Postal services, universal service provider (USP) - historical data (post)

Reference Metadata in Euro SDMX Metadata Structure (ESMS)

Compiling agency: DG Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

DG Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs metadata
Reference metadata
1. Contact
2. Metadata update
3. Statistical presentation
4. Unit of measure
5. Reference Period
6. Institutional Mandate
7. Confidentiality
8. Release policy
9. Frequency of dissemination
10. Accessibility and clarity
11. Quality management
12. Relevance
13. Accuracy
14. Timeliness and punctuality
15. Coherence and comparability
16. Cost and Burden
17. Data revision
18. Statistical processing
19. Comment
Related Metadata
Annexes (including footnotes)

For any question on data and metadata, please contact:


1. Contact Top
1.1. Contact organisation Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union
1.2. Contact organisation unit G4: Innovation and information society
1.5. Contact mail address 2920 Luxembourg LUXEMBOURG

2. Metadata update Top
2.1. Metadata last certified 10/08/2012
2.2. Metadata last posted 10/08/2012
2.3. Metadata last update 10/08/2012

3. Statistical presentation Top
3.1. Data description

The data in this domain is collected by Eurostat in close cooperation with DG MARKT in the context of the annual "EU Postal Survey" (voluntary data collection).

The partners in the data collection are the National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs) in the participating countries.

The list of indicators/questionnaires and the definitions (Glossary) were agreed in cooperation with the European Postal Regulators in the project group "Assistance and development of EU statistics" of the European Committee for Postal Regulation (CERP).

The data presented cover the companies operating under the Universal Service obligation (Universal Service Providers - USP). For countries where a USP no longer exists, the company which was the USP prior to liberalisation is referred to. "Universal service" refers here to the set of general interest demands to which services such as the mail should be subject throughout the Community. 

The collection of 'Postal Services' includes data on employment, turnover, access points, traffic, prices and quality of service.

3.2. Classification system

Not applicable

3.3. Coverage - sector

Not applicable

3.4. Statistical concepts and definitions

The collection of 'Postal Services' statistics covers the following indicators:

Persons employed for the provision of postal and related services domestically

The indicator gives the average of the year number of people employed in postal and related services within the economic territory of the country of reference.

Total turnover from the provision of postal and related services domestically

The indicator gives the totals invoiced by the observation unit during the reference period, and this corresponds to market sales of services supplied to third parties. Receipts from foreign operators are also included.

Total number of access points

The indicator gives the number of physical facilities, including letter boxes provided for the public either on the public highway or at the premises of the providers of postal and related services, where postal items may be deposited by customers for processing in postal and related services. The data on access points cover:

                Offices open to public and postal agencies (broken down into fixed and mobile)


                Post office boxes

                Places at which only stamps can be bought.

Breakdown of traffic (postal and related services)

This refers to the number of items handled in postal and related services. Data presented for this variable exclude unaddressed mail items, which are, in many countries, not considered as part of postal services.

Data are available for the following segments:

                Letter-post services - total

                Letter-post services - reserved area

                Small packets

                Courier, Express and Parcel services (CEP) - total

                Courier, Express and Parcel services (CEP) - ordinary parcels up to 10/20kg

                Other postal and related services

                Unaddressed mail items

Domestic and incoming international items are included in the total figures. Outgoing international mail is excluded in order to avoid double counting across countries.

Breakdown of postal item services (letter-post services)

A postal item is an item addressed in the final form in which it is to be carried by a postal service provider. Postal items include:

                Ordinary letters and postcards

                Direct mail

                Registered mail

                Insured mail

                Other letter post items  (books, catalogues, newspapers, periodicals and postal packages containing merchandise with or without commercial value)


The price for handling of a standard (1st class) letter weighing less than 20 g is provided for two services: domestic and intra-EU.

Quality of service

This indicator gives the % of letters (fastest service) delivered on time according to national performance indicator (assumed to be D+1 working day, where D is the date of deposit)

Detailed definitions are available in the Glossary (Annex).

3.5. Statistical unit

The universal service providers in the postal sector.

3.6. Statistical population

The universal service providers.

3.7. Reference area

EU Member States, Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Iceland and Norway.

3.8. Coverage - Time

Annual time series are available from 2004 onwards.

3.9. Base period

Not applicable

4. Unit of measure Top

Data on employment and access points is expressed in number.

Data on turnover is expressed in Million of euro; data on "Prices" is expressed in euro. 

Data on postal traffic is expressed in thousands. 

Data on quality of service is expressed in percentages.

5. Reference Period Top

Data refer to the calendar year.

6. Institutional Mandate Top
6.1. Institutional Mandate - legal acts and other agreements

The Community framework for EU postal services is set out in Directive 97/67/EC as amended by Directive 2002/39/EC and as amended by Directive 2008/06/EC (3rd Postal Directive).

6.2. Institutional Mandate - data sharing

Not applicable

7. Confidentiality Top
7.1. Confidentiality - policy

Regulation (EC) No 223/2009 on European statistics (recital 24 and Article 20(4)) of 11 March 2009 (OJ L 87, p. 164), stipulates the need to establish common principles and guidelines ensuring the confidentiality of data used for the production of European statistics and the access to those confidential data with due account for technical developments and the requirements of users in a democratic society.

7.2. Confidentiality - data treatment

Not applicable

8. Release policy Top
8.1. Release calendar

Data are disseminated in the third quarter, with possible revisions in the fourth quarter, as well as with an update of all dissemination tables and of the article in "Statistics Explained".

8.2. Release calendar access

Not applicable

8.3. Release policy - user access

In line with the Community legal framework and the European Statistics Code of Practice Eurostat disseminates European statistics on Eurostat's website (see item 10 - 'Accessibility and clarity') respecting professional independence and in an objective, professional and transparent manner in which all users are treated equitably. The detailed arrangements are governed by the Eurostat protocol on impartial access to Eurostat data for users.

9. Frequency of dissemination Top


10. Accessibility and clarity Top
10.1. Dissemination format - News release

Not applicable

10.2. Dissemination format - Publications

The data have been published in "Data in Focus" (DiFs), Statistics Explained and on the dedicated website (as Excel file with tables and graphs) at the following address:

10.3. Dissemination format - online database

Please consult free data on-line or refer to contact details.

10.4. Dissemination format - microdata access

Not applicable

10.5. Dissemination format - other


10.6. Documentation on methodology

The Glossary with the definitions of the variables and the questionnaires are available in the Annex.

10.7. Quality management - documentation

The Glossary with the definitions of the variables provides guidelines for the data collection. Countries are providing Eurostat with information on the deviations from these definitions, which are summarised in the country specific notes (Annex).

11. Quality management Top
11.1. Quality assurance

Common guidelines for the methodology are provided to the participating countries (Glossary with definiton of variables). Data is validated using automated procedures.

11.2. Quality management - assessment

Common guidelines for the methodology are available (Glossary with definiton of variables); automated procedures are used to validate the data at Eurostat.

However, data is less complete for some variables, there is a relatively high number of confidential data, limited availability of metadata and limited knowledge on coherence with other statistics on similar subjects.

Closer cooperation with DG MARKT and ERGP (European Regulators Group for postal services) is envisaged to streamline the work in the future in order to assist in the fulfilment of the objectives of the EU postal market.

12. Relevance Top
12.1. Relevance - User Needs

The data present the main developments in the USP postal sector of the participating countries and serve as input for the European Commission's market monitoring of the postal sector.

12.2. Relevance - User Satisfaction

Not available.

12.3. Completeness

Very good completeness (> 90%) for data on employment, turnover, offices open to public and postal agencies, letter-boxes, prices and quality of service; data less complete for postal traffic and certain types of access points.

13. Accuracy Top
13.1. Accuracy - overall

Data is collected via the USPs and sampling is not applicable. Accuracy depends on the quality reporting by the USPs, which are provided with the Glossary on definitions and instructions on how to fill in the questionnaires.

13.2. Sampling error

Not applicable

13.3. Non-sampling error

Data is validated using automated procedures - see section 11.1 above.

14. Timeliness and punctuality Top
14.1. Timeliness

Data are delivered to Eurostat six months after the end of the reference year and are disseminated in the third quarter, with possible revisions in the fourth quarter.

14.2. Punctuality

Most of the data are delivered on time.

15. Coherence and comparability Top
15.1. Comparability - geographical

Comparability across countries depends on the national methodologies applied. Countries are providing Eurostat with information on the deviations from the standard definitions, if any.

15.2. Comparability - over time

Comparability over time depends on the national methodologies applied. Countries are providing Eurostat with information on the break in series, if any.

15.3. Coherence - cross domain

Not applicable

15.4. Coherence - internal

Not applicable

16. Cost and Burden Top

No information available.

17. Data revision Top
17.1. Data revision - policy

EU aggregates are compiled when the available countries represent 60% of the population and 55% of the number of countries defining the aggregate. When further national data becomes available, this is automatically included in the existing aggregate. Hence EU aggregates may change due to the arrival of further data over and above the 60%-55% rule.

17.2. Data revision - practice

Data transmitted by the reporting countries to Eurostat undergo detailed verifications by applying automated validation procedures. If after these verifications inconsistencies should be found, reporting countries may be asked to revise the results.

18. Statistical processing Top
18.1. Source data

The National Regulatory Authorities in each country are collecting the data from the postal operators via the questionnaires provided by Eurostat.

18.2. Frequency of data collection


18.3. Data collection

Data is collected using predefined questionnaires.

18.4. Data validation

Input national data is validated by Eurostat (relationship between variables, completeness, comparison over time) using an automated procedure. If necessary, the data is returned to the countries for further examination.

18.5. Data compilation

EU aggregates are compiled when the available countries represent 60% of the population and 55% of the number of countries defining the aggregate. No estimations are made for missing data, except if provided by the reporting countries.

18.6. Adjustment

Not applicable

19. Comment Top

Please see the links in the Annex below.

Related metadata Top

Annexes Top
Country specific notes