Outbound International Reply Coupons Discontinued
International Reply Coupons
Three respondents supported the discontinuance of selling international reply coupons, stating the Postal Service should ‘‘streamline’’ their product offering of low volume items. Ninety-one respondents opposed the discontinuance of international reply coupons. Of these, 63 respondents identified themselves as U.S. amateur radio operators who rely on international reply coupons to confirm radio contacts through the exchange of ‘‘QSL cards’’ and who stated that no other practical way exists for this kind of exchange. Some of the other comments from the group of 91 included the following statements:
(1) ‘‘In many countries, it’s either illegal to possess or mail foreign currency, or currency is routinely stolen from the mail;’’
(2) ‘‘In many countries the amateur radio operators do not have funds available to answer QSL requests as their income is much lower than we consider average in the United States;’’
(3) ‘‘There is no alternative mechanism to supply foreign correspondents with return postage;’’ and
(4) ‘‘As a minimum, the USPS should continue to sell IRC’s at the www.usps.com store or through a few dispersed Post Offices that would sell them by mail to people beyond reasonable driving distance.’’
As prescribed in the Postal Regulatory Commission’s (PRC) Order No. 1541, the PRC approved the Postal Service’s proposal to discontinue outbound international reply coupons, while retaining inbound international reply coupon service. The PRC determined that the proposal to discontinue outbound international reply coupons was not inconsistent with the statute, and acknowledged that the small number of consumers, such as amateur radio operators, who purchase international outbound reply coupons, will no longer be able to do so, but they will still have options. For countries to which money orders may be sent, once the U.S. sender ascertains (or estimates) the cost of sending the QSL card from the foreign country to the U.S., the U.S. sender can obtain and send a money order in that amount. Finally, senders and recipients may find it more convenient and less costly to use an online payment service to transmit the cost of mailing a QSL card.
The Postal Service hereby adopts the following changes to Mailing Standards of the United States Postal Service, International Mail Manual (IMM), which is incorporated by reference in the Code of Federal Regulations. See 39CFR 20.1.
As of January 27, 2013, the U.S. Postal Service no longer sells international reply coupons. However, coupons previously sold by the U.S. Postal Service can still be used or exchanged (see 381.2). The following standards apply to international reply coupons:
a. The sender of a letter may prepay a reply by purchasing reply coupons that are sold and exchangeable for postage stamps by participating postal administrations in member countries of the Universal Postal Union.
b. International reply coupons (in French, Coupons-Reponse Internationaux) are printed in blue ink on paper that has the letters ‘‘UPU’’ in large characters in the watermark. The front of each coupon is printed in French. The reverse side of the coupon shows the text relating to its use in German, English, Arabic, Chinese, Spanish, and/or Russian.
381.2 Previously Sold Coupons and Exchange Value
The following standards apply to the exchange of international reply coupons:
a. International reply coupons sold by the United States Postal Service prior to January 27, 2013, are exchangeable in
any other member country for a stamp or stamps representing the minimum postage on an unregistered air letter. Unused U.S. coupons (that is, those with the U.S. selling price stamped on them that are not ultimately redeemed by recipients in other countries) may be exchanged only by the original purchaser for United States postage stamps at a discount of 1 cent below the purchase price.
b. With the exceptions noted in 381.3d, international reply coupons purchased in foreign countries are exchangeable at U.S. Post Office facilities toward the purchase of postage stamps and embossed stamped envelopes at the current maximum First-Class Mail International 1-ounce, letter-size price, per coupon, irrespective of the country where they were purchased
See Notice 123, Price List.
381.3 Processing Requests
The following standards apply when processing international reply coupons:
a. Under Universal Postal Union’s regulations, participating member countries are not required to place a control stamp or postmark on the international reply coupons that they sell. Therefore some foreign issue reply coupons that are tendered for redemption may bear the name of the issuing country (generally in French) rather than the optional control stamp or postmark. Such coupons are exchangeable for U.S. postage as specified in 381.2b.
b. A Post Office facility redeeming an unused U.S. coupon must postmark it in the unpostmarked circle. A Post Office facility exchanging a foreign reply coupon must postmark it. Post Office facilities must not accept foreign coupons that already bear a United States Postal Service postmark.
c. The only valid version of the international reply coupons printed by the Universal Postal Union is Item Number 330800, which is approximately 3.75 inches by 6 inches, has a barcode on the reverse side, and has an expiration date of December 31, 2013. This policy is for international reply coupons issued by the United States before January 27, 2013 as well as for those issued by foreign postal administrations.
d. Reply coupons formerly issued by the Postal Union of the Americas and Spain are no longer valid. These coupons are printed in green ink and bear the caption Cupon Respuesta America-Espanol. Customers possessing any of these coupons should return them to their correspondents in the country of issue for redemption through the selling post office.
e. Postmasters must process exchanged foreign and redeemed U.S. international reply coupons as prescribed in 11–6.6, ’’International Reply Coupons’’ in Handbook F–101, Field Accounting Procedures.
IRCs can be purchased until Jan 27, 2013 from USPS.
Our government is just trying to be helpful. I guess dropping this service makes a dent in the multi-trillion deficit.
I guess this makes sense for the US Postal Service. After all, why make a service available that has such a small service base?
In most of the DX countries, sending cash isn't a problem and it's less expensive and less bother than buying and mailing an IRC. In countries where foreign currency is illegal or mail pilferage is a problem, there's always PayPal. After all, anyone who can figure out how to put a signal on the air and have it reach around the world should be able to do the same thing with the post card.
Finally, this puts even more emphasis on LotW. It's too bad that the ARRL doesn't invest the resources into the program that will allow it to survive popular contests without crashing or slowing down. Maybe now they will reconsider.
Note: I went to a branch post office to purchase a few for next years' use, and found they "haven't had those here in years. You have to go to the main post office in downtown Dallas.".
USPS could've chosen to supply IRCs from a central location, with an automated ordering system. There would've been minimal human contact.
Originally Posted by W6SDM
Not every sender AND receiver has Paypal. Money Orders will have to be used.
I'm not against electronic QSLs but, IME, ARRL has a vested interest in IRCs going away. Ya think?
And what money orders (brand name) would be accepted in foreign countries ?
IRC's were good almost everywhere, I'm unsure of any other way to easily
send $2-$3 ...is US money that easily exchanged ?
I understand but that stinks.
IRC's are still accepted by many DX stations in lieu of "green stamps". So load up on IRC's by on line purchase from the USPS using your credit card. Also, there are several foreign stamp vendors that have quick service to permit sending a complete SASE to the DX. The other previously suggested methods of OQRS, and PayPal are very workable -- all many avenues for obtaining good old fashioned pasteboards.
They have "reconsidered"... they are planning on upgrading servers and I read somewhere that a re-write of the software is in the works.
Originally Posted by W6SDM
IRCs now... and the bureaus will likely not be far behind. Many stations won't deal with them anymore and as their usage goes down, the problems will multiply. Same as with all mail... less use means higher costs for what is remaining. LotW and paypal for direct mail is the answer.