An increasing number of people have been installing a parcel box – a slightly larger mailbox that also fits packages – in recent years, but up until now, there was no legal framework to regulate them.
Federal Minister for Public Companies Petra De Sutter has a Royal Decree ready to create a legal framework for parcel boxes, that is expected to be approved by the Federal Government soon.
"Mailboxes are regulated by law," De Sutter explained on Flemish radio on Thursday. "It is well-known what they should look like, at what height they should hang, and so on. That is not the case for parcel boxes."
From now on, parcel boxes must be well secured, large enough to receive parcels of at least 33x21x12 cm and clearly visible without couriers needing to search for them, De Sutter explained. If needed, they must also have a house or box number.
Translation of tweet: "Parcel delivery boxes are made to receive parcels even when you are not at home. Perfect for people who shop online and live in rural areas."
"The legal framework now allows you to install a mailbox and a parcel box, or a combined box, at your house that meets the legal standards," she added.
With the modernisation of the postal law, she wants to encourage the installation of parcel boxes, as it offers many advantages, including for the climate: it avoids unnecessary trips for both couriers and customers.
"About one in ten parcels cannot be delivered because people are not at home. This is a problem, especially in rural areas, because people usually pick up the parcel by car. In terms of sustainability, that is not a good thing," De Sutter said. "Parcel boxes allow you to just leave a parcel in a parcel box, just like you leave a letter in a mailbox."
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While exact figures for the number of parcel boxes are not available, the Belgian Institute for Postal Services and Telecommunications (BIPT) estimates the number of these boxes in Flanders at over 35,000, reports Het Belang Van Limburg.
Especially in newly-built homes, there is a great demand for parcel boxes – a trend that was only accelerated by the pandemic. "People started buying online even more because they could not physically go to the shop and we have also seen that in our figures. Our business grew by 80% last year," Leon Renson of the eSafe company said.
Parcel boxes come in many shapes and forms: there are boxes with mechanical flaps, boxes with a code that you can give the courier when you order something, or boxes that you can operate remotely with your smartphone.