USA Postage from UK

Hi everyone,

Really enjoying postcrossing which I started during the March 2020 UK ‘lockdown’. I’ve sent a few cards to the USA now and they are constantly not received. Is the postal service there just not very good or am I not sending the correct postage?

Postcrossers from the USA say that I’ve probably not used the correct postage but after checking a number of times, £1.45 international stamp is more than enough. The Post Office also confirmed that a small parcel can be sent for £1.25, so the £1.45 stamp should be enough. Just frustrating that none of my 4 USA cards have been received- am I doing something wrong or just bad luck?



How long have they been traveling? I’ve had many cards take weeks even within the US.

Up until the 31st December 2020, the correct postage for a postcard up to 10g to the USA is £1.45, so you’ve used the correct postage.

Items are taking longer at the moment with Covid and also the extra volume of items sent for Christmas. I’m sure your items will get there :+1:

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Thanks for the replies all.

They have been travelling between 50 and 78 days now! Seems a while even with Covid. Fingers crossed though.

Thanks again


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Royal Mail also has International economy for letters (and cards) outside Europe for £1.26, but your cards cannot be marked “by air mail”, otherwise you have to pay the £1.45 tariff for International standard. I guess it is bad luck.


Hi Sprokk,

Mail from the UK to the USA is taking way longer than usual, stuff posted in Ohio in November has yet to arrive here in the UK and nothing posted the second week in November by myself from here in the UK to the USA has yet arrived. This no doubt due to far less flights with Covid, less staff sorting in some places , massive increase in in-country mail with online deliveries and it’s Christmas.

The current rate for a Postcard from the UK anywhere in the world is £1-45, this is rising to £1-70 from the 1st January 2021 in line with Royal Mail price increases. You can see all the changes if you search on Royal Mail prices 1st January 2021 and their leaflet will pop up as a PDF. Note that as far as I am aware nowhere in Royal Mails literature are postcards mentioned just price it as a 10 gmm letter. It is marginally cheaper to send stuff using Royal Mail International economy although not all Post Offices where I live seem to have heard of it !! It is correct that you cannot use airmail stickers with economy which would suggest it doesn’t go by air, however most of it does it just gets held back or delayed somewhere in the system but is " probably" treated exactly the same when it arrives in its destination country. Hope this helps !

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Did you take stamps from Royal Mail or from Universal Mail?

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The USA have been having problems for months. 50 days is not that long nowadays, I mean it is but it’s in line with recent months.

(Raising to £1.70???:flushed: That’s a huge increase!)

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Yes, stamps from Royal Mail.

My local Post Office told me that £1.45 will still be plenty in 2021 as long as I don’t write ‘AIR MAIL’ on the postcard. However, she told me that in reality, most will go by Air Mail and are classed as domestic postage once they arrive in the USA.

She also said there had been unprecedented stress on the postage system due to Covid-19, with more presents and letters being sent, but also with restrictions on ways of working.

I just though 70+ days for postage to a country like the USA was ridiculous, but from comments above this can be ‘the norm’ for the USA.

Thanks all!

Well, 70 days is really long. I have read that such long travel times often occur with Universal Mail, that is why I asked. But maybe your cards were the unlucky ones taking a ship to the USA.


I received a card that took 3 weeks to reach me within the US: New York to Illinois.


I currently have one postcard to the USA on 73 days and another on 60 days. Definitely noticing longer travel times but it’s very understandable given the pandemic and the time of year.

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Yes, all of the above things mentioned PLUS Trump made substantive cuts to the postal service to try & screw up the election - that is also affecting mail delivery. There are also outbreaks of infection in some postal plants as well that are slowing things down. I’ve had a number of cards take a long time & one expire to the US sent from Canada.


I have one card from Iowa to Iowa (175 miles) that was just registered after 14 days. That is nuts to me. My mom who lives 90 miles from me usually receives my cards in a day or two.

Our postal system is stretched thin at the moment, staff shortages due to COVID, and increased volume for the holidays aren’t helping matters. I hope your cards find their homes soon.


Non-priority mail rarely goes by sea nowadays, the USPS used ships earlier this year because there wasn’t air transport available, but normally the non-priority mail just wait until they get a cheap rate for transport or when they can fill-up a air container. Non-priority mail is more like SAL (Surface Air Lifted). My experience (pre-covid, to Canada and UAE) with international economy was that it didn’t make any difference in delivery times. I think if they haven’t got enough international economy mail to a specific country, it gets chucked into the normal priority mail, certainly for letter mail.

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Hi Michiel, That’s pretty much my experience as well with economy mail from the UK . It will be interesting to see how the current UK crisis pans out as I read this morning that Royal Mail have suspended all services to Europe as the UK is effectively marooned with Services by air, train and sea all at a standstill. I wonder how long it will before someone designs a suitable stamp cachet " Mail delayed due to Pandemic / No transport links !) Goodness where will this all end ! Best Wishes for Christmas to all , Derek

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I won’t discuss politics, but in my half century of using the USPS, the level of service has never gotten this bad until a certain president and his crony postmaster general came along in 2020. I think the conclusion can be drawn no matter your political beliefs.


Thanks all for the comments.

I was just shocked that a lot of mail gets to Europe from the UK in around 10 days. I now have 3 postcards in the USA somewhere- Post Office here say that they should take no longer than 21 days but all are now 70 days +.

Have added extra postage to one sent yesterday but this wasn’t needed Royal Mail said. From 1-1-2021 the cost is going up too, something like £1.70 and no economy option!

All the best for 2021 wherever you are and fingers crossed they arrive eventually. Some shocking accounts in the comments from people in the US sending internal mail taking forever!

From January International Standard rises from £1.45 to £1.70, and International Economy rises from £1.26 to £1.45.

I thought that the only restriction on International Economy was that it couldn’t be used to send mail to Europe. @Sprokk have you been advised not to use it to the USA too?

Incidentally, the new International Standard rate of £1.70 is exactly equal to two first class stamps. I think the easiest way to make up International Economy will be two second class stamps plus 13p in “make up stamps”. Stock up on your 1st and 2nds now and they’ll be worth the new values in January!

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Thanks for the tip on the variety of stamps to ‘top up’.

I was told that the economy service for postcards and letters, outside of Europe, was £1.45 from 1-1-2021. However, the local post office showed me on their screen that it said they have to explain this can take (and usually does she said) 90+ days!

Still I sadly have a few postcards over 30 days now and I was told it should be 5 weeks maximum for anywhere and Royal Mail also said post to the USA over the last few years has become quite unreliable- notes by our post crossing friends on this forum! :slight_smile: