The Commission for Communications Regulation (Compreg) was established as the national regulatory authority for the postal sector by the Communications Regulation Act 2002. An Post was designated Ireland’s universal service provider by the Communications Regulation (Postal Services) Act 2011 for a period of 12 years from August 2011. The 2011 Act also enacted into Irish law EU Directive 97/67/EC as amended. The universal service provider is obliged to provide certain services. While other postal service providers operate in Ireland, only An Post is obliged to provide specific services.
Postal services and costs
Postal service providers
Anyone can set up a postal business to handle any form of mail. If you want to provide a postal service you must notify ComReg. A postal service involves the clearance, sorting, transport and distribution of postal packets. Services such as document exchange, courier services and the delivery of unaddressed advertising material are not considered to be postal services. When completing the notification form, you will have to decide whether your postal service is within the scope of the universal postal service. When you receive an acknowledgement from Compreg of the notification, you are authorized to provide the postal service described in your notification, subject to the conditions of authorization. You are required to draw up a code of practice covering customer complaints and redress. ComReg provides more information on the regulation of authorized providers on its website.
Universal service provider
As the universal service provider, An Post must provide a universal service to everyone and every organisation in the State. This involves at least one collection and one delivery five working days a week (that is, Monday to Friday) of postal packets weighing up to 2kgs and parcels weighing up to 20 keg's. It must provide the following services:
- A single piece service involving the clearance, sorting, transport and distribution of letters, large envelopes, packets and parcels
- Free certificates of posting
- A registered items service
- An insured items service
- A single piece service provided free of charge to the postal service user for the transmission of postal packets for the blind or partially sighted
- A service for the clearance, transport and distribution of:
- Postal packets deposited in bulk for delivery only
- Postal packets deposited in bulk pre-sorted by country of destination abroad
- Postal packets deposited in bulk for deferred delivery
- A service for the clearance, transport and distribution of postal packets deposited with the universal postal service provider by a foreign designated postal operator
- A number of special facilities for the delivery of postal packets, provided at the request of the addressee, including:
- Business Reply
Full details of the postal services that An Post must provide nationally and internationally are set out in the Communications Regulation (Universal Postal Service) Regulations 2012 (SI 280 of 2012).
An Post’s other services
An Post also provides postal services that do not fall under the universal service requirement as well as services that are not postal services. Examples of the non-postal services are Express Post, Passport Express, Philatelic Services (dealing with stamps) and Courier Post. It also has other services, such as, financial services, collecting TV license fees and business directories. Information on all of An Post’s services, as well as the services available through the network of local post offices is available on An Post’s website.
Monitoring of postal services
Compreg monitors An Post’s compliance with its legal obligations as universal service provider with regard to the:
it provides and may issue directions to An Post, after consultation with interested parties. Compreg may also initiate enforcement procedures if appropriate. Compreg is required to measure the quality of service provided by An Post, and to publish regular reports. There is an official European Standard (EN13850) setting out how this should be done. The measurement is continuous and results of An Post's performance are reported in information notices published by Compreg each quarter. The measurement relates to single piece mail only, i.e., performance of large scale or bulk mailings are excluded from this measurement. Compreg has set targets of 94% for next day delivery and 99.5% for delivery within 3 days. The most recent results achieved are available on Compreg's consumer website.
Compreg’s regulatory role for An Post’s postal services that do not fall under the universal service requirement is much more limited. It can only make sure that An Post has adequate complaints procedures in the provision of these services and that there is no cross-subsidy between these and the universal services. Compreg has no regulatory role over An Post’s non-postal services. They are subject to normal commercial law. Compreg ensures that other postal service providers who have a postal service authorization from Compreg draw up a code of practice covering customer complaints and redress.
Parcels from abroad
If a parcel or package comes from outside the European Union (EU), you must pay the VAT and any duties that you owe, before the parcel is delivered to you. If the parcel comes from another EU country, it is not subject to VAT or duties, as these are already included in the price of the goods within the parcel.
The manner in which VAT and customs duties are collected depends on the company that delivers the package and varies from one provider to another. One of three situations may apply:
- The delivery provider pays the fee to clear the item from customs and then charges you directly
- The delive