Gotochi Cards Considered as Postcards?

Some threads are talking about whether greeting cards and folded card should be considered as postcards. I think these are very valuable discussions, since they helped me know about the definition of postcards in Postcrossing.

In Japan, we have Gotochi Crads (ご当地フォルムカード), which seems have some demands in Postcrossing. I have seen many profiles that postcrossers want to receive a Gotochi card.

Gotochi card is a type of shaped cards. We can see some examples here:

While I was reading other threads, I found the explanation:

This explanation tells me that a postcard is a simple card without envelope.

However, when sending Gotochi cards to an address outside of Japan, we must put the card in an envelope: よくある質問 | 郵便局で買えるグッズPOSTA COLLECT

Q: ご当地フォルムカードは、海外に郵送出来ますか?
A: そのままでは送付出来ません。封筒などに入れて頂ければ、送付頂くことが出来ます。

It translates as:

Q: Can I send a Gotochi card to a country outside Japan?
A: You can not just send it just by card. However, if you put the card in an envelope, you can send it to a country outside Japan.

Well, it seems that Gotochi cards should be sent in envelopes, which should not be considered as a postcard.
I do not know whether my understanding is correct, so I wish members can help me find it out. Thanks in advance.


There is an answer to this in the FAQ .

However, in some countries, postal services may require postcards to travel in envelopes, or there might be clear advantages to that method of sending them (protection from likely damage or curious eyes, etc.). Some members indicate this on their profile. If you can, try to follow the recipient’s recommendations.

Keep in mind that in many countries, the postage is more expensive to send a postcard with an envelope than without it (plus the cost of the envelope). Both methods are acceptable, so it’s up to you to decide how to send your postcards.

Most postcards don’t require an envelope and can be mailed without one but sending a Gotochi or any other postcard in an envelope doesn’t make it a non-postcard. I hope that clears your confusion.


Thank you for your explanation. But I am sorry that your explanation makes me confused.

Folded cards and greetings cards should be sent in envelopes, so they are not considered as postcards.
Gotochi cards should be sent in envelopes, but they are still considered as postcards.
What is the difference in it?

On the other hand, in Japan, normal postcards are able to be sent without an envelope. That is to say, postal service in Japan does not require postcards sent in envelope.
However, Gotochi cards should be sent in envelopes. Does it indicate that Gotochi cards are different from postcards, so should not be considered as postcards in Postcrossing?

Folded cards by definition are not postcards. Postcards are usually defined like this

’ A postcard or post card is a piece of thick paper or thin cardboard, typically rectangular, intended for writing and mailing without an envelope’

’ A postcard is a piece of thin card, often with a picture on one side, which you can write on and send to people without using an envelope’

In the FAQ, there’s a line that says in some countries postal services may require postcards to travel in envelopes which is the case with the Gotochi card. If Gotochi card travels in an envelope, it doesn’t mean it is not a postcard.


I have received Gotochi card without envelope too. (Of course I don’t advice you to do this, if it’s told to send in an envelope. But it’s considered as postcard, even inside an envelope :slight_smile: )
Also, recently a shaped card from Taiwan arrived in very good condition, I was surprised (and happy) because there is this “foot” I imagine can easily get stuck.


@anon12838227 Thank you for your explanation. For your examples, I still have some questions.

If we ignore the requirement of sending in an envelope, then folded cards can also be a thick paper and rectangular.
On the other hand, Gotochi card have some plastic materials in it, and also is not rectangular.
From this point of view, does it make that folded cards are closer to postcards than Gotochi cards?

Well, if we again ignore the envelope requirements, folded cards can also satisfy the needs of a piece of thin card with a picture on one side, with the other side to write something.
From this opinion of view, does it make folded cards and Gotochi cards the same silimar to postcards?

If the clerks in post office are not so familiar with rules, then Gotochi cards may be sent without envelope. However, that is against rules, meanwhile not realistic in most of the post offices.

But it still confuse me that, Gotochi cards are not rectangular, and seem to have no difference in the definition with folded cards in the above postcard definitions, then what makes it to let you think Gotochi cards are postcards, while folded cards are not?

By the way, we can see the definition in Japan Post: Postcards - Japan Post

Postcards should be rectangular. If not, it cannot be considered as postcard.
Gotochi cards are not rectangular, so Japan Post does not regard them as postcards/

I think it might be simplest to think of a postcard as a piece of thin card where a message is written directly on the back of the image. A folded card has that extra piece of card for the message, the other side of the fold.

Gotochi cards are definitely postcards, even if sent in an envelope because they are an unfolded card, where the message is written on the back of the image.


Thank you for your explanation.
However, according to your explanation, if I print a photograph on a piece of thick paper, and write messages on the other side, then it definitely becomes a postcard, since it is not folded.

Yes, it does. It would be considered probably a hand made postcard, but it would still be a postcard.


But, if it’s printed on photo paper, it’s a photo :slight_smile: (and not postcard).

Some people also cut piece of package, write a message on the other side, and it’s also considered postcard. (Some people collect and/or like these.)


Thank you for your explanation.
I am sorry to misunderstand, so do you mean once a piece of photo paper is not folded, and on one side there is a figure, and on the other side there is a space to write messages, then it is a postcard?

No, if it is printed on photo paper and sent through the post with an address and a stamp on it, it is a postcard.
You might not like to receive it, but it is still a postcard.


Yes. A postcard is a flat piece of card, with an image on one side and writing on the other.

I think in general, most unfolded piece of strong enough material is considered as postcard.

I do like photos. But we don’t have to register photos, on photo paper. They easily damage on mail. Although I have received ones well, and sent, but also some “melted” and badly travelled photos. I think it helps to glue something on the back. But I also received a backing, without a photo :laughing: the photo fell somewhere.

And here, I need to point out that Japan Post has a definition of postcard, which is a official definition of postcard in Japan.

(Standards and formats for private postcards)
Article 22 Private postcards shall be of the following standards and formats.
(1) The size shall be within the range of the restrictions stipulated in Article 16 (Restrictions on the size and weight of ordinary mail).
(2) It must be made to rectangular paper with sufficient proof stress that does not interfere with the handling of mail.
(3) The color of the surface should be white or light.
(4) At least the right half of the surface (the upper half of the one that is used vertically) is the recipient’s address and fee payment.
Being able to be used for payments and business statements or vouchers.
(5) The letters “Postcard” or “Carte postale” are displayed on the surface (not necessary for picture postcards).

We can see, it states “It must be made to rectangular paper”.
Postcards should be a rectangular paper.
Gotochi card is shaped, not a rectangular paper. What’s why Japan Post do not regard Gotochi Card as a postcard.

My understanding of a postcard is that it is flat and not folded. Postcards can also come in different shapes and in different materials, perhaps I should have mentioned that. The definition I quoted above was a standard definition.

I’ve received shaped cards without an envelope. One had no space for a message and just had stamps and my address. I also send such cards even though by definition my postal service doesn’t consider these as postcards. There are a few postal services that don’t classify shaped cards as postcards probably because they need to be processed differently. These are still postcards though.

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Shaped cards are still postcards. Heck, I once sent a vinyl record single as a postcard and it arrived without any problems.

If it’s the “rectangular” part of the definition that is confusing you, it’s safe to ignore. I’ve sent and received all sorts of different shapes.

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I am sorry, I do not think it is reasonable.

I have an example:

  • Law says people cannot steal things.
  • Person A says that he steals a lot and he is never caught, so it is safe to ignore the law that tells you not to steal things.

Apparently, in the above example, it is not allowed to ignore the law of not stealing things.
Why it is okay to ignore the rectangular part when it comes to you when dealing with postcards? Is it just because shaped cards arrived at you without any problems? Then what is the difference of yours with “Person A says that he steals a lot and he is never caught”?

Because shaped cards are widely produced, and sent all over the world.

Honestly, if it troubles you so much that the cards are not rectangular, perhaps the easiest thing to do would be to not purchase or send them.