How Does an International Author Get Postage to Have SASEs Returned?

Publish date:

Q: I live outside the United States. Most queries require a self-addressed, stamped envelope (SASE), but if I put my own country’s stamp on the SASE, it won’t be valid when posted back from the United States. How does an international author get postage to have SASEs returned? —Bhaskar Majumdar

A: Don’t fret, as others have encountered the same problem. In fact, it became such an issue back in 1906, that the Universal Postal Union (UPU) gathered at a convention in Rome to discuss remedies. After hours of thinking, debating and, perhaps, thumb-wrestling, the International Reply Coupon (IRC) was born.

IRCs are green paper coupons that transfer funds in exchange for postage from other countries. According to the UPU, IRCs are exchangeable in all member countries for the minimum postage of a priority item or an unregistered airmail letter sent to a foreign country. Though they’re not
required to sell IRCs, most post offices do, and it’s mandatory for all posts of the UPU member countries to exchange the coupons.

When buying IRCs, you need to know the weight of the envelope being returned, that country’s postal rates and the current currency exchange rate (generally found in the newspaper). It’s always better to overestimate on the cost.

Another option, if you have a printer and sticker paper, is to visit and print out your own postage. You can select the country and it'll allow you to print in the correct format. Again, you'll have to have enough postage on it to cover its weight, so overestimate its postage costs.

NOTE: Do you have any suggestions on postage options for international writers? Please share in the comments section below.

Brian A. Klems is the online managing editor of Writer’s Digest magazine.

Have a question for me? Feel free to post it in the comments section below or e-mail me at with “Q&Q” in the subject line. Come back each Tuesday as I try to give you more insight into the writing life.


Incite vs. Insight (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use incite vs. insight with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.


Jane K. Cleland: On Writing the Successful Long-Running Series

Award-winning mystery author Jane K. Cleland describes what it's like to write a long-running book series and offers expert advice for the genre writer.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: #StartWrite, Virtual Conference, and New Courses

This week, we’re excited to announce free resources to start your writing year off well, our Novel Writing Virtual Conference, and more!


20 Most Popular Writing Posts of 2020

We share a lot of writing-related posts throughout the year on the Writer's Digest website. In this post, we've collected the 20 most popular writing posts of 2020.


Carla Malden: Writing With Optimism and Innocence

Screenwriter and author Carla Malden explains why young adult fiction and the '60s go hand-in-hand and how she connected with her main character's voice.


Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Talking About the Work-in-Progress

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake writers make is talking about the work-in-progress.


Greta K. Kelly: Publishing Is a Marathon

Debut author Greta K. Kelly reveals how the idea for her novel sparked and the biggest surprise of her publication journey.

Poetic Forms

Mistress Bradstreet Stanza: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the Mistress Bradstreet stanza, an invented form of John Berryman.


Capital vs. Capitol (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use capital vs. capitol with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.