An envelope (also: envelope, envelope or envelope - outdated - ) is the shipping packaging a letter.


Originally letters were not packaged in separate envelopes, but only protected by folding or rolling and sealing against unauthorized access, since paper was a precious commodity. Later this process was increasingly costly and complex than a pre-assembled envelope for plugging and sealing of the letter from a business perspective. In today's correspondence envelopes are used almost exclusively to protect the contents, with the exception of direct mail.

Envelopes were first sold by the book and paper goods dealer SK Brewer in Brighton in 1820. He cut way around the envelopes with the aid of metal stencils. As a result of rapidly growing demand forgave Brewer 1835 the London firm Dobbs & Comp. the contract for the manufacture of envelopes as a mass product. The first machine for manufacture of envelopes derived from E. Hill and W. De La Rue, London, from the year 1844.


Envelope paper must be opaque, be writable, printable and faltfest. It is wood-free and wood-containing, one side smooth or satin, white and colored produced, but also recycled paper with the Blue Angel is employed. Lately reinforced FSC or PEFC papers are used for envelopes, whose pulp is derived from sustainable forestry. FSC Envelopes partly carry the logo of the WWF panda bear. There are also envelopes made ​​of synthetic fibers, made ​​of transparent or translucent film and envelopes from Papyrolin, a filament-reinforced material.


First, starting from the roll applied to the internal and external pressure of the envelope in the flexographic printing process. Thereafter, the envelope outline is stamped out, the windowing is performed including the Einklebens the window foil, after which the Seitenklappengummierung and then applying the Verschlussklappengummierung. After drying of the closure flap, the envelopes to be packed, and then packs the finished carton by means of robots on pallets. Modern envelope machines reach speeds of up to 1,600 envelopes / minute and can thus produce nearly 100,000 envelopes / hour. Such systems require an investment of more than € 2 million. Most important manufacturers of machines are the company W beer in Neuwied and the company Smith in the United States.


Envelopes can be easily recycled. The paper used is a raw material for new recycled paper. The window film used are usually made ​​of polystyrene. They are isolated deinking ( decolourisation) of waste paper and then also recycled or burned in the power plants of paper mills.


Envelopes are available in various standard sizes, defined in ISO 269 and DIN 678 largely based on existing paper formats:

Envelopes in the format C4 are produced not only in landscape mode, but also in portrait orientation.

For business letters on the paper size A4 are in Germany the envelope sizes DIN long (C5 / 6, DL) with manual filling, C6 / 5 for machine filling and C4 the most widespread. The C6 / 5 format is the format used in Germany by far the most common and is used as Kuvertierhüllen for automatic enveloping.

Private mail is also often sent in envelopes from C6 format, fit the postcards from the A6. Large and heavy filling material is often sent in bellow pockets with gussets and gusseted in the B5 formats to E4.

Window position

For dimensions of window envelopes there are several different standards.

BS 4264 defines the format for DL a 39 mm high and 93 mm wide viewing window, which is 53 mm from the top edge and 20 mm from the left margin.

From DIN 680 may occur according to format different distances of the viewing window from the top, so that a letter sheet according to DIN 5008 must be precisely folded to place the address field in the view window:

For larger mailers, there are two forms A and B according to the letterhead for business letters form A and B according to DIN 5008, since the position of the address field can no longer be here to customize via the convolution of the letter. In C5 envelopes the window is also 45 mm x 90 mm ​​and 20 mm from the left margin, from the bottom in the form A 77 mm and for Form B 60 mm. For C4 envelopes the game of the letter in the envelope, especially in the direction of the longer edge is much larger, so that the window must be greater. It is 55 mm x 90 mm ​​and 20 mm from the left margin, from the top with Form A 40 mm and for Form B 57 mm.


The German Post expects the inscription parallel to the longer side of the viewing window or the envelope next to the franking in a 40 mm high and 74 mm wide box on the right, the address of the sender in the 40 mm high strip to the left and the address of the addressee in the remaining region at least 15 mm from the outer edge. In the area below the address of the destination code is printed.

Austrian Post expects, moreover, that the format of the C5 region below the 74 mm wide and franking for larger sizes a 74 mm high area is kept free at the bottom.

Royal Mail expects in a 70 mm high and 140 mm wide area right below two fields are kept free and address of the sender is placed on the back flap.

Swiss Post provides a multitude of variants.


Envelopes are sealed by the a little overlapping, folded on open side (short strap ) is glued together with the envelope. Either it is dry, water-soluble adhesive is used, which is moistened during closure, or they are self-adhesive. The blue glow when you open a self-adhesive closure called Triboluminescence. In high-quality envelopes often comes a sticker flaps with blanking strips for use. The latter are mainly used for high-quality business mail. Name and address of the addressee are written on the front of the envelopes, the information about the sender conventionally on the back or top left on the front.

Also in the business sector window envelopes are often used in which the address of the addressee written on the envelope, but the letter with the address is specified in the letter head in the envelope that the address is visible through the window, for example, according to DIN 5008th For the different envelopes, there are different types of folds, so that the addresses visible in the window. Window envelopes carry a printed or stamped with the sender information usually either on the front or above the address on the letterhead, so that they are visible in the window.


In Germany approximately 20 billion envelopes, shipping and wrinkles bags worth around € 375 million, according to the Association of the German envelope manufacturers ( VDBF ) is currently sold each year. In addition, the German envelope industry exported more about 4 billion units mostly to other European countries. The market as a whole declined slightly in recent years, as increasingly replacing electronic media the envelope for invoices. Also advertising envelopes have lost much in the last few years. Large-sized shipping and wrinkle bags, however, were more likely to benefit from the new medium of the Internet. In Europe, a total of about 110 billion envelopes are used annually. The highest per capita consumption in Europe has continued to England. Far behind France, Germany and the Netherlands follow. In Germany, the two major producers are the Group Mayer- envelope and Bong. At European level, the company groups Tompla (F), GPV ( F) and the Groupe Hamelin (F) are added to this (merger on 1 September 2010 with BONG ), which together represent a total market share of about 90 %.

Multiple envelopes

A special form of the envelope is the internal correspondence used increasingly multi-use internal mail envelope.

Patented envelopes offer a clean opening of the letter without tools. At the edge of the envelope is at the " thumb grip area " perforated, tear off this small Papierstückchens is a " Aufrißschnur " ( " Zipp -o- let" / engl. Pull-tab ) separated out at the edge, which thus opens the envelope. This technique is e.g. usual for a long time in cigarette packaging with transparencies.