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Blog > Visiting a mail sorting center in Bremen

We all know how it works: find a nice postcard, write it, and mail it off. Then, after a few days, weeks or even a little adventure later, our postcard finds its way into the recipient’s mailbox. But what happens in the meantime, after we post it on a postbox? We’ve written about mail sorting centers before (e.g., here, here or here), and the magic that goes on behind the scenes… but it’s always nicer to see it with your own eyes, right?

Visiting a mail sorting center in Bremen

That’s what a group of curious postcrossers in Germany thought too, so they got together some time ago, and asked Deutsche Post for a tour of a mail sorting center — which they got, due to their persistent and persuasive requests! They turned it into a Postcrossing meetup, took pictures, sent postcards and even wrote about it for our viewing pleasure. 😊

Here are Claas (aka Speicher3) and Christine (aka Reisegern), the meetup organizers, to tell us all about it:

Visiting a mail sorting center in Bremen

In the morning of June 19th, we were welcomed by employees of Deutsche Post to the “Briefzentrum 28 Bremen” (that’s the official name of Bremen's mail sorting center). This is one of more than 80 sorting centers for mail in Germany, that every day process about 66 million letters from 140,000 mailboxes throughout the country. So this is the place where postcards come to after postboxes are emptied.

Visiting a mail sorting center in Bremen Visiting a mail sorting center in Bremen

Wow… they take quite a tumble! We could even see what happens to letters containing keys, coins or other loose parts when going through the machines. Can you imagine? You’d better not send things like those on a simple envelope…

The mail that arrives is sorted by size, and then a machine checks the postage and puts a special cancellation mark on the mail. Perhaps you’ve already received a postcard with a postmark from Bremen?

Visiting a mail sorting center in Bremen Visiting a mail sorting center in Bremen

It shows the outline of this distribution center’s zone of responsibility and one of the city’s landmarks: the Town Musicians of Bremen (a donkey with a dog, cat and rooster standing on top of it), from the famous Grimm Brothers fairy tale!

Visiting a mail sorting center in Bremen Visiting a mail sorting center in Bremen

A machine further down the line reads addresses. Did you ever notice the orange bar code on postcards from Germany? This code is printed onto the card in the sorting center, and it contains all the important information about the card’s destination.

Visiting a mail sorting center in Bremen Visiting a mail sorting center in Bremen

There are plenty of impressive machines in the giant, busy hall of the sorting center. Within those machines, letters and postcards dart back and forth at breathtaking speeds.

Visiting a mail sorting center in Bremen

As soon as a Postcrossing postcard makes its journey through all these machines, it finally arrives in a yellow box, together with hundreds of other letters and postcards, which will be sent to the sorting center closest to the recipient’s address. And from here, the postcard will be delivered by a mail carrier to a happy postcrosser.

Visiting a mail sorting center in Bremen Visiting a mail sorting center in Bremen Visiting a mail sorting center in Bremen

If the postcard is being delivered to another country, it will instead be forwarded to the international sorting center in Frankfurt, where it will be delivered via air mail. Every day, busy and focused employees make sure that our mail will be delivered quickly and reliably.

Visiting a mail sorting center in Bremen

Postcrossers were visibly impressed by all the machines and the dizzying speed at which our postcards passed through the sorting center.

Visiting a mail sorting center in Bremen

After the tour was over, the meetup participants did what is a traditional part of every postcrossing meetup: sitting together, talking and writing postcards!

The cards that were written during this special meetup didn’t need to take the detour through a mailbox though — about 1000 of them were mailed directly from the inside of the sorting center in Bremen. The participants gained insight to the world of mail delivery and learned a lot about the adventurous journey of their postcards!

Visiting a mail sorting center in Bremen

A big thank you to the Deutsche Post and the friendly employees of the sorting center in Bremen, who enabled us to have this very interesting day.

Thank you Deutsche Post — and thank you Claas and Christine for this wonderful report!

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63 comments so far

Staluol, Russia
Very interesting! And I hope that our dream about German postcrossing stamp will come true!:)
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Luziaceleste, Brazil
Postcard path is really complex. Important that we keep conscoius of those machines, hands and minds that take care of our hobbie!
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mar872, Canada
So awesome. I wish I could see what happens to our mail here in Canada. I would jump on a meeting like this. :)
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Swanette, Australia
amazing! my dad was a postie in Bremen City Centre for many years and I visited him several times at work, always fascinated me. Long time ago, lots has changed by the looks.
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Sommersprossen, Germany
Danke and thank you for this wonderful report, absolutely love it! Wish there could also be a tour through Frankfurt, sorting into different counties must be even more complicated!
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Condorita, United States of America
Just this week I received a card from a Post Crossing get-together, in Sweden. And yesterday a card was received in Germany after only FOUR days from California!
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meiadeleite, Portugal
I wish all mail sorting centers had this kind of special cancellation mark! Then, postcards would carry an extra bit of detail on them 😃
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SunflowerLover, United States of America
I took my Meet Up group on July 7th to our local sorting facility in Boise Idaho USA for a tour. It is truly fascinating how 1-2 million pieces of mail per day gets where it is suppose to go. I had no idea most is all sorted by machine. Last time I got a tour of a mail facility was 1966 in my local post office and all of the sorting was by hand. My, how things have changed! I encourage anyone to ask their local postmaster at the post office to arrange a tour. You won't be disappointed!
Cathy (SunflowerLover)
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Robin67, Austria
Thank you for this fascinating report and thank you very much Speicher3 and Christa for your special cards! ❤️
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jennylee60, United States of America
This is such an awesome post, love it!
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fisherman, Ireland
In the past I have worked as a temporary mail sorter in facilities like this and have great respect and admiration for all those who process the many items on a daily basis and keep our postcards moving across the world.
In addition I would like to thank all those who signed my card from the Bremen meeting.
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msteblovnik88, Slovenia
WOW, that is AWESOME! Wish I could be there, it is a brilliant idea to make such a meet up. 🏤👍
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AmitxSahoo, India
Its really cool :)
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Tuty, Fiji
Awesome report, and very nice to see how the mail "magically" gets sorted and to the right places!
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twinb99, United States of America
Fascinating!
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CathyFay, United States of America
I am always amazed that postcards from Germany reach me here in the US in 5 to 7 days. Great tour. Thanks for posting.
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melilot, France
I've visited several sorting centers through the years, most impressive was one in the south of Paris suburbs, very modern one, it was huge, and there were very few people! Impressive huge machines.
They give you special shoes to visit it :)
Usually sorting centres organize often visits for those who are interested, pupils, etc.
I also remember a sorting center which was specialized in parcels, and that was spectacular to see. Modern Times reloaded :)
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stampraider, Canada
Thanks for pictorial cancel explanation - I've been wondering about that for some time now!
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keshavayg, India
thanks for detail insight into the mail office, this kind of visits will really help commoner to take some time out of his/her busy schedules and appreciate the whole human resourses behind the end-end mail reaching process..
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navi, Taiwan
Thank you @hueftgold for sending me one of the 1,000 cards!
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rosenbusch, Germany
A wonderful report...
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Geminiscp, Portugal
AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :) I've seen the inside of a small post offices building and that sorting area is already amazing. I hope to see a big one like this one day! :)
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Gemini17, Netherlands
Very interesting report! There are a lot of Postcrossers in Germany. When I ask for 4 addresses, 2 of them are to Germany......
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foxfires, United Kingdom
Great! So interesting.
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kugusch, Germany
wish I could have been there, too...I'd already read a bit and seen some photos in the German forum, but it's awesome to see the detailed report here on the blog. Thanks for sharing!
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lyndac, Canada
I received one of the cards from that meeting, Nice to see how it started its journey.
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Fireblossom, Germany
Thanks for the nice insight :)
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FransScharroo, Netherlands
Very interesting and also very impressive to read!! I visited a DPD sorting center once to deliver something...a lot smaller than this big one in Germany, but also impressive for me to see!!
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Jacque53, United States of America
I received one of the postcards from that meeting! Thank you PoodleCaboodle for sending me a postcard! This is a very interesting article about the Bremen Sorting Center......I enjoyed the pictures and reading about the Postcrossing meeting!
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MPCS, Portugal
Very interesting!!! I loved to see all this, machines human resources hard work before our postcard comes to us!!!! I´d like to make a visit like this one day!
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paladru, Austria
I received one of the postcards from the meeting, too! Thank you PoodleCaboodle for sending me this lovely card!
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netjane, South Africa
I love seeing how things work! Also like receiving cards with the special postmark from Bremen
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sumares, Puerto Rico
That is a very clean workplace! The mail sorting facilities I've worked at are not as photogenic! The sorting equipment, however, of Deutsche Post and United States Postal Service do look very similar (in concept/functionality).

Thank you, Sabine, for sending me a postcard from this Bremen meetup!
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dzorzi, Austria
i am amazed! very nice report
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jjmedusa, United States of America
66 million letters a DAY? Is that correct? Or is that a typo? It seems like a huge amount!
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Speicher3, Germany
Indeed - 66 million letters each day. But it's the amount of all German sorting centers together - not only in Bremen.
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Papabear, United States of America
What an insightful report and such great pictures!
Thank you, Claas and Christine! ~ Al Smalling, Chicago USA (Papabear)
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jm1122, United States of America
I loved reading and seeing all about your visit! I love the postmark that includes the Bremen Town Magicians! That is one of my all time favorite stories. I hope one day to receive a postcard with that postmark on it!
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jm1122, United States of America
Oops...musicians NOT magicians!
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pucky, Netherlands
Impressive report, makes the cards I reaceive even more interesting! Thanks!
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Christa, Germany
We had a great day .... or great days as some of us already met the day before ;) It was a wonderful chance to visit Bremen too ! :)
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Poste, United States of America
Postcrossing is magical and all the postal workers are amazing and appreciated. Hearts beating with extra joy is musical. Thanks for sharing. Every country should have at least one special postcrossing stamp.
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Tranchile, Guernsey
I have been lucky enough to receive the Bremen Postal workers Postcrossing card at the top so lovely to see behind the scenes at all the hard work involved in getting our cards to us. We now have three Postcrossing Stamps here and for such a small Island with very few Postcrossers I think our Post Office were great to introduce them.
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Bobbylass, United Kingdom
I really wish the Royal Mail would do something positive to promote snail mail, like a Postcrossing stamp, instead of going on strike! *sighs*
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riazkhan4880, India
Amazing journey. Thanks for sharing. :)
Most of the places don't allow as it's a highly secured area.
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lisaclown, United States of America
That was great to see all the pictures-I bet that was a fun tour. It's amazing how a little 4" x 6" card can even survive with all that tumbling around.
Now the song, "The Bremen town musician band" is stuck in my head from when I was a kid... very catchy tune :)
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4ajka, Russia
Thank you for sharing this interesting report! And special thanks to all kind postrcrossers who signed a card from the Bremen meeting for me :) This postcard has a real postal history!
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penangcrosser, Malaysia
Bravo!
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OmaIne, Netherlands
Very interesting, thanks!
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kd7flc, United States of America
I love this. I got to tour the sorting center at the Main Post Office in Portland Oregon about 27 years ago. It was so huge and busy that I'm still amazed at how quickly we get our mail. One time when I was working in Vancouver, Washington across the river from Portland, Oregon USA, I received my paycheck in a special post office envelope. Evidentially, it got separated from the original envelope. AND I received it a couple days earlier than I expected.
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alison41, South Africa
You are so lucky to have such a modern, efficient postal system. I wish the German Post Office would take over the South African postal system, which is very very bad!
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suzeroo, Canada
Oh how cool!!! I worked similar mail processing machines here in Canada!!! I am retired now and it was like a trip down memory lane!!! Thanks so much for sharing!!
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betslets, United States of America
Postcrossing has the best blogs. Just when I think I've found a favorite, along comes another great presentation. Claas and Christine - thanks so much for this interesting addition.
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bungaalangalang, Indonesia
Cool!
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Sfander, Canada
Just saw this and it was fascinating to see. Thanks for sharing it and for helping us understand the process. Sounds like you all had a wonderful day!
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josephvm, India
The mehod will be similar in all countries, right?
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Braam, Australia
Thank you for an eye-opening report, & wonderful photos of the whole production line! An impressive use of technology & human efforts to the betterment of humanity, & an example we should all follow. Good Luck with getting a German (& an Aussie) PostCrossing stamp!
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ipuenktchen, Iran
hello, thx for a great report with fantastic pics!! still crying couldn't be there with you... :-((( but thx for sharing your impressions!!
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ggdw, China
very cool!!!
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Ellennst, China
Wow this is so cool! Thanks for sharing:)
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fralynnm, Philippines
Impressive!
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sekarlp, Indonesia
breath taking. and super super super impressive. Thanks to you two for making this report. you are all awesome !
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Nagissimo, Germany
Das is super! :з
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