Can my parents open my mail legally

Who is actually allowed to open my mail and letters?

At home, the friend empties the mailbox, in the office the colleague takes over the substitution. But are the family, neighbors or boss and employees even allowed to open my mail? In private and business correspondence, clear addresses protect against misunderstandings.

Secrecy of letters

In Germany there is the confidentiality of letters, a basic right that guarantees the inviolability of personal communication. The secrecy of correspondence includes any type of document that is addressed to a recipient or is protected from others, for example in a locked drawer. In addition to letters in the narrower sense, i.e. sealed items, this also includes postcards.

Anyone who opens a sealed letter or any other document that is not addressed to him violates the confidentiality of the letter and is liable to prosecution.

Confiscation of letters is possible in accordance with Section 94 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (StPO), but sealed mail may not be opened by the police or the public prosecutor, but only by the judge (Section 100, Paragraph 3, Clause 4 of the Code of Criminal Procedure). It is a little different for shipments from abroad. As a rule, these may be opened as part of the work of customs, since it can be assumed here that the goods could be indexed or that the customs duty is being embezzled. Private letters or parcels are, however, also subject to postal secrecy here.

In companies and authorities

The handling in everyday business is based on the company regulations. For quick pre-sorting and delivery of the letters in the company's own post offices or secretariats, the department or the employee should be precisely named on the envelope. If a letter is addressed as follows:

Mr. Max Mustermann
Mustermann GmbH

is the letter Not personally addressed and may be opened by other people in the company. This ensures that the letter does not remain unopened for days while z. B. the employee responsible is on vacation. Even if the company name comes first and then the recipient name follows, the letter can be opened:

Mustermann GmbH
z. H. Mr. Max Mustermann

It is regulated differently at Swiss Post with the notes “confidential”, “personal”, “private” or “exclusively”.
A letter addressed in this way may only be opened by Mr Mustermann personally:

Mr. Max Mustermann
Mustermann GmbH

If you send letters to English-speaking countries, you use “c / o” (“in care of”) instead to ensure that delivery is personal:

John Doe
c / o Mustermann GmbH

Take this into account when sending letters yourself. If you really only want the recipient to open the letter personally, you must add a confidentiality note.

At home

In the case of private letters, of course, nobody is allowed to open the letters of others. Parents also have to adhere to the confidentiality of correspondence with restrictions and can make themselves liable to prosecution. However, the act is only punishable if it is carried out without authorization. In the case of underage children, parents are usually also authorized to accept declarations of intent as legal representatives, which can also include letters. However, when exercising custody, the best interests of the child must always be taken into account. In this respect, for example, the admissibility of reading from the outside world clearly recognizable as such love letters or a diary, which can also fall within the scope of protection of the fundamental right, is questionable.