Writing on the Bottom Line of Postcards

I’m pretty sure the USPS (amongst others in the world) rely on a blank space so that a printed dotted barcode can assist with electronic sorting. I learned my lesson… I sent a black card that required white ink (looked cool BTW!) and that card has never been received by the US recipient. I always leave a (white) space of about 1.5 - 2cm now and cards get there quicker.

How long ago did you send that card to America?

More than 6 months ago. I can see the recipient logs into her account quite often so I just assume it has gone astray.

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Does this barcode thing apply only to the USA? I recently started postcrossing and I haven’t noticed anything like that on postcards. I guess it’s something to keep in mind in the future when sending to the US so that my text won’t get covered.

an interesting video that shows this process!


And on another note, I have family all over the USA and if I send them letters they can arrive within days but postcards can take weeks. Really odd!


I appreciate this thoughtful and informative reply! Thank you!

Wow, I had no idea. Thanks for sharing this interesting video!

On the mail-taking-it’s-sweet-time subject:

in town it takes 8-10 days to receive a letter from a business, but it usually only takes 7-10 days for a postcard to reach Germany

I’ve never understood how this is possible.

Since we have a lot of mail/postal experts on this thread, do you know why some cities have a “local” and “out-of-town” blue dropboxes, but most don’t? We were on vacation in Flagstaff and saw those, but down in southern AZ I’ve never seen a “local only” dropbox.

Many post offices no longer have the “local” and “out of town” separation anymore. Everything just goes to a regional processing and distribution center including mail for the same town. I worked in a post office that did have the separation and the “local” slot mail would be processed in-house rather than being sent to the distribution center. If someone dropped off something early enough it probably would be delivered the SAME day. Then one day they took away the signs and everything just went to the plant. This can result in some real doozies. Imagine sending a letter to someone just down the street from you and it ends up in the wrong country! It can happen.

As for why local mail can take forever while foreign mail arrives in record time, there are different streams for both and sometimes the international route is faster. I live in New York City and sometimes a local letter arrives well after something sent the same day from California let’s say. The interstate mail comes in on a different stream and is processed in a different plant, while the intra-city stuff goes elsewhere. This was the observation of a journalist who did an article on mail delivery issues years ago. Out of town mail often arrived sooner than local mail and so made an interesting topic for investigation.


The official AusPost guidelines also tell you to leave a blank space at the bottom of postcards but I ignore this completely, partly because before I knew that was the guideline I had been covering that area for years and my mail always arrived, but also because the barcode stamping seems so random — maybe it is ideally intended to be in that neat little space but so often it is upside down on the top of the card or on the picture side, so I don’t feel there is much point leaving the blank space. And, as others have mentioned, they usually use a peelable sticker to put the barcode on if necessary, which I probably prefer anyway.

As others have mentioned, I do try not to put anything too important in that space just in case. I usually just have decorations or some friendly greeting and then put the more important info higher up.

Most older Italian postcards had a “Do not write below this line” warning at the bottem, while many recent ones don’t have it anymore, so I assume it was a space necessary in the past but not anymore.
So I ignore the warning and often use any single mm of available space, even at the bottom of the card

I once had a thin bright pink strip with dashes stuck along the bottom of a postcard sent to me from within Australia. It covered the signature from the sender. Luckily i recognised the writing and knew who it was from. Since then i either sign a little higher and add a post script below or add some washi tape in that space. It has only happened once but to be safe than sorry.

I leave that space blank, for Deutsche Post print their routing code there and why schould I cause problems?

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