France - The necessity of the label "Par Avion"

Hello everyone!

I have a feeling that the international mails and postcards that I have sent travel longer than those sent by others. I notice that people who sent me international mail from other countries include a “Prioritaire / airmail / luftpost” sticker with their mail. And when they do, some of their mails and cards arrive as fast as just in 3 days from Germany to France!

So I’m wondering if the transit time will be shorter if I also put a stamp or a sticker that indicates my mailings are a priority when I send from France. Or is it true that all the international mailings (with a stamp of €1.65, Lettre prioritaire - International) are by default sent by airmail, even if I don’t specifically ask for it?

If it is useful to have a stamp or sticker, should I get it from a “official provider”, or can I just print it out myself on Vista Print?

Happy Postcrossing!



In :canada: AIRMAIL stickers are free at the Post Office. Just ask yours for some the next time you are in!


Thanks! I’ll try asking for some.

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I’ve even hand drawn them myself, so it stands out alittle. Whether in bold print, putting a box around it. U can be as creative as you want​:slightly_smiling_face::love_letter:

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So anything is fine as long as it makes people understand I want it by airmail. I get it. Thanks!

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Hand written the “Par Avion” is sufficient anywhere on the envelope. But preferable on the same side as the recipient’s address.

You may also write, “Please Do Not Bend” if you are sending stamps.

I forget to write on my envelope after I mailed it to you. :sweat_smile:

+++++ Edited to add +++++

Yes, you can design and print your own Air Mail/Par Avion label and use them. As mentioned by others, they are mainly for decoration and many people like these kind of mail related sticker. I have no idea if they are helpful to make the transit time shorter. The mails just arrived nicely for me.


Actually, the best place to ask is your local post office. Airmail is a class of service, and some countries no longer offer it.

Here in the US, airmail is no longer a service, and as a result they no longer make airmail stickers. Historically you could choose whether to send your letters via first or second class, air, surface or sea, and there would be different rates. Now there is just one class of service, “First Class.”

A lot of people here still write “Airmail” on their international mail, or buy their own airmail stamps, stickers or envelopes. But as far as the USPS is concerned, that is all merely decorative, it’s all going to go the same way regardless.

That said, I still use airmail envelopes, stamps, stickers for my international mail. I just love the classic look and I believe they add the perfect accent. I even make my own stickers (the airplane one below). And while it doesn’t make a difference with USPS, the stickers may help speed things up when traveling through countries that still do offer airmail. So definitely check with your local post office.


In Spain they used to put the label “Por Avión”, but it’s been a while since I asked at the post office and they said that it is no longer used, that all mail goes by plane.


here in the netherlands they have put the ‘priority’ sticker that we had first on the stamp itself (see first photo). But I have noticed that when I sent two cards to the same place, one with just the stamp and one with a seperate priority sticker (see second photo), the one with the priority sticker travels faster! even when they say at the postoffice that it shouldnt make a difference!


And a priority sticker is probably more appropriate in places such as Europe, where a lot of the mail travels fast but by rail connections. That said, I still like to use Par Avion stickers from here in the UK. I buy lots of sheets of them from eBay.


@johnbradleytlh Thanks for a nice post/reply. Interesting you make your own Airmail stickers. While I have a source for Business size “AirMail” envelopes, I am curious where you sourced the European sized “AirMail” envelopes pictured above? Thanks.


Amazon if you meant the one on the left, which is just big enough for a 5x7 postcard.

The other envelope is a standard US #6 that I got from Walmart decades ago when airmail was still a thing here.


Thanks a lot for your replies! I have designed a stamp (tampon) that says “PAR AVION”. Hope that it will make the travel time shorter!

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I think there is no more “Par Avion” sticker at La Poste and that it changes nothing to add it honestly … if you send from France. There is only one price for international and it is with priority.
Well perhaps test your stamp with two postcards going to the same country ?

But you are right when you say that the postcards are faster with the Airmail sticker from some countries. I’d noticed it too. I suppose that there is this extra option from those countries, and that the sender pay more for it.

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I do sometimes ask for Airmail stickers at the postoffice when buying stamps, but are told it is not necessary, and I do get only the amount of stickers as the amount of stamps I’m buying (it feels like I’m robbing the post office of something valuable they really don’t want to give away).

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I use a sticker/label that says “by Air Mail Par Avion” or sometimes write on the card or letter. As long as it is on it, that is fine. There are some nice ones you can get from etsy sellers, or use planner stickers (which I have done before) and wrote on them.

Anytime I have asked for Air Mail stickers from the post office, you’d think I was asking for a key to their safe! :joy:

I think it is a legal requirement when sending post to certain countries from some countries. Though don’t quote me on that. I have been always been told that the Air Mail sticker, or have it written on post is necessary.

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my most recent Germany to France card didn’t have any Airmail sticker/reference, but it still arrived after only 2 days. (Dropped in Wed afternoon, arrived on Fri).
For EU countries I have mostly stopped using airmail stickers cause I don’t really notice a difference for those…


As many said, in countries that Airmail is no longer offered, as in the US which just has First Class, airmail stickers (or envelopes, stamps or just written) are basically just decorative now. And since USPS doesn’t even make Airmail stickers anymore, I make my own vintage style stickers. My family and friends think I’m crazy to spend so much time and effort making these tiny labels, but I just love the timeless look it gives my mail. I’m so proud of them.


Bonjour! Hello! In Canada, in the province of Québec, the post office clerk told me it is not necessary anymore but since they have a lot already printed , they are always willing to give me a pile so it makes my postcard nicer and maybe it influences some country! Good luck, bonne chance!


We could crowdsource a wiki in this forum where we can gather which countries still need this mark, so there would be a place to quickly check if it’s necessary on a card or taking up precious space…