Legal framework

Universal service obligation

bpost is the designated provider of the Universal Service Obligation until 31 December 2018. This entails:

  • Collection, sorting, transport and distribution of postal items up to 2kg and postal packages up to 10kg (and up to 20kg for packages coming from Member States)
  • Providing services for registered items and insured items

Furthermore, as Universal Service Provider, bpost is required to:

  • Apply uniform tariffs and an identical service across the territory
  • Operate at least 1 service point per municipality in Belgium
  • Collect and distribute postal items at least 5 times a week (excluding Sundays and official holidays)
  • Cover the full territory of Belgium for items up to 10kg

As of 1 January 2019, one or more USO provider(s) could be appointed for a 10-year period at which point the USO may be divided into various segments. The law stipulates that the identity of the new USO provider(s) should be known by the end of 2015 (3 years before the expiry of the current term). bpost has not yet been informed of any process to appoint USO providers beyond 2018.

Licensing

Any operator (other than the designated USO provider) who performs letter mail service falling in the scope of the USO requires a license issued by the Belgian postal regulator IBPT/BIPT.

To obtain a license, several conditions ensuring a level playing field must be met:

  • Territorial coverage: 80% of the territory in each of Belgium’s 3 regions must be covered in the fifth year
  • Frequency: deliver mail at least twice a week within 2 years
  • Pricing: offer uniform pricing across the covered territory
  • Social: employ contractual workers

TBC-Post obtained a license in May 2013.

Services of General Economic Interest

bpost renders several public service missions or Services of General Economic Interest (SGEI) for which it is compensated by the Belgian State. bpost has been granted two concessions by the Belgian State for executing press distribution. These concessions run for a 5-year period from 1 January 2016 until 31 December 2020 and entail:

  • Early distribution of newspapers (before 7:30 in weekdays and 10:00 on Saturdays)
  • Distribution of periodicals at a tariff set by the Belgian State

Besides press distribution, bpost also renders a couple of other SGEI. These are described in the Sixth Management Contract concluded with the Belgian State. They entail:

  • Maintain an extensive retail network of post offices and post points
  • Payment at home of pensions and other social allowances
  • The acceptance in Post Offices of cash deposits to current account or payments to current accounts
  • Distribution of elections printed matters at a reduced tariff
  • Delivery of letter post items that fall within the freepost system

The Sixth Management Contract is covering a 5-year period from 1 January 2016 until 31 December 2020.

bpost will receive a maximum compensation (excluding inflation) for both the press concessions and the Sixth Management Contract of € 261.0m in 2016, € 260.8m in 2017, € 257.6m in 2018, € 252.6m in 2019 and € 245.6m in 2020. These amounts need to be inflated on a cumulated yearly basis.

Mail pricing principles

For services falling within the USO, general pricing principles of affordability, cost-orientation, transparency, non-discrimination and uniformity of tariffs throughout the country are applied.

Single piece domestic mail items & USO parcels falling within the “small user basket” are subject to a price-cap formula, which enables tariff increases with inflation plus a quality bonus. The quality bonus kicks in as soon as 90% of the items belonging to the small user basket are delivered on time. The unused part of this price increase margin is accrued for 3 years, every year on a rolling basis.

Price increases are in practice done on a yearly basis on 1 January.

Belgian regulator

The Belgian Institute for Postal services and Telecommunication (IBPT/BIPT, www.bipt.be) regulates the postal sector in Belgium.