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Poste restante services to stay free of charge in Finland

The Transport and Communications Agency says a fee for mail pick-up would violate basic rights.

Asunnoton ihminen hakeaa postiaan poste restante -noutopisteestä Helsingissä.
For some people, Poste restante services are the only way to receive postal deliveries. Image: Vesa Marttinen / Yle

Finland's Transport and Communications Agency Traficom has shot down a plan announced by the national postal service Posti to begin charging customers a fee to collect mail from Poste restante points.

Poste restante is a long-running, free service by the post office that holds letters or other mail for a recipient until he or she picks them up. The service is commonly used by visitors or individuals who do not have a permanent address.

Finnish postal service Posti had announced that it would begin levying a charge of 3.10 euros per handover for Poste restante service as of the beginning of March. Posti delayed the introduction of its plan while awaiting a decision by regulatory authorities as to the legality of the move.

Traficom says that charging for Poste restante service would violate the terms of legislation on postal services for people whose only alternative to receive mail is by general delivery.

Traficom has now ordered that Posti not charge for the service if it is the only way that an addressee is able to receive mail. It says that in such cases, a Poste restante address is equivalent to a home address, making it a standard service.

Charging for delivery, it says would not only violate postal service law, but also constitutional guarantees to the right to receive communications.

Posti announced that it will abide by the Traficom order for the time being, but will also be examining alternative means of providing Poste restante services. Posti says that maintaining its free-of-charge Poste restante services costs in the range of a million euros a year.

At present, there is no legislation dealing specifically with Poste restante services which are subject to charges in a number of European countries.

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