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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

International Postal Policy


Under 2006 legislation, the Department of State was assigned responsibility for formulation, coordination, and oversight of foreign policy related to international postal services and other international delivery services.


The Universal Postal Union

What is the Universal Postal Union?
Established in 1874, the Universal Postal Union (UPU), with its headquarters in the Swiss capital Bern, is the second oldest international organization.

The UPU coordinates international postal policies and procedures, including standards, remuneration, technical assistance, and collaboration with key stakeholders. All member countries are signatories of the UPU Convention, an intergovernmental treaty, making the UPU itself the primary forum for cooperation between designated postal operators worldwide.

Why is it Important?
Without the UPU, postal operators would have to negotiate separate bilateral agreements with every other operator with which it wanted to exchange international mail. More importantly, without the UPU, countries could not be guaranteed mail service to and from nearly every other nation around the globe.

History – World Post Day
The Treaty of Bern, establishing what is now the Universal Postal Union, was signed on October 9, 1874. We continue to celebrate the global postal network on October 9 each year as World Post Day.

The 1874 Treaty of Bern succeeded in unifying an international maze of postal services and regulations into a single postal territory for the reciprocal exchange of letters. The barriers and frontiers that had impeded the free flow and growth of international mail were finally pulled down. More History»


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