Post offices require postage stamps to confirm payment for their services, so you do need stamps to send a letter. But what will happen if you send the letter without a postage stamp?
Do I need a stamp to mail a letter?
Yes, you do need stamps to mail a letter both for domestic and international routes. The number of stamps will depend on the weight, size and destination (domestic or international). Post offices require this proof that postage was paid and to help them scan and orient the letter further.
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What happens when you send a letter without a postage stamp?
After you place the letter in the mail collection box, it goes to a post office department where it gets sorted using automated equipment. If there is no stamp on your envelope, a special scanner will detect it, and the letter will be attributed to a separate category of mail. It will then be sent to a dedicated employee who also checks for the missing postage stamps.
In case you send a letter without a postage stamp, it will be:
- returned to you (the sender), or;
- the receiver will have to pay for the missing stamp.
The price the receiver will have to pay depends on the post office. In most cases, the receiver will pay a fee that equals the price of the stamp, but it can also happen that they need to pay a surcharge for insufficient postage for the unstamped letter.
If the receiver refuses to pay, the letter will be returned to you as sender. You, as the initial sender, will then have to cover the required fees.
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How long does it take for unstamped mail to be returned to the sender?
The length of delivery back to the sender depends on the destination. Usually, it may take up to a couple of days for the unstamped envelope to be returned to the sender.
Here is what you can do if you forgot to put a postage stamp on the letter
- Refer to the local postman;
- Contact the post office;
- Inform the addressee about the case.
There is no guarantee that the matter will be solved with success, but you can explain the situation to either of the suggested and ask them to return the letter to you so you can put a stamp on it.
Can you send an unstamped letter without a return address?
Generally, there is no law forbidding you from sending unstamped letters. If you send an unstamped letter without a return address, the envelope will be delivered to the destination address marked on the envelope. Then, the receiver will have to pay the postage fee.
If the addressee refuses to accept it or to pay, in the absence of the return address, the envelope will be delivered to a dead letter office – a department at the post office where unclaimed letters are collected.
How to track a letter without a return address?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a direct way to track a letter without a return address or a missing bar code. What you can do in such a case is to contact the post office or the courier and ask if it is possible that they further check the matter on your behalf. They may be able to trace down the processing centre that the letter was last found at.