Which is better FedEx DHL or UPS

Parcel Service Comparison: Which One Is Best For Me?

Table of Contents

  1. Comparison criteria
  2. Delivery time comparison
  3. Postage comparison
  4. Convenience for senders
  5. Convenience for recipients
  6. Behavior in the event of address errors
  7. Ways to redirect a packet
  8. Number of delivery attempts
  9. Package insurance & liability sums
  10. Employment conditions of the deliverer
  11. Conclusion

Comparison graphic

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Comparison criteria

Many people pay particular attention to the friendliness and reliability of their parcel delivery service and use this to conclude the quality of the entire parcel service. However, this is too short-sighted. Your DHL delivery agent may always be in a good mood - but it may look very different elsewhere in Germany. The same applies, of course, to DPD, GLS, UPS and Hermes. There are super-nice Hermes deliverers, but also those who hand over parcels to neighbors or leave them somewhere without a notification card. It's exactly the same with other parcel services.

Therefore our recommendation: Ask the recipient with which parcel service they would like the parcel best. The recipient knows best which parcel service has the most reliable deliverer in their region.

We have compiled all the information from the parcel service comparison to the best of our knowledge and belief (last update: 5/2020), but we cannot guarantee that it is correct and up-to-date.


Delivery time comparison

"Which parcel service delivers the fastest?" Is a question that is often asked and cannot be answered in two sentences. As a rule of thumb, the more postage you pay, the faster the package.

Express parcels cost between 10 and 80 euros, depending on their size, and are guaranteed to arrive at the recipient the next day within Germany. To do this, the package must have been sent by a certain time the day before. These shipping cut-off times vary depending on the place of dispatch. For example, express shipping for private customers is offered by: DHL Express, DPD Express, UPS Express. Use our postage comparison calculator to compare prices.

Standard parcels with a postage of 4 to 15 euros normally take 1 to 2 days within Germany, but there is no guarantee. In the case of standard parcels, the parcel services only give non-binding standard delivery times. Even if a package has not arrived after a week, it is not legally late. In 2015, the Paketda editorial team carried out an extensive delivery time test for DHL, DPD, GLS, UPS, Hermes and Deutsche Post. The results of the delivery time test can be found here. However, the test results cannot be generalized. For example, the transport time is significantly influenced by the distance between the sender and recipient (the further away, the more likely that the delivery will not arrive on the following day). The time of sending is just as important. The later a parcel is sent, the more likely it will not be sent to the parcel center on the same day for further processing.

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Postage comparison

For each parcel service, we calculated the prices for 3 standard parcels of different sizes within Germany. The prices apply to online franking and delivery in the parcel shop (as of 5/2020).

The first price refers to a small package (20x10x10cm, 1kg), the second price to a medium package (30 x 30 x 20 cm, 3kg) and the third price to a large package (50 x 40 x 30 cm, 10kg) .

Tip: Use the parcel price comparison calculator to determine the exact postage for your individual parcel.

delivery servicePrices for small / medium / large package
DHL€ 3.79 (package) / 5.99 / 8.49
DPD€ 4,39 / 4,99 / 9,90
GLS€ 4,30 / 4,90 / 9,90
Hermes€ 4.30 (package) / 4.95 / 5.95
UPS.de€ 6,55 / 8,33 / 17,85

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Convenience for senders


  • Posting possible in post offices (13,000), parcel shops (11,000), parcel boxes (700) and packing stations (7,000). Very dense network.
  • Postage purchase at www.dhl.de/onlinefrankierung
  • Parcel pick-up can be booked from 3 euros at www.dhl.de/abholkauf.
  • DHL deliverers take parcels with them free of charge, provided you ask nicely and there is still space in the vehicle.
  • Mobile parcel label: Yes, mobile parcel stamps are available from DHL
  • DHL delivery agents can print out mobile parcel labels right at their doorstep when they receive a parcel from the customer.


  • Delivery in one of 6,500 pick-up parcel shops possible (as of 5/2019, source) or collection at the front door.
  • DPD does not charge a one-off collection fee, but rather the increased collection price for each individual parcel. For example, if you have 2 parcels picked up, you pay twice the expensive pick up price. Tip: The sender can book 1 parcel as pick-up, the other parcels as "drop off in the parcel shop" and still ask the pick-up driver to take them with them.
  • Postage purchase at my.dpd.de
  • Mobile parcel label: Yes, a mobile DPD parcel label is available.


  • Parcels can be handed in in 5,000 parcel shops across Germany. Parcel collection from private customers was abolished at the beginning of 2019.
  • GLS transports parcels up to 40kg (other parcel services only up to 31.5kg as standard).
  • Postage purchase at: www.gls-one.de
  • Mobile parcel label: Yes, a mobile parcel label is available from GLS


  • Parcel label can be created at www.myhermes.de or with the Hermes smartphone app. The parcel label can be paid for with PayPal or cash in the parcel shop.
  • Number of parcel shops: approx. 16,500 (as of 5/20201). 17,000 shops are planned by 2022.
  • Collection subject to a surcharge
  • Hermes deliverers take parcels with them free of charge, provided you ask nicely and there is still space in the vehicle.
  • Mobile parcel label: Yes, mobile parcel label available from Hermes


  • Parcel label purchase at www.ups.de or in the UPS app.
  • Parcel label cannot be paid for in cash. Payment methods: PayPal, credit card (VISA, MasterCard, AmericanExpress), Sofort, Giropay
  • Number of parcel shops: 3,432 (as of 2017 according to the Federal Network Agency). Hardly represented, especially in rural regions.
  • Shippers can have parcels picked up by UPS. The pick-up time can be set to within 3 hours.
  • Collection fee: 4 euros. Payment in cash at the pick-up driver or online.
  • Partly available for returns: Mobile parcel label from UPS

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Convenience for recipients


  • Package announcement: DHL often shows estimated delivery days and sometimes an estimated delivery time (time window) in the tracking. DHL will introduce live tracking in 2020.
  • Packet redirection: Possible up to the evening before the planned delivery day.
  • Direct delivery to parcel shops: Possible at certain shops or branches and packing stations. For participating locations, see www.postfinder.de
  • Evening delivery and delivery at the time of your choice: Possible if the sender orders these chargeable additional services from DHL.
  • Does DHL deliver on Saturdays? Yes, DHL delivers Monday to Saturday. According to the Paketda editorial staff, the delivery staff sometimes do not work as long on Saturdays as on other days of the week.

An exception for Saturday delivery is DHL Express. Here the sender has to book a Saturday delivery subject to a surcharge. Otherwise, DHL Express only delivers from Monday to Friday as standard.


  • Package announcement: Available, including estimated time. Very precise live tracking on the card on the day of delivery with continuously refined delivery time forecast.
  • Packet redirection: Possible even if the package is already in the delivery vehicle.
  • Direct delivery to parcel shops: Possible except for the largest parcel class "DPD XL parcel"
  • Evening delivery and delivery at the desired time: No evening delivery. Preferred day delivery possible.
  • Does DPD deliver on Saturdays? Yes, DPD delivers throughout Germany and also on Saturdays at no extra charge. According to observations made by the Paketda editorial team, practice sometimes shows that not all parcels are delivered on Saturdays.


  • Package announcement: Available, but delivery windows are quite broad / imprecise.
  • Packet redirection: Possible until shortly before loading into the delivery vehicle.
  • Direct delivery to parcel shops: Possible.
  • Evening delivery and delivery at the time of your choice: No evening delivery. Preferred day delivery possible.
  • Does GLS deliver on Saturdays? No, GLS does not usually deliver on Saturdays. Few exceptions in metropolitan areas.

Note: Saturday delivery is only available at GLS in a few metropolitan areas and only with the FlexDeliveryService additional service. Available areas: Berlin, Bonn, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hanover, Cologne, Leipzig, Munich and Nuremberg.


  • Package announcement: Hermes often shows the expected delivery day in the tracking. However, without delivery time.
  • Packet redirection: Possible via the Hermes hotline or in tracking at myhermes.de (orange button "Change delivery").
  • Direct delivery to parcel shops: Direct delivery (Shop2Shop) and subsequent parcel rerouting to a Hermes parcel shop are possible up to parcel size "L".
  • Evening delivery and delivery at the desired time: No evening delivery. Preferred day delivery possible.
  • Does Hermes deliver on Saturdays? Yes, Hermes delivers on Saturdays because delivery to private customers has always been Hermes' core business.


  • Package announcement: Parcel recipients who are registered with UPS My Choice will receive an announcement of the expected delivery day including a rough delivery time window. *
  • Packet redirection:Parcels can be diverted up to the day of delivery, provided the recipient is registered with UPS My Choice.
  • Direct delivery to parcel shops: Possible if the sender instructs this.
  • Evening delivery and delivery at the desired time: No evening delivery. Preferred day delivery possible.
  • Does UPS deliver on Saturdays? No, UPS does not deliver on Saturdays by default. Unless the sender of the package has booked a Saturday delivery as a chargeable additional service with UPS. This only applies to a few packages.

* Note on parcel notification: Customers who are not registered with "UPS My Choice" can see the planned delivery day in online tracking (without the time). UPS is considered a reliable parcel service. In our experience, the delivery dates shown in the tracking are almost always adhered to.

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Behavior in the event of address errors

Subsequent changes of address are not possible with DHL via customer service. DHL usually corrects minor address errors such as incorrect numbers in the postcode itself. DHL is the only parcel service that does not store parcels in case of address errors but often arranges an immediate return. Exceptions are packages with branch routing. This service is only available for business customers and is subject to a surcharge.

Address errors can be corrected via the DPD hotline. The storage period is 1 week.

Address errors can be corrected via the GLS hotline. According to the experience of the Paketda editorial team, the storage period is 10 days.

If the status "The shipment is in the Hermes distribution center for address clarification" appears in Hermes tracking, please call the Hermes hotline yourself. The status can be misinterpreted in such a way that Hermes carries out the address correction of its own accord. This is often not the case. The customer should help by calling Hermes customer service.

Even UPS does not immediately send parcels back to the sender in the event of address errors, but instead tries to correct the address itself (e.g. via Google research or with a phone call to the recipient or sender of the parcel), according to the experience of the Paketda editorial team. The quickest way is if the customer contacts the UPS hotline himself in the event of a fault.

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Ways to redirect a packet

With the Preferred Day and Preferred Neighbor services, DHL enables the delivery of parcels to be postponed to a specific day or the parcel to be redirected to a neighbor. There is also the preferred location where DHL can leave a package with the recipient's permission without a signature. The recipient bears the risk of loss after parking (see our legal advice).

A preferred DHL day or location cannot be changed afterwards. If you would like to cancel a permanently approved location, you will find our sample letter here. Registered DHL customers can also manage their preferred location at www.dhl.de/anmelden. Those who register with DHL can also have parcels redirected to a branch or a Packstation or addressed directly to them.

DHL Express
In order to reroute parcels from DHL Express or to postpone the delivery day, separate registration on the delivery.dhl.com portal is required. As a recipient, you have to be registered there before a package is sent. Only then will you receive a delivery notification by e-mail and the option of package management.

In the opinion of the Paketda editorial team, DPD offers the most advanced and convenient options for managing parcel deliveries. On the DPD portal www.paketnavigator.de or with the DPD smartphone app, a customer can have parcels rerouted to a neighbor or the office, to a DPD parcel shop, or he issues a "deposit okay" so that the Parcel delivery service does not require a signature from the recipient.

If a DPD parcel with the note "Inconsistency in the receiving address" is scanned, all rerouting options are deactivated, with the exception of the rerouting to a DPD pick-up parcel shop.

GLS offers the same diversion options as DPD (neighbor, parcel shop, deposit permit) plus the options for refusal of acceptance and self-collection at the GLS parcel center. If the sender gives the recipient's email address when purchasing a parcel label, GLS will inform the recipient about the available redirection options.

If the recipient is not informed by e-mail, he can alternatively open the GLS shipment tracking and redirect the parcel there. The button looks like this:

In the shipment tracking at www.myhermes.de, parcels can be rerouted using the "Change delivery" button. But this is only possible if the button is colored orange. If it appears gray, the function is currently blocked for the respective package. Then try again later. We explain details about the desired Hermes delivery here.

A good alternative to online parcel rerouting is to call the Hermes hotline. There you can have parcels forwarded to a parcel shop (request replacement address) or request a desired delivery date.

At UPS, parcel recipients must register for the UPS My Choice service in order to reroute parcels. An initial activation code sent by letter is a bit cumbersome. After activation, customers can postpone their parcel deliveries to a certain day or have them rerouted to a different address or to a UPS parcel shop (access point).

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Number of delivery attempts

1 delivery attempt, then redirection to a parcel shop or post office.
A second delivery can be ordered at www.dhl.de/nochmal-stellen

3 delivery attempts. After the first failed delivery attempt, DPD will likely redirect the parcel to a parcel shop. If there is no shop nearby, a second delivery attempt will be made the following day. If the second delivery attempt is also unsuccessful, DPD will make a third and final attempt after the customer has requested this online or via the DPD hotline.

GLS first tries 2 deliveries. The parcel is then stored in the GLS depot for 10 days. If the customer does not respond, a return is made to the sender.

With up to 4 delivery attempts, Hermes puts a lot of effort into delivering the parcel. However, it also applies here that the parcel shop is often returned to the parcel shop after the first failed delivery attempt.

If Hermes makes three delivery attempts and the third attempt fails, the parcel is stored at the local Hermes distribution center for approx. 12 days, according to the Parcelda editorial team. If the customer does not contact Hermes within this time to arrange a last delivery attempt, the package will be returned to the sender.

UPS is officially making 3 delivery attempts. However, the Paketda editorial team also observes UPS parcels that receive the following status after the second delivery attempt: "The recipient was not present during the final delivery attempt." By calling UPS customer service, you can arrange to collect the goods yourself at the regional UPS depot. If this does not happen, UPS will send the package back to the sender after a 5-day period.

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Package insurance & liability

In the table below you will find the maximum limits up to which the respective parcel service insures a shipment against loss and damage.

However, do not rely too heavily on insurance. There are pitfalls:

  • Do not send any goods that exceed the respective liability limit. For example, if you send a 60 euro product in a Hermes parcel (liability: 50 euro), there is no insurance cover at all!
  • Certain products are excluded from shipping or have a limited value. This applies, for example, to cash, jewelry, vouchers, tickets, valuable art or perishable food. In the event of a loss, there may then be no compensation. At DHL you will find the list of permitted package contents here.
  • Parcel insurance sounds good at first, but parcel services are often stubborn in the event of a claim. For example, if a package is damaged on the way, parcel services often argue that the packaging was too bad. As a customer, it is very difficult to argue against it. Despite being insured, you might end up in the rain.
  • Externally visible damage must be reported to the parcel delivery company immediately (e.g. a pressed or opened package). For damage that is not externally visible, a reporting period of 7 days applies in accordance with Section 438 of the German Commercial Code (HGB).
  • The insurance does not apply if a package is delivered too late. (This does not apply to express parcels, see this guide). Standard packages do not have a guaranteed duration. Therefore, from the perspective of the parcel services, a standard parcel cannot be delivered too late.
  • According to the experience of the Paketda editorial team, package insurance mainly takes effect in the event of a loss, i.e. when a package is completely lost. There the parcel services can't talk their way out of it. However, they often try to doubt the value of the package contents or to calculate low.

You can read detailed information in our guide to transport insurance. There you will also find forms for reporting claims

Standard Limits of Liability

DHL parcel: not insured

DHL package: Liability up to 500 euros, for an additional charge up to 25,000 euros

Hermes package: Liability up to 50 euros

Hermes package: Liability up to 500 euros.

Hermes suitcase: Liability up to 1000 euros

DPD: Liability up to 520 euros. No higher insurance possible for private customers.

UPS.de: Liability up to 510 euros per package. Declared value possible up to a maximum of 45,783 euros (different surcharge depending on the value)

GLS: Liability up to 750 euros. No higher insurance possible for private customers.

Attention: There is a clause in the GLS General Terms and Conditions for private customers according to which, among other things, "valuable goods worth over € 500 per package" are excluded from shipping. This considerably limits the liability amount of 750 euros.

Information provided without guarantee. As of 5/2020.

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Employment relationships of the deliverers

The media regularly report on poor working conditions at parcel services (example here). The described grievances such as poor pay, overtime and fake logbooks are encouraged by subcontracting contracts. Because the deliverers are often not employed directly by the parcel services but by regional independent subcontractors.

Some subcontractors are not satisfied with the remuneration they receive from the parcel services. They pass the economic pressure on to the deliverers ("Don't come back to the depot until your van is empty"). As a result, the parcel delivery profession is becoming less attractive and subcontractors are finding fewer workers. This in turn increases the workload of the existing staff. A downward spiral.

The following information on employment relationships is partly from an article in the Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung from November 2017.

  • DHL: According to Deutsche Post boss Frank Appel, his company hardly uses subcontractors but employs 98% of all deliverers directly (source: Appel's speech at the Post general meeting on May 15, 2019). From 2015 to 7/2019, many DHL deliverers were outsourced to delivery GmbHs. According to its own statements, DHL pays "wages well above the minimum wage".
  • DPD: DPD works with around 1,000 subcontractors (system partners) who employ around 10,000 deliverers. DPD does not have an overview of the type of employment. As a rule, they are "full-time jobs subject to social security contributions". Before Christmas, € 450 temporary workers will also be employed.
  • GLS: All GLS deliverers are employed by subcontractors. The GLS headquarters gives them the requirement to employ every employee in a legally compliant manner, to comply with the working time laws and to pay at least the minimum wage.
  • Hermes: Hermes calls its subcontractors "service partners". An average of 11,000 deliverers are employed there. At peak times before Christmas approx. 14,000; These temporary workers are recruited by temporary employment agencies, among others. In 2019, Hermes wants to set an internal lower limit of 10 euros per hour (source: wiwo.de).
  • UPS: UPS has always been a well-paying employer in the logistics industry. This is noticeable in the long service life of the employees, which, according to UPS, averages 12.7 years. Subcontractor contracts are rather rare with UPS. Of 19,000 UPS employees in Germany, only 72 are employed part-time.

In 2013, UPS Germany boss Frank Sportolari known to the world: "A customer does not expect an upturned baseball cap and insufficient knowledge of German from a UPS driver. You will not find tattoos on the hands or rings through the nose with our drivers." The delivery vans must also look neat and well-groomed.

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As already mentioned at the beginning, the delivery quality depends crucially on the parcel carrier who is active in the recipient's region. In the experience of the Parcelda editorial team, the UPS parcel deliverers, who are paid above average in the logistics industry, do a good job. A shortcoming are the few UPS parcel shops and the lack of Saturday delivery, so that professional private customers sometimes have a hard time getting their UPS parcel.

Like UPS, DPD and GLS have their origins in delivering parcels to corporate customers. That is why they lag behind in terms of the number of parcel shops DHL and Hermes. DPD scores with the industry-leading live tracking and digital parcel control options.

The Paketda editorial team cannot determine a kind of "test winner" because each customer sets their own standards. For example, many customers always choose the nearest parcel shop out of convenience and do not consider other evaluation criteria.

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