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

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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.