A Guide to the Czech Postal System
Everything you need to know for a stress-free trip to the post office
The Czech Postal system has been undergoing some major changes lately. Starting with the new designs of the paper slips that you find in your mailbox to more post offices accepting credit cards. Also domestically sent packages now come with texts and emails with information about the delivery times plus the possibility of rescheduling and a change of location.
Along with great new services there is unfortunately also rise in customs prices. Starting on May 1st several policies regarding packages from abroad will be made much stricter. iDnes.cz explains that not only will a new calculation of customs be made, but even packages labeled as gifts may require the recipient to pay a fee.
Only packages within the EU will remain untouched and items that are clearly only for personal use will have some leeway. This will make shipping more expensive for a assortment of items, especially technology, more pricey to receive from overseas.
When you receive a package that requires customs clearance, it will be taken to Plzeňská 139/290, Prague 5 – Košíře. You can find information about the prices here. The best way to avoid paying customs on gifts is to ask the sender to mark it as a present and set the price of the package as low.
Although this may become more difficult with the new laws, it has been possible to get out of paying customs by simply explaining the situation – but bring a Czech speaker just in case. While communicating with the predominantly Czech-speaking staff is one of the biggest struggles that foreigners face at the post office; the website has detailed information about every post-related in English.
There are many services offered by the post office, but most popular non-package and envelope services are probably notarization (notářské ověření) and kolky – money stamps used to make payments at the foreign police and most embassies. In order to improve your postal experience and take full advantage of their offered services, it is vital to understand how to use the ticket number machines.
Different post offices have varying options on the machines as well as different levels of technology. While touch screens are gaining popularity, the most common low-tech machines have simple stickers and buttons and offer the following services:
- Listovní Zásilky – Jednotlivá podání (max 5 ks, přijem): This allows you to send up to five letters. If you don't have an envelope you need to get in line and ask for an obálka. Unfortunately they won't wait for you to fill it out so you need to get back into line – just remember to get the number immediately to shorten your waiting time.
- Listovní Zásilky – Výdej uložených zásilek: This allows you to pick up an unlimited amount of letters.
- Listovní Zásilky – Hromadná podání: If you need to send more than five letters.
- Balíkove Zásilky – EMS, cenná psaní – přijem: This is for sending packages. Did you know that some postal offices that don't have ticket machines have a separate line for people who want to send or receive packages? Unfortunately, this usually causes many arguments among visitors who prefer to stand in one long line.
- Balíkove Zásilky – EMS, cenná psaní – výdej uložených zásilek: If you're picking up a package, take this number. You can get notified about packages via slip, text or email. Although it can make it easier and faster if you have the package number, it is be enough to just bring an ID and specify whether the package is domestic or from abroad.
- Poštovní Poukázky, SIPO (vklady a výplaty uložných poukazek): Creating SIPO payments or taking care of various postal vouchers.
- Důchody, Agenda SIPO, Rozhlas a Televize: Some people pay for their utilities via SIPO payments – these can be made at the post office or via bank transfer. Unfortunately you either need the slip or know your specific number to pay off your SIPO. This is also a place to pay your TV bill and pick up pension funds.
- Poštovní Spořitelna (vklady, výplaty, příkazy): This option is for everything financially related to the postal insurance. You can pay for services, receive money and take care of orders here.
- Poštovní Spořitelna (specializovaná přepážka): This is a specific window for insurance matters that are not related to making or receiving payments.
Equipping yourself will the proper know-how is the best way to experience the Czech post office stress-free. If you forget something and aren't confident enough in your Czech, you can always just use Google translate on your phone or show a picture of what you want. Be resourceful and don't let yourself be intimidated.
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