Registered mail is not always legally secure

If you want to have an important message delivered in a legally secure manner, you often use a registered mail. But be careful: A registered mail does not guarantee that a document will be delivered legally and on time. We show the problems using a precedent and asked a legal expert for an assessment.

The rental apartment should finally be terminated, the new home has already been bought. However, the landlord seldom stays at her primary residence, where the apartment of the tenant who is giving notice is also located. Most of the time, she is instead at her husband’s place of residence, who owns his own house several hundred kilometers from the apartment. However, the address given in the rental agreement is the landlord’s primary residence. In order for a rental agreement to be terminated in due time, the termination must reach the landlord by the 3rd working day of the month.

Notice of cancellation will be sent by registered mail

To make sure that the notice of termination is delivered on time, the tenants send on 29.5. the notice of termination is sent in two separate registered letters: One to the landlord’s primary residence, because this is the address given in the rental agreement. The second registered mail goes to the second home, where the landlord usually stays.

Keyword: registered mail

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When posting the mail at the post office, the sender receives a posting slip with the consignment number. Every registered mail has a tracking number with which the status of the registered mail can be tracked. The mail carrier throws the registered mail into the recipient’s mailbox; a personal signature by the recipient is not required for registered mail, in contrast to registered delivery. The mail carrier notes the date and time when the mail is delivered on a separate delivery note, which also has this shipment number. The sender can use the consignment number (which is also known as the identity code)

the status of his or her letter at any time online
follow up.

The advantages of terminating by registered post seem to be obvious: The termination is delivered safely, which the mail carrier makes a note of. It is also sufficient if the notice of termination lands in the landlord’s mailbox. A personal handover of the letter with the letter of termination is not required for a registered mail – the landlord could simply refuse to accept the termination.

The postman correctly delivered the mail sent to the primary residence.


The postman correctly delivered the mail sent to the primary residence.

Registered mail is returned to the sender

On May 30th, the tenant looks via

Online status query from Deutsche Post
to see whether his two letters of termination have already been delivered. Everything was fine for registered mail to the primary residence, it was delivered correctly and on time.

The registered mail addressed to the second home was not delivered according to the online status query of Deutsche Post and is being returned to the sender.


The registered mail addressed to the second home was not delivered according to the online status query of Deutsche Post and is being returned to the sender.

But with the second registered letter, which was addressed to the second home of the landlady, where she was mostly staying, the tenant experienced a nasty surprise: “The shipment could not be delivered and will be returned to the sender” it read. Although the registered mail was undoubtedly sent to the correct address at which the landlady received her mail every week. And that in a rather small place where everyone knows everyone and the postman is personally known to all residents.

Now the notice of termination may have been delivered in a legally binding manner, because it was delivered on time at the primary residence. But in the event of a legal dispute, the tenant wanted to play it safe. After all, the registered letter to the primary residence never reached the landlord before June 3, because she was rarely there. The landlord could claim that the tenant knew that she would never receive a notice of termination addressed to her primary residence in due time and that the tenant therefore had to send the notice of termination to the other address, i.e. to her second residence. The tenant was completely insecure: Despite two registered mails and the associated costs, he had no legal certainty – and slept badly.

According to the online status query:


According to the online status query: “The shipment was returned and delivered to the sender on June 5th”. That is totally wrong.

Online status query from Deutsche Post produces confusing results

A little later, the tenant asked for the online status query again. What he now saw did not improve his mood in any way: “The shipment was returned and sent to the sender on June 5th. delivered”. The registered mail should have come back to the tenant. Only: he had never received the return.

Telephone hotline confuses even more

The tenant called the Deutsche Post telephone number, which is subject to a charge. There he received astonishing information: the registered mail had actually been delivered on June 5th, a few days later. But not to him, the sender, but to the recipient. There was a new delivery attempt, but the system could not map this online. This second delivery attempt was successful.

But that doesn’t satisfy the tenant by any means. Because the legally prescribed deadline for terminating the rental contract has been exceeded, the tenant would have to pay rent for another month if the registered mail to the primary residence proves to be insufficient.

But how was it even possible that a registered mail could not be delivered at the first attempt, although the address existed? And why did the delivery work a week later? Why does the online status query provide completely wrong information?

That’s what Deutsche Post says

We asked the press office of Deutsche Post. This researched the case. And came to an astonishing result: The registered mail was delivered on time on May 30th: “The registered mail was delivered correctly on May 30th, 2012, only the note in the“ system ”is incorrect. How this mistake happened, we can not understand with certainty, “said the press office.

And further: “The deliverer can clearly remember the correct delivery and has a confirmation from the recipient that she has received this letter. This confirms the delivery of the shipment ”. Both the information from the online status query and that from the hotline were therefore incorrect!

This raised the question of the legal value of a registered mail: In our specific case, Swiss Post customers could not be certain of the fate of their registered mail either with the online status query or with the chargeable hotline. His last chance would have been to call the complaints office. Whether this could have determined the correct result remains open. In any case, the tenant had no legal certainty after sending the mail. Registered mail thus failed to serve its essential purpose.


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