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General/Universal Postal Union Conventions

UPU Convention of Washington, 15th June 1897

The General Postal Union (GPU) was established at a Congress in Berne in 1874 to standardise rules for the international exchange of mail. This proved successful and at the second Congress in Paris in 1878 the name Universal Postal Union (UPU) was adopted. Virtually all postal authorities since then are or were members. The rules of the UPU set the basic parameters for international mail and are therefore a key primary source for understanding many stamp and postal history items.

The basic document for the UPU up to 1964 was the "Convention" which was supplemented by protocols and the detailed regulations for its implementation. There were additional supplemental "Agreements" which were binding only on those postal administrations that signed up to them (the USA in particular did not, and the UK only to some). At the Vienna Conference that year the structure was changed to a "Constitution" with "General Regulations" covering the organisational aspects, the "Convention" for the technical aspects while the supplemental "Agreements" continued. The language used for the original master documents is French, so English versions are translations.

Sources

There is no single canonical online source for English versions of the documents, not even on the UPU website, although there are runs from various Congresses in the lists of treaties published by the League of Nations and subsequently the United Nations (though some are missing at either end of the relevant periods). Others have been located in various places, typically the Treaty Series of various countries, but not always with an English version available – in particular the additional agreements have generally only been found as the French "master copies". These have been included for reference to make this listing as comprehensive as possible, even where the UK did not sign up to a particular agreement.

If you can supply details of a source for English texts of those we don't have, we would be very grateful!

The listing below is indebted to John Copeland's invaluable Links to UPU Conventions and Related Documents Available Free on the Internet.

Congress Date in Force Files Source and Notes
1874
Berne
1875
(1 Jul)

General Postal Union Treaty signed 9th October 1874 (66pp, link)

Washington Government Printing Office, in French with side-by-side English translation.

Includes regulations and specimen forms

1878
Paris
1879
(1 Apr)

Universal Postal Union Convention signed 1st June 1878 (74pp, link)

Report of United States Postmaster-General, in French with side-by-side English translation.

Includes regulations and specimen forms

Universal Postal Union Additional Agreements signed 1st June 1878 (64pp, link)

Austrian Treaties and Conventions, in French followed by German translation.

Additional Agreements, including regulations and specimen forms, regarding:

  • Insured Letters
  • Money Orders
1880
Paris
1881
(1 Oct)

Universal Postal Union Parcels Convention signed 3rd November 1880 (18pp, link)

Dutch Treaties and Conventions, French text only.

Includes regulations and specimen forms

1885
Lisbon
1886
(1 Apr)

Universal Postal Union Convention signed 21st March 1885 (37pp, link)

Report of United States Postmaster-General, in French with side-by-side English translation.

Includes regulations and specimen forms

Universal Postal Union Additional Agreements signed 21st March 1885 (65pp, link)

Italian Trattati e convenzioni, French text only.

Additional Agreements, including regulations and specimen forms, regarding:

  • Insured Letters
  • Money Orders
  • Parcel Post
  • Payment on Delivery [i.e. collection of bills, drafts etc]
  • Postal Identity Cards
1891
Vienna
1892
(1 Jul)

Universal Postal Union Convention signed 8th July 1891 (105pp, link)

United States Statutes at Large, in French with side-by-side English translation.

Includes regulations and specimen forms

Universal Postal Union Additional Agreements signed 8th July 1891 (111pp, link)

Italian Trattati e convenzioni, French text only.

Additional Agreements, including regulations and specimen forms, regarding:

  • Insured Letters and Boxes
  • Parcel Post
  • Money Orders
  • Payment on Delivery [i.e. collection of bills, drafts etc]
  • Postal Identity Cards
  • Subscriptions to Newspapers and Periodicals
1897
Washington
1899
(1 Jan)

Universal Postal Union Convention signed 15th June 1897 (106pp, link)

Her Majesty's Stationery Office, in French with side-by-side English translation.

Includes regulations and specimen forms

Universal Postal Union Additional Agreements signed 15th June 1897 (131pp, link)

Italian Trattati e convenzioni, French text only.

Additional Agreements, including regulations and specimen forms, regarding:

  • Insured Letters and Boxes
  • Money Orders
  • Parcel Post
  • Payment on Delivery [i.e. collection of bills, drafts etc]
  • Postal Identity Cards
  • Subscriptions to Newspapers and Periodicals
1906
Rome
1907
(1 Oct)

Universal Postal Union Convention signed 26th May 1906 (139pp, link)

Her Majesty's Stationery Office, in French with side-by-side English translation.

Includes regulations and specimen forms

Universal Postal Union Additional Agreements signed 26th May 1906 (185pp, link)

Italian Trattati e convenzioni, French text only.

Additional Agreements, including regulations and specimen forms, regarding:

  • Insured Letters and Boxes
  • Money Orders
  • Parcel Post
  • Payment on Delivery [i.e. collection of bills, drafts etc]
  • Postal Identity Cards
  • Subscriptions to Newspapers and Periodicals
1920
Madrid
1922
(1 Jan)

Universal Postal Union Convention signed 30th November 1920 (167pp, link)

Washington Government Printing Office, in French with side-by-side English translation.

Main convention only including regulations and specimen forms

Universal Postal Union Additional Agreements signed 30th November 1920 (178pp, link)

Italian Trattati e convenzioni, French text only.

Additional Agreements, including regulations but not specimen forms, regarding:

  • Insured Letters and Boxes
  • Money Orders
  • Parcel Post
  • Payment on Delivery [i.e. collection of bills, drafts etc]
  • Subscriptions to Newspapers and Periodicals
  • Postal Cheques
1924
Stockholm
1925
(1 Nov)

Universal Postal Union Convention signed 28th August 1924 (233pp, link)

Universal Postal Union Additional Agreements signed 28th August 1924 (389pp, link)

League of Nations Treaty Series, in French with English translation on facing pages.

Includes regulations and specimen forms, and additional Agreements regarding:

  • Insured Letters and Boxes
  • Parcel Post
  • Money Orders
  • Postal Cheques
  • Payment on Delivery [i.e. collection of bills, drafts etc]
  • Subscriptions to Newspapers and Periodicals
1927
The Hague
1928
(1 Jan)

Provisions for the conveyance of letter and parcel mails by air adopted at a Conference 10th September 1927 (53pp, link)

League of Nations Treaty Series, in French with English translation on facing pages.

Temporary rules until London Congress. Includes regulations and specimen forms

1929
London
1930
(1 Jul)

Universal Postal Union Convention signed 28th June 1929 (309pp, link)

Universal Postal Union Additional Agreements signed 28th June 1929 (484pp, link)

League of Nations Treaty Series, in French with English translation on facing pages.

Includes regulations and specimen forms, and additional Agreements regarding:

  • Insured Letters and Boxes
  • Postal Parcels
  • Money Orders
  • Transfers to/from Postal Cheque Accounts
  • Collection of Bills, Drafts etc
  • Subscriptions to Newspapers and Periodicals
1934
Cairo
1935
(1 Jan)

Universal Postal Union Convention signed 20th March 1934 (307pp, link)

Universal Postal Union Additional Agreements signed 20th March 1934 (533pp, link)

League of Nations Treaty Series, in French with English translation on facing pages.

Includes regulations and specimen forms, and additional Agreements regarding:

  • Insured Letters and Boxes
  • Postal Parcels
  • Money Orders and Travellers' Postal Vouchers
  • Transfers to/from Postal Cheque Accounts
  • Collection of Bills
  • Subscriptions to Newspapers and Periodicals
1939
Buenos Aires
1940
(1 Jul)

Universal Postal Union Convention signed 23rd May 1939 (222pp, link)

League of Nations Treaty Series, in French with English translation on facing pages.

Main convention including regulations and specimen forms

Universal Postal Union Convention and Additional Agreements signed 23rd May 1939 (155pp, link)

Swiss Feuille Fédérale, French text only.

Main convention and agreements, but not including regulations and specimen forms. With additional Agreements regarding:

  • Insured Letters and Boxes
  • Postal Parcels
  • Money Orders and Travellers' Postal Vouchers
  • Transfers to/from Postal Cheque Accounts
  • Collection of Bills, Drafts etc
  • Subscriptions to Newspapers and Periodicals
1947
Paris
1948
(1 Jul)

Universal Postal Union Convention signed 5th July 1947 (263pp, link)

United States Statutes at Large, in French followed by English translation.

Main convention including regulations and specimen forms

Universal Postal Union Convention and Additional Agreements signed 5th July 1947 (138pp, link)

Swiss Feuille Fédérale, French text only.

Main convention and agreements, but not including regulations and specimen forms. With additional Agreements regarding:

  • Insured Letters and Boxes
  • Postal Parcels
  • Cash-on-Delivery
  • Money Orders and Postal Travellers' Cheques
  • Transfers to/from Postal Cheque Accounts
  • Collection of Bills, Drafts etc
  • Subscriptions to Newspapers and Periodicals
1952
Brussels
1953
(1 Jul)

Universal Postal Union Convention signed 11th July 1952 (364pp, link)

Universal Postal Union Additional Agreements signed 11th July 1952 (659pp, link)

United Nations Treaty Series, in French followed by English translation.

Includes regulations and specimen forms, and additional Agreements regarding:

  • Insured Letters and Boxes
  • Postal Parcels
  • Money Orders and Postal Travellers' Cheques
  • Transfers to/from Postal Cheque Accounts
  • Cash-on-Delivery
  • Collection of Bills
  • Subscriptions to Newspapers and Periodicals
1957
Ottawa
1959
(1 Apr)

Universal Postal Union Convention signed 3rd October 1957 (333pp, link)

Universal Postal Union Additional Agreements signed 3rd October 1957 (707pp, link)

United Nations Treaty Series, in French followed by English translation.

Includes regulations and specimen forms, and additional Agreements regarding:

  • Insured Letters and Boxes
  • Postal Parcels
  • Money Orders and Postal Travellers' Cheques
  • Transfers to/from Postal Cheque Accounts
  • Cash-on-Delivery
  • Collection of Bills
  • International Savings Bank Service
  • Subscriptions to Newspapers and Periodicals
1964
Vienna
1966
(1 Jan)

Universal Postal Union Convention signed 10th July 1964 (389pp, link)

Universal Postal Union Additional Agreements signed 10th July 1964 (767pp, link)

United Nations Treaty Series, in French followed by English translation.

Includes regulations and specimen forms, and additional Agreements regarding:

  • Insured Letters and Boxes
  • Postal Parcels
  • Money Orders and Postal Travellers' Cheques
  • Transfers to/from Postal Cheque Accounts
  • Cash-on-Delivery
  • Collection of Bills
  • International Savings Bank Service
  • Subscriptions to Newspapers and Periodicals
1969
Tokyo
1971
(1 Jul)

Universal Postal Union Convention and Additional Agreements signed 14th November 1969 (French text, 554pp, link)

Universal Postal Union Convention and Additional Agreements signed 14th November 1969 (English text, 532pp, link)

United Nations Treaty Series, French original and separate English translation.

Includes regulations and specimen forms, and separate Agreements concerning:

  • Insured Letters and Boxes
  • Postal Parcels
  • Money Orders and Postal Travellers' Cheques
  • Giro Transfers
  • Cash-on-Delivery
  • Collection of Bills
  • International Savings
  • Subscriptions to Newspapers and Periodicals
1974
Lausanne
1976
(1 Jan)

Universal Postal Union Convention and Additional Agreements signed 5th July 1974 (French text, 612pp, link)

Universal Postal Union Convention and Additional Agreements signed 5th July 1974 (English text, 596pp, link)

United Nations Treaty Series, French original and separate English translation.

Includes regulations and specimen forms, and separate Agreements concerning:

  • Insured Letters and Boxes
  • Postal Parcels
  • Money Orders and Postal Travellers' Cheques
  • Giro
  • Cash-on-Delivery
  • Collection of Bills
  • International Savings
  • Subscriptions to Newspapers and Periodicals
1979
Rio de Janeiro
1981
(1 Jul)

Universal Postal Union Convention and Additional Agreements signed 26th October 1979 (French text, 628pp, link)

Universal Postal Union Convention and Additional Agreements signed 26th October 1979 (English text, 598pp, link)

United Nations Treaty Series, French original and separate English translation.

Includes regulations and specimen forms, and separate Agreements concerning:

  • Postal Parcels
  • Money Orders and Postal Travellers' Cheques
  • Giro
  • Cash-on-Delivery
  • Collection of Bills
  • International Savings
  • Subscriptions to Newspapers and Periodicals
1984
Hamburg
1986
(1 Jan)

Universal Postal Union Convention and Additional Agreements signed 27th July 1984 (French text, 652pp, link)

Universal Postal Union Convention and Additional Agreements signed 27th July 1984 (English text, 616pp, link)

United Nations Treaty Series, French original and separate English translation.

Includes regulations and specimen forms, and separate Agreements concerning:

  • Postal Parcels
  • Money Orders and Postal Travellers' Cheques
  • Giro
  • Cash-on-Delivery
  • Collection of Bills
  • International Savings
  • Subscriptions to Newspapers and Periodicals
1989
Washington
1991
(1 Jan)

Universal Postal Union Convention and Additional Agreements signed 14th September 1989 (472pp, link)

United Nations Treaty Series, in French followed by English translation.

Includes regulations, and separate Agreements concerning:

  • Postal Parcels
  • Money Orders
  • Giro
  • Cash-on-Delivery
1994
Seoul
1996
(1 Jan)

Universal Postal Union Convention signed 14th September 1994 (79pp, link)

Australian Treaty Series, English text only (converted from HTML version).

Includes regulations, and separate Agreement concerning:

  • Postal Parcels
1999
Beijing
2001
(1 Jan)

Universal Postal Union Convention signed 15th September 1999 (140pp, link)

Her Majesty's Stationery Office, English text only.

Includes regulations, and separate Agreement concerning:

  • Postal Payment Services
2004
Bucharest
2006
(1 Jan)

Universal Postal Union Convention signed 5th October 2004 (139pp, link)

Her Majesty's Stationery Office, English text only.

Includes regulations, and separate Agreement concerning:

  • Postal Payment Services
2008
Geneva
2010
(1 Jan)

Universal Postal Union Convention signed 12th August 2008 (347pp, link)

Universal Postal Union, English text only.

Includes regulations and decisions, and separate Agreement concerning:

  • Postal Payment Services
2012
Doha
2014
(1 Oct)

Universal Postal Union Convention signed 11th October 2012 (334pp, link)

Universal Postal Union, English text only.

Includes regulations and decisions, and separate Agreement concerning:

  • Postal Payment Services
2016
Istanbul
2018
(1 Jan)

Universal Postal Union Convention signed 6th October 2016 (288pp, link)

Universal Postal Union, English text only.

Includes regulations and decisions, and separate Agreement concerning:

  • Postal Payment Services
2018
Addis Ababa
2019
(1 Jul)

Universal Postal Union Convention signed 7th September 2018 (214pp, link)

Universal Postal Union, English text only (Extraordinary Congress).

Includes regulations and decisions

2019
Geneva
2020
(1 Jan)

Universal Postal Union Convention signed 26th September 2019 (118pp, link)

Universal Postal Union, English text only (Extraordinary Congress).

Includes regulations and decisions