Discussion Papers

No. 448: Authorizations and reporting requirements in the postal sector (September 2019)

Authors: Christian M. Bender, Antonia Niederprüm

(full version only available in German)


The authorisation procedures and reporting requirements in the German postal market have remained largely unchanged since the entry into force of the German Postal Act in 1998. Following the example of the German Telecommunications Act, a licensing procedure for the provision of certain postal services was implemented and different license classes were introduced in 1998 to open up the market. When Deutsche Post AG's exclusive license expired in 2008, the licence classes were subsumed into a single license, which allows the provision of commercial letter services up to 1,000 grams. Since 1998, all other postal service providers, in particular in the growing parcel market, are only required to notify the German regulator Bundesnetzagentur. In principle, all postal service providers, i.e. licensees and providers of services that require notification, are subject to reporting obligations to Bundesnetzagentur and Bundesnetzagentur has the right to collect data to fulfil its tasks as a regulatory authority.

In the German postal market, the letter segment has stagnated in recent years (with expectations of declining volumes and revenues in the future) and the parcel segment is experiencing dynamic growth induced by e-commerce. As a result, the number of licensees declines, while the number of notified service providers increases. In addition, the the 2018 EU regulation on cross-border parcel delivery services introduced new reporting obligations towards the Bundesnetzagentur for parcel service providers. Against this background, the study examines the current licensing, notification and reporting obligations in the German postal market.

The economic analysis of the existing regulations as well as the comparison with the regulations in other European postal markets and the German telecommunications market indicate that the current regulations in the German Postal Act are no longer up to date. In order to ensure that Bundesnetzagentur fulfils its regulatory authority and supervisory tasks and is able to meet its international reporting obligations (to the European Commission), an amendment of the Postal Act is useful and necessary. With regard to notification and reporting obligations, WIK proposes the following amendments:

1. Abolition of licensing in favour of general general authorisations.

2. Introduction of a de minimis rule for authorised services.

3. Standardization of weight limits for authorised services.

4. Extension of Bundesnetzagentur’s rights to collect data.

5. Ensuring enforceability with effective penalty mechanisms.

Discussion Paper is available for download.

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