In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, having post offices abroad was often considered one of the hallmarks of a great power. Austria established its post offices in Turkey (Levant) and in Crete.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the Ottoman Empire was often referred to as "the Sick Man of Europe." By the middle of the 19th century, the Ottomans had to concede extraterritorial rights, including postal operations, to the great powers as well as to some powers that were not so great.

Austria and other European nations maintained an extensive system of post offices in the Ottoman Empire, typically motivated by the unreliable postal system of the Ottomans. For Austria, the practice started in 1748 with the establishment of a post office in Galata outside of Constantinople, and eventually extended to dozens of locations throughout the Balkans and the eastern Mediterranean.
Beginning in 1863 Austria used the stamps of Lombardy-Venetia in its offices in the Ottoman Empire (Lombardy-Venetia was a kingdom in northern Italy ruled by the Habsburgs prior to Italian unification) but after the losses of these areas in 1867, Austria had to issue special stamps; in appearance identical to contemporary Austrian stamps, but denominated in soldis and florins. In 1886 this was changed to paras and piasters to match Turkish money, first by surcharging the existing stamps of the offices, then regular Austrian stamps. Stamps printed specifically for the offices resumed in 1906, by using Austrian stamps missing the denomination (at this point the denomination of Austrian stamps was printed in a second step), and the Jubilee issue of 1908 included the same designs denominated in piasters.


Along with several other nations, Austria maintained its own post offices in Crete at the beginning of the 20th century. Since the unit of money in Crete was the franc, the post office issued Austrian stamps surcharged in centimes and francs, from 1903 on, and in 1908 issued stamps similar to the 60th-year issue of Austria proper, but denominated in the local currency. These last were used until the end of the empire:

Although intended for use in Crete, these issues were also available for use at Austrian post offices throughout the Turkish Empire.


Austria closed its offices in Crete and Turkey in 1914.