Foreign Records Requests
6/11/2014
How do you ensure a prompt response to a record request? Send return postage. We'll point you to the tools you need for foreign correspondence.

Every genealogist should observe this common courtesy: When writing for records, always include a self-addressed stamped envelope. If someone's going out of her way to photocopy or transcribe your ancestors' records, the least you can do is pay the postage. But what if you're requesting information from a foreign country, where US postage stamps won't work? You have a couple of options.

In the past, you had to rely solely on International Reply Coupons (IRCs), which cost about $2.10 each from US Postal Service www.usps.com branches. Say you wanted your cousin Carol in London to send you a copy of an English church record. You'd send her an IRC, and she could exchange it for a stamp at her local post office. One IRC has the value of a country's minimum postage rate for an unregistered airmail letter. If you expected Carol to send a packet of family information, you'd need to send more IRCs to make up for the extra weight. Knowing just how many IRCs to send can get tricky. In this case, you'd need to know the weight of the package Carol's sending, Great Britain's postal rates and the currency exchange rate.