Glossary of Philatelic Terms and Abbreviations

This glossary of Swiss philatelic terms and abbreviations is by no means complete, nor can its accuracy be guaranteed. However, it will prove useful to researchers who, for example:

  • find a cover or postcard with an unidentifiable handstamp;
  • discover a postmark bearing an unusual abbreviation;
  • or perhaps encounter an uncommon word in philatelic literature.

Additional entries will be added to the glossary as they become known, together with corrections to the existing content.

Contributions from readers of this website are most welcome. Please email the author at:

Abart Variety
Abflug wegen ungünstiger/Witterung verschoben Flight departure delayed due to inclement weather
(two-line boxed cancel)
Abgegeben Delivered
Abgereist Gone away
Abgereist ohne Adressangabe Gone away without leaving an address
Abschiedsausgabe Final issue
Abstand Distance
Adresse ungenügend Address insufficient
Adresse insuffisante Address insufficient
(Affranchie Etranger Destination)
Foreign Rate – Paid to Destination
(Affranchissement Étranger a payé Jusqu’à la Frontière)
Foreign Rate – Paid to Frontier
Aeroport Airport
Affranchissement au verso Stamp on reverse
ALF Automatic Letter Facing (and cancelling)
AMB. Ambulant (T.P.O.)
Ambulant Railway Post Office
Ambulants Office dealing with mail despatch by rail
Amtlich Official
Annahne Receiving (window)
Annahme verweigert Refused
Annahneamt Receiving station
APC Automated Postal Centre
Après le Départ After Departure of the Post
Arrivee Mess. Incoming mails
ATM (Automaten-Marken) Frama labels, Auto stamps
Aufgabe Posting of …
Aufgegeben (Aufg.) As Handed In
Auftraggeber Client
Ausgabe Distribution, delivery
Auslandprufstelle Foreign letters censor office
Represented by a large ‘A’ in circle on censored letters out of Switzerland during WWII
Aushilfs-Stempel Temporary, or Replacement Canceller
Autodienst Postal cars division
Avis de réception Acknowledgement of receipt (AR),
a service additional to registration
Handbook of Swiss Cancellations 1843-1907,
by Andres & Emmenegger
Bahnhof Railway Station
Bahnpost Railway Post Office
Bahnpostamt (BPA) Office dealing with mail despatch by rail
B.B. Brief Bureau (Letter Office)
B.F. Brief Francais (French Office)
BBZ Berner Briefmarken Zeitung
(published monthly, by Zumstein & Cie)
B.H. Bâle Helvetique
BID (Bibliothek & Dokumentation) Library & Documentation, Bern 3030
Blindenschrift Braille publications
Boite Letter-box
Briefe Letter
Briefamt Letter Office
Brief & Geldpostamt Letter & Money Account Division
Briefannahme Letter receiving
Briefaufgabe Letter posting
Brf. Dist. Letter distribution
Brf. Ausgabe Letter delivery
Brf. Exped. Letter despatch
Briefpost Letter window
Briefträger Mail carrier
Briefversand. Letter despatch
B.S. Bâle Suisse
Cases Lock boxes (POB)
CD Correspondence via Delle
CF Correspondence via Ferney
Chargé Registered
Checkamt Cheque division
Checkb(uro) Cheque office
Checkb.K. Cheque control etc.
CFC Culler facer canceller
CH (Confederatio Helvetica) Swiss Confederation
Consign.Lett. Letter Acceptance Division
Consign.Mess. Mail Acceptance Division
Controle Control Office
Colis Parcels
CS1R – CS7R Correspondence Sardinia (1-7 Rayons)
C.T. (Corrispondenzia Ticinese) handstamp applied at Bellinzona, Locarno and Magadino
C.V. Col Vapore (by Steamer)
CVL Correspondence Valais (on mail to Sardinia)
Darf nur auf schweiz.. may only fly on Swiss airlines
D.Bu Diligence Bureau
Decart(age) International Parcel Card Sorting Office
Decédé Deceased
Decesso Deceased
Depot privé de Colis Postaux Private Parcel Post Acceptance
Depot Colis Parcel window
Depot Lett. Letter window
Depot CFF Railroad station office
Distribution Delivery
Ditta cassata Firm closed
Drinlich Urgent
Druck & Werz. Stamp Printing Division
Drucksachen Printed matter
Eilsendungen Special delivery
Eildienst Special Delivery Service
Eilzustellg. Special Delivery
Eilversand Special Delivery despatch
Eilschalter Special Delivery window
Eil – & Tel. zust. Special Delivery & Telegram distribution
Empfangschein Receipt
Einschreiben Registered
Einschreibtaxe Registry fee
Einzugsaufträge Special envelopes used for collecting debts
Einzugsmandat Debt Collection
E V. En Ville.  In the town
Exp(edition) Posting of …
Express Special Delivery
Exp. Lett. Letter Posting Division (despatch)
Exp. Let(tres) Letter Posting Division (despatch)
Expr. et Teleg. Special Delivery & Telegrams
Fact. Lett. Mail carrier (letters)
Facteur(s) Mail carrier(s)
Fächer Lock boxes (POB)
Fahrpost Parcel Post
Fahrpostausg. Parcel Despatch (by horse coach)
F.D.n Fischer Par Delle (used on mail to France 1823-27)
‘n’ indicates value in kreutzer (e.g. F.D.4), amount due to Swiss mail contractors-Fischer
F.F.n Fischer Par Ferney (used on mail to France 1823-27)
‘n’ indicates value in kreutzer (e.g. F.F.4), amount due to Swiss mail contractors-Fischer. Similar marks without numerals are found on internal letters from Geneva to Ferney
FIP (Federation international de philatélie) International Philatelic Federation
FP Aufg. Parcel Despatch (by horse coach)
Fermo Posta Lock boxes (POB)
Fil(iale) Branch Office
Firma erloschen Firm closed
Flug Nicht Ausgeführt Flight did not operate
Flug ausgefallen Flight did not operate
Flugplatz Airport
Flugpost Airmail
Flugpostdienst eingestellt airmail service suspended
Franco Postage Paid
Franco Grenze Paid to Frontier
Franco trop peu Insufficiently franked
Frankatur siehe Rücksette Stamp on reverse
Gare Railway Station
GD-PTT (General Direktion PTT) General Management PTT, Bern 3030
Geldpost Money division
Geldannahme Money acceptance window
Gestorben Deceased
G.F.n Geneve Par Ferney (used on mail to France in 1831 only)
‘n’ indicates value in kreutzer, amount due to Geneva Post Office (e.g. G.F.4)
Giornali Newspapers
Grenzrayon Limited Border Zone
H.Buchsee Herzogenbuchsee
Hier.  In this town
H.R. Helvetische Republic
Impayé Unpaid
Impostazione di Invii Private Parcel Post Acceptance
Inconnu Unknown
Indirizzo insufficiente Address insufficient
Ins Fach Legen Leave in the Post Office Box
Journaux Newspapers
Kein Fluganschluss… no airmail connection, forwarded by rail
Kontrolle Control Office
Kopfstehend Inverted
Kreidepapier Chalk-surfaced paper
Kreispost District H.Q.
Kreisstempel Circular cancellation
(Kreispostdirektion /
Direction d’arrondissement postal /
Direzione di circondario postale)
Postal region directorate (11)
LBpH Lettre Bâloise pour Huningue (for Huningue)
L B Lettre Bâloise (followed by value in Kreutzers, e.g. L B/4 K)
Let. Arr. Letter arriving branch
Lettres Letter mail
Lettere Letter mail(s)
L.G. Lettre Genevoise
Ligne pas ouverte line not yet opened
L.N. Lettre Neuchâteloise (followed by value in Kreutzers, e.g. L.N.5½Kr.)
LT Lettera Transito (mail passing through Italian States)
Luftpost Airmail
L.V. Lettre Vaudoise (followed by value in Kreutzers, e.g. L.V.6.K)
L.Z. Lettre Zurichoise (followed by value in Kreutzers, e.g. L.Z./8.Kr)
Maison sociale Firm closed
Mandate, Mandats Postal Orders
Mandatbureau Money Order Office
Mandatdistr. Money Order Delivery Section
MLO Mechanised Letter Office
Mess(ageries) Mail Office
Messagerieagentur Message Agency
Messageriebureau Message Bureau or Office
Mit Vorausflug nach. Onward flight to destination. Directional route mark applied on mail delivered to seapost offices, where the sender does not specify a catapult flight
N.Abg. (Nach Abgang der Post) After Departure of the Mail
Nachnahme COD
Nachnahmen C.O.D. window
Nachnahme Frankatur Collect Franking
Nachschlagedienst Directory Service (incomplete address)
Nichteilige Massensendungen Non-urgent mass-mailings
Nicht abgeholt Unclaimed
Nicht ausgeführt Flight did not operate
Nicht eingelöst Unpaid
Nicht nachsenden! Do not forward!
Non pagato Unpaid
Non-réclamé Unclaimed
Non-retirato Unclaimed
Non effectué Flight did not operate
N.P.Schl. (Nach Postschluss) After close of Post Office
n’existe plus Firm closed
Nur mit Flugpost By Airmail only
NZZ (Neue Zürcher Zeitung) Zürich daily newspaper (philatelic half-page on Fridays)
OCR Optical Character Reader
Ordres de recouvrement Special envelopes used for collecting debts
Office des Ambulants Office dealing with mail despatched by rail
Office tempor. Temporary mail facility
(OrtsVerzeichnis / Liste des localités /
Elenco delle località)
List of Place Names (produced annually)
P. (Payé) Paid
P.A. (Post Ausgabe) Postal Delivery
P.D. (Payé à la destination ) Paid to Destination
P.F. (Payé à la Frontiére) Paid to Frontier
P.P. (Port Payé) Postage Paid
Päckchenstempel Parcel Cancel
Paketannahmestelle Private Parcel Post Acceptance
Parti Gone away
Partito Gone away
Parti sans laisser d’adresse Gone away without leaving an address
Partito senza lasciara indirizzo Gone away without leaving an address
Postanweisungen Money orders
Postcheckverkehr Postal check traffic
Postcheckrechnung Post office check calculation
Paketagentur Parcel Agency
Paketamt Parcel post office
Paketannahme Parcel receiving window
Paketaufgabe Parcel posting window
Paketausgabe Parcel distribution
Paketversand Parcel despatch
Paketpost Parcel post
Plattennummer Plate number
(Postleitzahl / Numéro postal d’acheminement /
Numero postale d’avviamento indica)
Portofreiheits Free Frank stamp
Postagentur Postal Agency
Postkarten Postcard
Postpakete Parcels
Postanweisungen money orders
Poste aerienne Airmail
Postlager Will call (general delivery)
PK (Postkreis) Postal district
Poste restante Will call (general delivery)
Postreisende Postal coach div. (for travellers, ticket office)
(PTT Amsblatter / PTT Feuilles Officielles /
PTT foglio ufficiale)
PTT Bulletins (weekly)
(Post Telefon Telegraph / Poste telepone /
Posta telefono telegrafo)
Swiss Post, Bern
R. or Rte Route, e.g. Rte Lucerne
Raggio Limitrofo Limited Border Zone
Rayon Limitrophe Limited Border Zone
Rebuts Dead letter office
Recommandée Registered
Récépissé Receipt
Récépissé soumis à la taxe Receipt subject to Tax
Reexp(edition) Re-routing Office
Reisendeinshreibstelle Passenger Booking Place (office)
Remis trop tard Handed in too late
Rückschein Return receipt
Recommandiert Registered
Recouvrements Cash On Delivery
Refusé Refused
Respinto Refused
Remboursements Money delivery (or pay in) window
Retourzettel Return to sender
Ricevuta Receipt
Ricevuta passibile di Tassa Receipt subject to Tax
R.L. (Rayon Limitrophe) Limited Border Zone
RM erstellt Refund for over-franking
Rückmeldung erstellt Refund for over-franking
Rückschein Acknowledgement of receipt (AR),
a service additional to registration
(Schweizerische Bundesbahnen /
Chemin de fer fédéraux suisses /
Ferrovie federali svizzere)
Swiss Federal Railways
SBZ Schweizer Briefmarken Zeitung (published monthly)
Sconosciuto Unknown
(Schweizerische Locomotiv- und Maschinenfabrik)
Swiss Locomotive and Machine Works, Winterthur
Spätflug Late Flight
Station Railway Station
Stazione Railway Station
Strafporto Excess, or Penalty Postage
Succ(ursale) Branch Office
(Schweizerische Verein der Poststempelsammler)
Swiss Postmark Collectors Society
Spediz. lettere Letter despatch
Sendungen ohne Adresse Unaddressed bulk mail
T (Transit) Applied at Coppet and Vevey on letters to Sardinia
Taxe Perçue Advisory handstamp informing the delivering postal authority that underpaid postage has been collected.
Taxpflichtiger Empfangschein Receipt subject to Tax
T B (Transit Bâle) Handstamp applied to letters from Aargau, Gaübunden, Luzern, Schaffhausen, Ticino and Uri (always in red)
T.B. (Transit Bernois) Applied to letters from Solothurn and Unterwalden.
Distinguishable from the Basel mark by the full stops.
(in black until May 1846, then in red)
T F (Transit Francais) Handstamp found on mail in transit through France
T.G. (Transit Genèvois) Handstamp applied to letters from Fribourg (always in red)
T.V. (Transit Vaudoise) Hanstamp applied to letters from Valais (always in black)
T.Z. (Transit Zürichoise) Used on letters from Appenzell, Glarus, St.Gallen, Schwyz, Thurgau and Zug
(in black for a brief period in 1845 and, thereafter always in red)
Timbre insuffisant Insufficiently franked
Trop tard Too late for same day delivery
Transit(o) Transit Office (mostly for customs goods)
Trans. Lett Letter Transit (re-sorting office)
Transitzoll Transit customs
Über ausländische….. not permitted via foreign airlines
Unbekannt Unknown – no such person
Unbekannt verzogen Address Unknown
Unleitstell Re-routing office
UPU (Union Postale Universal) Universal Postal Union, Bern
Vaglia Money matters (value)
Versand Despatch
Verweigert Refused
Vestorben Deceased
Vorläufer Precursor, Forerunner
Voyageurs Coach Ticket Office
(Verband Schw.Philatelistenvereine /
Union des Sociétés philatelique suisses /
Union delle Società filateliche svizzere)
Union of Swiss Philatelic Societies
Warenmuster Samples
Wertsendungen Declared Value Shipments
Wertzeichen Postage Stamps
Zahlungsanweisungen Delivery of payments
Zeitungen Newspapers
Zerbrechlich Fragile
Zu wenig frankiert Insufficiently franked
Zu spät Too late for same day delivery
Zurück Return
Zwerg-Stempel Dwarf cancel or cancellation