What is happening with the mail in Portugal?

By Bruno G. Santos, in News · 07-08-2020 01:00:00 · 45 Comments

The Covid-19 pandemic has shown its effects across every sector and the mail in Portugal has been no exception.

CTT (Correios de Portugal) postal service has been facing crisis since 2018, with postmen striking regularly due to the lack of personnel which affects the efficiency of mail delivery across the country.

Due to the pandemic, reports of mail not being delivered in the time that CTT typically promises were emerging, with reports of cases of mail taking more than 15 days to reach its destination.

The Portugal News contacted CTT to discover the extent that the pandemic has affected the mail delivery service.

A source told The Portugal News that there are no registrations of any kind of delay regarding mail delivery and stated that “distribution is working the way it should.” However the pandemic may have contributed to some problems in mail distribution simply because of the adaption to a new reality for the service and attempting to do everything that the health authorities asked for to be a clean and safe service.
Some Local Distribution Centres were closed in cases when any of the workers had a positive test for Covid-19, stated the same source. In these cases, measures were taken to ensure the security of all the other workers, as well as the security of the people that were receiving mail.

Foreign mail often comes by plane, normally in passenger aircraft. Since the pandemic obligated air companies to reduce the number of flights, therefore the mail that comes from abroad will not be delivered as fast as before. The source admitted that “CTT used all the alternatives available” to them in these cases.

CTT offers a variety of different delivery systems. There is Correio Normal, where letters and other products that weigh no more than two kilos take about three days to reach their destination. Correio Azul is the fastest way of sending mail. Usually, it takes one day to be delivered in mainland Portugal and two days to be delivered to the islands of the Azores or Madeira. Correio Verde takes the same time as Correio Azul to be delivered, but it has no weight limit and does not require any kind of stamp. Correio Registado is a delivery system in which the sender can track the sent product to know exactly when it will reach the destination.

The prices change according to the chosen delivery systems. Normally, it is not required to buy a stamp, but just an envelope bought in one of the CTT shops. Sometimes a box is required, depending on the size of the products.

CTT also delivers letters and parcels to foreign countries. Inside Europe, mail can take three days to reach the destination in Correio Azul and five days for the rest of the world. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic the promised delivery time might not be met.


I mailed a small package at Canada Post in Montreal, Quebec on April 23, 2021. Today as I write this comment, July 19, 2021, it has not arrived at its destination which was the shrine at Fatima, Portugal. The intended recipient of the package, the rector of the shrine, informed me that he has not received the package with important contents, a CD of a song I wrote and a DVD thgat goes with it.. I am so distressed about this situation. What could possibly be the problem? If only I knew. It has been It has been three months!

By Gerry Gudzio from Other on 19-07-2021 11:31

We sent a USPS International Priority letter 3-5 days delivery to Azores 3 weeks ago, it is still enroute with no eta as to when it shall actually arrive. I feel ripped off by the postal service as we paid for premium delivery and so far have not even received same service as basic mail.

By Russ from USA on 12-07-2021 10:46

A normal AIR MAIL letter from the USA to the Azores (via Lisbon CTT) has not arrived after 40+ days. Another letter (Registered) arrived to Lisbon from France a month ago, but has not reached me in the Azores. It constantly takes 1 to 2 months for mail from Lisbon to the Azores. A letter from Australia arrived fully cut open, but the curious CTT employee did not remove the correspondence since I do not receive valuables by mail. Reporting such cases to the CTT seems to be useless. One CTT employee stated that it was illegal to receive... paper via mail!!! No kidding! If this is not abuse then what is it?

So we are expected to remain home, wear masks to everywhere, watch staged events on TV, hear about false flag operations on radio, and our mail delivered (or "lost") is withheld from us for months at a time. If this is not FASCISM then what is!?

By James from Açores on 25-05-2021 06:48

Hello. And Bye.

By fishgpbit119 from USA on 23-05-2021 03:02

Hello. And Bye.

By fishtrudh167 from Porto on 21-05-2021 09:17

Mail from USA hasn't arrived. Two government letters took nearly three months to arrive!

By Michele from Lisbon on 30-04-2021 05:03

The water bill arrives on the last day or past the expiration day, so I can't pay it at the notorious CTT post office and have to drive many km to another town to pay it after standing in line! This is beyond ridiculous to use up €3 of fuel and spend 2 hours of my time to pay a €6 water bill! And they don't make it easy so we can pay it online. And to pay the €26 car tax one now has to register by email or phone call days in advance before coming to their government building.

By George from Açores on 19-02-2021 08:56

A Christmas postcard sent to us from Japan was turned back and returned to the sender even that the address was clearly written... I suppose there are postal wars going on between countries, but why would they hurt the consumers in such an UNCIVILISED way? Pigs...

By George from Lisbon on 19-02-2021 06:04

Registered correspondence from Turkey from a friend arrived to Lisbon in 20 days, but since the 14th of January is stuck in Lisbon and today is 19th of February and CTT is not responding to my inquiries. They are holding all my mail at ransom now. What's worse that 2 weeks after I paid expensive duty royalties to the Portuguese Customs for another shipment ( a parcel from China with items that are necessary for our survival here), we did not receive the parcel yet... Only received a canned automatic response stating that my message received their best attention... This uncivilized and unprofessional behaviour has to end or we will leave the Azores, despite we like it here, and we invested a lot of money here, but we can not live with such disrespectful services and with a notorious CAN'T DO attitude. A lot of people already left our island because of many problems including the unbelievable slow mail delivery.

By Tom from Açores on 19-02-2021 05:56

I have never in all my days experienced such an abysmal courier service.
Posted a return on January 5th and it is still stuck in Lisbon on 1st February, where it hasn't moved since 14th January. I paid £16 for this service, as the contents are expensive. Parcel is insured up to £250.
Point is, I am waiting on my refund from the supplier, who of course won't refund me till they receive the return.
CTT have informed me that this is the regular time it takes to deal with Intl. shipments (must be the worst worldwide), not to mention they inform me that it may be held at customs!!
Why?! I'm returning goods. RETURN OF GOODS has been written clearly for all to see, as instructed by the supplier and it is also on the customs form.
I certainly won't be buying from a Portuguese supplier again after this experience.

By Claire from UK on 01-02-2021 05:11

Have sent multiple packages from Canada to P this year. All take 6 to 8 weeks to arrive.... the last one I sent Nov 13th and still not arrived.

By felix christians from Other on 21-12-2020 02:40

Waiting for 3 packages and several mail letters since 21st November! where are there?

By gary findlay from Porto on 19-12-2020 11:45

Post office since 2010 had showing problems wich are not so little, since closing lots of stores and firing workers since then, and customs was also a nightmare to deal with... now this Covid thing is just a motive to realease all the weakness and failures products take weeks and months to arrive i just don´t know how much longer this will continue.

By João from Other on 06-12-2020 08:47

Parcel mailed from UK 24rh August not received yet??? Where is it?

By Lynne Whiteley from Algarve on 24-09-2020 06:17

Last update on my package is July 14 @ 1159PM. No updates since then. 60 days??? my package must be on the Santa Maria .

By Rika from USA on 11-09-2020 02:20

My parcel is at the post office in Portugal since april 15th, I am from Moscow, still waiting. Now it is 28th of august! This is crazy.

By Liza from Other on 28-08-2020 08:00

CTT shows my package shipped July 14. 45 days later, I'm still waiting. Must have put it on the Santa Maria! Can't imagine why it is taking 45 days fro Lisbon to the US.

By Claire from USA on 28-08-2020 02:39

Good to know. I'm in the US awaiting a smaller package and it's been nearly 60 days. Maybe it will never come...

By Philip Alexander from USA on 24-08-2020 06:48

Like others posting, my experience of CTT is extremely variable. My new bank cards from the UK were sent registered mail, allowing track and trace and requiring a signature. The tracing online showed delivery from the UK to Lisbon in two days, and then there was a gap of 8 days. No explanation. Then they were tossed into our postbox with no request for a signature to prove I had received them. The outer envelope had been opened and then taped shut. The inner envelope with our two cards had been ripped open and not even taped again. Credit cards are too important to receive such careless treatment, and how the F*** do the Portuguese authorities get away with opening things like this, when the UK hasn’t even left the EU yet? This is not something you can justify as a “customs” matter. It’s just intrusion and looking for something valuable. How do y know my cards have not been duplicated and sold to criminal gangs? To me, this is a police matter. Shame on you Portugal. Investigate this privatized company and do the right thing.

By Jude Irwin from Beiras on 12-08-2020 08:56

Here in Fundada / Vila De Rei the mail takes many days to arrive no matter where it is coming from. We are reasonably well into the countryside and believe the post only comes when there are a number of letters. We never have a delivery of just one letter. Always more than one and never in the rain.

By Keith from Other on 11-08-2020 06:39

I never use correio azul since it took 3 weeks for my granddaughters birthday card to arrive from Cascais to Oeiras. Alse we frequently get mail which is not for us

By Nina O'Donnell from Lisbon on 11-08-2020 01:10

In the Azores water bill always is delivered on the last day before it expires. OInce it expires CTT does not accept water bill payments and tells me to drive all the way to another town to the Municipal Building to pay the bill. But now they can't even delver 3 month old water bills in time. At the last day of July I received water bills for April and May only. Both together. Don't blame Convid what is simple laziness and disorganization.

By George from Açores on 11-08-2020 12:49

International mail going through Lisbon and arriving in the Azores used to take about a week from Lisbon to Pico. Then that one week became 2-3 weeks, then one month and now that one month quickly became 2 months! The tiny parcel (perhaps less than 100 grams) with light shoes took over 3 months to arrive from Malaysia (to Pico), out of which it took 2 full months from Lisbon to Madalena (Pico). And then a little box with one plant from Central Europe (EU member country) took more than 3 months to reach Pico! This is becoming RI DI CUL OUS!

By Manuel from Açores on 11-08-2020 12:44

Glad to hear I'm not alone. Following previously dismal CTT service (incl. items missing from parcels or taking months to arrive) I was amazed to eventually receive a card in my PO box to say a parcel I'd assumed 'gone missing' after 6 weeks was waiting at my local Pera PO & could be collected next day! Hurray. Well 12 days later, daily visits to PO, 5 visits to Depot at Guia, no one seems to know where my parcel is. No one ever opens the door at Guia Depot, I was told to turn up first thing in the a.m., when I did I was told to come back at 3pm, when I did I was told everyone had gone and come back tomorrow. When I did there was a sign on the door stating collection only available between 11-12am and 2-4pm, as it was 11am I duly rang the bell for 30 mins still no reply. I went around the front and the lady in the office said it didn't open until 3.30pm. I mentioned the sign on the door and she said if I walk back around to the door she would meet me there. I waited another 20 mins for her to arrive. She didn't. No reply when I knocked back on the front door. Back to Pera next day. Any news "Nao". And the next day, "Nao"... they tried phoning the Depot (again) no reply (again) told me to go back to the Depot at Guia at 8am tomorrow. I will... but this will be the last time and I won't hold my breath! So don't get too excited, as I did, if you receive a card saying your parcel has arrived.

By Jill K from UK on 11-08-2020 12:06

I posted 2 letters to Uk on Tuesday which arrived Friday. On Thursday we received an important letter from London posted on June 16th. It appears our post here in Vsle do Lobo is collected & only delivered once a week

By Sue Tunstall from Algarve on 09-08-2020 11:02

I have to say my Mother posted 2 parcels from Cork, Ireland on the same day. 1 arrived 2 weeks 3 days later and the other 3 weeks 1 day later.. its ridiculous!

By Sarah McCarthy from Algarve on 09-08-2020 12:50

Am so angry reading this post. I have sent a parcel through CTT post since 20 May 2020 and it has not been delivered.

I have requested many times to even return my parcel to me but they have played death ears to it

By Ebenezer from Lisbon on 08-08-2020 05:29

Sent 4 Christmas cards on December 1st to my family in Alcobaca,Portugal. Nobody received them and i got them back on June 23rd. They were stamped that the people did not live at those addresses which is a lie.
They have been there for many years. People are not doing their jobs. How ironic that i received all the cards together on the same day.

By Marisa Martins Champney from USA on 08-08-2020 03:11

CTT lost my very important registered letter. It has a valuable something inside. My life just destroyed by CTT delivery man carelessness.

I did Complaints hundreds time they could not found my letter .I never seen such a terrible postal service in my life even worst than any other country's.

I would request and expect attention to the highest authority of CTT Please be serious about your service well train up your delivery man that they understand and know what they are delivering this is not a newspapers of leaflet they are delivering to the letter box.I am very much disappointed frustrated what happened with me.

By Johan from Lisbon on 08-08-2020 11:00

The story from Fred Bartell also made me laugh so hard, gotta see the funny side. I'm picturing a Manuel type as the postie in a comedy reboot of Fawlty Towers.

By Dom from Lisbon on 08-08-2020 08:51

I got a package in Switzerland from Lisbon in just 58 days! lol CTT was wonderful up until it was privatized in the aftermath of the last economic crisis. Since then it has become a joke. Higher dividends for shareholders, poorer service for the public. Thank you capitalism.

By Joao R from Lisbon on 07-08-2020 10:57

I have read most comments on this piece and have to say I have experienced the same issues in Lisbon, where I live.
Every time I see that one of my orders is being delivered by CTT I know there will be trouble, either they fail to deliver by the estimated date or they claim they attempted to deliver but no one home, when they didn't even tried.
Through the years, I have placed almost a dozen of complaints, most of them received some sort of apology, after they attempted to shake their responsibility, only to be met with a new complaint.
Yes, they are not efficient but some of the issues come from poor management (former mailmen with little education) and unprofessional mailmen.
CTT used to ran better before they were semi-privitised.
My advice - always complaint in writing ( don't let them give you any bull that you have to go somewhere else to complaint, they're forced to hand you the complaints book when requested).

By Nuno from Lisbon on 07-08-2020 10:25

CTT does a great job. My mail coming from the UK via GLS is a different story
My husband died in March and even my condolence cards have been stolen. People think there is money in my cards and so many have gone missing and some cards arrive having been split open to see if there is money inside. It makes a hard time almost impossible to bear.

By Janice Burke from UK on 07-08-2020 10:22

Fred Bartell, honestly I really feel bad for you, but your story just gave me a good laugh; that's so crazy! I knew the banks were bad, but didn't know the Post was so much in denial. Thanks for putting a smile on my face.

By William from Other on 07-08-2020 05:34

Living in the Loulé area of the Algarve, we had no mail since March. Usually we get post every couple of days. After many phone calls we went to the sorting depot in Loulé and finally managed to talk to one of the delivery men who knew exactly where we lived and gave us our post, 3 months worth. That was in May. Then it seemed to resolve itself for a couple of weeks but stopped again. In June went back to the sorting office and managed to speak to one of the senior managers who gave us our post without issue. Seems to be a multitude of problems due to Covid, accidents, lack of resources; a perfect storm.
As of today, still no resolution to the issue. Just have to visit the depot every few weeks and ask.

By Charles Northover from Algarve on 07-08-2020 04:36

I sent a letter by blue mail to the Azores on July 1. It was still in Lisbon on July 28. As of today Aug 7th it still has not reached the Azores , it's been 36 days. What's the use of paying a higher amount of postage?

By Mary Jarvis from USA on 07-08-2020 01:58

CTT seem to be in denial that the postal service is poor, it has always taken a long time to receive mail, but a small packet sent from Germany in April took 3 months to arrive in my box in Sâo Brás. If CTT, MEO and EDP could get their business efficiency up it would benefit the whole of Portugueses infrastructure.

By John Parsons from Algarve on 07-08-2020 01:06

Lol, on time?!?!

I've sat in my car at the mailbox for hours, waiting for the delivery person to arrive. Not once has he EVER stopped! Even while waiting at the post box, in my car, WHILE ON THE PHONE WITH CTT I watch as the delivery person drives right by without stopping, WHILE ALREADY HAVING MARKED MY PACKAGE AS "DELIVERY ATTEMPT FAILED -NO ONE HOME!!!" Of course there is no slip in my mail box at this point either... Time and time again this man does not do his job - he takes the mail home with him at night and over the weekends (as per the personnel in both Santo Estêvão and Tavira), sometimes does not put the delivery attempt notification slip in my mailbox for several day AFTER he marks the package "attempted delivery but no one was home." Both my wife and I work from home. Either one of us or our son is ALWAYS HOME DURING WORKING HOURS, yet not once in all the time we've lived here has this man EVER attempted delivery! The local post office here in Santo Estêvão says we cannot write in their "book of complaints" because the driver comes out of Tavira. And the post office in Tavira
does not allow us to write in their book, saying we need to go to Santo Estêvão!

Any (ok, almost...) other country in Europe, this man would have been fired DECADES AGO. But no, not here...

When we have a package arriving by CTT we know it will be at LEAST A WEEK OVERDUE EVEN BEFORE THE PANDEMIC!

Such utter contempt for the people in your community is unconscionable. The man shows no shame even when sent back by the CTT telephone help center to the post box I've spent hours waiting at, even after having passed right by me as I jump out of the car waving my hands to get his attention.

I have to say, the kind people working in the Santo Estêvão post office and on their help line do their best, and are fine examples of professionalism, especially considering how kindly they put up with our broken attempts at speaking Portuguese.

However, the delivery person, at least the one working the route we live on, has the worst work ethic I have ever seen. Although, in his defense, at least he isn't constantly drunk like the one in São João das lampas was. I guess that's improvement for you.....

Such a shame this man tarnishes the fine reputation of such a kind and considerate people as the majority of Portuguese prove themselves to be. It is good to know he is a rare exception to the rule (alright, both he and the one in São João das lampas perhaps...)

By Fred Bartell from Algarve on 07-08-2020 01:03

When we had not had any mail for over 2 weeks, including some important bank communications from the UK, I went to the distribution depot in Loule. They told me that all our mail must be with the postman, because they had nothing. Oddly enough (!) the bank documents came the very next day, but other items, including one important one from an internal source, are still missing. Our long-serving postman recently disappeared, and we now have new people delivering. Guess CTT is going the same way as all other privatised organisations.

By David Littlewood from Algarve on 07-08-2020 12:59

@ Alan Barber. I disagree, it depends where you live. I've always had my mail delivered by CTT, they are very reliable and know the lie of the land, unlike Amazon deliverers who haven't a clue where you are, as they are not based locally, unlike CTT.

CTT doesn't refuse to deliver mail like I've experienced with some private courier companies, the latter often insisting 'incorrect address' as a handy excuse not to deliver mail.

By Billy Bissett from Porto on 07-08-2020 12:46

This is my biggest gripe about living in Portugal, the time it takes for postal deliveries to arrive. In general I have found it takes an extra 10 days to arrive. However, the water bills seem to arrive very promptly!

By Christine from Porto on 07-08-2020 12:20

We sent 5 postcatds Correiro Azul fron Vila do Bispo on the 16th of July and our friends in Switzerland received them approx 4th August...Portugal is not Egypt and should be a bit better. We love the country, by the way.

By Robert Archer from Other on 07-08-2020 12:04

The CTT service in Vila do Bispo is efficient and friendly. Only have problems when Royal Mail and GLS are involved.

By Martyn from Algarve on 07-08-2020 12:04

Ha, if my recent experiences with CTT are normal, heaven help us if they get worse. 20 days to mail an express tracked package to Madrid, which is claimed to have next day delivery, and which could not, despite Ctt' claims, be tracked when it left Lisbon. And worse still 10 days to send a letter from Caldas da Rainha to Oporto. I could have walked there. Need to privatise the postal service.

By Matthew Dorman from Other on 07-08-2020 11:47

I seldom get post other than the usual mafia.
Banks. Edp. Meo etc all get delivered however letters etc not received even though posted before covid.
We received a Christmas card yesterday which was posted from UK in November so it is not just covid. CTT are a failed business

By Alan Barber from Alentejo on 07-08-2020 09:33
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