiscated your package.

          Hope this helps, even if it does not really,



  68. Kiril says

    Hello guys,
    I will be glad If someone can confirm If it is true that undelivered mail to Italy is just returned to the sender?
    I have ordered 3 disks from different UK E-bay sellers. I received only one of them (box was severely damaged, bud disk was OK) and went to the Central Post in Catania. I have explained that the building I leave in have a “portineria” – an old woman serving as a receptionist which should receive the parcels, but sometimes she is not there. So they told me that the letters should be returned back to sender. Is that true? What can I do now?

    • says

      Hi Kiril,

      If the Catania Post office says undelivered items are returned to sender, than they may well be the case – let’s see what others say.

      What you need to do is to contact the sender and see if they arrived. Hopefully, the sender will contact you anyway. And to avoid such problems in future, try to have the parcels delivered to somewhere there is always someone to receive them, although I know this is not always possible as some credit card companies/online shops insist on items being sent to the card holder’s address.



  69. Patricia says

    I’ve just sold something on ebay a few days ago to a buyer in Sicily. I sent it standard airmail from the UK. Can any one tell me if it will go directly to Sicily or will it be routed from mainland Italy? Also, does the post have the same problems there as the mainland? Already the buyer has emailed me twice asking if and when it’s been sent, so sense they are going to be a bit difficult if they don’t receive it soon.
    Thanks in advance for any replies.

  70. Mary KT says

    Hello Alex!

    Sadly, I am discovering this useful post .. way .. too .. late. Literally. I sent my Italian friend a package almost 5 weeks ago, hoping that it would reach her in time for her birthday which has now passed. In turn, almost 4 weeks ago, she sent me a package which – yeah! you guessed it – I haven’t received yet either.

    She lives in Napoli and I live in Hampshire.

    Right now, she is still hopeful and optimistic, while I am downright frustrated and more than a little disappointed.Packages get stolen? Ripped open? Lost? Way to make a good impression on foreigners, Italy.

    I am beginning to think that neither of us will get her gift. Am I right?

    How long does it usually take a package to travel from England to Italy?

    Thanks in advance

  71. says

    Where I live every now and then the post just stops arriving, last year no post for three months, the story in the local papers was they were just dumping the post as it was too much trouble to deliver, people were arrested and post started again , nice post girl, I have been lulled into thinking it would be ok now as stuff was getting through now its stopped again, its so depressing I am waiting for plants for my garden and they will be dead after all this time, I was getting packages from London in four or five days now nothing is getting through, the courier serviced mentioned above are actually even worse and are like sending stuff to the Bermuda triangle, there was a film made and put on youtube showing secret cameras and post workers stealing gadgets from packages, its a real shame, why do they allow it? post workers perks?

  72. Lor says

    I wish you would address the problem of customs charging for items clearly marked as gifts. What can be done? If you don’t pay they keep the package! I just paid 35 euros for $100 worth of wrapped Christmas gifts.

    Also has anyone run into having to show codice fiscale & ID card when mailing packages? Every time I go to mail a gift I remember why I swore never to do it again!

    • says

      We’ll see, Annie – if the popularity, if one can call it that, of this post falls, we’ll know something good is happening.

      The post from the UK to me here in Milan did get through – but the senders’ followed the advice in this post – plain packages sent to a business address. Seems to work or Italy’s postal service is improving.



  73. aidan says

    i, like many others discovered this post way to late….i am on a 2 month holiday in europe and my gf has sent cards to hotels every now and again…the only one i didnt get was in italy and it was in a red envelope….

    I also sent her some glasswear from venice and upon reading this post i am slightly concerned…it hasnt been 2 weeks as of yet but as the post said, nothing expensive or life threatening, just a pain in the arse for tourists who visit italy….in that regard i would say it is the italian postal service…

    Also when i went to the post office in venice, no one spoke a whisper of english, it was a nightmare….

    I would say, posting from italy is not worth the fuss, if your touring just wait till you reach another country

  74. juliet says

    I’ve lived in Florence for the last ten years and to be honest have had fairly few problems with the postal service, although the occasional package has failed to turn up or arrived with items missing. Since mid November 2011, however, I’ve made a total of 14 online orders from the UK (not counting several from Amazon UK) and so far only one has arrived! Some of these are now around six weeks late and I’m beginning to give up hope of ever seeing them again given that delivery from the UK usually takes little more than a week.

    Orders from Amazon on the other hand (only those shipped by Amazon UK’s trackable service) have always arrived exactly on time and being able to track the package is such a comfort.

    I stumbled across this blog while trying to find some information as to why my packages are taking so long to arrive and after reading Jef’s post above about the lack of a ‘first in – first out’ system, especially at busy periods over Christmas etc, I’m pretty horrified!

    Now I just hope that at some point they’ll get to the bottom of the barrel and find some of my stuff down there! I’ve contacted various sellers about the missing items and most have offered to send out the items again free of cost or provide me with a refund, but for the moment I’ve declined these kind offers.

    I find it pretty unfair that an honest seller should have to pay for either the dishonesty or ineptitude of some of those involved in the Italian postal service. And I say some, because obviously some great people are also employed by Le Poste. My post lady is an absolute delight and I’m on first name terms with the lovely gentleman from SDA.

    • says

      Hi Juliet,

      Sorry to hear that the post to Florence seems to have stopped getting through. Very odd.

      Six weeks is a long time, but wait a little longer before accepting refunds and asking sellers to attempt to send items again.

      With luck, someone from Italy’s postal service will be reading this post about the post and investigating – I hope so.

      If you have a moment, do pop back and let us all know what happened re your post.



      • juliet says

        Hi Alex,

        Thought I’d check in again to let you know what happened to my missing parcels, mentioned above. A couple of weeks ago I was at home when the doorbell rang. When I answered my postlady was there, carrying an enormous plastic sack full of packages addressed to me, which she handed over explaining that she’s been absent for over a month and these had ‘all been left for her to deliver’. At the time I didn’t question it because I was so excited to finally receive my mail but when I thought about it afterwards it did seem very strange. These were delivered at the end of January although some had been posted as early as November. I had noticed that my usual postlady wasn’t around for a while, but another postman had been working in her absence. One day I met him outside my apartment and asked about my missing parcels but he just offered a ‘boh’ and told me that he only delivered what he was given. Anyway, I’m sorry to say that the same situation seems to be happening all over again as my postlady is absent once more and I’m once again waiting for a further few parcels which are now quite late! I suppose I should be relieved that my parcels are not being lost or stolen and I believe it likely that they’ll be delivered when my postlady comes back to work, but I find it absurd and pretty infuriating that no packages are delivered in her absence! Surely the parcels should be delivered by someone else if she’s not available to deliver them?

  75. Mandy says

    I think confidence in Amazon deliveries may be a little premature. I live in the UK and earlier this month we ordered some books from Amazon for my brother to be delivered to his home address in Florence. The books never arrived. But, according to Amazon’s tracking, they were delivered within four or five days and signed for in his name! I have been sending a parcel to Florence every year for about nine years. This is the first time I have used Amazon, but it is the second parcel that he has not received. This very informative blog has confirmed my suspicions and I will not be sending parcels to Italy again. Keep up the good work.

    • says

      Hi Mandy,

      Sorry to hear about your Amazon problems. So far, I’ve been lucky and have got Amazon goods via on time and in perfect condition too.

      Thanks for mentioning to where the parcels were sent – this information may well help others and Amazon, possibly.



  76. Pino says

    hi all
    i’m italian and it’s really embarrassing to see that our postal service is getting known more & more even abroad.
    i could write pages about all italian postal service, but my english is not that good and when i think about them my frustration rises…a lot!
    guys, my advise is simply avoid Poste Italiane for incoming mail!
    USPS, Royal Mail, China Post, and obviously other, they all partner with poste italiane, simply because it was the only operator in Italy (a reason for the actual situation.)
    poste italiane has his own division in customs, this place, where mail disappears, gets damaged, where you can find people there playing soccer with the mail (as seen on TV show!!) or simply stay there till the end of time…
    Then, if you mail can get out of there, it will be in the hands of other people, and not all persons are honest.

    They offer a shaming service, and don’t have any intention to improve it, never had. They’ve always be the only one and they enjoyed it, now they want to become a bank. end of the story…

    Change company and go with another one that is not partner of Poste Italiane, that have his own custom division, a serious tracking service, insurance, people working for them that know that if they fail they’re out.

    Regarding sending mail abroad, i’ve always used the Raccomandata service, and i’ve never lost a package, but it is tracked only within Italy. However there are some new courier that have a little higher price, but a MUCH better service, why don’t you give them a try?

    My last advise, always have a tracking code!

    Have a good evening!


  77. giulia latini says

    I too have been here for 30 years and it’s the same as it always was… I would NEVER send anything of value, sentimental or otherwise, in the Poste Italiane…. “fannulloni e ladri” as they say here! I’m moving back to the States though and HAVE to send some boxes and can’t afford the Dhl, FedEx etc. prices for just my personal belongings in a cardboard box! As is it will be over 100 Euros with Poste Italiane. I would carry it all but now flying on Air Berlin and they allow 23 kgs. baggage total…. that’s nothing, especially if you’re moving …. I think I will become very Zen about it and give away all of my wordly possessions! And get on the plane in a loin cloth….

  78. says

    I live in the deep deep south of Italy: Calabria. A few months ago I ordered some bedding from amazon uk and to my surprise my parcel took only three days to get to Milan from the UK depot. It took FOUR days from Milan to Calabria! Italian drivers aren’t known for their slow driving, right?
    The parcel was finally left at my front door and yes, it was signed for in my name…!?!??

    Great blog Alex!

  79. Giorgio says

    Hello friends,
    I’m italian, and italian post office has just lost a little box I shipped to Malaysia.
    One can imagine the package lost somewhere in the jungle, tigers or monkeys playing with it…
    What’s the funny thing? it has been lost in Italy :(

    • says

      Hi Giorgio,

      You say your box was lost in Italy – where are you in Italy? Which area and which post office? Knowing this might help all of us understand which areas cause problems.



  80. Tony says

    Hi there

    I am working on a family tree project and a letter I sent back in the begginning of Feb to Colosimi Consenza never arrived. I sent it in a boring envelope and with a money order for some birth certificates and such.

    I am trying the archives of Consenza this time and I got a letter from Dr. Maria Nucci saying I should send 10.04 Euro. 3 Euro for photocopy and 7 for shipping the paper. She did not offer me the option to pay online by credit card or the option of sendin the certificates by email. I am getting this letter professionally translated but it seems like she is asking me to send cash- this sounds like suicide. I would be highly surprised if even one letter containing cash made it to Consenza even if I sent 20 of them, registered or otherwise. She recommends “folding” the cash into the letter somehow to disguise it.

    Here is the text of the letter:

    S’informa che e stata effettuata la fotocopiatura della documentazione richiesta. Gli importi da corrispondere sono i seguenti: euro 3,04 per le fotocopie ed euro 7,00 da velere per le spese postali (non si accettano assegni e coupon di posta universale perche non esigibili). Suggeriamo d’inviarc l’importo totale di euro 10,04 in busta chiusa all’interno di un foglietto ripiegato per evitare che si veda il contenuto all’esterno e possa essere sottratto. Segnaliamo il nostro indirizzo: Archivio di Stato, via Gravina 12-87100-Cosenza. La documentazione sara inviata non appena saranno soddisfatte le modalita di pagamento. Il lavoro e stato curato dalla dot.ssa Maria Nucci. Archivista Di Sato Direttore Coordinatore Dr Maria Nucci.

    Please advise me on the best way to get her 10,04

    • Tony says

      Well I looked around and found the recommended way:
      1. get a box of security envelopes (the envelopes with the blue pattern on the inside that stop the letter from being seen through), double sided tape and single sided tape. Also get some address labels made up. They should be simple and boring. Use a business address label for your own address if possible. Also get some tinfoil and a bunch of Euro.
      2. tape the edges and corners of one security envelop and put some double sided tape on the outside. Then carefully put this envelope into a second security envelope.
      3. Put the address labels on the outside of the envelope. Italian address should look something like:
      Signor XXXXXXXX
      Via P. Nenni 23
      38542 Rodano (MI)
      4. next, take the Euro bills and a piece of tinfoil that is roughly twice the area of the bill. Fold it in half and tape the edges so it makes a nice little sleeve. Slide the bills in there. This tinfoil, combined with the security envelopes will be a bit of camouflage that will stop thieving postal workers from seeing the money. The only weakness is the slight crinkling noise.
      5. wrap one or two sheets of paper or pages of your letter around the tinfoil sleeve with the money. Put the whole thing into the security envelopes.
      6. Now you have a few options. Send the letter normally. Send it registered or send it by UPS or equivalent. I opted for UPS.
      7. My strategy will be to send 10 letters by several different methods and envelopes. Hopefully one will get through. The reason I am sending these is to obtain birth, marriage and death certificates from Cosenza Italy archives for my ancestors. In a province where wild dogs roam the streets uncontrolled and postal workers tear open even registered mail and UPS mail, I do not have much hope.
      8. I will let you all know if one of my letters manages to get through.

      • says

        Good luck, Tony – sending cash is always a little dodgy and I thought you might be sending coins too.

        UPS should ensure the post does get through – maybe.

        The joys of PayPal still need to be discovered in Italy, it seems.



  81. Gordon Byast says


  82. Tony says

    My little plan worked. Maria Nucci got the letter and money and made the following reply:

    Si trasmette, per il seguito di competenza, quanto segnato in oggetto. I soldi inviati per coprire le spese delle fotocopie e quelle postali sono pervenuti a questo Archivio di Stato. Si ringrazia. N.B. La documentiazione seguira per posta ordinaria.

    She will send the documents by regular mail. I did not even have to send 10 letters. UPS has proved reliable. Next time I will try sending in a plain brown envelope or plain white envelope. Then I will try a card shaped envelope. I am very curious to see what actually makes it through and how bad Italy’s postal system really is.

  83. Silvanns says

    Dear Alex,

    Thanks for this great post! Actually I am really upset with Italy post. I sent my tax free claim from Singapore to Premier Tax in Rome via Registered Mail (As my connecting flight was delay thus I never got a chance to claim it @ Airport, only managed to get custome stamp on 19 Dec) on 24 Dec 2011. Singapore Post tracking system showed that the mail has arrived Italy on 31 Dec 2011. Howeve, till today 29 Mar 2012, Premier Tax still did not received anything. I called up Singapore post here, the officer said that the record showed “pending delivery” at Italy Post Office. Which I do not undertsand why. Premier Tax refused to help to call up Italy Post Office to check, and I cant do anything else beside waiting SingPost to help to check with Italy Post. Really upset with this. The tax claim is EUR455. I really hope that someone can advise me how to deal with this situation. I am stuck and dunno what to do in order for me to get back my EUR455, to cover some of my losses of my backpack thefted @ Brussels. :((

  84. Nervin says

    Dear Alex,

    I just finished reading your article. It’s the most information I’ve found on this issue in the internet. I was wondering if you have any tips for sending stuff from Italy to the states. On March 15th I sent my birth certificate to NY from Italy. It has an Italian tracking number and it shows that is arrived somewhere in the states on the 19th. Last update saying “APERTA PRATICA RISOLUZIONE GIACENZA”. It’s still showing that. The person who is supposed to get it says it has not arrived. Could it be stuck in customs? Have you ever had anything you sent from Italy to the states delayed this long? I sent my birth certificate to NY to get an apostille. It is the only document I have left to get married. I’ve checked the customs website and USPS and they don’t have much info on this issue. I’ve not had time to call either because of my work schedule. I opted out of using my base post office because they do not provide expedited shipping. So I decided to use the Italian posta. It got there in 4 days, but not to it’s destination. I have a little over 2 months left on this base and I will be getting sent back to the states, and I’m worried I wont get this in time to get married before I leave.

    • says

      Hi Nervin,

      Tough one this – it sounds as if your birth certificate has got to the US, but where, who knows. Not sure why it might be held up in customs. I hope you have a photocopy of the document at least so you can apply for a new one which might be quicker than finding the lost one.

      Whether or not you apply for a new birth certificate, I think you are going to have to find the time to make a few calls to the States or email USPS (and customs too, maybe) and tell them about the situation. I do not have contacts in either organization, I’m afraid.

      With a little luck either the original or the new one will turn up in time for you to get married.

      Best of luck,


  85. Laurie Warren says

    Dear Alex –
    Fortunately, I have always had my packages and mail arrive safely and unopened here in Lucca where i’ve been living the past 3 years. My beef is about all the hassles and money I have spent just to get my packages and why are the post and Fed Ex so inconsistent?! Sometimes I have to pay at the door (€15-€55) and sometimes I anything. Sometimes I wait 5-6 weeks and sometimes only a week.I’ve had only one package held “hostage” in Genova but I got it cleared after filling out about 5 forms which were snailmailed to me with NO instructions included!
    I really wanted to write to you because of what happened to me just today because I felt its maybe something others should be aware of too.. Last Thursday I ordered a mini aircompressor and paints (none of which are “banned” items) from America and had them shipped Fed Ex 2 day serv. Today I got a call from an agency at Malpensa called, “C.A.D.Antelli s.r.l. telling me that my pkg is being held for 2 reasons: 1. The packing slip had the word, “lotion” on it and 2. because there are 9 items being shipped to me-the max you can have is 4. I told her I was unaware of any lotion and maybe it was a gift from the company? Regardless whether I know what it is or not, she needed me is to send her (non-refundable) €40 via bonifico and to fax her the 6 forms she emailed me filled outwithout the word, “lotion” on it so she can then give my ppwk to the ministry of salute so they can determine whether or not its ok to enter italia. If they reject my package i’m out the €40 and the package goes back to the states-where I will be out also$150 for the Fed Ex but if it arrives, I am then to pay €58 for the minister of salute dept fee. and another €50 for customs at the door. If this package arrives I will have paid a whopping $320 just for it to get here! What a racket theyve got going in italia! My husband, who is italian actually wanted me to hang up on the lady because he thought it was a scam. Slightly unbelievable but no, it wasnt a scam….Whats your take on this?? thank you!!

  86. Jay Dillon says

    I think the Italian Post Office in the Rome area is absolutely wonderful and that they will get the International Air Mail package I sent to Cave Italy through Customs in record time!!

    • says

      Hopefully, after reading this, Jay, the Rome post office will prioritize your package!

      When was the package posted? It’s not in Cave yet, judging by your use of ‘will’ 😉

      Do come back and tell us if it does get through and how long it took too.



  87. Simone says


    I feel I need to comment this. I believe this post is pretty un-informative.
    My opinion sure represents a conflict of interest, being Italian, but I can assure you this is not the Poste Italiane I know.
    I order lots of things from abroad, 75% from Hong Kong or China, 20% from the UK, and the other 5% from the US. I never got any of my parcels lost nor damaged, they just require long time to arrive, especially due to Italian Customs. I have however never paid any custom duty nor other fees.
    The great part of my orders are shipped through normal unregistered mail, only few are registered & trackable parcels, and NONE of them have ever been insured.
    As for my experience, usually it takes 15 days to receive mail from the UK, 25-35 days from Hong Kong, and approximately 35-50 from US. I would like to underline that Hong Kong is sort of ‘blacklisted’ by Italian Customs, so it stays in Customs longer than US parcels.
    I once ordered a 450€ smartphone from the UK, through Poste Italiane’s courier SDA, without insurance. It arrived safe and sound. (btw, I would like to praise SDA, which has very professional employees, who, if called via mobile phone, are so kind to retry the delivery the same day at an agreed time; none of the other couriers does!)

    Best regards,

    • says

      Hi Simone,

      Not sure how you can find this post uninformative – the comments it’s generated do appear to suggest that something is not right with Italy’s postal service.

      If you have read them, you will have noted that plenty of people have been having problems – including myself. And it’s not just me and the others here that think Italy’s postal service has problems – go Google and you’ll find plenty more evidence, alas.

      Good to hear you have been OK, as has someone else I know, as mentioned in the ‘uninformative’ post above 😉

      Please do tell us where you are in Italy – so we can know that that area is safer than the others.



    • Angela says

      I think as well, Simone, there is a difference between sending something to a “Simone Mazzitelli” as opposed to a “Robert Jones” using the Italian postal system. Foreigners are targeted, no doubt.

  88. sharo says

    Same old story. I was sent an iphone by my brother in law from portugal via registered mail. It arrived after 9 days with a cardboard, the packing had stamples on it. I opened it in front of the girl who delivered it and she called the central office. They told me to go to the nearest post office and file a claim and when I went they said there’s nothing that can be done and to file a claim I must get a written testimony of the girl who delivered the package. Absolutely pathetic service thieves.
    I’ve learnt my lesson…NEVER SEND ANYTHING VIA POSTE ITALIANE specially if its valuable.

  89. Roy says

    I THINK THE iTALIAN POSTAL SYSTEM STINKS, posted a electric model train to a winning ebay bidder in Italy in April by International signed for mail and the item arrived in Milan a few days later and thats where it disappears of the face of the earth. The thing is the buyer put a claim in to paypal for a refund of non delivered item now I have no train and £88 worse off its the pits. NEVER WILL I SEND TO ITALY AGAIN

  90. Angela says

    Great post, thanks. It has always been something I have been wary of, posting or having things posted to me in Italy where I go to university. My mother at home in NZ always wants to send me Xmas and birthday gifts and I have to tell her no, please don’t, because I know it would break her heart to have them go “missing”. At the moment I am in the US doing a bit of work and shipped 2 boxes USPS to Italy, one to Rome and one to Naples, and I am very happy to say, they both arrived really quickly. Both were shipped to offices not houses and both US priority mail but were labelled as gifts. They weren’t opened or anything and arrived within a week! So I would definitely agree shipping to businesses may be a bit “safer”. I am about to move home and want to ship some of my clothes back but now am very wary. I may try to have it shipped to a friend’s workplace instead of my home. But the system is atrocious. And continues the sterotypical image of italians really not giving a crap about corruption and dishonesty in their government offices… Very sad.

  91. says

    I live in the US and have a buyer in Italy for some jewelry I make (technically it is costume jewelry, as there are no precious gems or metals in it). We are trying to figure out how best to ship it. Question: If I go for the covert ops brown box/envelope approach and address it to her place of work from my place of work (and make it look like boring work stuff), and basically fudge the customs form (e.g. “documents, $10″), i.e., sort of lie, do i then have no recourse if it goes astray (assuming any meaningful recourse exists in this case)? of course there would be no tracking if I went full-on covert “first class” (basic mail). i think priority mail would have tracking–do you think priority mail would give anything away if it said “documents”?

    • says

      Hi Keirsten,

      If I were you, I’d go for the covert ops brown box/envelope approach and send the package to the place of work – making it look as if it is from your place of work should help too. I would not try to fudge the customs form, just in case. Write “samples” or something similar – the costume jewelry could be a sample shipment, after all.

      As for recourse, try to get insurance from your end – the US – it’ll be much easier to make a claim there. Trying to make a claim here will be a nightmare and take ages too.

      Good luck and if you remember and have the time, please come back and let us all know if the mail did get through :)



  92. Kate says

    Thanks for writing this article, Alex! Both the article and the comments section were helpful and quite interesting. I sent a dress a few months ago in a brown paper package to a friend, and it arrived safely (but with an entire month delay, for whatever reason…) but now I need to send a pair of gloves to aforementioned friend and am afraid the small envelope in which I send it will be misplaced due to its size… I’m thinking I’ll put them in a much larger box filled with lightweight filler paper. Anyway, I enjoyed the article!

  93. Pat Sweeney says

    Oh dear! This is all rather discouraging! I sent a parcel to a friend with some lovely things for her new baby on August 23rd and so far it has not turned up. Maybe I am being a bit previous since it has ONLY been 2 weeks. Just have to keep fingers crossed it turns up. Apparently with a small packet rate I am only ensured for £46 but by the time I add it all up including box, postage etc it comes to over £60! Never mind! C’est la vie or however they say it in Italian! Will fly there next time and take pressies myself! :)

    • says

      Don’t lose all hope just yet, Pat. They post may still get through!

      Start becoming concerned after a month has passed. Even so, it is not unheard of for items to turn up after two months or longer.

      Where in Italy did you send your parcel to? I ask this to try to understand where the trouble spots are.

      Best and fingers crossed,


  94. Jane says

    I have lived in N. Italy (Modena) for three years and at various addresses and I order a lot from the UK, but also a bit from US and China. I have visited this site as I’ve reached the limit of how much poor service I am willing to accept from the Italian postal service.
    For me, UK items can take anywhere between 3 days (for a book) and 2+ months. Or… not turn up at all (this happened with concert tickets (delivered by courier but intercepted by someone in my former residence’s reception) or get sent back to sender (happened twice once with an envelope from Milan and a brown box from UK).

    Recently, Ive had to wait a full month each time for UK items and its getting very frustrating. My partner received a parcel from France that took more time to get from Italy to France than the same parcel took to get from France to a remote village in Africa. Something is amiss here.

    While I understand that post can go missing anywhere there is ZERO justification and no excuse for such a dodgy postal service. People don’t “hate” Italy, they just hate paying good money to post something and then that service be abused. Let’s not turn this into a straw man argument (“yes but Italy has such cultural value!”). These comments are NOT a reflection on a country itself but on a bad service. Let’s stay focused on the topic at hand: The Italian postal system is wildly inefficient compared to other European countries and this needs to be addressed. More power to sites like this!

  95. Sam says


    I have (knock on wood) been able to send stuff to Italy from NYC (even stuff on the banned list, as I had no idea such a list existed years ago), and it all arrived (albeit, slowly). My question is- I have always sent photographs, and they have all arrived. But I am confused by the banned list saying NO ALBUMS (photographs, etc). Does that mean that loose photos are acceptable, as long as they are not in an album? I have about 400 photo in hard copy I need to mail to Sicily and not sure how to go about it, thanks!

    • says

      Hi Sam,

      Re loose photos, I really have no idea, I’m sorry. You really need to check with the USPS. If they say sending loose photos is OK, then pop them in a shoe box or something and mail them – you should be OK, although the weight of 400 photos might make some curious to see just what is in the package.

      Do not send photos you do not want to lose. It’s a shame you cannot scan them and put them on a DVD – but scanning 400 photos would take rather a long time.



      • Sam says

        I am sending them to the elderly relatives who have no idea how to turn on a computer, I would have much rather burned a disc. Oh well, thanks Alex!

  96. JM says

    My daughter is studying in Florence, Italy for the fall semester – I mailed her a package on 9/13/12 from the U.S. and it contained a pair of leather boots. I did not know that you weren’t supposed to mail shoes- there were other things in the box too. I have an investigation started through the USPS & they said it is in Customs in Milan. I had to fax them an invoice of the contents of the package. Do you have any idea of what happens next? She really needs this package.

    • says

      Hi JM,

      Re your daughter’s boots, at least you know they got to Italy. As for what will happen next, it’s wait and see time. What may happen is that when your daughter receives the boots she may have to pay a customs tax, but this is unlikely seeing as they are a present.

      It may take a month or so for the boots to escape customs and get to Florence.



      • JM says

        Alex – thanks for your reply – the boots and all items I sent to her are used. She has owned the boots for over a year & just forgot to pack them. We are visiting her next week & I will try to make some phone calls while we are there if she hasn’t received it by then. Do you know the contact info for phone or email inquiries? Thanks again for your help. JM

  97. Davide says

    I’m Italian and I live in Bari (Southern Italy). I often send packages within Italy and I never experienced any problem, aside from the occasional delays (wich occurred only seldom in my personal experience). Among the things that I’ve sent to other Italians, there are dozens of videogames and a PS3 system, all of which reached their destination safely. Then again, I always send my packages through registered post (“raccomandata tracciabile”), although usually without advice of recepit (“ricevuta di ritorno”); which may very well be the reason why I never had problems.

    I also have an habit of buying goods online and so far I’ve always received my purchases, even when they were sent from abroad. I recall buying a videogame from Australia and many more from the UK. Never had an issue. Yesterday I ordered a couple of stickers from the US and I’m quite confident that I will get them in due time.

    Then there are letters. I’m kind of new to snail mail so I don’t have much experience yet, but I’ve recently received a letter from Poland: it took the Polish and Italian postal services a combined total of 2 weeks for it to be delivered to my address… but it reached its destination nevertheless, and without signs of tamper. (I’m about to send my reply letter and hopefully everything will go just as smoothly).

    So, while I can’t speak for everyone and I don’t know how the situation is in other parts of Italy, I can safely state that my city fares well in this respect (despite being in the South). Everyone sending items or letters to Bari can and should be reasonably confident of them actually being delivered. I hope this comes off as useful information to someone.

  98. Nic says

    I’m Australian and I live in Florence. Read this post the other day after purchasing some new RAM sticks off What ensued was a few nervous days, but alas, my package arrived on time (around 5 days). It was in a package that was about the size of the book. I was thinking about getting my friend in Singapore to send my leather jacket that I left there earlier this year to Florence, but after second thought, I think I will get it sent to Australia!

  99. Ed says

    This is a great site. Wish I would have checked it a long time ago. My daughter has an extended stay doing research in Turkey and Italy (based in Rome). Since she was traveling a lot in Turkey, her first destination, by bus, we elected to ship her winter clothes to her apartment in Rome. My first shock was how expensive it was to ship by a good carrier (FedEX, UPS, etc). But I came to understand why. I payed 700USD to ship a box with her clothes in two suitcases so she could put them on the plane when she returns. That was bad enough.

    Clothes quickly got from Cleveland to Tessara, Italy and then the fun began. Italian customs wanted all sorts of information. Etickets, copy of passport, another declaratiion of content. We even supplied a letter from her university explaining why she was there. Of course we did this via the international desk at UPS once it was clear there was a hold at customs. Fortunately, I cannot say enough about the dedication of the US based UPS international person who had to daily communicate with the UPS person in Tessara who intern has to continue to pressure Italian customs to move things along. So, it took ‘only’ one week to break it loose, and they did not charge us any importation fee, I assume since we had provided plenty of documenation about the purpose of her visit. Then UPS prompty delivered it to my daughter’s apartment. So, frustrating, expensive, but, at least it worked.

    For anyone thinking of forwarding luggage to a hotel or private home in Italy my advice is do not do it unless you are planning to be there a long time. And for SURE use a major service. Probably one reason it is expensive is they KNOW they have to spend time breaking it loose for final delivery! The second package has personal items. Nothing expensive. Sent that US International Priority Mail for $50USD. What an experience. Provided my daughter’s email on the package. After several WEEKS they sent her an email and contacted her. So, she provided promptly the same basic information. Nothing. After repeated contacts someone finally told her she could come ‘get it’ at a location nowhere near her. Turned out to be a customs office. So, she had to spend 90Euros to get there and then thay extracted 25Euros in person. My guess that went into someone’s pocket. For a country that built Roman aquaducts and the other amazing innovative structures, Italy today has a very backwards postal system. Or people who really do not know the meaning of service……We had to send her absentee ballot for which I again used UPS and sent it to a Mailboxes Etc Store near her. Now, that one worked. Fast and ‘only’ cost 88USD. She sent it back from the Mainboxes store for 40 Euros. A plain looking official envelope so no issue, I guess. Bottom line– take what you need and buy the rest there I Iguess!

  100. laura tokioka says

    I am a sculptor student and I mailed my first sculpture home to the USA via the Italian post office in Pistoia, which the person who was teaching me assured me would be fine. I sent several packages after this one and they all arrived. The first package with the sculpture never arrived. After I mailed the first package, the woman at the post office told us that all sculptures must be approved by a department of sculpture in Florence and mentioned there may be a problem with the previous shipment. I have tried to get the sculptor to help me access the post office department but he will not. I would love some help finding out information as to how I can contact this “sculpture department ” in Florence and what their contact information is. I have the international receipt with the number on it. I was told not to send it registrared . I would love help with this it is my first piece and I am heartbroken by the situation as I spent weeks working on it.
    thank you for your assistance

  101. david says

    i was wondering if it is possible to recover registered mail from the milan central office, I am sending an important document to Jordan and need it back quickly, so that i can send it by DHL.
    it has been with milan csi windows on the tracking system for three days as work in progress, I was told would take about a week, i did send my passport to the British Embassy in France and they received it in 2 days, so that was excellent.
    Don’t know if I can recover the document.
    with the system you can monitor the document upto the Italian border/airport, wondered if this showed on the computer tracking screen.

    • says

      Hi David,

      The answer is that I don’t know.

      You’d have to go and ask & then find out whereabouts your document is, go there & pick it up. It will not be easy, of that I’m 100% certain.



  102. Lily Hunter says

    Would this happen with something as basic as a letter? Not too fancy of a letter a manilla envelope with a wax seal on the back Yes I did write it out (probably shouldn’t have done that) Just trying to be pen pals here… I sent the letter on the 27th of October and never got a reply…

    • says

      Hi Lily,

      The only thing which might have attracted undue interest is the wax seal. That will have given the impression the envelope contained something interesting.

      In Italian terms, 27th October is not too long ago, so it may still turn up.

      When sending stuff to Italy, boring is best.



        • says

          Allow around two weeks both ways. If something has not turned up, then the chances of it doing so reduce with every day which passes. After two months, the chances of anything arriving either in the US or in Italy fall to around zero.

          Sometimes packages arrive empty.

          The postal service is a little random. Some people never have problems, others always seem to have problems. Very hard to know whether the mail will get through.

          For very important or valuable items, use a courier service, would be my advice.



  103. Prashant Donekal says

    Is it just me or are the postal rates in Italy way too expensive. I lived in Ireland before and to send a parcel weighing 20kg cost me about €65. The same in Italy costs €199. Thats more than 3 times. WTF! Got roundhouse kicked in my wallet area!

    • says

      Hi Prashant,

      I really have no idea how Italy compares to the rest of the world in terms to postal costs. Sorry.

      The reason for this post was not cost, but quality of service. Postal services are supposed to deliver 😉

      You could visit a few post office websites around the world to find out.



  104. Yolanda Smit says

    Hi Alex,

    I posted a package from South Africa to Italy on 28 November 2012. I’ve tried tracking it, but I can only see what happened to it in SA. I thought that maybe with it being Christmas and all I’d give it a bit more time, but after reading your posts, I think its a gonner. I don’t have a contact number for the receiver, so is there a way that I can trace it in Italy?



    • says

      Hi Yolanda,

      I don’t know of any way to track your parcel in Italy. I doubt the SA tracking code would work here. You could contact SA shipping company an ask them for info on this though.

      It’s not unknown in Italy for parcels to arrive 2 months or so after they were posted, so it might still get to its destination, maybe.

      If, on the other hand, the parcel contained something of value, it may have attracted interest.

      You also need to be sure that the item was OK to send to Italy, but it’s a bit late for this now.

      Call the SA company and ask them. If the item has not arrived by mid-February (to allow for Christmas chaos) assume it will never arrive.



  105. Prashant Donekal says

    Ciao Alex,

    Thanks and will let know about my experience with the postal service.

    Great blog, keep it up.


  106. Carolyn Carter says

    I read your posts and laughed out loud many times; having lived in Italy 40 years ago and visited other times, I am familiar with the necessity to plan a full day trying to mail a package; getting it right over several trips in a single day. So now I will arrive in Rome by cruise ship and want to mail back to the US some excess clothes before further travel in Europe. Can you give me some essential advice on how to wrap a package of about 15 pounds, how to address it and the location of a small post office which someone shared would be easier to navigate; also location, times, anything at all would help. We arrive at the port at 8 am but would like to fly out the same day. Is this an impossible expectation? Thanks a bunch, Carolyn

  107. Jessica Nordquist says

    Dear Alex,

    I cannot stress more how much I agree with your post.

    I also want to comment on a Mr. Marco who thinks brash and extremities of patriotism are rightfully justified, and anything that goes against “the world’s richest country in arts and history” of Italy is to down right deny everything in this post since it “degrades” Italy in ANY way; is an atrocity to all Italians.

    Alex, I want to apologize for the most ignorant, arrogant Italian extremist I have ever encountered. I respect all religions and countries alike, and I wish to commend you for being still so respectful to such an idiot like Mr. Marco even though he doesn’t deserve it. It truly does reflect greatly on you though, as it should. I would also like to correct Mr. Marco on “the world’s greatest country in arts and history, second only to the ancient rules of Rome, and the Latin language”. I am married to a Greek man, and would like to inform you, Mr. Marco, that you are confusing the beloved riches and wonders of Italy in arts and history that you mentioned for GREECE. I hope you know, Mr. Marco, Italy STOLE ALL of it’s rich culture and history from GREECE. Look at the GREEK GODS for example. They are not Ancient Rome, but truly Ancient Greece. Please do not claim such absurd and false lies. That is the truth. If you wish, you can Wikipedia for yourself where your rich culture and country derived from; Greece.

    Mr. Marco also mentioned that the package often arrives through another sorting facility in another country before arriving to a destination. I disagree completely. Mr. Marco already contradicted himself with the fact that Italy does have tracking. ANY PACKAGES RECEIVED MUST BE SCANNED AT A SORTING FACILITY. Has anyone’s package ever have ROMANIA as a transit in their tracking? Even if there were, how many of you think it was because of Romania? All the packages I have shipped to Italy, NEVER went to another country. It was shipped directly from SF to Rome. If it went to another country (which may be true) it would definitely show up on the tracking. THERE IS NO WAY TO SHIP A PACKAGE WITH A TRACKING WITHOUT UPDATING EACH FACILITY IT ENTERS AND LEAVES.

    Onto the next topic. I have nothing against Italy. Except for the postal service. It is horrendous. THIS IS FROM EXPERIENCE MR. MARCO, not from lies. I truly believe you are equal if not worse to the patriotic Zionists of Israel. You know, the ones with the “appropriate formal attire, and curls in black top hats”. You THINK you are doing your country a favor for being so extreme and “righteously protective” of your country, but you are truly a disgrace. A true disgrace that only further proves your blind ignorance and hatred of anyone who doesn’t love Italy. It also further shows how right everyone else is, and how wrong your idiocy is.

    Back to Alex,

    Alex here is yet another unsatisfied postal customer. My husband’s sister lives in Trieste. She is Greek and moved there for school a few years ago. Of course [living in California], we send her items all the time. Knowing that Italy has the toughest customs laws (as reflected on the USPS website) we did further investigation prior to sending her a package. We even contacted a friend of ours in Milan who owns a business for tips to sending things such as jewelry to Ranch dressing. She informed us that before 2007, you could easily write on the customs declaration, you are sending books (but really you’re sending something else), and they will not think much of it; however that has changed in recent years. Although she has never had a problem receiving items from the US, she stated that her friends who are Americans and Canadians (with distinguishable English names) did not receive their packages sent from their home countries, even though they’re her neighbors, or lived on the same street. Sadly, she also informed me it was because of her Italian name, and her business address as the reason why she has received all of her packages. The best advice she gave me, was what you already mentioned: Try as hard as you can to generalize and broaden the category of the item your sending. For example, an iPod is valuable, so put MP3 instead.

    Here is where the horror stories come in. In 2011, we shipped her a birthday present from SF. We shipped her an iPod Touch, lots of sweets and candies, headphones, extra Apple USB sync cables, and all sorts of Hostess pastries. We shipped it in a plain sturdy brown box, via the USPS Express Mail (to arrive in 3-7 days max). I paid $75 to ship this box that weighed about 3 pounds on 9/16/11. I accidentally wrote the wrong house address, from 42 to 45, and the very next day, I contacted the USPS notifying them of the correct address change. When you ship with Express Global Mail with USPS, you are required to put the recipient’s telephone number, and your own; in case these things happen. When my package arrived in Italy, it was about 2 weeks later, 9/28/11. The package was sent to Trieste, and delivered by SDA… Apparently SDA was ignorant to the fact that the USPS contacted the Italian Post… They notified the USPS that this is the wrong address on the box. They requested that my sister in law contact the Italian Post with the provided #, and to provide them with her # to get in contact, and to tell them the USPS Tracking #. We were relieved, as they contacted us, but we were baffled as to why they would need it, as they already have the corrected email. They actually REPLIED to the USPS’s email of “Address Change”! It was crazy to us, because we emailed them first with the corrected address, as well as my sister’s cell phone! Yet they replied, stating they need her address, and #…. When it was already provided in the email they replied too… So then the USPS replied to them on my behalf (when the USPS contacts you from the Inquiry Center, they will contact the other country’s official Post Office and deal with directly; you are not involved any where, you just tell them what happened, and they will put it in official writing with you on the phone, and send it to them. So the USPS Agent and I were on the phone BOTH of us baffled as to why they did not even read the first email, and instead replied with requesting information! So yes, we replied, and I notified my sister right away of contacting this # provided, and the address of this SDA Post Office to pick it up… So my sister calls them, and she gives them the USPS Tracking #, and the SDA in Trieste says this cannot be located, because they don’t use the USPS Tracking #, the moment it arrives in Italy… They use their OWN tracking #, and you must provide them with that… Well, how in the heck can we provide them with THEIR OWN tracking #, when we don’t have the package? So my sister gives her name and address to locate this package, and they cannot find it! I notify the USPS Inquiry center the same day she told me this; and we sent yet another email to the Italian Post… My sister arrives to the Trieste Postal office (as SDA mentioned that they are no longer in possession of it) and the Trieste Postal office said the package was being sent back to Customs (the dogana or however it’s spelled…). I notify USPS again of this change, and we send yet another email, requesting Italy to return the package to me… Two emails later with requesting the package be sent back to the US; no response from the Italian Post. They stopped replying. The USPS Agent on the phone told me, they are required to reply to the USPS in a max of 5 business days, and if no response is sent, they will send one last notice of the update on the package, before I can claim it as lost. A week later, the Italian Post replied, saying that the USPS never provided them with the correct address, or phone number. Every single agent I spoke to at the USPS (at that point, I was calling once every day, sometimes twice, since the package was in Italy) every single agent agreed with me; they are just baffled at the lack of response and basic common sense of the Italian Post. When we told them the SDA requires the Italian tracking #, and to provide it, they responded that the tracking # is the same from the USPS, they do not add their own (contrary to what SDA told my sister!). I was just so nervous, as we sent her a brand new iPod, and we were scared the customs or someone at the post were going to steal it… So after 30 days from sending the package (it was then October 28) I was allowed to make a lost package claim. The Italian Post stated in their last email that the package was in the dogana in Venice (I believe) and that it will be delivered…. We had given all hope at that point, because the USPS advised us since the Italian Post replied, stating that they will deliver the package; we could not file a claim. It was the worse “stuck in the middle” situation I have ever encountered. My husband decided to give it another week or two, to see if they would deliver it; since we are stuck with no other option. It came November and we informed the USPS that we will file a claim, as it is ridiculously long to send it to the recipient. We were dumbstruck when they refused to return the package to us. On the second week of November my sister finally received the package with a 37 euro fee for VAT! It was insane… Just insane… This is just ONE of the many stories I have with the Italian Post, and the third party service they hire, the SDA… It is just god awful…

    And unfortunately Alex, I am wondering whether or not my husband and I should ship her another package with the iPhone 5… We got her one here, but we want to send it to her so she can have a phone to use. Any tips or ideas on how to do this feat without waiting 2 months later for her to receive it? Heck, the iPhone 5s will probably be out the moment she receives it! Also the VAT…! I don’t understand what the VAT is for! In Greece, we ship packages to my parents in law all the time! We send packages to Greece once every other month, big USPS Priority medium flat rate boxes that arrive in 10 days or less, and NEVER have a VAT ever… They never charged a dime to my parents in law. Any way we can bypass the VAT fee and just put books and clothes? Also with the current economy in Italy, we are really worried the packages will be even more susceptible to being looted and opened. Shame on Italy.

  108. Peter says

    well i believe the problem is as follows, the country is full of thieves from the politicians down, the legal system does not work so no one goes to jail and you cannot fire anyone. End result Italy.

  109. kevin says

    Italy post is the second worst service in the world. Courier based services are your only protection. We sell in excess of 20,000 Euro plus of sales to the Italian market weekly. We have items of low value. Post and registered makes sense for some of these items.

    Every single day I get emails about items not arriving. Between 5 & 10. Post in this country is dishonest. If no, then the Italian customers. We sell global do millions in sales. Italy is a sticking point at present and Russia.

    No issues in Germany, France, Ireland, UK. Spain. Denmark etc… on these shipping types. Why is Italy so difficult. Simply put do not use any form or post in this region. It is Russian roulette. Your item may arrive fine or not at all. Most likely it will not. I will most likely deal with in excess of 1500 missing items. Thankfully when you are referring to a missing memory adapter that cost .45 cents. It is not a big deal in comparison to the sale volume.

    We are presently looking to find a courier service to drop post in Italy. Too dishonest…. Italy no respect for packages. Proof I answer these email daily. It ain’t the service or the path. It is the end stage in Italy.

    • peter says

      Dont post during major holidays as the Italian postal service steals almost everything looking to find free gifts and money in cards etc…Im in Rome and i know from painful experiences.

  110. mark says

    I agree, post in this region is very dishonest. items never arrive. 5 packages I sent to a family member never arrived.

  111. L says

    Thank you for the wonderful information about sending and receiving mail to/from Italy. I would never have guessed that something as innocuous as a brightly coloured envelope could affect whether it would be opened, or the contents stolen.

    On a positive note (and for any other readers who have found this article after buying something online from a seller in Italy, as I did a few days ago), I have some good news to report:

    I purchased an antique locket on March 26 and the seller promptly sent a shipping notification a few hours later. I was absolutely shocked to find it in my mailbox (in Ontario, Canada) this morning, April 2! That’s only eight short days. When you factor in that Canada Post does not deliver on weekends, and this past weekend there were no deliveries on Good Friday or Easter Monday, it’s even more astounding.

    The small packet was in a plain brown bubble wrap padded envelope, cost 3.50 euros to ship and had a printed address label. The seller is located in Bologna. After some of the horrible things I have read, I was very relieved that it turned up at all. That said, if I ever need to send something to Italy, I will remember the great tips found here. Thanks Alex.

    • says

      Glad you found the tips handy, L :)

      Very good to hear about the prompt delivery of your packet. You never really know with Italy’s mail service. It can be excellent, as in your case, or it can be dire, as others, including myself, have found.

      All the best from Italy,


  112. Paul Barnes says

    Hi Alex,

    I stumbled across your fascinating blog by accident!! I am an Englishman living just North of Milan, with my Italian wife, where I have lived now for just over a year.
    In the last month I have been thinking about starting my own online business, buying and selling basically, importing in from China,US etc, and selling only in Italy…However, after reading your blog, I’m not so sure…..
    It started because I was looking on the Poste Italiane website for domestic postage costs, which are horrendously expensive!! From what I can make out, if a small ‘jiffy-bag’ type envelope was sent containing small un-heavy items, the cost is 6.10euro!! SO, you sell something small for 4euro, and the customers pays MORE than the value of the item? Really?? And a parcel, (up to 20kg) is 9.10euro? So, another slightly larger item which would sell for 10 euro, the customer pays 9??This seems nuts?? Now, I read that things barely show-up, get delivered, and cause stress!! Then of course, the issue of importing from China……

    Any further help/advice, from yourself or anyone would be very, VERY greatly appreciated…..



    • says

      Hi Paul,

      So you are coming to terms with Italy’s postal system, which, as you have discovered, it not exactly ecommerce friendly! And, as you have read, it can be rather hit and miss as to whether or not anything actually gets to destination. Some areas of Italy are better than others, but it’s very hard to know which.

      I’d suggest that you contact the British Chamber of Commerce in Milan and have a chat with them about your project. It might be less costly, and much more reliable, to use a courier/parcel delivery service and/or have batches of items delivered to pickup addresses – stationary and other shops in Italy do this for some courier firms.

      Other companies in Italy do sell online, so take a look at a few and see which delivery services they use. I’d also recommend taking a look Amazon’s ecommerce services – they can sort out everything for you, although their service does come at a cost, but in terms of costs versus benefits, the Amazon system may well be the way to go.

      Cheers – if you ever head to Milan, let me know.


      PS For Italy news updates in English, you might like to follow my @newsfromitaly Twitter account.

      • Paul Barnes says

        Hi Alex,

        Thanks very much for your reply…very helpful to say the least. I have noticed that retailers that sell online (eBay) quote a standard postage, which i assume is Poste.I, then an even more expensive service….

        As for heading into Milan, I frequently pop in, as it’s only 30 mins by train….drop me an email if you’d like to meet up..

        Thanks again



  113. Hugh says

    Hi Alex, great post!
    My girlfriend and I live in Rome and we have had extreme trouble with the postal system. My girlfriend’s mum sent us 2 parcels containing clothes 6-8 weeks ago from the UK and they haven’t arrived.
    I’m not sure how the parcels looked, after reading this I have little faith they are going to arrive.
    British mail people have advised us to go to the nearest mail depot/sorting office and show the name and address and request it. Do you know where can I find the equivalent to a royal mail depot in Rome?

    • says

      Thanks Hugh.

      As for where to find the equivalent of a Royal Mail depot in Rome, I’ve have a quick google trawl, but can’t find anything. I could be wrong, but I don’t think these places are accessible to the public and may not even be in Rome!

      Maybe someone else will know. I’ll tweet this and see.


  114. Marko says

    I am still waiting for a letter with scientific papers which was sent to me from Siena on 23. 5. I am afraid I won’t receive it. It took much less to get mail from USA to Croatia than from Italy… Do you think it will arrive someday?

    • says

      Hi Marko,

      23rd May is not that long ago, assuming that’s 23 May 2013! Your letter from Siena might well turn up. If nothing has arrived after 2 months, then the letter may not arrive at all, then again, sometimes the Italian post gets through after a year or so.

      You never know with Italy’s post!



  115. Natalie says

    Hi! i have offered to bring some items over to italy for some friends then post once i am in the country, what is the internal post like? as unreliable or a bit better? x

    • says

      Hi Natalie,

      Italy’s internal post service is a little better than its international service, so the post within Italy should get through, depending on whereabouts in Italy you are posting things. Even so, disguising parcels and sending them to business addresses won’t do any harm and should keep prying eyes away.

      Report back if you have problems.



  116. Karen says

    So glad i have stumbled across your informative information,although i did not stumble across it soon enough it seems!! I lice in Australia and marked a 3kg package of baby clothes over to my very premature nephew four weeks ago now and no sign of it so far!! I mailed it to Vico Equense, ssouth of Naples on the Amalfi may arrive yet but i’m not holding out hope after reading this lot!! It cost me $100 to mail by air and was not registered or anything. Very sad if it’s been pilfered through!

  117. C says

    1 year ago I followed all of these instructions to mail a small flat rate box to my friend in Genova, I took every necessary precaution. The package still has not arrived. I contacted USPS and her the Italian Poste, the package is lost. I will say though that my bright red envelope I sent at Christmas arrived without fail. Win some, lose some.

    • says

      Sorry to hear that C, but there are no guarantees, alas. I wonder whether x-ray machines are in use, in which case, nothing can be hidden from prying eyes alas.



      • Carmen Rosa says

        Dear Alex

        A great post!
        A friend from USA is sending to me me as a gift a used baby play yard. I know one of the restriction are toys that are not made in wood. Do you think it will be okay to send this to Milan? A play yard could be considered as toy? Could you give me some advice of how to send it?
        Thank you

        • says

          Hi Carmen,

          Looking here, – in Italian, it sounds as if you should be OK – provided the baby play yard is not antique.

          I have not seen the restriction regarding toys not made of wood. Where did you see that? Sounds excessive.

          Your friend does need to check US post restrictions too – sometimes packages do not make it out of the States.

          If you mark the package as a gift, it should be OK. Use plain packaging, a printed address and, if possible, send it to a business address.

          Italy’s postal service tends to be rather unpredictable, so it’s very hard to know whether something will arrive at destination. It may do, or it may not. Sorry to be so non-committal, but as you may have seen from the comments here, it’s just about impossible to know. If the object is valuable, consider a courier service even if they can be very expensive.

          Best of luck,


  118. Nicola says

    Hi All!
    I’m Italian and I often buy good from abroad (even US and china).
    My story with shipments from UK is a full success, all of them were low value items (from £5 to £50) sent with standard airmail with no tracking.
    I cannot comment on the shipping time since I’m aware of the terrible italian post system so I usually wait for the parcel without counting the days.

    It’s true, poste italiane has an unreliable service: deliveries are often slow, sometimes the parcel disappears and there are thieves that steals the content or the parcel itself.

    Even signed shipment can’t protect you: there is the bad habit (and also illegal) of faking the signs and leave the packet near the mailbox or on the ground in front of the door.
    They do this to avoid multiple delivery attempts, the last time the courier (the awful bartolini) faked the sign, left the parcel in front of my door and called me on my mobile phone to notify me the delivery (a real gentlement -_-‘) the crazy part is that I was at home! He didn’t even tried to ring the bell!
    They often fakes the delivery attmpt, they do this when they are near the end of the work day in order to go home early. You check the tracking on the site and you find “delivery failed: receiver not at home” but you stayed at home all day and waited for nothing.

    Just a note even if it’s all true I don’t think this is as frequent as it seems reading this post and the comments. I think that the argument attracts all sort of horror story while the satisfied customers would never read or comment.
    All of us landed here googling for problems with shipping to Italy.

    And now my question: are you experienced with the ebay global shipping program? As soon as my parcel left the US the tracking info given by ebay has become poor and uninformative.
    I’m now stucked in a “In transit with destination Carrier” state which means my parcel is in Italy and in the hands of poste italiane (or its courier branch SDA) but is no more traceable.
    Last year i received a parcel (an almost mint Macbook Air) shipped with USPS in less than 10 days and I’m sure that I was given the new tracking code assigned by “poste italiane” to track it on its Italy journey.

    I’m sorry for my bad English, I should really imrpove my skills in it.

  119. Kristy says

    Hi there,

    I’m staying at my partner’s place in Sicily. Twice now we have experienced that when receiving a gift from NZ that we pay! And depending on the amount written on the parcel they charge a percentage of it. Crazy stuff. Is there any way of avoiding it? When we’re overseas and sending gifts to Italy we don’t want them to have to pay anything.

    Your thoughts?

  120. says

    Can you give me some essential advice on how to wrap a package of about 15 pounds, how to address it and the location of a small post office which someone shared would be easier to navigate; also location, times, anything at all would help. We arrive at the port at 8 am but would like to fly out the same day

  121. Heather says

    Hi all! I’ve lived in Rome for almost 2 years now and lost two boxes when I moved from the states. My boyfriend is Roman and one of his friends is a postal worker. This friend was bragging that he will throw away mail so he can nap at lunch and so he doesn’t stay late if there is still mail left he’ll throw that away as well. Nobody cares here and no laws are enforsed. Absolutely deplorable customer service in this country as no one is held accountable. It’s literally a hit or miss based on the mood of the carrier!! Consider yourself very lucky if you get your mail and do follow the advice above as it will help your chances of getting your mail if they think it’s business mail. Good luck all!

    • says

      Hi Heather,

      Sorry to hear about the Rome postal worker, but other similar stories have been floating around, so it’s not a huge surprise.

      It’s is true that Italy doesn’t always bother to enforce its, many, laws and accountability levels are virtually non existent.

      Italy’s postal system is a very mixed bag – for some it works fine, for others, it’s unpredictable.

      As mentioned in the article, disguising items as business mail does tend to work (Well, it has for me) – as does sending it to a business address – if you can.

      Thanks for commenting.


      • Paul Barnes says

        Hi all,

        I posted on here a few months back about the postage system here in Italy…an update!!

        My wife and I recently (Early Sept) had a little baby boy, so friends/relatives in the UK posted over some cards,gifts etc…. 2 family members posted over gifts. 1 was a teddy bear, and the other, also a teddy bear. They have not arrived.,In fact, one was sent in advance in JULY!! I assume there must a black market for cuddly toys in Italy! A couple of things DID arrive, which were clothes…Suffice to say, I emailed every friend ‘back home’ telling them that if they were thinking of posting ANYTHING, don’t! Wait for us to visit YOU!!

        Maybe they’ll turn? Probably in time for his 16th birthday!!



        • says

          Ah, yes, the black market for cuddly teddy bears is particularly florid in Italy, Paul! 😉

          A typical story of Italy’s rather random postal system. Did your friends in Italy disguise those teddies? Probably not buy the sounds of it. They’ll probably end up under an Xmas tree in Italy.

          Congrats on the new addition. Antique teddy bears might be worth something when and if they arrive in time for son’s 16th birthday! They’ll be worth even more if they arrive in time for his 50th birthday!



  122. Shawn says

    Hi, Alex how are you? You are very helpful! I wanted some quick advice. I want to send a photograph to be autographed by a famous person in Italy. I will send photo and letter in a boring envelope and typed address. The problem is how do I pay for the person’s return postage on the included envelope (addresed to me)? International money order? I’m in New York USA. Thank you! !

    • says

      Hi Shawn,

      Never done this. An international money order or Western Union transfer would be OK, I suppose. Ask your local USPS office. Alternatively DHL and Fed Ex offer return services. There are some other possibilities but they are fiddly and slow.



  123. John says

    Came by this website by chance and feel compelled say how depressing it was to see a reasonable and well-intentioned blog provoke some unhelpful content that detracted from the proper discussion and so served no useful purpose other than betray a pretty hopeless grasp of things such as, for example, the vast and complex subject that is the artistic developement of ancient Greece and Rome (“Italy STOLE ALL of it’s rich culture and history from GREECE”) to outright insults to an entire nation (“the country is full of thieves”).

    I haven’t had any problems with mail to Italy and I have posted to addresses from Milan down to Bari; also mailed to Sicily. One has gone out today to Modena. It is in a bright yellow custom-made envelope containing an outsize magazine. I am pretty sure that I left off the province detail (MO) in the address but I am not too concerned about it. Mail to Italy has always been magazines, sometimes in envelopes, sometimes in Amazon-style book wraps for heavy glossy types. I tend to handwrite addresses using a large indelible ink marker pen.

    My advice to anyone mailing anything anywhere is to aquaint yourself with the Royal Mail’s compensation scheme for items lost or damaged, it is tedious but important. Also, get into the habit of taking your mail to the Post Office counter and asking for a Certificate of Posting. Yes, that is boring and time consuming too but that small piece of paper may give you up to £20 worth of cover (all included in the price of your stamp).


    That slip of paper came to my rescue with the only item that I have ever had go astray – a package to Scotland!

  124. About Italy says

    Mailing in Italy can be quite an adventure :)). Thanks for the post, i think next time i will get something mailed i will know what to do.

  125. Paul Barnes says

    Hi Alex,

    Hope you are well…


    Got my first Christmas card in the mail today, sent from friends in England… Guess what? It had been ripped open, i guess to check if any money was inside…. I have since, very sadly had to email ALL friends and family saying, that please, do not post anything that looks like it could be a gift, or card…. In fact, I have told everyone IF they send anything (to our new son mostly) to box it up, and address it to my wife with the letters S.R.L after it, as this suggests a company and COULD be less likely to be tampered with especially with her being Italian, not an English name…(something I believe I read on this here forum…. Unfortunately, the best advice is ‘don’t send ANYTHING’… I wll pop over in the New Year and collect stuff!!

    Keep you posted. Damn. Absolutely no pun intended!!!


    ps. The teddy bear still hasn’t arrived!!!

    • says

      Hi Paul,

      Thanks for the update. The mail system here is a real mixed bag – no pun intended! 😉

      Sorry to hear about the still missing ted.

      I got a Christmas card from the UK – it had not been opened – I’m in Milan, if you didn’t know.

      The SRL trick along with anonymous looking packaging may help – tends to work OK for us, though one present from the UK went AWOL last year and it was sent to where my better half works.

      Do keep me posted.

      Thanks and Merry Christmas in advance,


  126. Paul Barnes says

    Hi Alex,

    I must clarify that not ALL my post never arrives, I guess that i/we tend to focus on the isolated cases. I have had other gifts arrive when Liam was born with no problems. As we know, the postal service back home was not perfect, but I don’t recall ever something being posted that never arrived…..

    Glad your post arrived – yes I was aware you in Milano…..

    Merry Christmas to you and yours too….

    I would send you a card but……..!!!!!



    • says

      Yes, Paul, I know that most post does get through, at least I think it does! Sometimes I might not even be aware that it didn’t get through!

      As for the post in the UK being problematic – I always found it excellent and sometimes incredibly efficient. It may well have changed now – I have not lived in the UK for well over a decade.

      I have had a few things which never ever got through – none were of great importance though, thankfully. If something is very important, such as a passport renewal, I’ll use a courier service – costly, but less risky.

      As for Christmas cards – which are not that easy to find here anyway and can be horrendously expensive too – I create and send virtual cards, thus bypassing the postal system. I know it’s not the same, but at least the electronic post tends to get though.



  127. Adrian says

    Hi Alex,

    Thanks for the informative article.

    Unfortunately, my package was sent before I was able to read this article.

    I was able to do some things except for printing the address and sending to business address.

    My package was sent last Dec 19 by my friend who lives in Germany.

    I sent the package hoping that it will arrive by Christmas to my friend living in Milan.

    Up to now, the package has not arrived.

    My question would be, do they also send during weekends and holidays? Will I include it in 2 week count? I am getting worried that my package will not arrive.

    My package is a letter with a cd inside.



  128. Adrian says

    Hi Alex,

    Good day!

    I sent a package to my friend in Milan through my friend living in Germany.

    I was not able to read this article beforehand so I made a mistake of handwriting the address.

    The package was sent last Dec 19 and I was hoping that it would arrive by Christmas. The package includes a letter and a cd with personal contents.

    I was getting worried after I read this article because up to now my friend has not received the package. I was hoping to surprise her by Christmas.

    My question would be, does the post office also deliver on weekends and holidays? Because you mentioned a time span of 2 weeks.



    • says

      Hi Adrian,

      Seeing as you sent your package very close to Christmas, it probably got caught up in the Christmas rush so I’d give it a little more time to arrive – at least 2 weeks, maybe 3. No post is delivered on holidays and Sundays in Italy and not usually on Saturdays.

      Wait a little longer, would be my advice. Where did you post your package to in Italy? Some areas are more reliable than others.



      • Adrian says

        Hi Alex,

        Good Day!

        Sorry for the double post, I thought that the first post did not pushed through.

        The package was successfully received by my friend in Milan yesterday morning and it is untouched.

        I guess I was lucky this time.

        Thanks again for this informative article.


        • says

          Hi Adrian,

          Good to hear the post did get through and had not been tampered with. Did not take too long either.

          I really would love to know just how many things do actually get through but it won’t be too easy to find this information out, I’m sure.

          Glad you found the article useful.



  129. Jump says

    Hi Alex, I wish I had read your website earlier. I posted a customs receipt to a store in Milan about two weeks ago, but of course they did not receive it. Or at least have not received it yet. I’m hoping that with the christmas mail, it may take one week more to receive, but my hopes are not high. I posted it in a hand written white envelope, and honestly, there is no way any other person may benefit from it, so I’m hoping the store may receive it eventually :(

    • says

      Hi Jump,

      I think your item should eventually get through – though the handwritten envelope may have attracted unwanted attention. At this time of the year I’d allow up to three weeks for items to turn up. Milan’s postal service is not 100% reliable and I have myself lost various items which were posted to me from the UK. This year a present for my son did not get here and the same thing happened last year too – both items were sent to a business address.

      Be patient and wait longer. I hope you kept either the original receipt or a photocopy. For future reference, if you want to send documents to Italy, use a registered mail service or find a way of emailing copies of documents, if this is acceptable. Registered mail will increase the chances of the post getting through but will not guarantee that it does.



  130. Kristina says

    Hi Alex,
    I mailed a package to Palermo, Italy on December 16 from the US, and it still has not arrived. The wierd thing is, I sent another package to Palermo exactly a week before and it took 2 weeks to arrive unopened to my nieces, and my customs form had gifts and barbies LOL. I sent 1 box with gifts to Lercara Friddi and 2 plain brown envelopes with Christmas cards, 1 to Palermo and 1 to Milan. The letter to Milan made it exactly 2 weeks, but the package and letter to Palermo never made it. I mailed a box in October to Lercara Friddi and it reached unopened with no problem in 2 weeks. So since its been almost 3.5 weeks, should I be worried? The last tracking info on my package said that it cleared Italy customs on the 31st of December. Is it because of the holidays? Whats your thoughts on it?

    • says

      Hi Kristina,

      Your package may still turn up or it may have become lost in Christmas postal chaos.

      You case is yet another example of the inconsistency of Italy’s postal service – sometimes it works as it should, more or less. Other times it does not.

      An Italian newspaper recently put Italy’s postal system to the test. Only 5 out of the ten letters it mailed to itself from all around Italy actually turned up.

      Wait another week and then give up all hope.



  131. RG says

    Alex, I’ve just read this post from a few year’s ago and had to comment. For over 10 years I have received approx 10% of Christmas or birthday cards sent from the UK (and elsewhere in Europe) which makes me extremely frustrated and angry. I’m just amazed that this is clearly (judging by the number of comments) an extremely common problem here in Italy, yet it has not yet been dealt with. The only way is to install CCTV cameras to deter these postal workers from their cruel and despicable actions. I too have recently started requesting family to put cards and letters in brown typed envelopes…(some have actually arrived), but what a dreadful situation for the country. I must add, in the work place, I have found people here to be kind and honest – so it seems to be really only certain “environments” that suffer from this level of dishonesty.

    • says

      Well RG, I lost a Christmas parcel from the UK and have lost other items too. Despite the comment here and the many views this post continues to attract, Italy’s postal service continues to ignore the fact that there are, in certain areas, big problems. It’s hard to know whether dishonesty is the major issue here, even if from some of the comments, it does sound as if unscrupulous postal workers may be to blame – Italy’s police have caught postal workers interfering with items too. The other issue could well be that of poor efficiency. As you may well know, Italy is not at the top of the class in terms of efficiency of its services.

      Sometimes the postal service works quite well, other times, it is utterly dire. You never know what will happen which makes the service highly unreliable. There is talk of Italy’s postal system being privatized, but whether this will happen and whether it will make any difference at all, remains to be seen.

      Whether anything will eventually be done about the pilfering is anyone’s guess too, just don’t hold your breath!



  132. Paul Barnes says

    Hi Alex,

    An update…

    Well, 2 parcels we were expecting actually arrived!! The strange thing was, one was posted, normal post, posted late Dec from the UK, the other was posted early Dec, recorded delivery…. Guess which arrived first? Yep. The normal one!! The recorded one took a month, the ‘normal one’ 2 weeks!! Both incidentally were boxed, very well sealed and had ‘S.R.L’ after the name of the box…. Whether this made a difference or not, or don’t know…..

    Still, reading the posts on this forum, the service here is shocking……ah well..!!

    Hope you are well. Best wishes for 2014


    • says

      Sounds par for the course, Paul. Things do eventually turn up, though you never ever can be sure they will. The fact the recorded delivery item took longer to arrive than the normal item comes as no surprise at all either.

      As I’ve commented more than once, the problem is that of consistency – basically the service is so inconsistent it is unreliable. Never use Italy’s post for important documents unless you are prepared to wait and ready to manage any eventual losses.

      I’m well, thank you. I hope you are too. All the best for the New Year from me too.



  133. Patricia says

    Hi Alex,

    Great blog post and very informative.

    I’ve read the inconsistencies with people sending mail to Italy, but what about sending mail out of Italy?
    I recently ordered a gift at an Italy based store to a friend living in Germany, it was sent using registered Poste Italiane and was sent to Germany on the 8th of January. The tracking page still says, ‘processing centers in the post from 08-GEN-2014′ I’m unfamiliar with how long mail usually takes to arrive from Italy-Germany.

    Should I not worry just yet and wait a little longer? I was really looking forward to my friend receiving this gift but now I’m just really worried!


    • says

      Hi Patricia,

      Glad you found the post useful.

      Re your package – wait a little longer. Though Italy’s postal service says to allow around 6 days for items to end up at destination, personally, I’d allow around 2 weeks to pass before getting more worried.

      With a little luck though, the package will turn up any day now and it should turn up just before the coming weekend.

      Be patient!



      • Patricia says

        Hi Alex,

        Thank you for the reply! My friend received the package on the night I sent you my first comment! I’m extremely glad it arrived safely!!

        Great blog. These tips are very useful.
        Thanks again for the reply! Hopefully more and more people will have their mail arrive without any problems!


        • says

          Hi Patricia,

          I’m very happy to hear that the post did get through – I hoped it might. Thanks for returning and letting us all know – it’s useful.

          To be honest, I have no idea how many people do have problems with Italy’s post – yes, there are lots of comments here and this post is very ‘popular’ – but the ratio of people not experiencing problems to those who do is an unknown. Some, like me, have problems, others never seem to have problems – seems very random.



  134. Lynn says

    After reading these posts I was certain my packages would never arrive and I wanted to move back home (California), but I am happy to say, everything I’ve ordered or had shipped to me to Lake Como has arrived. :) It may have taken a while, but it arrived.

    The only time something went missing is when a friend put a $5 bill into an envelope to pay for return postage. The envelope was cut open about 1″ and the cash was gone. Excellent advice about not sending cash.

    I’ve ordered from,,, using regular post. All shipments arrived quickly. We’ve also used FedEx from the U.S., regular mail from the U.S., and we just received Christmas presents for our kids from their grandparents in Canada. The last one was about 3 weeks late, but it did arrive. It was held in customs because the description of what it contained was not clear (abbreviations were used). I filled out a form they sent in regular mail and emailed it back to them. The package arrived about 3 days later. So far, I am happy with Italian post and Fed Ex. I’d rather get it late then not at all and for that I am grateful.

    I’ve also sent important documents within Italy using Posta Raccomandata and it arrived quickly and without problems.

  135. Lynn says

    PS. Over the Christmas holidays a friend forgot to attach postage on her card arriving from the U.S. and the Italian post still delivered it. And once I didn’t affix enough postage for a letter addressed to the US and it was still delivered as well. I don’t recommend not putting enough postage, but it was great that both envelopes arrived to their destinations.

  136. Laura says

    I am going to be in Venice, Rome and Florence for 2 weeks and have some dietary restrictions. I had planned on mailing my protein drinks/powder to Italy, but I am uncertain whether they will arrive, meet the restrictions, etc.

    Do you have any insight on mailing food products to Italy? It would be sent directly to the hotel in Venice.

    Thank you.

    • says

      Hi Laura,

      From which country do you intend mailing the items? Personally, I’d speak to a shipping service like DHL, Fed Ex etc about this. Regardless of possible restrictions, your package might simply go missing. Then again, it might not. Alternatively, and if the airline says it’s OK, why not simply pay the excess baggage fee? It may be cheaper than a shipping service.

      Where you are sending the items from will make a difference.



  137. Laura says

    Thank you! I am coming from the US to England first for 5 days, and then to Italy via Amsterdam. If traveling with the food is not restricted, I will try to put it in my luggage.

    • says

      You are welcome – but do check those restrictions very carefully first – otherwise your food may be confiscated and you may be fined.

      If the food is kept unopened in its original packaging, this should help. A note from your doctor on official notepaper may help too.

      Have a good trip!



  138. NJ says

    Hi Alex,
    I bet you never dreamt that this post would still be alive five years after you wrote it! What a fantastic public service and I wish I’d found it before I sent a parcel in October 2013 as my experience was very similar to those above, sad to say.

    In a very reduced nutshell, I sent a box of presents to a newborn baby in Sardinia from Melbourne, Australia in October via Australia Post’s most expensive and quickest option ($112.00AUS)and made the mistake of actually writing what was in the box. Thanks to the inclusion of some tiny chocolates for children (Bertie Beetles for those Aussies reading), the parcel was stopped in Bologna and didn’t move for nearly three months. We assisted with every request asked of us and followed up daily trying to find out what was going on. Much to my embarrassment after troubling relatives in Sardinia to help, protracted “investigations” of the parcel by customs AND the Ministry of Health(!!!) eventually led to the return of the parcel to us with no explanation other than we didn’t assist with custom’s clearance!!

    Natually a purse containing Australian money was stolen, and it took me three approaches to Australia Post to get my money back. I have tried again sending a smaller, less conspicuous parcel by sea, but yet to hear if it has made it.

    If I ever bother to send another parcel to my relatives in Italy, I have learnt not to send food of any kind, or money, and give a very general description on the package form and not to bother sending it at the most expensive rate. If enough people complain on these kinds of posts, hopefully the powers that be in Italy will wake up and reform their postal system (along with everything else!). Italy is soooo good at some things (food, wine, culture, fashion), and just horrible at many others, much to my despair.

    Keep up the great work informing us from within the craziness, Alex!!!

    • says

      Hi NJ,

      Actually, that this is still a problem 5 years down the line comes as no huge surprise to me – Italy changes very, very slowly and problems are often left to fester.

      Sorry to hear about your postal problems but you seem to have understood how to disguise items so they don’t attract too much attention.

      I’ll try to keep up with the craziness!

      Cheers from Milan, Italy,


  139. says

    Has anyone had any experience with the post in Varese Italy? I have read through all the posts here, took a couple of hours! lol.

    I am a business. Tilton Crafts. I mailed a package (13 cross stitch chart books) to a customer in October. In January the customer wrote to me and said it never arrived. I reprinted and resent the charts to her on January 29th. And although it has only been 3 weeks, it still has not arrived. I am getting worried. I didn’t make any money off the order since I took it out of my pocket to replace it ($33.00 for shipping and $40.00 in reprints). And if this one doesn’t get to her, I will have to refund her. I am a small business. Not a large corporation, so this is hurting. And she is a first time customer, told me that she never had this problem with the post before. And it does not look good on my company. I am trying to make it right with her for sure. But just lost on this.

    Any experience to post in Varese? Thanks :)

  140. Esther Bachus says

    Alex, I sent a registered letter with a $100 gift card in to Bergamo, Italy on Dec 10th it passed New York & has been in transit since. What customs office does it go to from New York. The US postal office did not say & they won’t give me a claim sheet yet because I told them on Jan. 7th & have to wait 22 days before Italy response. Well after 32 days they have not responded. So where is the customs office it goes to from NY before going to Bergamo, Italy?:

  141. says

    Shipped out a CD (sold through eBay) to a small store in Torino in Italy on March 15 via standard air mail with stamps, and recipient received it on March 27 (he left positive feedback stating that it was received).

    The envelope was a standard yellow bubble packet. The CD was just stuffed inside, and the parcel was taped as best as I could with clear box tape. I used blank shipping labels from Canada Post which I had directly printed the address information directly onto (instead of usually writing it by pen). I capitalized the recipient’s address (as I’ve heard that Italians prefer the address in all-caps), and I changed the the buyer wrote to Corso instead (I looked up my buyer’s address on Google Maps as I prefer to double-check the addresses before shipping).

    As for the name of the recipient, the buyer did not use his/her real name but the store’s name: “De Quarto A. presso G.Guarneri negozio cartoleria GIOE”. I capitalized the entire name, and added an extra business name suffix (I forgot which one, but it was from the list above) in case it may have helped. Not sure if it did, though.

    Anyways, just wanted to let you know that it was successful for me.

  142. Leanne says

    I would just like to say, I had about 5KGs of souvenirs and other things I needed to post back to Australia and read this blog post (March 2014) and was terrified! I couldn’t afford the super expensive cost of the DHL options, so using this post as a guide, I filled my 5KG box with a heavy coat I wasn’t wearing, some dirty laundry and a pair of shoes that had seen better days – but were super comfortable! I taped the box shut with layers of masking tape provided by the hotel, and listed the contents and value honestly on the customes slip. 57 euros and 2 weeks later it arrived in Australia perfectly intact. All my souvenirs and treasures from my trip made it back with me in my hand luggage, and the airline staff everywhere understood my frantic pleas of ‘I have Murano glass in there! ‘ and my hand luggage was stowed in business :-) Talk about less stress. If the items I was planning to send home hadn’t made it – I would have been devestated. I’m so glad I came across this post! Thank you!!

  143. matteo84 says

    thank you for your article. I ordered a photo camera from London with full kit. And I payed 300 euro in advance. We made agreement that I will pay the rest (880euro) just after arriving camera in my house. They used Certosa parcel service even if they promised me DHL and TNT. Now parcel is on hold in italy from yesterday evening. They are saying that I have to pay 380 euros for the vat. I repeated that I can pay only after the product arrived here. Can somebody give me advice or suggestion? thanks in advance.

  144. Pamela says

    Hello Alex!
    Thank you for the great posts! As you have heard this a hundred times, “I wish I would have seen this website first!”
    I am presently having a problem with a package that I sent from California (USA) to Bari, Italy. I mailed this package (small box/under four lbs.) — on May 27th 2014. The USPS on-line tracking service shows that it arrived in Italy on June 04th, and Customs Clearance on June 05. It reads: In-Transit. Does this mean that it will eventually get delivered? or, is it just gone at this point?

    I was unaware that the package did not get delivered until two days ago when the customer contacted me through EBAY to say they did not receive it yet. He claims that Italian Postal service knows nothing about it. I called USPS by phone (the call which lasted more than an hour) told me that it is not lost — that it is either at the postal office or the customs office. When I asked the postal worker to investigate the status, she said she could not, because it was sent as International Priority Mail, and was only given a Customs Declaration number and not an actual “tracking” number. — If it had been mailed as an International FLAT RATE PARCEL, they could have traced it. Apparently, the cost to send it by priority mail was under $20.00 — but the same flat-rate size box would have been over $50.00. I am starting to feel like this is a scam thing between the postal services to make more money off of the customers. So if you send it economically, it will potentially be lost or in limbo forever…to force you to pay for the higher rate the next time you send a package because they can “track” it.

    In any event, I am wondering if anyone knows if packages normally take over a month in customs? Also, The postal worker did not even have a phone number to give me so that I could call Italy myself. She advised me to have my customer contact the customs office directly. Is this the normal channels a person has to go through to get information about their packages? I am just feeling so lost in this whole process. The package did not contain anything restricted, but it was an expensive computer part.
    If I have to give a refund, or send a replacement part, I will have lost a lot of money. Any advice??
    Thank you for a great website.

    • says

      Hi Pamela,

      Yes, the trouble is people tend to come across this post after something mailed to Italy does not turn up in Italy – something which tends to happen quite a lot, alas.

      Now, your case. If it is in transit, this means it’s within Italy’s mail system and should be delivered at some point or another. Sometimes things do turn up at destination though why it should take a month to get delivered after it has been cleared by customers I really have no idea. My advice for now is simply to wait for another couple of weeks. You are, I am afraid, helpless – you’ve done all you can aside from actually coming to Italy and visiting the mail depot where the package arrived. Obviously this is not something worth doing.

      Where in Italy is the item supposed to go? Knowing this can help us all understand where the ‘black holes’ are.

      As for it being a scam, I don’t know. It’s more likely a case of Italian inefficiency or just plain theft. Even so, wait a little longer – it may turn up.

      If there is a next time, you’ll know what to expect and can either not bother sending anything to Italy or follow the recommendations in this post.

      Should the mail get through and you have a moment, please come back and let us know.



    • Awesome says

      We were in Venice Italy 3 weeks ago and bought post cards and stamps to USA stamps were 2 euros each the bag the post cards were in said only to mail in a yellow post office box not in a red one. We did and cards have not arrived home. I can not find anything about this yellow box system please explain.

      • says

        A yellow post box? Very odd. Generally in Italy they are red, have two slots and you would pop letters for overseas in the “per tutte le altre destinazioni” – for all other destinations – slot. Our local post box here in Milan is red.

        Are you sure the yellow box was a post box?! I’ll ask a Venice contact of mine about this.



        • Cindy says

          Yes the yellow post box was in a book store and yesterday 3 of the postcards arrived in the USA. The bag that the cards came in showed a map with about 7 places in Venice u could find these yellow mail boxes.They were the size and color of a Cheerios cereal box. Thanks, Cindy

          • says

            Thanks for the yellow post box info, Cindy – will keep an eye out for these post boxes (my Venice contact had not heard of them!) At least the postcards did get through. It can be extremely hard to understand just when post from Italy will eventually arrive. Sometimes the mail system works as it should, other times it does not. You never know what will happen!



      • Beti says

        We came across these yellow boxes in Florence a couple of days ago. We saw a sign for postcard stamps at a newsstand and bought some for our postcards back to the US. I got suspicious of them after buying them (2 Euros each) and we asked the concierge at our hotel. He said they were legit but we had to post them only in the yellow boxes. The name of the company is GPS I believe. I’ve asked my family members to let me know when postcards arrive so I can track them.

        • Beti says

          Well, these postcards have been trickling in. They’ve taken about three to four weeks but they are arriving. Still I’d steer clear of them in the future.

          • says

            Good to hear they are finally arriving, Beti! Four weeks does sound exceptionally slow though! In future, better to send e-postcards, maybe.



  145. Kristina K says

    Hello! My family sent two boxes of souvenirs (olive oil, candy, Venetian masks, etc.) from Sorrento to the USA through the post office. We had no idea about the post problem in Italy. It has been a little over 2 Weeks (all business days) and we still haven’t received our packages. Should we begin to worry? And are there any next steps we can take? (We did not get a tracking number.)

    All the best!

    • says

      Hi Kristina – wait longer, is my advice. If nothing has arrived within another 2 weeks, then you can start worrying. Some of the items you posted may attract unwanted attention – but also check carefully to ensure what you sent is OK for USPS because things may have become held up in the USA.

      For the future – when sending ideas either to or from Italy, use a service with tracking. This can help you understand where the problem is and means you can try calling or emailing someone if items don’t get to destination as soon as you might expect.



  146. FJ says

    Hello Alex! I am trying to help out a German friend who is visitng me in Hong Kong for a short trip. She ordered some replica bags from Hong Kong and is trying to bring them back to Germany. She have had bad experiences with custom before when a seller shipped replica bags to her from China by EMS with fake receipts and boxes, Germany custom seized the bags and she had to give up the bags, she was heartbroken as she paid quite a lot of money for the bags… She is worried that same thing is going to happen this time so she asked me for advice, I started googling this topic and stumbled across this page. As I know it shouldn’t be a problem carrying fakes or put fakes in the luggage and go through Hong Kong custom, but I completely have no idea about the Germany custom ( or Italy ), since you only mentioned how to post things to Italy, do you also know how to go through custom by carrying and packing the bags in luggage without getting them seized and attention? Anything my friend can do or prepare before she departs from Hong Kong like stuffing the bags with personal belongings so my friend doesn’t look like she is trying to import them into the country? I hope you are the answer to my dear friend’s prayer! Many many many thanks!!

    • says

      Hi FJ – “replica bags” sound very much like counterfeit bags and sending them by post is asking for trouble whether sending them to Germany, or Italy. It’s no surprise at all that the bags were seized. I’m not going to offer any advice which may help anyone import fakes. Sorry – go elsewhere for such “advice”.



  147. Janin says

    Hello friends,
    Our registered letter left the US on 13th, July to a rural address in Umbria (CAP06062). We are still patient…. Can the mail be traced from the Italian side with the USPS tracking number?
    After how many more days should we get nervous?
    Cordiali saluti

      • Janin says

        Buongiorno Alex,
        Thank you for your reply.
        Yes, the system said “in lavorazione ai Centri Postali dal” so there is hope….
        Grazie & Cordiali saluti
        Norbert & Janin

        • says

          There’s hope, then, Janin :)

          In which part of Italy is the letter supposed to turn up?

          As for the reply, prego. And if you have a moment, come back and let us know of the mail did, eventually, get through. In Italian postal terms, July 13th is not that long ago – assuming it was July 13th, 2014 😉

          Ciao, ciao,


  148. Michael S says

    Hi Peter:

    I am cycling from Switzerland to Italy, where I will be climbing in the Dolomites. I sent a duffel bag with my climbing gear from Geneva to Cortina via SwissPost, and apparently it’s been caught up in Italian customs.

    I really need the package within 4 days; otherwise, the trip will be a wash. I would be okay with taking a train to Milan to try to get the bag from customs. Do you know if this is possible?

    Two days ago, the bag was still in customs, so it may still be there.

    Thank you,

    • says

      Hi Mike, Alex of Italy Chronicles here – I don’t know if it’s possible to pick things up directly from Italy’s customs – calling to ask first would be essential and would help you understand whether your duffel bag is in Milan or not. Try the Italian customs website for more information: – it has an English section. You could try phoning the customs office – if anyone will answer the phone and if that person speaks English or you speak Italian.

      Good luck!


  149. Raffaele says

    Good article! Although you forgot to mention that if you receive valuable items (electronic components, dresses, furniture) from outside EU countries these could pass customs without control, but if mail has been checked and computer parts etc are found, then you must pay a 4% customs tax on the value of the object to allow it to enter Italy and you also have to Italian VAT tax (IVA) of 22%.

    Note that if nobody presents themselves at a customs office to claim ownership and pay duty and/or VAT, after a certain amount of time the items will be sold at public auction, so always ensure packages are not stuck at customs!

    • says

      Useful information, Raffaele – but who can you contact to know whether or not your items have ended up with Italy’s customs service?



      PS I’ll add this info.

      • Raffaele says

        I think that item should be tracked upto airport of arrival and then contact the italian custom or local Guardia di Finanza office present in that airport.
        Also it is good using couriers like Fed-Ex, UPS or others which will advice you if items were stopped in customs offices and awaiting international douane fees to be payed.

    • Tim says

      Do they always check parcels from outside EU? My mother sent me a small package containing an Italian dictionary and some food from Japan, the total cost of which was 34 Euro. Italian post left me a note to say I had to pay to receive the parcel, and I paid VAT plus a custom clearance admin fee. (I went to the post office to pay and collect but for redelivery they said they would charge 1 euro plus as well.) It seemed the custom clearance admin fee, which is rather expensive, is a fixed sum regardless of the value of the item received. For the last 10 years, my mother always sent me packages containing pretty much the same goods (except the dictionary!) to the UK, and I never had to pay anything (no VAT, custom charges or for redelivery), so I was rather surprised that they charged me ;( If they charge VAT plus the admin fee every time, it could be a third or even half of the value of goods and I may tell my mother not to send anything. The post office (for collection) does not give changes so have the exact change before you go! (I didn’t have the exact change and it does add up!)

  150. Raffaele says

    Some years ago I saw TV News report.
    It featured hidden camera by italian police into airport packages terminal and showing airport personnel who stolen items from mail, so then, more than mail officers it seem that too much often were other people in the chain of delivery service to prove they got light fingers. How bad and how sad for ny country.

  151. Raffaele says

    @Michael S. and Kristina K. comments:

    1) What happened to Michael S. and his bag with climbing gear, just proved what I said about introducing via mail valuable things into Italy from outside EU countries.
    Switzerland is not a member of EU so items should pay custom fees and VAT.
    What Michael S. must had done was including to the delivery package proper documentation stating he sended the bag to himself, and a declaration by italian consulate in Geneva stating that item is i. transit to Italy not for commercial but for sport purposes.

    2) Sorry for Kristina K. but US customs enforce a strict policy of food quarantine over food products from overseas to avoid animal diseases present in Europe and other foreign countries will be not introduced in USA.
    The package they sended contained olive oil and candies (I suppose artisan made candies).
    There all strong possibilities that package was intercepted by US customs which is very harsh after September 9/2011 terrorist attack, and all content of mail package had been destroyed to avoid viral diseases to be introduced in USA, including non food items like the venetian masks that were delivered in the same package.

    • Janin says

      Please bear with me as this may not be the right place to ask:
      (BTW, where would I??)
      We are (still !) planning to relocate to Umbria and would probably want to ship a 20-ft container with our household goods (from a non EU country) to the Genoa container port.
      Will customs (besides their normal clearing charges) charge import tax and VAT on the stuff {all used, like some furniture, kitchenware, tools, our computers, radios, clothes, well you know what is in a household… 😉 }?
      I sent this Q to dogane.genova// but may not get an answer soon…
      So, anybody here with experience and knowledge?

      N & J

  152. Janin says

    Our REGISTERED letter sent from the US 44 days ago has not been delivered yet.
    A second (normal) letter which was posted 7 days ago from Canada arrived this morning.
    So, what do I learn? Registered letters do not arrive, others do??? 😉

    • says

      What does this teach you, Janin? Quite simple and as illustrated here and confirmed by the comments – Italy’s mail system is not reliable, alas.

      Sad, but true.

      At least one letter got through! The other one may still turn up – just don’t move house for the next 10 years or so 😉



      • Janin says

        Well, in my case it seems that the Italian postal service is/was NOT at fault.
        We claimed the loss with both sides (American and Italian) and were told that our letter left “ISC New York” (whoever they may be) and then could not be traced any more. It did not reach Italy and we were told that it was in a larger consignment that was apparently “lost”.
        A lady with the American postal service told me proudly that they ONLY had a failure rate of SIX %…
        I think, even the italian service must have a better rate.


  153. samantha says

    Interesting article!

    I have just tracked a parcel i ordered from the UK, royal mail signed, to be delivered to Bergamo, and the website said an attempt was made to deliver the parcel yesterday, and I should collect or rearrange delivery before it is sent back to the UK. There is no calling card left or information where or who to contact, I have no idea how I am going to get my parcel?

    • says

      You should have got a card with info on it telling you where to go to pick it up. Without that card, there’s not much you can do. You could, possibly, and if you have the time, print off the web page with the tracking info and take it to your local post office and ask them what to do. They might help, maybe.

      Good luck,


  154. Annoyed says

    I wish I would have seen this site earlier. I’m waiting on 3 boxes from the US. It is 9/27 and the boxes have been sitting in customs since 9/10. No updates….no place to call. They are a bunch of my fall/winter clothes. If anyone has any updated advice on how to get in touch with customs, then it would be greatly appreciated. Sigh. I also want to note that my other American classmate had something shipped after me and her package only took a day to go through customs.

    • Also annoyed says

      I’m in a very similar situation, for you at least it’s something replaceable like clothes but for me it’s something very important and rather irreplaceable – my retainers! My mother sent my retainers and other things just over a month ago from the US to me in Vicenza, Italy. I messed up real bad for forgetting something so important as I would be in Italy 4 months before coming back home. Her mistake was sending it me via USPS, which means it would have gone through the ever-incompetent “Poste Italiane.” As far as I know know, my package “arrived” in Milan 3 weeks ago but that is all I know and I’m not sure who to contact at this point.

      At least I learned a lesson – never use USPS for international and NEVER send anything through the Italian post office. Next time I will spend more money using something reliable like UPS, FedEx, or even DHL, at least I can track it and actually receive it.

    • Annoyed says

      So the 3 boxes my mom sent to me have all been shipped back to her. They claim that they sent me a letter letting me know. BS! I check my mailbox everyday… is the only thing I was waiting on. My mom also sent 2 packages to my school. Poste Italiane actually sent a fax to my school saying that the value of my contents meant I would need to pay to pick up my package. (My mom put high values. Don’t ever do that!) I had my Italian classmate talk to them and they had me fill out this form stating that I was a student, that all of the contents in the box were used clothes that I needed, and that the value of the contents were under 40 euro. I also had to send a letter from the school saying I was enrolled there. Well it worked. I got one of the boxes 2 days later, but they still have my other box that was sent at the exact same time. WTF is this terrible service?!?!

      On the positive side, I do have some contact info. This is probably only useful if you are in Milan, but it’s a start.

      Here are 2 customer service email addresses:
      Postazione 13 –
      Postazione 15 –

      Here is a phone number: 840 000 160 from Monday to Saturday from 08:00 to 20:00 .
      For the call you will be charged only the connection fee charged by your operator phone reference.

      Hopefully this helps someone in the future.

      • says

        Thanks for the update and the extra info – may well prove useful to someone who’s in the same missing mail boat :)

        At least part of the mail did eventually get through even if the process was far from smooth.



  155. Thinh Vinh says

    Hi. I sent a few packages with DHL but the tracking says it is being held at customs. All the packages are labeled under $20. What can I do? Why is it being held in customs. Thank you for your help.

    • says

      Hi Thinh,

      No idea why your packages are being held up at customs – unless they contain something which cannot be sent to Italy. If that is not the case, the packages should leave customs at some point in the not too distant future. How long have they been with customs?



  156. Nicole says


    My boyfriend sent me a package from the US, and I just go this update:

    Inviato da ufficio scambio-dogana di CSI MILANO LINATE a ROMA CMP WINDOWS in data 30-OTT-2014
    Accettato nel paese STATI UNITI in data 18-OTT-2014

    Does anyone know what this means? Did it pass through customs in Milan if it’s headed to Rome (which is the final destination)?

    • Al says


      Yes, the package did pass through customs in Milan and was sent to Rome’s mail sorting centre on the 30th of October.
      It shouldn’t be too long now, hopefully. 😉

      CSI –> Centro Scambi Internazionali/International Exchange Centre.
      CMP –> Centro di Meccanizzazione Postale/Postal Automation Centre.


  157. says

    I left behind a small box of earrings as I departed for the States. I’ve contacted the B&B owner who e-mailed me this morning to say they would ship them express and it will cost 80E. I researched a little and asked him about “ordinary parcel service” as described on PosteItalian’s webesite. He responded:

    “For first, we went to Poste Italiane -We know is cheap than a private shipping service.
    But they want to open the box and when they see jewelry they said us that they need to write that the box conteins jewelry.They also said us that the shipping is in the USA and for this reason at the custom an employee will open the box and Poste Italiane doesn’t guarantee the delivery to you.We put your box in a small cardboard box and they said that the box was too small for the USA and thay will use a large envelope, not a small box.In the end, they advice us to go in a private shipping service.”

    And the first e-mail from them said: The express courier needs your passport copy.Please, can you send us a copy my email?They will send the box on Mondey and you will receive it the day before, very fast!
    It costs € 80,00″

    It’s not that I’m doubting them, but since I was only going to insure the package for around 50-75E, 80E to ship is not good. Is there anything they could do at their end to get a lower cost? I certainly don’t need one-day service and would be happy to wait several weeks, if necessary. I noticed a Priority registered method at PosteItalian – wouldn’t that be cheaper than a private express company? Or do the express companies perhaps have cheaper rates than one-day service?

    And, finally, (thanks for bearing with me) I have a friend in Genova – would it make any sense to have the B&B mail to her and have her mail to me?

    If you can help me at all, I will be very grateful. As I said, they’re not all that valuable but I’ve had most of them for a long time and I LIKE them! :)

    • says

      Hi Mary Lynne,

      If I were you, I’d try to get the earrings sent to your friend in Genova – unless that would cost €80 too, of course. Your friend could then send the earrings via priority mail. I’m not sure I’d write earrings on the package – that may encourage theft. And check to see what you can mail to the USA before getting it sent over.

      Alternatively, why not arrange for an international courier service to pick up the earrings yourself? You might find the price is lower or else understand that the price is reasonable.



      • Mary Lynne says

        Thanks so much! I will follow up on your suggestions. I’ve already contacted the Genova friend and I told my host to just send it ordinary mail to her. Meanwhile I will check with international couriers from this side and see what I can find out. Again thank you for taking the time to respond. I’ve bookmarked your site and will subscribe when I make my next trip to bella Italia.

        • says

          You are welcome. If possible, Mary Lynne, get host to send parcel to Genova using registered mail. Might help ensure it doesn’t get “lost”.



  158. Mary Lynne says

    Sorry for the second post but I forgot to check the “notify me by e-mail” box when I posted my “earrings” saga! If that can be done, I’d appreciate it very much.

  159. sansar says

    Hello there,

    i am so confusing now because one of my friend from US had sent me a parcel (iPhone 6), when i track it its showing to me ,

    “October 30, 2014 , 3:01 am
    Customs Clearance
    Your item is being processed by customs in ITALY at 3:01 am on October 30, 2014.”

    anyone know do i need to go to custom to pay vat and all tax or i should wait ? Please help me

    • says

      Hi Sansar – wait. Your parcel will eventually leave customs and, hopefully, you’ll end up with an iPhone. You will be informed if there are taxes to pay.



  160. Eileen says

    I am about to send a winter coat to Italy from the US. Please confirm if my game plan is a good one and, if you will, share your advice on a couple of steps:
    1. Post through UPS, with printed labels
    2. Get tracking and insurance
    3. What is the max I should insure it for without making it look like an expensive item??
    4. Identifying it as a coat might cause unwanted attention – what is a better way to identify it without actually being dishonest??
    5. Anything else I should know??
    Thank you, Thank you!

    • says

      Hi Eileen, Alex, your friendly mail to Italy consultant here.

      1. – OK.
      2. – Good idea!
      3. – Difficult one – high insurance value may attract unwanted interest.
      4. – You could write clothing but the insurance value may give the game away anyway.
      5. – Perhaps you should consider sending an Amazon voucher – if the coat can be found on (or similar) or on Amazon Italy. Only it sounds as if you have already bought the coat. I suppose you could take it back and exchange it for something else. Just an idea.

      If you do decide to risk it, go for the full cost of the coat insurance-wise and ensure UPS will pay up even if the item gets lost in Italy. Double check the USPS list to ensure you can send the item out of the US. Leather goods cannot be mailed, I believe.

      Good luck!

      Will answer other questions.



      PS Personally, I’d not send anything of value to Italy by mail – but that’s just me. Others do and do not have problems – people who have not left comments here 😉

      • Eileen says

        Thanks so much, Alex, for such a prompt and helpful reply! You’re right about already having the coat and I believe it should pass muster (LLBean parka) but since it’s not going USPS would it still have to follow those limitations anyway? Do you find that items ordered directly from the store’s website are more likely to arrive (in this case it’s going to Brescia)?
        I realize you started this post ages ago and appreciate your generosity with your time :)
        ~ Eileen

        • says

          You’re welcome, Eileen. Glad you found the reply useful.

          Re the coat – check with the parcel service before sending it – they’ll know what can or cannot be sent. As a general rule, it seems Amazon stuff does get through – I have not personally, lost Amazon orders. I have lost other stuff though, or rather, my parents have.

          As far as I know, Brescia is OK, but it depends where the mail goes first.

          While I wrote this post literally years ago, it continues to attract lots of interest, alas.

          All the best from Italy,


  161. Aishling says

    Hello! This may seem you think I could ship pancake mix and syrup from the US to Italy or will it be taken? Thanks!

    • T says

      My mom sent me 5 boxes of mac and cheese and I didn’t have any problems. I also sent her chocolate, pasta, and seasoning to the USA without any problem.

      • says

        Good to hear that T. That’s the thing about the mail service – you never really know what’s going to happen! People who comment here have had problem’s – those who have not commented probably have not. I don’t know what the ratio is between problem free mailings and those with problems though I do hear about problems and have had a few myself (including one at the moment!).



        • Mary Lynne says

          I sent off a little package to a pen-pal in Italy. It didn’t have any great value so I decided to just take my chances. It took close to three weeks but she got it so that was nice. I’d suggest trying the pancake mix and syrup and putting “gift” on the customs slip with a negligible value. If it doesn’t make it, at least it won’t have been something valuable (except to the person who was looking forward to pancakes!) :)

          Also, I’m the person who left all her favorite earrings at my last hotel in Italy and finally they are now in the mail to me. The hotel had taken them to the post office and labeled them jewelry and the post office told them to ship them by private service which I was told would cost around 80 E. I told the hotel to ship them to the pen-pal person because she is familiar with shipping things to the US. It took a while to get from Sicily to her and then it took her a while to get it in the mail, but it’s on its way now and I am fervently keeping my fingers crossed. I miss those earrings every day!

    • says

      Not a silly question. From the USPS list, sending pancake mix and syrup to Italy should be OK (but I can’t be 100% certain) – but check neither contains saccharine. Both should be unopened and in their original packaging.

      As to whether the items will be ‘taken’ – depends who takes them – customs for light fingered postal workers. Customs will confiscate items which are not acceptable.

      Do speak to the service you are going to use to send the items to Italy before actually sending them – they should be able to tell you whether or not the items will get through. And if you have a moment and remember, let us know if the items made it to Italy.



    • Aishling says

      Hello! I am happy to report that my package ( consisting of pancake mix, syrup, mixing cup and an espresso mug) made it safely to my friend. It took about 2 weeks and it was shipped to Umbria with no issues. Thanks for all your help!

  162. Steve says

    I sell to Europe via Amazon. I can confirm that the Italian Postal service is the worst in Europe. Milan is particuarly bad. I have had 2 Italian customers who say that have direct evidence that postal staff steal things. I would say that about 10% of my orders to Italy do not arrive. Even if it’s tracked. They are total scumbags. And what does the British Postal service do bout this. Absolutely nothing.

    • says

      To be fair to British mail service, Italy is not their problem and out of their control.

      Interesting to hear Milan is a trouble-spot although I’ve seen inside a Milan sorting office – it looked chaotic.



    • T says

      I will say that I finally received all of my packages after much work, but nothing was stolen. None of the boxes were opened and I didn’t have to pay any additional fees.

  163. Andrew says

    Hi. I’m planning to mail (7) 5lb gift packages to family in Sicily via USPS.

    Plain brown boxes with printed labels. Small items, about 20 bucks total value per box.

    Your article has me terrified that they won’t arrive, and I’m stumped on what to list on the customs form. How accurate do I need to be? Here’s a list of what I’m sending.

    Maple Syrup -very small container ~6 oz.
    Home Made Blueberry Jam
    Home made cookies
    Dried Pecans 6 oz
    Candy – 6 oz of hershey kisses
    Lip Balm
    CD of pictures
    Fans (japanese-style hand-fans, really just arty)
    Cheese NYS cheddar 1/2 pound block.

    What do you suggest?

    Thank you!!

    • says

      Hi Andrew,

      Don’t panic! Try writing “gift” on the label – worked for Mary Lynne – see her comment on November 30, 2014 at 6:45 pm. You could also try sending the items to business addresses if possible – this might also help increase the chances of the packages getting through.

      Italy’s mail is a little hit and miss – the mail might get through or it might not – and it’ll probably take longer than you expect.

      If all your items do make it, please do come back and let us all know. Thanks.

      All the best,


      • Andrew says

        UPDATE on wisdom of using just “Gift” and not listing contents and values.

        So far 4 out of the seven recipients has emailed us to let us know that they need a list of contents and values. We sent the 4 lists over and 2 of the people have sent the lists to the post office and have now received their packages. No word on whether the recipients had to pay tax or anything.

        So far the experience says: a) There is no such thing as a surprise gift (from overseas): you must be in communication with the receiver.
        b) expect delays (but you already know that from reading this blog.
        c) My personal take: Don’t list the contents, but be prepared to send a list to the recipients if the P.O. asks for it.

        My dad says: we should’ve just sent a gift from within Italy (flowers, gift basket from an Italian company). I say, it’s been OK: homemade stuff, NYS stuff sent from the heart has been received and appreciated.

        I’ll post again when it’s all said & done. Thank you for this Blog!!

  164. Nicole says

    I would like to send a SASE to an Italian actor to request an autograph but so far am not having much luck getting things together. Even though his website says I only need to send a self-addressed envelope I thought it would be polite to toss in postage, too. But the United States Post Service no longer sells International Reply Coupons and my search for Italian post has only ended in several frustrating dead ends. Do you have any recommendations in addition to the tips listed here?

    • says

      An interesting one, Nicole. Not sure how you’d solve this (and it might entail coming to Italy!) – would have to research it but if the actor only requests a self-addressed envelope – without a stamp – then don’t worry too much about being polite and do it! The postage won’t cost that much. You could always offer to send the cost of postage via Paypal or some similar system.



  165. Ivy daley says

    Hi Alex,
    I need to send a couple of credit cards that arrived after my daughter left for a semester in Florence. What is the best way to send those. Sending to her school’s address (SACI). Thanks for all your information here!

    • says

      Hi Ivy,

      I’d say you should send the cards using a courier service such as DHL or FedEx – ask the services whether they are happy to send cards before arranging for shipping – don’t think it will be a problem but don’t know. The credit card companies may be able to offer some advice too.

      And I would recommend sending the cards to the school’s address not to a private address – but inform the school first and ask them if it will be OK for you to do this. That’s probably going to be the safest way to do it, if not the cheapest. I would not recommend using a normal postal system even if you use a recorded delivery service.

      If you have a moment, let us know if the cards get through safe and sound.



    • t says

      My school has a specific mailing address for students. She probably has one too. My mom sent mine via regular mail to my apt and I got it fairly quickly.

      • says

        Glad to hear it, t. I don’t hear of people losing credit cards in the mail but that’s not to say it does not happen.

        Hopefully Ivy will be OK.



  166. Angelo says


    This list of prohibited items is specific to USPS or is used also with other shipping carriers (for example, DHL, FedEx, etc.)?

    Thank you.


  167. rews2 says

    I once had a woman in Italy purchase a book from me about antique dolls. The book was out of print and loaded with amazing pictures, to help with the identification of rare and antique dolls. The book was shipped well-packed. My packages do not fall apart. Tape is cheap. Lost merchandise isn’t. Nevertheless, the woman never got the book. She went to her post office several times, to inquire. They didn’t know a thing about it. Finally, after weeks of waiting, I was just on the verge of reimbursing her, when she emailed me to say that she got the book! Her father went to the post office, to pick up the mail. And he did what older and smarter Italians routinely like to do– he looked behind all the doors at the post office, and there, behind one of them, she wrote, was her book, standing up, leaning against a wall, minus all of its’ wrappings and paperwork, but standing up, behind the door, basically for anyone to take that wanted it.

    The woman explained to me that this happens a lot. Postal workers open up the parcels, take what they want, and whatever they don’t want, gets put behind some door or other, for whoever else might want it, because the exterior wrappings are conveniently long gone. They just try to make it look like the parcel fell apart, so they don’t know who the goods were meant for. Between that and two other Italian buyers who never got their parcels either, I finally made the decision to not to ship there anymore. I couldn’t afford the losses.

  168. John Doe says

    I sent a book and a letter in a beige envelope (one that would encompass both the book and the letter) to Roma.

    Should I be concerned? The items are not worth much monetary value. Quite personal though.

  169. Glynnis says

    Well thought you might like to hear about my two recent disasters sending stuff from Italy to another country. Today I queued for several hours at three different post offices in and around Foggia, the first only had a huge box far too big for my gift….you must have a particular box for gifts sent outside Italy. the second had no box and had never sent a package abroad before so was really uncertain. The third which was the main post office kept me waiting 45 minutes while the staff had an argument before I was able to purchase my correct box. I then waited one and a half hours with my ‘ticket number’ only to be leaped frogged by the two previous numbers by the satff at the desk. They did not like me complaining at all. Then I was told I could not send any package without Italian ID….I am British. They would not accept the passport or any other ID.Apparently the law changed in January and you cannot send things out of the country without a Fiscal number. do please tell me why this is if you can even work it out? At the PO they said it was incase I placed a bomb in the box…but they had packed it and knew it was a cushion. No explanation it’s just ‘the law’.What about EU laws on Free trade and employment I ask?

    The other incident was my attempt to send a package of gifts ( I have just read about homemade clothes etc) of clothes I had made for my daughter and grandsons and which I had already paid tax on the fabric when it was sent here from USA. I sent it from Lucera to her ‘ Shop and Drop’ address in Milan so it could then be couriered to Dubai where she lives. Well the package has been tracked and it says delivered but certainly not to the Courier…….maybe they don’t like the contents, maybe they want the Fiscal code, maybe they cannot ‘join the dots’ but whatever their dilema why not just return it to the sender’s address, which you have to write on the box twice with phone number? In all my years of travel I have never been in a country quite so useless with the post….even many ‘developing’ countries have a system far more reliable and honest than this one. I was thinking of running a business from here but will certainly reconsider this now.

    • says

      Hi Glynnis,

      You have had some ‘fun’ with Italy’s erratic mail service, haven’t you! Didn’t know about the new fiscal code requirement – will check that out. Sounds very odd though. Getting an Italian fiscal code is time consuming but not impossible and Italy will hand them out to just about anyone who wants one, it seems.

      The second situation seems to be simply a problem of Italy’s postal people losing something which, alas, can happen. Alternatively, the item got caught up in customs or may even have been stolen. Very hard to know and Italy’s postal service is not overly communicative! Nor, it seems, does it really no what it’s doing – at least not in it’s more isolated outposts even if we are now in the 21st century and one would have expected that guidelines can be found online – does not seem to be the case! Such is Italy!

      Thanks for the tales of woe!

      Moral of the story – if you want to post items out of Italy, use a post office in an area frequented by foreigners, such as Milan, Florence, or Rome. This, however, may not be so simple for everyone.



  170. glm says

    Thank you for this guide! Do you have any experience (or know anyone with any experience) mailing to Calabria? I’ve never sent anything to Italy before. I live in the USA and in May I’d like to mail a small birthday gift to a friend who lives there. Is it reasonable to assume it can get there or does the corruption there affect the postal service too (I’m assuming it does)? I’m guessing that I would probably need to allow extra time at the very least.

    • says

      Hello glm, I lived in Calabria for 4 years. It would seem the postal situation is similar to the rest of the country. I usually received gifts and cards sent from relatives in the US – as I said, usually. Sometimes they seemed to take an inordinate amount of time (a few months) and they always arrived with a custom charge, so after a while I told my relatives not to bother sending little gifts anymore as I was paying almost their value in fees. In addition to a percentage of the claimed value for customs, there were set postal fees for their “labor” of collecting the fee. The duties were figured in Milan, by the way, so the Calabrian postal people were just receiving payment according to prevailing laws and bureaucracy. As far as mailing from Calabria, my packages seemed to arrive to the US, but in a disproportionate number of cases, they had been opened and contents taken with large mailer envelopes arriving at their destinations with just the torn Christmas wrap inside… This could have happened at any step in the process, but experience indicates the packages were tampered with before they left Italy. I have a chapter on my experience with the post office in Calabria in my recently published book, Calabria: The Other Italy.

  171. says

    Hi, I just returned from a week in Rome and Tivoli and have searched the web without luck to find out about the system whereby a shop or other outlet will happily sell you ‘stamps’, assuring you that they are for UK and which you must post in specific (non Postes/Posta mailboxes) and which don’t arrive in the UK.
    Maybe these work in Italy and other countries, I don’t know. I think they may have been DHL or at least some private company that I had heard of and that exist in the UK.
    In addition, post offices will not sell stamps! They insist on weighing each postcard and then using a dated sticker. I tried to buy extra stamps for cards I had not written but this was refused. Occasionally, I bought cards and stamps together at tobacconists or newsagents and these were posted in the regular boxes and arrived fine. I welcome your comments – and maybe an updated post on the subject. Thanks, Barbara

    • says

      Well, Barbara, I had heard something about stamps being hard to come by in Italy’s post offices but haven’t bought stamps for ages. I’ll investigate what seems to be a mildly ridiculous situation.

      Re the post boxes, which, curiously, still tend to be found outside post offices – there are often too – one for local post and the other is for all post which is not local and this includes overseas too. Popping post into the wrong slot is probably like dropping something into a black hole – you’ll probably never see it again.

      Will post an updated post on the Italian post and its curious stamp issue.



      PS Electronic post is infinitely safer (and quicker)!

      • says

        Yes, of course, I agree, electronic post is quicker, easier and free! But my friends delight in receiving postcards from me on my travels. As I said the cards I popped into the regular postboxes arrived quickly, no problem. It was the wretched private post that was the problem and maybe only exists in Rome and immediate environs. Thank you for taking the trouble to respond and maybe action. Fellow tourists may be pleased to know what you discover. Barbara

        • says

          Interesting Barbara because GPS is following me on Twitter. I visited their website, waded through the appalling English and could not really work out what the service is. However, while slow (as is Italy’s state mail service), it seems the cards do tend to get through. At least the company is not simply pocketing the cash and throwing the cards away – but something to me seems odd about GPS.

          Let’s see if Calder picks up on it. Actually, I have recently written about Italy’s curious postage stamp situation here:



          • says

            Prego. The cards may well turn up, who knows when though.

            Postcards are not treated as priority mail by Italy even if, IMHO, it would be good PR for Italy’s tourism industry to do so.


  172. Kenneth says

    Well, there is your answer. It sounds like the socks your folks sent to you, or tried to, broke the rules where knitted items of all kinds are concerned. Here is a story for you: I sent numerous emails and secured messages back and forth between myself and Wells Fargo Bank in the States. Thought everything was ironed out, they could not send me a replacement rush delivery replacement debit card without placing the shipment on hold, initially for a period of 60 days, owing to a change of address; they could however send the card to my last listed address; no, but they could send an emergency replacement card in an expeditious manner; no, but in the last minute of a very crackly phone call to Kiev at 2:00am – 2:30am, they determined that owing to the rules and postal regulations, it was not permitted to send a foreign credit card or debit card into the Ukraine… It is only when a person travels abroad that they begin to see how nations behave, how they set up all kinds of rules and regulations and laws and who these are meant the benefit; for every system that is intended to make things ride smoothly along, there seems to be a counter system to place hurdles in the path.

  173. Krishna says

    Hi Alex,

    I stay in Genova. I sent a courier to Portugal on Monday, 27 july,2015 with a tracking number which is very important though it does not carry any valuables. The sender is supposed to receive tomorrow or on Friday. It is still in Milan gate way since this morning. Suddenly I saw at 15:00 pm that it is in Genova’s post office today but then when I try to reload it is still in Milan’s gate way. This is my first courier sending from Italy and I didn’t read about Italian postal services. I hope my husband receives the courier!!!

    • says

      Hi Krishna – it sounds as if the post will get through – it does, even if at times it’s hard to know if it will. I think my recent order from Germany might have got to Italy – I’ll find out tomorrow.



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