Help me out with this, fellow teeming-ones-of-whom-there-are-millions. I’m getting ready to send a letter to England from here in America, when a particularly profound thought struck me. I have never sent a letter overseas before and therefore do not know how to address it. Also, I’m sort of curious about how much it will cost me to get my correspondance to its correct destination on another continent. Do I actually put stamps on it and stick it in a mailbox, or do I have to take it into the Post Office and wait in line? If the former, how many stamps? Anyway, any help would be greatly appreciated.
Sorry I can’t help you about how to address it but the postage is the same as if it was domestic mail. I think this explains it.
Sending a letter overseas is fairly easy. First you address it with the address of the reciepient, with the name, street address, city and postal code (for U.K. it should be six alpha-numeric characters, with a space after the first three). Then, on a separate line, add “ENGLAND”, the destination country (in all capitals is preferred).
To find out the postage, you can go the USPS website’s International Rate Calculator at http://ircalc.usps.gov/.
Once you have put on the correct postage, you can simply drop it in a mailbox. If you want to be sure, though, you can go to the post office, and they will tell you if you have addressed it correctly and how much postage should be applied (and put a meter strip with the exact amount on for you).
Well, thanks, I already had done that, Bill. It says it costs a dollar. ONE dollar. Do you know if that means I have to put one dollar in STAMPS on it, or do I have to take it inside and be like, “Here’s a dollar, send it to my friend over there in the UK.” and hand the postal worker a dollar bill?
That is incorrect. The article explains why the U.S. Post Office can collect money for mail that will be delivered both by USPS workers and foreign mail couriers. The rates for that service are set by the post office and are availiable at their website. http://ircalc.usps.gov/
As for addressing it, it’s best to ask the recipient for the correct information. If you can’t do that, use the address as you got it from whewrever you got it, and be sure to put the name of the country underneath the address. (And U.S.A. in the return address.
If you have an airmail envelope, that might simplify sorting. I usually just get in line and let them verify the postage required and affix air mail stickers to my envelope.
If you’re mailing a package, you’ll need to fill out a customs form also.
Sorry, I should have read the article more carefully.
I believe that you can do either.
Well, they do make $1 stamps. They make $5 stamps too.
When you think about it, sending a letter all the way across the Atlantic for a buck is a pretty good deal.
No, it’s more likely that your letter needs 60 cents in postage rather than a dollar. If the letter is under a half an ounce (which is fairly standard for an ordinary letter), the postage is 60 cents. Go back to that postage calculator page in the link and enter .5 ounce rather 1 ounce and you’ll see that it gives $.60 rather than $1.
If you can’t judge the weight very closely, it might be better to go to a post office and hand the letter to a clerk and let them tell you what the postage is. I’ve got used to mailing letters to the U.K. though and I’ve never had a letter be over half an ounce. If you’re going to be frequently mailing letters abroad, you can buy a whole page of stamps and just use them at home. Also, you should get the stickers that say, “Air Mail/Par Avion” and stick one of them on each letter.
The last line of the address should always be the country to which the letter is being mailed.
Just so no-one panics, there can be seven characters eg LA14 3AQ. As an aside, theoretically a house number and post code is sufficient for a letter to reach the intended recipient (as the post code identifies a particular street) in the UK. So can this be done in the US? Do zip codes apply to streets or areas?
Just to respond to a couple of points:
A small envelope (3 5/8" x 6 1/2") with two 8 1/2" x 11" sheets will come in at the half-ounce rate (60¢).
A large envelope (4 1/8" x 9 1/2") with one 8 1/2" x 11" sheet will come in at the half-ounce rate.
Anything over those two will go up to the full-ounce rate of $1.
It’s unlikely that any normal letter will exceed that rate (you’d need to get up to about six pages for normal paper).
In the States, postal coding follows these basic rules:
A 5-digit ZIP will be for some area (although some buildings have their own zip codes).
A 9-digit ZIP will be typically for a section of a street.
An 11-digit ZIP (*which is required for barcoding) goes to the specific house number.
These are crude, but general rules.
*Actually, by the time it’s barcoded it becomes 12 digits.
For your edification and enjoyment:
Recently I edited a book containing a slew of overseas addresses, very inconsistently given. I hunted high and low for some sort of reference material that would allow me to standardize them, and the link above was the jackpot.
I can’t believe you people are discussing this seriously. Next thing we’ll be discussing detailed instructions on how to swallow an aspirin.
You really need help mailing a letter? Ok:
- Go to the post office and remember to take the letter and some cash with you.
- Wait in line if there is one (I trust you can find the end of the line)
- hand your letter to the friendly postal worker who will tell you everything you need to know, including the postage.
Can you do that? or do you need instructions to find your front door?
Sailor, I’m guessing you haven’t been around the world yet. Some countries like their mail to be addressed in very unusual ways. In Russia and a few other former Soviet states, for example, you’re supposed to start with the country at the top and work your way down to the recipient – the opposite of how we do it. In several Asian countries, you’re supposed to address mail vertically down the length of the envelope. Lots of countries prefer that the postal code be placed immediately before the destination city, and the United Kingdom is unusual in preferring that it be placed after everything, including the country. Garfield’s question was perfectly reasonable.
Letter rate for foreign mail (Canada and Mexico have their own rates) is $0.60 for up to the first half ounce. Each half ounce after that is an additional $0.40 – so .6-1.0 ounce is $1.00 and 1.1-1.5 ounces is $1.40 (and so on).
The weight thing is the same for Canada/Mexico (by the half ounce; I’m not sure how they calculate the increase):
The post office wants the name of the country it is being mailed to at the bottom of the address and it should be written in English.
“I’d rather be at home, listening to the Ramones . . .”
I have to agree with sailor, even if he does sound a little sarcastic. Take the letter to the post office or a mailing store near you & ask them to tell you how its done. I ALWAYS do that for the first time anyway…
AT&T has ten cents per minute calls to UK right now, wow. Hey, just fax it
>>> Sailor, I’m guessing you haven’t been around the world yet. Some countries like their mail to be addressed in very unusual ways. In Russia and a few other former Soviet states, for example, you’re supposed to start with the country at the top and work your way down to the recipient – the opposite of how we do it. In several Asian countries, you’re supposed to address mail vertically down the length of the envelope. Lots of countries prefer that the postal code be placed immediately before the destination city, and the United Kingdom is unusual in preferring that it be placed after everything, including the country. Garfield’s question was perfectly reasonable.
Sorry if I sounded sarcastic. Other than that, I am sorry to disappoint you. I have been around the world more than once. I live mostly between Washington DC and Madrid, Spain and I travel relatively often to Asia. I have used the mail for some decades now with many foreign countries. I know well how to address letters to Russia, China and other exotic countries. But…
Even if they have different conventions, postal workers do have brains and a letter will be delivered if the address is understandable even if it does not follow the local convention. Don’t you think a letter mailed to the USA with the address in reverse order (country first, person’s name last)would find its target?
I can tell you letters mailed to China, Russia and other countries with the address written in English will be delivered. Personally I always write the address twice in English and the local language, just to make sure.
In any case, if the question is “how do I mail a letter abroad?” the answer is: ask the USPS or visit their web site. That is the question I understood but if the question is “how do I address the letter?” the answer is: ask the person you are addressing it to.
I have had occasion to mail letters to Europe, and my convention is to write the name of the country in English, French, and the local language. (The Netherlands/Pays-Bas/Nederland)