Swiss Post declares man dead four times due to unknown error

Swiss Post declares man dead four times due to unknown error

As the saying goes: “Once is a mistake, twice is a coincidence, three times is a pattern.” This must be how one man from Canton Solothurn in Switzerland felt, after he was declared dead by the postal service on four separate occasions.

Swiss postal service declares man dead four separate times

In the summer of 2021, the man from Canton Solothurn noticed that he had not received any letters or deliveries for almost a month, perhaps missing key payments for health insurance and other bills. According to 20 minuten, when the family called the local post office, they told them that the man couldn't receive any mail as he had been declared “dead” in their system.

After apologising for the mistake, the post office brought him back - bureaucratically at least - to the land of the living. However, months later, several suppliers got in touch with the man, complaining that letters and parcels sent to him were being returned with the excuse “recipient cannot be determined.” When calling the post office for a second time, they revealed that he was dead, again.

This would happen on two more occasions until August 2022, when the family would contact a friend in the Swiss police. He quickly identified the six other families in the country with the same surname as them, ruling out a mistake as none of them had had a recent death in the family.

Swiss Post cannot explain why the man was dead in their system

Initially, Swiss Post told 20 minuten that they could not explain why the man was declared dead in the first place - or the next three times. They said that they did not know who kept changing the status, as no one can be declared dead in Switzerland without official confirmation. 

Finally, the company released a statement saying that the problem may have been caused when the man's business changed address and “deliverers put a wrong checkmark in the system and deactivated the private address of the man." However, 20 minuten noted that this does not solve the case entirely, as this event happened three years before the incident, and the address was set to "inactive", not "dead."

The manager of the local post office has personally apologised to the family for the inconvenience and all letters are now being delivered to the address as normal.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Editor for Switzerland at IamExpat Media. Jan studied History at the University of York and Broadcast Journalism at the University of Sheffield. Though born in York, Jan has lived most...

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