Rights and obligations of postal services users
Information on amendments to the postal service legislation
Act No. 221/2012 Coll. amending Act No 29/2000, on Postal Services and on Amendment to Certain Acts (the Postal Services Act), as amended, entered into force on 1 January 2013. (available in the Czech Collection of Laws only in Czech version)
This amendment to the Postal Services Act brings about more or less radical changes in the postal services market and in the competences of CTU, which continues to be the regulatory body in this area. The most important change from the viewpoint of the possible competitive environment is the removal of the existing monopoly in the provision of the postal services of the delivery of mail containing written matter, where the weight of an item of the mail is less than 50 g and its value is less than CZK 18. This step has in practice completed the liberalisation of the postal service market in accordance with the requirements of the Third Postal Directive.
The partial monopoly still relates to the the distribution of money by postal order. According to the Section 20 of the Postal Services Act only the postal licence holder may provide this service.
1. Authorisation to pursue business in postal services
Any interested party can provide the postal services of distribution of postal items without any restriction if they meet statutory conditions (see the Conditions for the Provision of Postal Services). If this opportunity is utilized by more entities, users will be able to choose among number of providers. The general rule is that the development of competition leads to better quality of the services provided and better conditions for the users of the services.
The provision of postal services, which has been classified as an open business until 31 December 2012, is now subject to the obligation of notification to CTU. The obligation to notify a postal service business to CTU applies not only to the newcomers to the business area of postal services but also to the providers that were providing postal services on the basis of a business licence based on Act No 455/1991, the Business Licensing Act, as amended, before 1 January 2013 and continue to do so at present. Postal service business should be notified by means of a form under conditions specified in the Conditions for the Provision of Postal Services.
Entities that provided or ensured postal services in accordance with the previous provisions of the Business Licensing Act could use the transitional period, which ended on 30 April 2013, to notify CTU about the postal services they provide or ensure. When they fail to submit a notification of their postal service business to CTU by the end of the transitional period, their authorisation to continue this business expired.
CTU will maintain an electronic database of providers, where the individual providers can be searched according to the type of services provided and territory where those are provided. This database is publicly available on the CTU web site.
2. Universal services and how they are ensured
It is the interest of both CTU and the state to ensure that the universal services are kept available. The universal services include the most important postal services, including international services, that are essential for the public (ordinary items and parcels, registered items, insured items, postal money orders). A more specific description of the universal services follows the provisions of Section 3 of the Postal Services Act, where it is also stipulated that the universal services have to be provided on a permanent basis throughout the territory of the Czech Republic at the required quality, which meets the needs of the public, and at affordable prices. The universal services have to enable at least one postal collection every working day and at least one postal delivery to the address of any individual or legal entity, except the cases specified by an implementing regulation.
The implementing regulation for Section 3 of the Postal Services Act is The Decree No 464/2012 Coll., on the determination of specifications of individual universal services and basic quality requirements for their provision. This Decree describes in detail the technical specification of the individual universal services, the method of providing the services, the minimum requirements for the accessibility of Post Offices and post boxes, and the information that should be available to postal service users (on request or by posting it at the Post Offices or at the provider’s web site).
Only minimum requirements for the universal services and their availability are specified in the Decree. The Decree is not intended to put any limits (in addition to the obligations set out in the Postal Services Act) on how providers provide their services.
Government order No. 178/2015 Coll., on the determination of the minimum number of workplaces for the provision of universal services became effective on 1 January 2016. This order set that the minimum number of postal licence holders workplaces for ensuring and providing universal services is 3200.
To ensure that the prices of the universal services are affordable, CTU is newly authorised by the Postal Services Act to regulate the prices of the universal services.
3. Rights and obligations of postal service users; consumer protection
Providers have to ensure that the postal conditions are made public and that any interested party is offered to enter into a postal agreement in accordance with those conditions. Postal services are provided on the basis of the postal agreement concluded between the sender and the provider. The relations between the sender, recipient and postal service provider – their mutual rights and obligations – are governed by the provisions of the Postal Services Act and by the signed postal agreement. The provisions of the postal agreement also include the relevant part of the postal conditions concerning the postal service selected by the sender from among the offered options.
CTU is entitled – if the postal conditions are in contravention of the Postal Services Act or any legislation containing consumer protection rules (due to any unfair business practices or any consumer discrimination) – to request the provider to change the postal conditions. Should the provider fail to remedy the situation CTU will initiate proceedings for administrative offences.
Until 31 December 2012, CTU could take a stand towards disputes concerning postal service provision, but without legal enforceability. Since 1 January 2013 the postal service users can request CTU to review the results of the claims proceedings conducted by the postal service provider.
To ensure that CTU can address the request to institute opposition proceedings against the settlement of a complaint, it is necessary to meet the conditions described in Section 6a of the Postal Services Act. Such a request has to be submitted to CTU within 1 month from the date of delivery of the notice of complaint settlement or within 1 month from the ineffective expiry of the settlement period. Submission of such a request is subject to an administrative fee of CZK 100.
4. Rights and obligations of the postal service providers
Information obligation of the postal service provider
CTU has to ensure that statistical data on the postal service market are collected and made public. Postal service providers have to cooperate with CTU in these matters. The providers’ information obligation is laid down in Section 32a of the Postal Services Act. The postal service provider will obtain a written request to provide information to CTU together with the certificate of notification of postal service provision.
A web application for electronic data collection was developed for easier communication with CTU. This application is available via the following link:
Access to this application is allowed only for registered users (postal service providers) and is activated after sending an application for enabling access to the application.
In the request for information, CTU always has to indicate the purpose for which the data or information is required. The volume of information requested must not be larger than necessary for the purpose for which it is required. Providers also have to provide protected information, data or evidence, such as personal data or information subject to trade secret. CTU has to protect the obtained information against abuse by any third party.
Net costs, revenue and income records
It is laid down in the Postal Services Act that CTU has to provide – through an appointed postal service provider – a minimum range of universal services, which are available at a reasonable price in the entire territory of the Czech Republic. This range of services, referred to as the postal obligation, is described in Section 21(1) of the Postal Services Act. The postal obligation is imposed on the postal licence holder. On the basis of the transitional provisions of Act No 221/2012, Česká pošta, s.p. will be the postal licence holder until the end of 2017.
Net costs may arise while discharging the postal obligation, and therefore the Postal Services Act lays down a mechanism that protects the postal licence holder against unfair burden.
The method to determine and finance net costs is described in Sections 34b and 34c of the Postal Services Act.
In case net costs are generated from the provision of universal services and these net costs represent an unfair burden for the postal licence holder (the ‘unfair burden’ criterion is described in Section 34c of the Postal Services Act), the postal licence holder should be entitled to adequate reimbursement. CTU opened a net-cost financing account for this purpose. All postal service providers with an annual turnover of more than CZK 3 million will have to send their contributions to this account. The amounts of the contributions will be determined by CTU according to each provider’s share of the postal service market. The method by which CTU calculates net costs is set out in the Decree No. 466/2012 Coll., on the method of the Czech Telecommunication Office in calculating the net costs of fulfilling the obligation to provide universal services.
To be able to determine the amounts of the contribution in a fair manner, CTU needs to know the amounts of revenue and income generated by each provider from providing or ensuring postal services. For this reason, providers are obliged to maintain records of the revenue and income from postal activities. The method of maintaining these records is laid down in the Decree No. 432/2012 Coll., on the manner of keeping records of income and revenue of the provider providing postal services or providing foreign postal services.
Obligations of the postal licence holder
Within its business activities, the postal licence holder has specific obligations, related in particular to the provision of universal services.
The services considered as universal and the method of how they should be provided are specified in the Decree No. 464/2012 Coll., on determining the specification of individual universal services and basic quality requirements for their provision. This Regulation contains the technical specification of individual universal services, the accessibility of Post Offices and post boxes and the exceptional cases in which the postal licence holder does not have to make an attempt to deliver mail to the place indicated in the postal address, and other requirements for the quality of the universal services.
The above Decree also specifies which information, and how, the postal licence holder has to provide upon request at the Post Office or which information is to be made public by posting it up at the Post Office or at the web site.
To be able to verify the evidence and determine the net costs arising from the provision of universal services, and to examine the cost-orientation of prices, the postal licence holder has to maintain separate records of costs and revenue. The meaning of this term and the method of maintaining such records are specified in Section 33a of the Postal Service Act and the regulation based on it – the Decree No. 465/2012 Coll., on the method of keeping separate records of costs and revenues of the postal licence holder.
Many recipients do not use the standard delivery of mail to their place of residence or registered office. Instead, their mail is delivered, for example, to incoming mail boxes or P.O. boxes. According to Section 34 of the Postal Services Act, the postal licence holder has to enable other providers to use the specific features of its postal infrastructure, such as, for example, the P.O. boxes, doing so on a transparent and non-discriminatory basis.
The postal licence holder is obliged, on an annual basis in accordance with Section 33(4)(e) of the Postal Services Act, to publish information about the results of providing or ensuring the universal services. The form and content of the information so published are specified in the Decree No. 433/2012 Coll., on the determination of the content, form and manner of publication of information on results and ensuring the provision of universal services and performance evaluation of quality parameters.
5. The list of legal Regulation
The information concerning the postal services market is intended for information only. Detailed information is contained in relevant legal regulations:
- The Act No. 29/2000 Coll.,on Postal Services and on Amendment to Certain Acts (the Postal Services Act), as amended, especially as amended by the Act No. 221/2012 Coll.
- The Decree No. 432/2012 Coll., on the manner of keeping records of income and revenue of the provider providing postal services or ensuring foreign postal services.
- The Decree No. 433/2012 Coll., on the determination of the content, form and manner of publication of information on results and ensuring the provision of universal services and performance evaluation of quality parameters.
- The Decree No. 434/2012 Coll., establishing a model form of the notification of business in the area of postal services.
- The Decree No. 464/2012 Coll., on the determination of specifications of individual universal services and basic quality requirements for their provision.
- The Decree No. 465/2012 Coll., on the method of keeping separate records of costs and revenues of the postal licence holder.
- The Decree No. 466/2012 Coll., on the method of the Czech Telecommunication Office in calculating the net costs of fulfilling the obligation to provide universal services.
If you have any inquiries, please contact the relevant departments of CTU (see the Directory):
- Information on providing the universal services and on business notification – Department of Communications and Postal Services Regulation.
- Price regulation and the financing of universal services – Department of Economic Regulation.
- Postal market data collection – Department of Communications and Postal Services Regulation.
- Addressing postal service users’ suggestions and complaints – Department of State Inspection of Electronic Communications.