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How to Use the Italian Post Office (Poste Italiane)

“How am I to send my postcards,” said a friend, “when I can’t even find the right person at the Italian Post Office to talk to?” Another friend lamented, “I usually send my postcards with ‘I’ll be seeing you before you read this.’” It is true that the Italian postal service, called the Poste Italiane, doesn’t have a very good reputation.

Pile of colorful italian stamps

How to use the Italian Post Office

Woman getting stamps at the italian post office machine

One of the most difficult elements of mailing something in Italy is that the post offices are set up entirely different than those we are used to in the United States. Once you get the hang of how the Poste Italiane works, you may conclude that the Poste Italiane isn’t really all that bad.

When you walk into an Italian post office, don’t look for a line to stand in. Italians rarely stand in lines. Instead, there should be a machine located near the entrance, directing you to push a button and receive a number. There are a number of options, because the Italian post office not only sends and stores letters and packages; it is also where Italians pay their gas and electric bills, among other things. In fact, very few of the people inside Italian post offices are sending mail or picking up packages, which means the crowd may not be as daunting as you think. However, make sure you press the correct button; otherwise, you will find yourself talking to the wrong person. The correct button will say spedizione and will have a picture of an envelope beside it. You will know that you have pressed the correct button if the piece of paper that is spit out has a ‘P’ before the number.

A large board displays the numbers being currently serviced; every time a new number is called, you will hear a loud beep. Make sure to pay attention, because the postal representatives rarely dwell longer than a few seconds on a number if they do not see anyone walking up to their window. The first time I entered a post office, I stood around for 15 minutes before realizing that I needed a number.

people standing at the counter of an italian post office

Postal representatives usually give you the lowest price on postcards, letters, or packages, without offering various methods and rates for sending mail, as they do in the United States. Note, if you want a receipt, you must ask for one.

In my experience, mail going from Italy to the U.S. arrives quickly, usually in 5-10 ten days, and I have never had any of my packages lost. However, the Italian post office is not very capable when it comes to delivering packages sent from the U.S. Packages generally take at least 3 weeks and up to 2 months to arrive, and, as many online horror stories will tell you, packages are often lost. Postcards seem to fall into a different category of priority and take longer to arrive in the U.S. than either letters or packages. Sadly, as things currently stand, you may want to sign your postcards as my friend did: “I’ll be seeing you before you read this.”

How to Use and Italian Post office – Written by Mattie Bamman for

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Saturday 28th of January 2017

Hi, I've been reading the comments and it sounds like Poste Italiane is hit or miss. I ordered a bag online from an Italian retailer on January 16th, 2017 and I've tracked my package via the Poste Italiane site and USPS. The tracking information stops on January 18th p, 2017 with this information:

Partito dal Centro Scambi InternazionalePoste Italiane Milano Gateway Poste Italiane

Does anyone know if this is airport customs?

Thank you for any insight or voices of experience, LPL


Saturday 7th of January 2017

hi there. i sent a parcel from uk to milan in december- i presume it has been attempted to be delivered over christmas (as the addressee was going away and not got it by the 24th dec) will italia post leave them a card to say "we tried to deliver this item and its bee held at whichever post office"for them ? thanks

Maria Haase

Sunday 8th of January 2017

Hi Terry,

usually for international shipping, you should be able to track your package on the USPS website. Do you still have the note with the tracking number? Also, I would advise your friends to inquire at their local post office. While I don't know this from experience, this article says that it may take weeks or even months for mail to be delivered in Italy. I hope you can track down the package and hope it makes it safely to your friends' house.

Best, Maria


Friday 28th of October 2016

i just open a new account here in Italy but i just discovered there is no way i can assess my account with English language on the official sit and even the app, so sad. please what should i do?

Terri Fogarty

Friday 28th of October 2016

I am sorry, but we can't help. It appears from all sides that the Italian Post Office system has a lot of problems. I think you'll need to engage the help of someone who speaks Italian.


Monday 5th of September 2016

Over shop* I have a constant battle with spell check.


Monday 5th of September 2016

Hi. Iovershopped and want to ship my clothes over and bring my new goods in my luggage. Do you have an idea of what it would cost for the States??

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