Discussion about Country Codes

That is not encouraged. The name of the country of destination should be written either in the language of the dispatching country or in English or in French.


Exactly. I write the name of the country in both the dispatching country’s language and in English (when I’m in a non-English-speaking country).


That is what I do too. Except when the German an the English names are the same or quite similar. Like FINNLAND/FINLAND, SCHWEDEN/SWEDEN or BELGIEN/BELGIUM. In this cases I write the German name only.

Poor Finland is FI, even though in Finnish it’s “Suomi”.
(Long ago the code was SF (in address writing) and I have received few cards where the sender changed the FI before our postal code to SF. I wonder if they think I wrote it wrong, or what is the reason.)


While writing my post I thought about that too. I wondered why Finland has FI although it is Suomi in Finnish. I haven’t found an answer yet. Maybe because other matching codes were desperately needed for other countries and therefore FI was a compromise.

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Yeah, Kanada is essentially the same, Macaristan* less so!


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Macaristan sounds a little bit like Magyarország (as Hungary is called in Hungarian).

If you know what Hungary is called and you have an idea of how to pronounce the Turkish “c”. :wink:

Speaking of FI-xxx - I always wonder why Finnish addresses put the FI in front of their postcode. With “FINLAND” at the bottom of the address it seems a bit redundant, or is it actually part of the postcode and you would write it down even on a piece of mail within Finland?
Sorry for highjacking this thread…


@canchita I’d like to know that too!

I don’t know why, but Sweden also wants the postcode to be preceded by SE- on incoming international mail (but not on domestic mail), but in my experience it doesn’t make any difference in travel times whether or not SE is used.

I think it is because if the country is written in a language that is not understood easily, like Chinese, the prefix makes it easier to know what the destination is.

But last time I saw an example to write letter internationally, the return address did not have the FI, only the postal code. I actually don’t know if it’s needed anymore.

We don’t use in in domestic mail either.


As a curiosity, while GB is the code being used in the ISO, the United Kingdom requested the ISO to reserve UK so that it’s not used by others, which would be rather confusing.


And I was wondering why this card got so many favourites out of the blue… :smile:


Finland’s country code used to be SF (Suomi Finland - in both of our national languages). I couldn’t find anything official, but I have heard the rumor that SF was felt unsuitable since it made foreign people to think “Soviet Finland”. But this could be just an urban legend. :joy: (And think about SU! It was in at least some instances given as a country code to Soviet Union.) Our code was changed in 1993 to FIN and 2004 to FI. I guess it makes sense in an international world.


I personally think the whole country code looks silly. I never use it in my return addresses. And like said, it isn’t used in domestic mail. It seems it is still recommended by the Universal Postal Union, but exactly why, I am not sure. I saw in EU’s official site that country codes should be used with postal codes to many smaller member countries like Latvia, Luxembourg and Croatia (yay, are we small countries so unknown we need extra guides in our addresses? :wink: ). For Germany, it is said the code should never be used since it can delay the delivery.

I guess it used to be like @S_Tuulia said. However, it is nowadays strongly recommended the country is also written - otherwise the mail can easily get lost, be there country code or not. So… I personally think it is quite redundant. But if someone knows better, prove me wrong. :slight_smile:


In my country, The United States of America, the country is the entity which controls the post office, not the states. The United States Postal Service (USPS) is a service of the federal (United states) government, and the states (like Maryland, where I live) have little if any jurisdiction over postal matters. The post offices are federal property, and any crimes committed using the postal service or against post office property are federal crimes and are not prosecuted locally, by prosecuted within the federal criminal justice system. The taxes used to subsidize postal service, and any funds collected by the post office (the purchase of stamps or payment for postage to send a package, etc.) service are all federal funds.

All of which is to say that we operate atypically here in the USA.

I changed the headline from “Why GB?” to “Discussion about Country Codes” because it is not only GB that is being talked about here.

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Russia has more than just one ethnic group, is Rusia now more than one country?

I do it the same way unless to Austria, for then I am afraid the mail goes to Australia, so in this csse I write: “ÖSTERREICH/AUSTRIA”. Österreich is the Germsn name of that republic.