"Incomplete" postcards, and how these are treated officially

I’ve seen a lot of comments from “postage police” and many others looking for any excuse to justify not registering a postcard.

Nowhere in the FAQs or Community Guidelines does it mention anything about “proper postage.” It clearly says all postcards must be registered, NO exceptions. So if anyone should be reported it should be those that state anywhere they won’t register postcards that don’t meet their personal approval.

What next? You’re going to refuse to register postcards without a postmark? I can’t tell you how many I receive without one. Upset about a pen cancellation? Those are legally legit no matter how much you may hate them.

Postcrossing isn’t designed for postcard collectors, much less for stamp collectors. There could be any number of reasons why you receive less or no postage than you think you deserve that isn’t due to fraud on the part of the sender.

Received a postcard? Register it. That plain and simple. Upset you didn’t get a stamp to add to your collection? Postcrossing may not be for you.


This is interesting and reminds me of a card I got once. I didn’t know what to do with it because there are some numbers and letters in the place of the stamp. But there’s also an empty corner that may have had a sticker on, so I thought it could have fallen along the way or maybe it was prepaid somehow. For future reference, should I have had reported it? And does anyone know what are those numbers and what they stand for?


From the Community Guidelines:

Don’t forget the basics: Postcard ID, address and postage.

Write the address and the Postcard ID clearly and exactly as they are given to you by Postcrossing, and always include correct postage. Please also include a message to the receiver: for example, share something about yourself or the place where you live (in English or in another language they understand). Check our FAQ for more ideas on what to write.

And do you know what? I recently received two postcards with insufficient postage (domestic instead of international rate) and I registered them although I shouldn’t have done it. After looking at their profiles I should have reported them as both senders are members with 1000+ and 2000+ sent cards and should know better that a domestic stamp isn’t enough to send international.


I guess it was from the Netherlands? It’s valid postage! You buy it online and note down the given code. We have something very similar in Germany (but so far only for national mail).

(site is only in Dutch): https://www.postnl.nl/versturen/postzegels/postzegels-kopen/postzegelcode/


I have received this kind from the Netherlands, it’s a code you get when you pay the postage.
We have similar for package mail in Finland.


I think you’re misunderstanding this. You may ask Ana or Paolo about this and they’ll tell you that of course it is against the rules to cheat the postal system to get more postcards through Postcrossing… That should be obvious.

Thanks @Cassiopheia and @S_Tuulia! Yes, it was from The Netherlands :slightly_smiling_face:

I very much agree about the points about collectors and not registering for whimsical reasons (that has become in fashion in forum discussions since the new forum started), but… Proper, correct postage is not an opinion, it’s the law, it’s the price of things… It’s not like you go to a café and you underpay your coffee and that’s fine…

That said, yes, I would never notice if a card had the wrong postage, I don’t know much about prices in other countries and it’s not a topic that interests me (unless I’m travelling to that country) so it would be hard to realise. Even when I notice the stamps, which is not always since I’m not interested in philately, I never really look at the cost…


Sometimes, I have used for overseas cards a sort of washi tape that resembles a stamp with local culture decorations. But I also use the right value of true stamps of postage. The post office clerk never had an objection with this until now. I wonder if people will think I am using fake postage for using this washi tape… Should I maybe stop this?


No, I don’t think so. I have had washi with stamp shape too, and stickers, but I keep them on the message side. I have even used old stamps as decoration. (And the right amount of postage, not just the stickers.)

No member can just “decide” what is fraud, just because they don’t like it, or they think so, as they always should contact the Postcrossing team, and they look into it closer. In my opinion they are fair, new member is treated with more understanding, and I think it’s really good attitude, even though they still might be cheaters.


I don’t see a problem here as long as you use them as an addition to the right amount of real stamps.


Thank you both for the answers, I’m a bit more with relief about using them now :slight_smile:

In The Netherlands we can buy a code online :wink: https://jouw.postnl.nl/#!/versturen/details

Did you receive the card from The Netherlands ?


I like using faux stamps like that on postcards when they go in an envelope, so they look like more of a complete postcard without having to waste actual postage, if that makes sense :slight_smile: but I think you’re fine using them the way you are too!


That’s a nice idea, I have never thought about using them that way!

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Yes, it was from The Netherlands, that option is very interesting!

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That’s a basic “how to,” not a reason to refuse to register a postcard. If that were a valid reason to not register a card, then so would not writing the Postcard ID on the card. But then that would contradict this under “On receiving:”

"All postcards must be registered.

These include those that might not match your personal preferences or taste - all postcards must be registered, no exceptions. If you receive a postcard without or with a wrong Postcard ID, Postcrossing can help you. If you’ve received an item that you feel is unsuitable for the project, you should report it to Postcrossing and we’ll look into it."

If no “correct postage” is a valid reason to not register a card, then under your reasoning so is no Postcard ID as well. And yet under the part of the Community Guidelines that apply to you, the receiver, it does not give you any of those options. Not only does it clearly and explicitly say in plain and direct English that “ALL postcards MUST be registered, NO EXCEPTION,” it says that even if you receive a card with no ID to contact Postcrossing for help. So even though the sender did not follow that basic “how to,” it is apparently not a reason to not register the card.

The only explicit requirement for senders are you must send a new postcard. That’ it. Senders send a postcard, receivers register them. The only thing you’re not required to register is if the sender sends something other than a postcard (letter, greeting card) or send you a used postcard. If Postcrossing wanted you to be a judge about what is or isn’t proper postage, it would explicitly say so. But it doesn’t Nowhere.

Now, if you receive an “item” (which would refer to WHAT you received, not the postage) that is not suitable, then you should report it.


No, I think you’re misunderstanding me. Of course cheating the postal system is wrong. The problem is that 99% of us are in no position to judge whether what we receive was sent with proper postage. We may know what is proper in our own country, or maybe in an additional country or two, but in the nearly 200 countries that participate in Postcrossing?

As just ONE example from the US, did you know can leave outgoing mail to be collected in your mailbox with cash instead of postage affixed? That is totally legal and proper in the US. And yes, the mailman is supposed to take the cash and affix proper postage, but as we all know too well the post service isn’t perfect, is it? All mail, by law, must be postmarked. But how many postcards have you received without one? I have hundreds.

So the point isn’t whether it is wrong or right to cheat the postal service. Of course it isn’t. The point is where does it EXPLICITLY say in the Community Guidelines “if you determine proper postage was not used by the sender, do not register the postcard?” Nowhere. So register the postcard. It is not your job to investigate or punish postal violators. In most cases you’re not only not qualified to determine whether there was a postal violation, much less that it was done by the sender. You feel unsure about something, report it if you’d like, but you still register the card.

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No. Report it and wait what the Postcrossing team advises you. We have been asked before to report when someone writes “STS” instead of using a stamp, and also severely underpaid postage. Same with previously used cards. If the advice is to register, then register.


Nowhere, you are right. Because, I think the how to register a postcard is made with the assumption that the sender did everything as should, like used the proper postage.

Also, Postcrossing doesn’t decide the proper postage. They have no authority over postal systems. They can’t say it’s ok to use too little postage. Therefore, reporting is a good way to solve it. I believe they ask the sender as well, so the sender can tell for example they left the money, and no postage was put there, or too little, or give their view to the situation.

I think underpaid postage is unsuitable for the project, hence it’s good to ask help.