How to Use Poste Restante

Poste Restante is an incredibly useful way of getting post and mail sent to you when you are travelling or setting up in new country. Poste Restante lets you have an address before you have a permanent residence.

Vehicles waiting outside a La Poste office
Vehicles waiting outside a La Poste office

Poste Restante lets you have your post delivered to a post office of your choice.

You use a special format of address which anyone can send post to.

To collect your post, you visit the post office and ask for any mail held in your name. In most countries the costs will be limited to a small fee for each piece of mail collected.

Poste Restante in France

In France, there is nothing to set up. You can start using a Poste Restante address immediately:

“Avec le service Poste restante, vos courriers et colis vous attendent dans le bureau de poste de votre choix : confidentialité assurée et remise en main propre garantie.” La Poste, May 2015

In France the Poste Restante address format is:

Your Name
Poste Restante
The Post Office Address

If you wanted your post to go to the central post office in Lyon, your address be:

M. Joe Smith
Poste Restante
Lyon Bellecour
69002 Lyon
France

In 2012 picking up a Poste Restante letter from La Post costs 0.60 EUR, or 0.30 EUR for periodicals.

La Post will hold your Poste Restante mail for two weeks before returning it to the sender.

Poste Restante in the United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, you need to set up Poste Restante with your post office.

In the United Kingdom the Poste Restante address format is:

Your Name
POSTE RESTANTE
The Post Office Address

Only certain post offices accept Poste Restante mail in the United Kingdom. The service is aimed at travellers and is limited to three months per town.