About TC331

European Committee for Standardization (CEN)

CEN, the European Committee for Standardization, is an association that brings together the National Standardization Bodies of 34 European countries. CEN provides a platform for the development of European Standards and other technical documents in relation to various kinds of products, materials, services and processes.

European Standardization plays an important role in the development of the European Single Market. The fact that each European Standard is recognized across the whole of Europe, and automatically becomes the national standard in 34 European countries, makes it much easier for businesses to sell their goods or services to customers throughout the European Single Market.

CEN supports standardization activities in relation to a wide range of fields and sectors including: air and space, construction, consumer products, defence and security, energy, the environment, food and feed, health and safety, healthcare, ICT and Postal services.

CEN/TC 331 Postal services

Our objective is to improve interoperability and quality of services in the postal value chain.

The scope of the CEN/TC 331 includes the postal market which ranges from non-express letters to parcels including the extension to the digital services linked with the physical postal products or services.

The work of CEN/TC 331 is mainly focused on the interfaces between stakeholders in the postal value chain and various aspects of the measurement of quality of service. In addition, CEN/TC 331 works on hybrid mail, (automatic) identification and tracking of mail items, apertures in letter boxes, receptacles, address data, and forms.

Working Groups

Customers, products and services

This Working Group is focused on standards for quality of service measurement, so that products and services meet the expectations of customers. The starting point of WG1 is to provide a definition of the services and their quality requirements.

The goals of WG 1 are to develop useful standardized tools to monitor to help improve the quality of the postal services, by

  • enhancing the perception of the customers of the levels of quality of service,
  • improving the confidence of the customer in the postal chains,
  • helping the dialogue between the regulatory bodies and the postal operators,
  • improving the effectiveness of postal market at the entire European level.

New digital postal services

This Working Group is focused on the new digital services, like the hybrid mail, including secured electronic postal services and postal registered email, the reverse hybrid mail, the electronic identity, while remaining within the competencies of the members of the different structures of CEN/TC 331.

The goals of the WG 2 are oriented to the support of the development of the new digital markets around the physical postal exchanges.  , including the interconnectivity to UPU postal supply chain management solutions. To afford wider postal sector stakeholders access to these solutions, to foster electronic data exchanges with designated operators via standard UPU electronic data interchange (EDI) messages, and also to allow these stakeholders to assist in raising and resolving anomalies in the postal supply chain.

Physical processing chain and associated data

The scope of this WG is standardization of information exchanges in the entire physical process chain for mail and parcels, including technical equipment like the sorting machines (letters, parcels) with the associated data flows  (sorting plans, address management, MIS, etc).

The objectives are to improve the efficiency of the entire process chain with an end to end point of view, including all the aspects of the process (direct like mail sorting or indirect like postal address management, security controls, etc.)

The aim is to reduce complexity, enhance interoperability and improve quality in the process chain for mail and parcels. This provides benefits to postal operators and other actors, as well as the end customer. It helps to improve the handling of cross border mail and parcels.

Equipment of the end receivers

The objective of this Working Group is to create standards for equipment of end receivers that shall ensure functionality, usability, ergonomics and compliance to legal frameworks. Thus, facilitating the usage for all potential users.

This WG is focused on the equipment at hardware and IT interfaces between delivery or collection operators and end receivers, like individual and / or collective letter and parcel boxes.


CEN/TC 331 takes into account the measures adopted at international level, and in particular those agreed on by the Universal Postal Union (UPU). The UPU is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) and a forum for cooperation between postal sector players. UPU sets the rules for international mail exchanges and makes recommendations to stimulate growth in mail, parcel and financial services volumes and improve quality of service for customers.

CEN/TC 331 and UPU collaborate in several areas and jointly develop standards where there is a mutual interest. 


European Policy

With the growing importance of e-commerce, a shift is taking place from letter to parcel delivery.

Streamlined, accessible, high-quality cross-border delivery services can build trust in cross-border online sales.  The Commission aims to improve delivery services for consumers and SMEs, ensure cost-effective solutions and promote interoperability of delivery services between operators, and operators and e-retailers.

The need to enhance the quality, and affordability of cross-border parcel delivery has been identified as a priority in the EU’s policy to facilitate e-commerce, and to create a Digital Single Market for the European Union.

The objectives for postal services have been implemented in EU law through the Postal Services Directive – Directive 97/67/EC. This directive established a regulatory framework for European postal services and was amended by Directive 2002/39/EC and Directive 2008/6/EC.


Postal standards

CEN/TS 17073:2017

Postal services – Interfaces for cross border parcels

This European standard specifies the interface between the e-merchant (any commercial customer sending parcels) and the first logistic operator.

The interface is composed on two items:

  • the physical label stuck on the postal item: contents, sizes, minimum requirements to guarantee the quality and efficiency of the logistic process (sorting, delivery).
  • the electronic exchanges between the sender and the logistic operator with the description of the data to be provided, the format of the exchanges.

While designated operators of UPU have drawn up business requirements using proprietary standards and related data components, online merchants have developed open, not-for-profit standards for final delivery which are integrated into their existing supply chain management environment.

The Technical Specification aims to specify the interface between the e-merchant (any commercial customer sending postal items) and the first logistic operator composed by incorporating the 3 elements:

  • physical label attached to the postal item with information for item identification
  • electronic exchanges between the sender and the logistic operator concerning parcels dispatch;
  • data needed for various delivery chain parts, in particular final delivery to the recipient, in order to facilitate exchange between the item-specific identifiers.

NOTE 1 The last element enables the growth of integrated, data-driven systems which support highly efficient and customer-driven cross-border ecommerce. This reflects the current trend to B-to-B-to-C delivery solutions in the
European and international cross border e-commerce markets. Delivery from original source to final consumer can be split over more than one service provider.

NOTE 2 C-to-B-to-B-to-C solutions will be an extension, in particular when returns are specified. The “first C” would indicate that consumers wishing to return items, or induct items themselves, will be able to print labels following the fundamentals specified in this standard.

E-merchant exchange data with logistic operators (i.e. the postal operators, but not limited to those designated to fulfill the rights and obligations of UPU member countries) to help, simplify and enable the consequential logistic and transactional tasks. The establishment of common definitions and electronic formats, safeguards the reliability and decreases the overall costs by avoiding software development costs, multiple printing equipment, over-labelling during the process, and the manual sorting.

Standards are created together

Standards are created by all parties concerned