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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A post office building in Edithburgh, Australia
A post office building in Edithburgh, Australia
West Toledo Branch Post Office, Toledo, Ohio, 1912
West Toledo Branch Post Office, Toledo, Ohio, 1912

A post office is a public facility that provides mail services, including accepting of letters and parcels, providing post office boxes, and selling postage stamps, packaging, and stationery. Post offices may also offer additional services, which vary by country. These include providing and accepting government forms (such as passport applications), processing government services and fees (such as road tax, and postal savings or bank post office).[1] The chief administrator of a post office is called a postmaster.

Prior to the advent of postal codes and the post office, postal systems would route items to a specific post office for receipt or delivery. During the nineteenth-century in the United States, this often led to smaller communities being renamed after their post offices, particularly after the Post Office Department began requiring that post office names not be duplicated within a state.[2]


A Canadian sorting office in 2006

The term "Post-Office"[3] has been in use since the 1650's,[4] shortly after the legalization of private mail services in England in 1635.[5] In early Modern England, post ridersmounted couriers – were placed ("posted"[6]) every few hours along post roads at posting houses, also known as post houses, between major cities ("post towns"). These stables or inns permitted important correspondence to travel without delay. In early America, post offices were also known as "stations". This term and "post house" fell from use as horse and coach service was replaced by railways, aircraft, and automobiles.

Today, the term "Post Office" usually refers to government postal facilities providing customer service. The term "General Post Office" is sometimes used for the national headquarters of a postal service, even if it does not provide customer service within the building. A postal facility that is used exclusively for processing mail is instead known as sorting office or delivery office, which may have a large central area known as a "sorting" or "postal hall". Integrated facilities combining mail processing with railway stations or airports are known as mail exchanges.

In India, Post offices are found in almost every village having Panchayat, towns,cities and through out geographical area of India. It is now called India Post after advent of private courier companies in 1990's. It is run by the department of Posts,Government of India. [7] They accept and deliver inland letters,post cards, parcels, postal stamps and money order(money transfer). Few post offices in India offer services of Speed post(fast delivery),payments and savings bank , sell insurance policies, accept the payment of utility bills like electricity,fixed or landline telephone, gas etc. Previously post offices used to collect license fees for radio, fee for recruitment to government jobs and also operate public call telephone (PCO) booths till 1990's. Post man delivers letters,money orders and parcels to places where there is no post office but within assigned area of that particular post office.Each Post office in Bharat(India) is assigned a unique code called as Postal Index Number Code popularly known as PIN Code. It is a six digit code. Each post office is identified by this Pincode.

Private courier and delivery services often have offices as well, although these are not usually called "post offices," except in the case of Germany, which has fully privatized its national postal system.[citation needed]


Indian Post Office at the Mango Orange village, Ooty Road
Indian Post Office at the Mango Orange village, Ooty Road
postal clerks in a  cartoon on the 1840 Penny Penates postcard
postal clerks in a cartoon on the 1840 Penny Penates postcard
Old post office in Toompea, Tallinn, Estonia
Old post office in Toompea, Tallinn, Estonia

The oldest functioning Post Office in the world, Sanquhar, Scotland
The oldest functioning Post Office in the world, Sanquhar, Scotland

There is evidence of corps of royal couriers disseminating the decrees of the Egyptian pharaohs as early as 2,400 BC and the service may greatly precede even that date. Similarly, organized systems of post houses providing swift mounted courier service seems quite ancient, although sources vary as to precisely who initiated the practice.[8] Certainly, by the time of the Persian Empire, a system of Chapar-Khaneh existed along the Royal Road. The 2nd-Century BC Mauryan and Han dynasties established similar systems in India and China. Suetonius credited Augustus with regularizing the Roman network, the Cursus Publicus. Local officials were obliged to provide couriers who would be responsible for their message's entire course. Locally maintained post houses (Latin: stationes) privately owned rest houses (Latin: mansiones) were obliged or honored to care for them along their way. Diocletian later established two parallel systems: one providing fresh horses or mules for urgent correspondence and another providing sturdy oxen for bulk shipments. Procopius, though not unbiased, records that this system remained largely intact until it was dismantled in the surviving empire by Justinian in the 6th Century.

The Princely House of Thurn and Taxis family initiated regular mail service from Brussels in the 16th century, directing the Imperial Post of the Holy Roman Empire. The British Postal Museum claims that the oldest functioning post office in the world is on High Street in Sanquhar, Scotland . This post office has functioned continuously since 1712, an era in which horses and stage coaches were used to carry mail.

In parts of Europe, special postal censorship offices existed[when?] to intercept and censor mail. In France, such offices were known as cabinets noirs.

Unstaffed postal facilities

Students attend an un-staffed postal facility
Students attend an un-staffed postal facility
The Inland Letter Office of the London GPO in 1845.
The Inland Letter Office of the London GPO in 1845.

In many jurisdictions, mail boxes and post office boxes have long been in widespread use for drop-off and pickup (respectively) of mail and small packages outside post offices or when offices are closed. Deutsche Post introduced the Pack-Station for package delivery (both drop-off and pickup) in 2001. In the 2000s, the United States Postal Service began to install Automated Postal Centers (APCs) in many locations both in post offices (for when they are closed or busy) and in retail locations.[9] APCs can print postage and accept mail and small packages.

Notable post offices




See also


  1. ^ "Canada Postal Guide - Glossary". Canada Post. Archived from the original on January 18, 2006. Retrieved 2006-10-08.
  2. ^ United States Postal Service. "What's in a (Post Office) Name?" August 2008. Accessed 2 October 2013.
  3. ^ Webster, Noah. American Dictionary of the English Language, "post-house". Accessed 2 October 2013.
  4. ^ Harper, Douglas. Online Etymology Dictionary, "post office". 2013. Accessed 2 October 2013.
  5. ^ The British Postal Museum and Archive. "The Secret Room Archived 2012-08-31 at the Wayback Machine". 2011. Accessed 2 October 2013.
  6. ^ Harper (2013), "post". Accessed 2 October 2013.
  7. ^ "About Us". Retrieved 28 March 2021.
  8. ^ Xenophon credits Cyrus the Great of Persia, others credit his successor Darius I or the earlier Babylonian king Hammurabi or the Assyrian king Sargon II.
  9. ^ "Derry store's postal kiosk a 1st in New England". Union Leader. December 11, 2011.

External links

This page was last edited on 6 May 2021, at 06:47
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