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International Reply Coupons
Answers for the beginner, the befuddled and anyone hitting a brick wall.
Q. I've traced my family tree to a foreign country and want to write for records there. When I correspond in the United States, I always enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope (SASE) for reply. But how can I do that for other countries, where US postage stamps don't work for them to reply to me?


A. Go to a US Postal Service branch and buy International Reply Coupons for $1.05 each. IRCs are green paper coupons that transfer funds for return postage from other countries. Your "foreign correspondent" then takes the IRCs to his or her post office and exchanges them for stamps or to the bank for reimbursement. Of course, to know how many IRCs to buy, you need to know the weight of the envelope being returned, that country's postal rates and the current currency exchange rate. Currency rates run in most daily newspapers. Keep in mind it can be a bit (or sometimes, more than a bit) of an inconvenience for a clerk or other correspondent overseas to make the trek to the post office or bank, even if they wait until they have several IRCs to redeem.

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