Does La Poste charge more for posting non-French books abroad?

Reader Question: My husband went to the post office to post a book to a friend in Austria. The man behind the counter asked if it was a book and what language it was in. He said: “English”.

He was then charged more because it was not in French and was told the reason was: “We have discounts because we are trying to preserve the French language.” Is this legitimate?

In France there exists a special book postage offer for texts written in French, established in the name of promoting French culture around the world.

Cultural, educational or scientific documents written in French or a regional language of France, including books, brochures, anthologies, maps, manuscripts, newspapers and theses, therefore benefit from cheaper postage fees.

Under this Livres et brochures (Books and brochures) tariff, sending a document of up to 100g costs €0.56 within Europe and €0.92 for other countries, while a book package of up to 1kg costs €2.87 within Europe and €5.03 in the rest of the world.

To benefit, the books must be sent outside France, its overseas territories, Monaco or Andorra, and must be in French or an associated regional language.

Therefore, it is correct that you will be charged more by La Poste for sending a book written in another language.

A search on the La Poste website shows that sending a book from France to Austria, for example, without the Livres et brochures tariff, will start at €3.20.

More on Livres et brochures

Anyone sending a paper book with cultural, educational or scientific content to a destination outside France can use the Livres et brochures tariff, but there are conditions.

Firstly, the contents should not include commercial advertising.

In addition, the person sending it must be either:

  • People like professional publishers who are sending books and brochures as part of their work promoting original French writing

  • Bookshop owners

  • Organizations or individuals who are not sending the text for commercial purposes.

So, for example, if you had written and self-published your own book you could not use the tariff to send it to a purchaser outside France unless you have a properly set-up French business to sell your books.

Similarly, you cannot use the tariff to send second-hand books which you have sold.

In contrast, French books sent as gifts can indeed be sent using the Livres et brochures rates.

Note that the tariff includes no insurance and no tracking, so should not be used for very valuable or unique items.

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