Saturday 5 December 2009

nl: retour afzender - en: return to sender

[Post published by Liviu on Liviu's [in Netherlands] Blog]

You live in a new place (in the Netherlands) and keep receiving mail addressed to the former occupant of that place. I guess, (1) this is annoying you and (2) it's frustrating for the sender to send mail that never gets answered/read.
So, what solution is there to solve this problem?

First, you should write on the envelope retour afzender which in English means return to sender.
Second, you should put the envelope again in a post box - yes, there are plenty of those on the street, so you will find one instantly.
Well, that's it. Now, TNT Post will return the envelope to the sender and the sender will know there is a new occupant, i.e. you, at that address; there's no need to stamp the envelope again, since this service is basically included in the mail delivery service which has already been paid when the sender placed the stamp on the envelope.

... now a bit about myself:

At first I ignored the problem, since I was quite busy at the time. Then, envelopes started piling up in my room. I remembered I read something on one of the leaflets with instructions from De Key, but haven't had the time to solve the problem. Finally, last week, although I kept being busy (I know, repeating it might get you nervous, so to make things clear, I must say I've been busy the whole time), I decided to search in those leaflets and eventually I found the solution I was looking for.

As a side note, now I know the names of the people who have lived here before me: J. Lopez de Lacalle Beltran de Heredia and Achem Baye John. Now, since only one could have lived at this address last year, it means the other one was lazy enough (or maybe even more occupied than me) to solve this problem. So, the million dollar quesion is: who is the lazy (or more occupied than me) one? Is it the one who keeps being sent mail from the VU and a greeting from I-don't-know-who, i.e. Achem, or the one who keeps being sent mail from both the VU and the Dienst Persoons- en Geo-Informatie, i.e. J. Lopez? Hmm, I think it's the latter one...

For now, I just wrote the 'retour afzender' phrase on all the envelopes, and I plan to put them in the post box on Monday, since Sunday I'll be busy voting in the 2nd round of President-of-Romania elections...

Update - 19th of March 2010

I have received today the VU magazine, in Dutch obviously, doh! One copy was for Lacalle etc. and the 2nd copy (yes, I received 2 at the same address) was for Mevrouw (en: Ms.) D. Zhang - so yes, now I know the names of 3 people living here before me. Cool!


  1. The same "return to sender" procedure applies in US too. My feeling is that many initial senders tend to ignore that the address is no longer used, their main purpose being advertising (spam).

    Once you do reply with a "return to sender" mail, you confirm that someone still lives there. It's like a host scan, where any reply from the host means that the host is online.

    Let us know if next month you'll see the effects of "retour afzender" :)

    P.S. very very difficult to find Blog. Facebook tripped over the wire and exposed it :p

  2. Hey :) I only did that to letters from VU, the municipality and some personal greeting card which was not personally for me :) I won't "return to senders" that seem weird.

    OK, I have some doubts regarding the municipality, maybe because I have some 3 months old letters from them that I have not read yet. I bet that once I read them I'll find them ok :D

  3. Indeed, Facebook exposes all my blogs now! :)) I did a simple trick to do that!