Postage due?

So I sent off a card for pictorial postmarks a month or two ago and it got back to me safely, but the envelope it has been mailed back in says “POSTAGE DUE 99¢”. I’m not sure if I was supposed to pay it or the post office/USPS was supposed to? I thought when I put postage on the postcard it would come pack to me not in an envelope like this? The postwoman that delivered mail today never said anything and I don’t see anywhere to attach payment? I’m very scared that I did something illegal.

Also was I supposed to add another envelope with postage? There are so many rules about how you have to do pictorial postmarks I have no idea what I was supposed to do?

I’m going to go out on a limb and provide a possible explanation. Years ago, I used to collect pictorial postmarks. Here was my process:

  1. Write a note to the Postmaster of the city where the postmark was issued with a request to apply the cancel to the enclosed postcard.
  2. I enclosed a self-addressed picture postcard with the correct postcard rate. After that, I inserted the postcard in a plastic sleeve. With a request to the postmaster to apply the cancel, and after he applied the cancel to put the card back into the sleeve, tape the open end and then drop into the mailstream.

Looking at your photo, you also inserted a cardboard backing along with the postcard. That being so, that made it a package exceeding the postcard rate you had on the card. Adding another envelope is a waste of money. By following the steps I mentioned above, you ensure just your postcard is coming back to you…protected…with a nice cancellation. If you are regularly collecting these, it might be good to purchase some Continental size plastic sleeves. They are quite cheap & I use them to store my postcards. I hope this helps…


I can’t answer to your questions but I have got some postcards from US (to Finland / Europe) with too low postage. 1 x USA Forever stamp is not enough for a card to Europe? There has been written on the postcard “POSTAGE DUE 99 c” and I think the card should have need 99 cents more stamps (?)

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Actually, I simply put it in a regular envelope, no cardboard. They never said anything about including cardboard or plastic anywhere. So I assume it’s the post offices fault here?

I have also hear that our postworkers have gave us mail without sufficient postage just because it’s Christmas?

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My last card with a special cancellation from the US was wrapped just like that. I think they do it after cancellation to protect it. (It was just recently, first day cancellation for the Snoopy stamps). Before that I always received the postcard without any protection.

I can’t help with your other question about rate as I’m not located in the US.


I have only done special postmarks for first day of issues of first class forever stamps (so the domestic letter rate, not postcard rate) and the post office packages them with the cardboard and plastic sleeve like you have in the picture in order to prevent machine postmarking after the special postmark. I don’t know why it would be $0.99 due, but I think for any special postmark it is supposed to be at least the first class forever stamp rate even if you are adhering stamps to a postcard (in order to accommodate mailing the extra packaging.) I would have thought the postage due for this would have been 60c - 44c = 16c

If you don’t want the cardboard and plastic packaging, you can send your postcards along with a S.A.S.E. and a note asking to have your item(s) returned to you in the provided envelope.

Again, that’s just a guess from my limited experience/understanding.

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Here’s what can happen if a special postmark doesn’t have protection of an envelope or the plastic packaging:

I don’t know why this one didn’t have the packaging as the other 6 postcards I sent in at the same time (to be sent on to other addresses) were all packaged by the post office after receiving the special postmark.


OK…sorry…I thought the cardboard was yours. When you send your post card to a postmaster in another city, I would still recommend enclosing it in a plastic sleeve and following the steps above. Only a suggestion of course.

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Most cards from FDOI come back in that packing, some from other post offices, some not. Honestly, I wonder if the postage due stamp was just a mistake or rubbed off from another piece of mail. It’s so faint and I don’t think there’s any reason for it.

Now I have had issue with them not giving special postmarks to for less than the required postage, even if you are having it sent back in a SASE, but that’s not the issues here.

I’ve received cards with special postmarks with postcard rate stamps. Granted, not packaged that way. Who knows with the whims of USPS!


The more I think I know, the more questions I have and the less I understand :sweat_smile: Also, that North Pole Station postmark is beautiful!


Whenever postage is due USPS holds it until it is paid. Since your item was delivered, you’re good. Regardless of how “postage due” ended up on your item, you can chalk it up to yet another postal error, and that’s on USPS, not you. So relax, no need to worry about it at all.


I’ve said before on this forum, I delivered mail for 5 years (2015-2020), and I’ve used the USPS to mail lots of things over the years. But, I can only give my opinion based on my experience. If something is marked “postage due,” it’s up to the mail carrier to collect the amount due. We were supposed to be given any postage due letters or packages when we loaded our trucks for the day. One of the clerks would make us sign for each item and, at the end of the day, in order to be cleared for the day, the carrier has to give the clerk any amount collected and sign off on it again. That’s how it’s supposed to work. Like some other carriers, I kept my own roll of stamps in my truck. If something only needed a bit extra, I’d slap a stamp or two on it and deliver it. (That’s the same as paying for it.) Same if someone had an envelope in the outgoing mail that I knew was short postage. I’d slap a stamp on it and send it on it’s way.

More time than not, a postage due letter would pop up in my trays of machine sorted letters. If I got one there, I just delivered it, as is. I figured, if the mighty machine sorters accepted it, it was good enough for me! That’s probably how people sometimes get postage due mail delivered. The carrier chose to ignore it! And, as someone said here earlier, once you get it, it’s yours!

FYI - if there’s a substantial amount due, usually on a package, and there’s no one at home to pay for it, it goes back to the post office. The carrier leaves a note telling the people they have a postage due package that must be picked up.

And, again, as someone here said earlier - no one REALLY knows why the USPS does what it does. We all just cross our fingers and hope there’s a friendly clerk at the counter!


Just to clarify your response, no, a US First Class Forever stamp is NOT enough to mail a postcard out of the country. For the US, first class AND postcard postage out of the country is the same: $1.40 (currently, to increase on 1/22/23).

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Last year I received a small parcel with postage due…I took it to the PO to pay but the clerk really didn’t know what to do; eventually she figured out how to ring it up and I paid. It’s a rare experience

@tpuchalski I also work for the French postal service and that’s quite the same : Letter carrier is given the letter and have to come back with the money, or the letter if it wasn’t delivered.
Letter carriers usually don’t like it, cause it’s a loss of time and people are generally annoyed to pay for that.
For example, a letter France to France with no stamp will need a 4,16€ fee in 2023 (the stamp is 1,16€).
I also have a “T” stamps for international letters, but I use it about 10 times a year.
On the other hand, it’s rather common to have “local” postage due. I guess a letter carrier is given one each week.

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Here is a philatelic perspective. Back in the day most countries used postage due stamps to mark the postage due from recipients. The use of these stamps being fairly unusual, covers (philatelic term for any envelope or postcard) that use these stamps are valued. Postage due stamps have mostly been discontinued in recent years. I am a philatelic cover collector and I have a small number of covers with postage due stamp use. I believe these are quite rare.

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I just got three postcards from USA with too little postage.
I haven’t registered these yet, but I thought maybe the new ones aren’t aware how much they need to use? (Of course I don’t know if these are from a new member, but I came to think this seeing this thread here.)


Did you have a problem receiving postcards? Or did the stamps work very well?
I admit that it never occurs to me to check if the sender has the right postage at the right price, I am too happy to receive postcards. :grinning:

Welcome to the new USA postcrossers!

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What kind of problem (like did I need to pay?), no.
I always look at the stamps too, everything possible :smile: . (And since I have learned what is enough from USA, I think I often spot it without thinking.)

Edit. One might be sent last year June, so not a new member, unless somehow wrote wrong date, or I read it wrong.