Postcards to and from China

Postcards to China: better attach printed address in Chinese, which significantly reduces time in sorting and delivery.

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But not everyone has a chance to do it. For example, I don’t have a printer.
Nowadays, it seems like it often takes over 60 days until my postcards arrive to China. I mean, if they arrive at all.


I can’t seem to print Chinese addresses either.


Then it depends on how much a user is annoyed by expired cards to China. If it really matters, then purchasing a printer is imperative. Otherwise, it’s just an generic issue regardless of destination.


I know all the “address of the Latin alphabet” things… My question is, though I can usually wait for a card for 2 or 3 months, the speed of delivery these days is still even lower than before. I think it is not a simple “the language of address” thing. It’s about the pandemic.
If there is a large-scale delay due to the extra reason of pandemic, I have to take extra action.
I can adapt to the situation that the cards with address of the Latin alphabet could be delivered slower, but I am nervous about the pandemic. Because the delivery of cards could be canceled, even destroyed without notice due to the safety reason.
In order to avoid the destruction of these lovely cards, I should consider it to open the travel mode, or take other action.

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As an individual, I cannot generalize to a single conclusion about a huge country, but as a user of Postcrossing who has been active again after 8 years’ pause, I would like to give a brief account of my experience before and after:

  1. In China, the functions of China Post are gradually replaced by cheap and fast private express delivery. The latest data I was able to search on the Internet shows that in 2021, express delivery business in China accounted for 81.7% of the postal industry, so China Post’s mail business has been gradually weakened.

  2. Under such circumstances, China Post’s service has gradually become a niche hobby of choice by postal enthusiasts. While China’s postal enthusiasts mainly collect stamps, collecting postcards belong to a niche of a specialized interest group. Since the birth of postcards, there has been no widespread popularity in China, and even for many people, postcards are just something that they have only heard of and not seen much. As a result, the counter staff is not familiar with the processing of postcards.

  3. Not only postcard service, but also many counter staffs are unfamiliar with INTERNATIONAL postal service. Take my personal experience as an example. My home is in a small town (around 90k residents) subordinate to a third-tier city (around 8m residents) in the east coast of China. When I tried to send an international letter in January this year, the counter staff told me that I could only use the official airmail envelope issued by China Post instead of my own envelope. It was not until I said it was perfectly okay for me to send such an envelope in Beijing and she checked with her supervisor that she accepted it.

  4. Sending postcards to each other in China usually takes 3 to 7 days. International postcards, however, will be slowed down because they involve necessary postal procedures such as international shipping routes, customs clearance and disinfection. In January this year, it took me two months to send a postcard from Macao to Guangzhou, which is 100 kilometers away, while it only took me 10 days to send a postcard to the UK and the US. I think the reason is that each process takes time. For my registered mail, for example, it usually takes one to two weeks from customs clearance to disinfection and delivery, as shown in the screenshots:

  5. In the pandemic, mail routes are sometimes closed because of a city’s lockdown. And the suspension will affect other cities on the mail route.

  6. Unlike European languages, in Chinese, one pronunciation corresponds to multiple Chinese characters. There are even two provinces in China, Shanxi (山西) and Shaanxi (陕西), which are completely different in Chinese characters, while the original pronunciation in Latin letters is the same, with some spelling differences just to distinguish them. This is a very striking example. Also, like these pictures of Chinese dictionaries, where all the characters in a picture are the same pronunciation in Latin alphabet and not even complete in a single picture.

    So if you use the Latin alphabet which just roughly marks Chinese pronunciation of address, Chinese postmen will need time to translate it, as shown in the picture below. If you can use Chinese addresses, it will GREATLY speed up your postcards.

  7. In addition to the differences between Chinese and languages using Latin alphabet, please also note that different countries write numbers in different ways, which is an almost overlooked phenomenon. In China, numbers should be written like the photo shows. In my experience, the different writing of the numbers 1, 4 and 7 between China and foreign countries often leads to misunderstandings. Numbers can be so misleading, not to mention the different styles of Latin writing.

  8. Different regions of China have different postal processing speed. It is very fast to receive and send postcards from China’s first and second tier cities. For example, in Beijing, where I study now, it usually takes about 15 days to send and receive a postcard from here, but in my city just 150 kilometers away, the time is extended by a week. In my town, 230 kilometers away, the time will be extended by another week. This is even true in eastern China, where transportation is close to foreign countries, not to mention in the central and western parts of China where it takes four or five hours to fly from the east.

  9. Email is an unpopular way of contact in China. Generally speaking, most Chinese people use social media such as WeChat and telephone communication, email is rarely used, and many people forget their email and password because they are not used often. So I think they don’t respond to messages on purpose, because they don’t have the habit of using email.

But now things are getting better and better. Take my personal experience as an example. When I first got into contact with Postcrossing in 2013, the post office here told me that I could not send postcards to foreign countries, but could only send them in envelopes. In January this year I tried again to send postcards from my home post office, and they were totally fine to be delivered in the normal way.

Postcrossing is a window for us to explore the world, and the postal systems of different countries also reflect the characteristics of different countries. Therefore, stay positive, stay patient, which is the biggest lesson postcrossing has taught us :blush::heart::earth_asia::earth_africa::earth_americas:


That was very informative. Thank you!

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Thank you for the thorough information, I experience the same and can’t agree with you more :+1:

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To China: 6 expired and 6 long travelling. I do hope all mail will be delivered. I read China is cleaning all incomming mail. I wonder how they clean up. Have not read all posts above mine yet.

If address given in characters I handwrite those. But is my pen waterproof? It was not.

From China: I receive not so many as last year.

In six months of postcrossing, I received only one postcard from China, which lasted 56 days. And one of my postcards was delivered to China in 38 days. At the same time, I have 2 expired postcards to China, and one active one, which has been on the way for 49 days. It seems to me that I could receive more postcards from China, this country is sufficiently represented both on the forum and on the official postcrossing. But unfortunately (because I like beautiful Chinese postcards), only one arrived safely (December 2021 - February 2022)

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Currently I have seven postcards on their way to China.
Two of them are expired (102 and 64 days), the other cards are on the way since 40, 40, 35, 23 and 16 days.

The average travel time of my cards to China is 40 days, of the received cards 33 days. I have received 102 cards since 2013 and successfully sent 77.


Cards from China could travel longer for surface (namely not air mail) transit. Cards to China are subject to much more factors. Anyway, it’s the 3rd largest country by area, with an internally twisted and diversified postal system.


I received today a postcard from China with a post office stamp date from one year ago. My heart is broken because Postcrossing won’t allow me to register it since it’s older than one year.


Be sure to message the sender and let them know that it did arrive.


The postcard from Siberia reached Taiwan quickly, in 19 days. But it has been going to China for almost a month… just at the very moment when I want it to come sooner and finally see a new postcard, postcrossers will understand me)

Cards to Taiwan only go through 1 province, but those to the mainland are likely to travel more :laughing:

I’d love to do it, but apart from the postcard ID I did not get any other details, like the name of this person. And Postcrossing doesn’t show who sent me this expired card.

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What a pity, @chiguire … And I don’t think that the Postcrossing team can help in this matter. In the FAQ it says : Expired postcards can still be registered up to one year after you requested the address. After this period, they are deleted from Postcrossing and can no longer be registered.

I’ve seen in some profiles a passage mentioning the ID of the finally expired card with a thank you to the sender, in case they look into your profile…

And you could put the card in this topic: Your greatest cards that never made it - a rare gem that did arrive after all… :wink:


Despite you can’t register it, you can still thank the sender, just need to contact support. :blush:


If you want to share postmark and possibly extra text, then it’s possible to find it.