The Universal Postal Union

Established in 1874, the Universal Postal Union (UPU) has its headquarters in Berne, Switzerland’s capital. 

It is the world’s second oldest intergovernmental organization and has been a United Nations specialized agency since 1948.

Composed of 192 member countries, the UPU is the primary forum for cooperation between governments, Posts, regulators and many other postal-sector stakeholders.

It is the only international organization representing the interests of the worldwide postal sector in a neutral fashion. In addition to maintaining a genuinely universal network – with physical, financial and electronic dimensions – it establishes the rules for international mail exchanges among its member countries and makes recommendations to modernize products and services, stimulate mail volume growth and improve the quality of service for customers.

There are more than five million postal employees around the world and 640,000 post offices. Postal services in 2013 processed and delivered an estimated 340 billion letter-post items, including 3.7 billion international items, and 6.4 billion parcels.

They also provide valuable financial services aimed at narrowing the financial inclusion gap as well as electronic services, meeting the evolving needs of customers worldwide.

World postal strategy

The Universal Postal Congress, held every four years, is the supreme authority of the Union. The plenipotentiaries of the 192 member countries meet to adopt a new world postal strategy and the future rules for international mail exchanges. 

Between Congresses, the Council of Administration, consisting of 41 member countries, and the Postal Operations Council, made up of 40 member countries, continue the work of the Union. The Consultative Committee, whose members represent postal stakeholders at large, participates in the work of the Union.

At mid-way through the work cycle, the UPU holds a major Strategy Conference to take stock on progress being achieved on the current world postal strategy and identify the trends and issues that will shape the next strategy to be adopted at the following Congress.

The International Bureau, based in Berne, Switzerland, acts as the secretariat of the Union and employs about 250 employees.

The UPU also operates two cooperatives. The Telematics Cooperative, through the Postal Technology Centre, develops efficient and affordable technology for the designated operators of UPU member countries to better manage mail processes and quality of service and provide modern postal financial services. The EMS Cooperative helps designated operators offering the Express Mail Service – Posts’ main courier service – to maintain a high level of service quality.