As opposed to an ordinary letter, the postal service provider confirms that the sender has sent a registered letter. This is the so-called acknowledgement of receipt. Depending on the type of registered letter, Deutsche Post documents its placement in the mailbox or the recipient must (personally) confirm its receipt. The sender can track the status of the registered letter via online tracking and, if necessary, also receives a separate document confirming delivery.
Registered letters in Germany – advantages of registered letters
From a legal point of view, registered letters are a better choice for letters such as notices of termination, the receipt of which has legal effects, compared to ordinary letters. In the event of a dispute, the sender must prove that the letter was actually received by the addressee (on time), which is usually not possible with an ordinary letter (exception: dropping the letter personally into the addressee’s mailbox in the presence of a witness).
Important: An acknowledgement of receipt, such as a delivery advice note, only proves that a letter has been delivered, not the actual content of the letter being sent. In case of doubt, therefore, document the contents of the letter before sending it and place it in the envelope in the presence of a witness or by means of photographs.
Another advantage of registered mail over standard letters is that Deutsche Post AG is liable as a postal service provider for registered mail regardless of fault. Thus, it does not matter whether Deutsche Post AG acted negligently or even intentionally in individual cases, but only whether it is liable for registered mail. Depending on the type of registered mail, it is liable for loss or damage up to a maximum of €25.
Types of registered letters in Germany
Before sending a registered letter, however, you should be aware that Deutsche Post AG offers not only “registered mail” but four different variants that differ in terms of delivery method, proof of delivery, amount of liability in detail and price. Below we explain how the different types of registered mail in Germany differ.
Einschreiben – “normal” registered letter in Germany
An ordinary registered letter in Germany is an Einschreiben, which currently costs € 2.50 plus the price of a port. In this case, the letter is only forwarded with the signature of the recipient or authorized recipient, such as spouses and family members in the household. The sender can call up and view the recipient’s signature on the internet at www.deutschepost.de under the tracking tab (German: Sendung verfolgen). Keep both the sending document and a screenshot of the tracking page at www.deutschepost.de along with the displayed signature to secure evidence.
Einschreiben Einwurf – the cheaper alternative to registered mail in Germany
The cheapest registered letter in Germany costs €2.20 plus the price of port and is called Einschreiben Einwurf. The main difference from a normal registered letter (Einschreiben) is that the letter carrier does not have a signature of receipt, but drops the registered letter like a normal letter into the recipient’s mailbox. The letter carrier then confirms the dropping of the letter in the mailbox himself. Under the item tracking system, the sender receives a note with the delivery and date. Again, it is advisable to keep the delivery receipt and document the tracking, e.g. with screenshots.
Disadvantage of Einschreiben Einwurf: Einschreiben Einwurf registered letters that are sent to a mailbox company, for example, arrive at the recipient “on paper,” but the sender will not know if the person ever actually holds the letter in his or her hands.
Einschreiben mit Rückschein – the most secure delivery
A registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt (Einschreiben mit Rückschein) costs € 4.70 plus the price of a port in Germany. In this case the sender receives a written notification of delivery with the date of delivery and the recipient’s signature.
The great advantage of registered letters with a delivery notification is that it is legally assumed that the registered letter reached the addressee on the date specified on the delivery notification. This way the receipt of the letter can be proven in court. In contrast to a “standard” registered letter or Einschreiben Einwurf, there is no risk here that in individual cases the courts will not recognize the delivery of the letter in case of a dispute.
“Own receipt” – a special type of registered letter
A registered letter with the additional service “eigenhändig” (in your own hand) is available from Deutsche Post for €4.70 plus the price of a port. This is a registered letter whose special feature is that it is only delivered with the signature of the addressee or the person authorized in writing. It is therefore suitable for highly personal documents, where it must be ensured that only the actual recipient can actually receive them.
You can find more information on the Deutsche Post website: www.deutschepost.de.