Once you've found the perfect postcard, make sure it reaches its destination.
Once you've found the perfect postcard, make sure it reaches its destination.

When you're thousands of miles away from friends and family, postcards can help you stay connected. They're readily available, inexpensive and easy to send. A standard-sized card offers just enough room for a quick hello, a brief personal note and your signature. If the recipient resides outside the United States, you'll be charged a standard mailing rate of $1.15 (price listed at time of publication), but only if your card meets certain requirements.

Choosing a Postcard

To qualify for the standard international mail rate for postcards, your card must be:

  • Rectangular in shape
  • Between 3.5 to 4.25 inches in height
  • Between 5.5 to 6 inches in length
  • Between .007 and .016 inches thick

If your card is smaller than the minimum size, the United States Postal Service considers it unmailable. If it is oversized, your postcard qualifies as a "letter" and you will be charged accordingly. In addition to size and shape requirements, your postcard should be constructed of light-colored paper or card stock that won't affect readability of the address and postmark. The USPS considers bright colors, highly glazed cards and cards with busy designs unacceptable. Make sure your postcard has no folds or creases and that it is durable enough to withstand handling, suggests the USPS.

Addressing Your Postcard

A standard picture postcard has a blank area for the recipient's address and your personal message on the front of the card. The back of the card typically has a photo or graphic. Carefully print the recipient's name and address -- including the official country code -- on the right half of the front side of the card. If you're including a return address, print it toward the top of the left half and use the remaining space to write your message. If you're using a postcard that has no photo or graphic, you can flip the card over and continue writing your message on the back. The USPS specifies that you should write the word "Postcard" on privately manufactured cards.

Adding Attachments

The USPS permits certain attachments -- such as clippings, illustrations or photographs -- to postcards. For attachments to be considered permissible, they must:

  • Be constructed of paper or other thin material
  • Adhere completely to the card
  • Be attached to the left half of the front side or to the backside of the card

The USPS notes that if you are using address labels, you should place them only in the official address area.

Adding Postage

As of 2015, the post office charges $1.15 to send a single postcard internationally. If you plan to send more than one postcard at a time, quickly calculate the total cost by using the USPS's online postage price calculator. Simply input the number of cards you wish to send and press "calculate" to determine the total cost of postage. Add postage to the upper right-hand corner of the front side of the card. You can then drop your card -- without any wrapper or envelope -- in any USPS mail box.