The Treaty of Bern and the UPU

October 9, 1874 – The General Postal Union, now known as the Universal Postal Union is created as a result of the Treaty of Bern.

Named for the Swiss city of Bern, where it was signed, the treaty was the result of an international conference convened by the Swiss Government on September 15, 1874. It was attended by representatives from 22 nations. Plans for the conference had been drawn up by Heinrich von Stephan, a German postal official.

The General Postal Union was renamed the Universal Postal Union in 1878 due to its large membership.

The purpose of the treaty was to unify disparate postal services and regulations so that international mail could be exchanged freely. The signatories of the treaty were the German Empire, Austria-Hungary, Belgium, Denmark, Egypt, Spain, the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, the Russian Empire, Serbia, the United Kingdoms of Sweden and Norway, Switzerland, and the Ottoman Empire.

World Post Day is now observed on October 9th, recalling the date on which the Treaty was signed.

The Treaty of Bern was amended a number of times after its conclusion. On July 10, 1964, the UPU incorporated the treaty into a new Constitution of the Universal Postal Union, which is now the treaty that is ratified by states when they wish to join the UPU.

Many countries have issued stamps honoring the Universal Postal Union and many stamp collectors specialize in collecting the stamps of the various countries which have produced these.  Here are just a few examples:

New Hebrides (1949):



United States (1974):



Turkey (1970):



Iran (1950):



Israel (1974):



Latvia (1999):



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