International Reply Coupons

From Stamps of the World

An international reply coupon (IRC) is a coupon that can be exchanged for one or more postage stamps representing the minimum postage for an unregistered priority airmail letter of up to twenty grams sent to another Universal Postal Union (UPU) member country. IRCs are accepted by all UPU member countries. UPU member postal services are obliged to exchange an IRC for postage, but are not obliged to sell them. The purpose of the IRC is to allow a person to send someone in another country a letter, along with the cost of postage for a reply. If the addressee is within the same country, there is no need for an IRC because a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) or return postcard will suffice; but if the addressee is in another country an IRC removes the necessity of acquiring foreign postage or sending appropriate currency. The different types of IRC are shown here >> IRC TYPES & FLAWS The IRC was introduced in 1906 at a Universal Postal Union congress in Rome. At the time an IRC could be exchanged for a single-rate, ordinary postage stamp for surface delivery to a foreign country, as this was before the introduction of airmail services. An IRC is exchangeable in a UPU member country for the minimum postage of a priority or unregistered airmail letter to a foreign country.

The current IRC, which features the theme "Water for Life," designed by Czech artist and graphic designer Michal Sindelar, was issued in 2013 and is valid until 31 December 2017. A new design by Vietnamese artist Nguyen Du for 2017-2021 was adopted in Istanbul in 2016.

Proof of the IMPERIAL Type International Reply Coupon bottom right Marginal of sheet

IRCs are ordered from the UPU headquarters in Bern, Switzerland by postal authorities. They are generally available at large post offices; in the U.S., they are requisitioned along with regular domestic stamps by any post office that has sufficient demand for them. A British 1 Shilling IRC issued in 1959.

Prices for IRCs vary by country. In the United States in November 2012, the purchase price was $2.20 USD; however, the US Postal Service discontinued sales of IRCs on 27 January 2013 due to declining demand. Britain's Royal Mail also stopped selling IRCs on 18 February 2012, citing minimal sales and claiming that the average post office sold less than one IRC per year. IRCs purchased in foreign countries may be used in the United States toward the purchase of postage stamps and embossed stamped envelopes at the current one-ounce First Class International rate ($1.05 USD as of April 2012) per coupon.

IRCs are often used by amateur radio operators sending QSL cards to each other; it has traditionally been considered good practice and common courtesy to include an IRC when writing to a foreign operator and expecting a reply by mail. If the operator's home country does not sell IRCs, then a foreign IRC may be used.

Previous editions of the IRC, the "Beijing" model and all subsequent versions, bear an expiration date. Consequently, a new IRC will be issued every four years.

In 1920, Charles Ponzi made use of the idea that profit could be made by taking advantage of the differing postal rates in different countries to buy IRCs cheaply in one country and exchange them for stamps of a higher value in another country. This subsequently became the fraudulent Ponzi scheme.In practice, the overhead on buying and selling large numbers of the very low-value IRCs precluded any profitability.

The selling price and exchange value in stamps in each country have been adjusted to some extent to remove some of the potential for profit, but ongoing fluctuations in currency value and exchange rates make it impossible to achieve this completely, as long as stamps represent a specific currency value, instead of acting as vouchers granting specific postal services, devoid of currency nomination.

CLICK ON A COUNTRY NAME BELOW


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Issued in Andorra La Vella. (Undated) IRC Model Vienna
Issued in Andorra La Vella. (1975) IRC Model Lausanne.
Issued in Andorra La Vella. (2004) IRC Model Beijing
Issued in St. Julia de Loria in 2013. IRC Model Nairobi.
Issued in St. Julia de Loria in 2015. IRC Model Doha.
Issued in Encamp in 2021. IRC Model Istanbul.
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Andorra - Spanish issued in Andorra La Vella in 1971. IRC Model Colonial.
Andorra - Spanish issued in Andorra La Vella in 1971. IRC Model Vienna.
Andorra - Spanish issued in Andorra La Vella in 1977. IRC Model Lausanne.
Andorra - Spanish issued in Andorra La Vella in 2013. IRC Model Doha.
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Albania, issued in Tirana 2020. IRC Model Istanbul.
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Australia 1957 Spit Junction PO N.S.W. IRC model "London".
Australia 2013. Model Nairobi.
Australia 2014. Model Doha.
Australia 2019. IRC model "Istanbul" Sent from Bright (Australia) to Riga (Latvia).
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Austria Emission at Feldkirch 1970. IRC model "Vienna".
Austria 2004. IRC model "Beijing".
Austria 2018. IRC model "Istanbul".
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Bangladesh 1973 বাংলাদেশ (Bengali) Bangladesh Overprint on Pakistan IRC, issued at Dacca G.P.O.
Bangladesh Model Istanbul
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Belgium IRC Model Rome
Belgium, used 1967. IRC Model London
Belgium 1970. IRC Model Vienna
Belgium 1977. IRC Model Lausanne, code C22
Belgium 2000. IRC Model Seoul, code CN01
Belgium 2005 Issued Vosselaar. IRC model Beijing.
Belgium not used. IRC Model Doha
Belgium not used. IRC Model Istanbul

Belgium under German Occupation

Germany 1915 issued in Brussels during occupation. IRC model "Rome".
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IRC 2021, not used yet.
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British Honduras 1970 issued in Belize City Post Office.
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Brasil 1948 R- Sa. SEC TESORARIA - DF BRASIL Rio de Janeiro
Brasil 1953 JR- Sa. SEC TESORARIA - DF BRASIL Rio de Janeiro
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IRC Bulgaria 2021, model "Istanbul". Emission of Sofia.
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Cambodia 1960 (Cambodge)Issued in Phnom Penh Cambodge
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Cyprus 2019. Sent from Cyprus to Latvia. IRC model "Istanbul".
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Denmark 1970. IRC model "Vienna".
Denmark 2002. IRC model "Beijing".
Denmark 2003. IRC model "Beijing".
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Estonia 1935 - See also Paris and Tallinn Estonia
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France 2006. IRC model "Beijing".
France 2014. Issued in Monte-Carlo 2015. Model "Doha".
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Finland 2019. IRC model "Istanbul".
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German Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia 1940 IRC issued in Prague redeemed in Quito, Equador
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Chemnitz, Germany 1939. IRC model "London".
Used in Mannheim, Germany 1983. IRC model "Lausanne".
Berlin, Germany. IRC model "Beijing".
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Ghana 1972 Issued in Accra
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Great Britain 1912 Weston-super-Mare
Great Britain 1927 London SW (GB) 87 to 135 BROMTON RD SW the address of the post office in Harrods in London
Great Britain 1939 6d Margate
Great Britain 1950 London W (GB) issued at Mount Street W1
Great Britain 1952 - Britannia IRC issued by Brecon PO
Great Britain 1952 - Britannia IRC issued by Bournemouth PO
Great Britain 1953 - Sloane square B.O. S.W.1
Great Britain 1955 issued Birmingham
Great Britain 1967 Exchange Buildings Newcastle-on-Tyne
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Hong Kong 1972 Issued in Hong Kong and Cashed in in Paris France.
Hong Kong 2021 Issued in Chine - Hong Kong GPO, not cashed yet.
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India 1965. Issued by the Ludhiana office. Model "London".
India 1974. Issued by Bombay 1974. Model "Vienna".
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Dutch East Indies 1931 Tjireungas on the Island of Java.
Dutch East-Indies 1940 (Netherlands-Indies) MALANG Variety IRC with missing dot in border at top left
Indonesia 1956
Indonesia 1957 IRC, London type 16n, issued in Probolinggo, Indonesia.
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Baghdad 1949 (بغداد) type Lo-XIVo with Baghdad in Arabic script.
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Israel 1960
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Japan 1931 issued in Shimanto (JP)
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Jordan 1953 IRC issued in Jerusalem
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Korea 1960
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KUT 1940 Imperial Reply Coupon of Kenya, Uganda and Mandated Territory of Tanganyika type Im 3 (watermark B), issued in Mombasa (Kenya)
KUT 1965 Kampala Uganda
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IRC issued in Riga (Letland-2019), used in Toompea (Estland-2020), model "Istanbul"
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Luxembourg-2, 2019. model "Istanbul"
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Madagascar 1956 Tananarive
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Federation of Malaya 1959 Issued in Kuala Lumpur
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Mauritius 1959 Issued in Port Louis
Mauritius 2006, "Beijing Model No 2", not used.
IRC Mauritius model "Istanbul". Sent 2018 from Port Louis (Mauritius) to Istanbul (Turkey).
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Mozambique 1954
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Netherlands 1909, model "Rome"
Netherlands 1920, model "Rome"
IRC source Rotterdam, 1960, type "London".
Netherlands 1970 - Bussum, model "Vienna"
Netherlands 1972, model "Vienna"
IRC Hengelo used in 1975, type "Lausanne" 110c 1975.
Netherlands, unused type "Seoul" (1998), which is a modified version of type Lausanne (1975), new code CN 01, 1998
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New Caledonia 1957 NOUMEA NOUVELLE CALEDONIE
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New Zealnd 2014. Model 'Doha'. Sent from New Zealand, used in Riga (Latvia).
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IRC Poland 1938. IRC model "London".
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IRC emission in Lisbon 1995. IRC model "Lausanne".
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2013 'Nairobi' Model
2018, model "Istanbul"
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2005, model "Istanbul"
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St Helena 1962
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South Africa 1927
Cape Town 1958, South Africa, Type London
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Spain 1910
'Istanbul' Model Spain "Unused'
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Sweden 1909, IRC model "Rome".
IRC Sweden used Stockholm 1948. IRC model "London".
IRC Sweden used Stockholm 1975. IRC model "Lausanne".
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Swaziland 1973
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Damascus 1937. IRC Model "London".
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IRC model Istanbul. Emission of Thailand 2017 (Bang Lamung), used in Letland 2019 (Riga).
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IRC mode "London". Tunisia 1962 Tunis
Tunisia, Model "Beijing". Emission in Ben Arpous 2006. Not Cashed yet.
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IRC issued in Bursa (Turkey) 2017. Model "Istanbul".
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United Nations 1957 New York cancelled. The coupons are the same for USA and UN but the coupons of the United Nations are easily recognized by the postmark which are found in four different types. Coupons of United Nations are not only issued by UN´s post office in New York but also in Geneve, Schweiz and Vienna in Austria. This is US coupon, type Lo-16u, issued 17 July 1957.
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USA 1969 Decatur Illinous, model "London" (1930?)
USA 1972 Miami Post Office Issue, model "Vienna"
USA 1989 Wayne Post Office Issue, model "Lausanne"
model "Nairobi" Kansas City 2012
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Vatican City, 'Doha' model Emission of 2014.
Vatican City, 'Istanbul' model Emission of 2018.
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IRC South-Vietnam issued in Rach-Gia 1974. Model Vienna.
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Sold in 1937
Sold in 1997