The global postal network in 2012

  • The postal network constitutes the largest physical distribution network in the world.
  • 5.3 million people are employed by the world’s postal services.
  • There are some 642,000 postal establishments in the world.

Letter-post services

  • Posts processed an estimated 350.9 billion letter-post items (including 3.7 billion international items) in 2012.
  • Letter-post includes items up to 2 kilogrammes.
  • While there is a general decrease in global letter-post volumes, this service still accounts for the bulk of postal revenues (43.9% in 2012).
  • Not all countries are seeing a decline in letter-post volumes; countries in Latin America and the Caribbean as well as in Asia-Pacific have witnessed modest increases in domestic letter-post over the past five years.
  • On average, each inhabitant in the world posts 49.3 letter-post items a year.


  • Posts processed 6.4 billion domestic parcels in 2012, that’s 36% more items than in 2001 (4.7 billion items).
  • Traffic of international parcels in 2012 was 61 million items. This is an increase of 4.9% on the previous year. 

Global postal revenues 2012

  • Global postal revenues were 349.8 billion USD.
  • Letter-post represented 43.9% of these revenues, compared to 51.8% in 2002.
  • 17.7% of revenues came from postal financial services.
  • 17.3% of revenues came from parcels and logistic services.
  • Revenues from sources other than letter post, parcels and logistic services and postal financial services accounted for 21% of global postal revenues.
  • These percentages are weighted by total revenue of designated operator.

Mail delivery

  • Some 87% of the world’s population receives its mail directly at home.
  • Some 11.5% of the world’s inhabitants must go to a postal establishment to collect their mail.
  • An estimated 5% of the world’s inhabitants, or 300 million citizens, do not have access to postal services.

Based the UPU’s 2012 statistics. Figures are based on answers received from designated operators to the UPU questionnaire and statistical estimations. Operators from 151 member countries or 78.6 per cent of UPU members answered the questionnaire.