FULLY UPDATED FEBRUARY 2015
Recently I received a question on mailing letters and/or postcards from India to the USA. It read, “Hi Chris, I’m currently in Goa with some girlfriends and we want to send postcards back to the states. I brought stamps from home and now my friends are telling me they won’t accept American stamps. Is this true?”
Yes, it is true. India Post requires you to use Indian stamps for all materials mailed from within India. This means you’ll have to trudge down to the local India Post office to buy stamps. Fortunately it’s rather easy to find one of 155,000 (yes, this is not a typo) offices throughout the country.
What is the Cost to Mail a Letter from India?
The minimum size acceptable by India Post for a letter is 11 x 7 cm up to a maximum on either side of 60 cm (roughly 2 feet per side). Maximum allowable weight is 2 kilograms. A typical USA #10 size letter weighing 1 ounce translates to 28.34 grams. Using this as an example, the cost to mail an average letter from India to all foreign countries will cost:
By Surface Mail
Up to 20 grams: Rs 20
For every additional 20 grams or part thereof up to 500 grams: Rs 8
Beyond 500 grams, for every additional 100 grams or part thereof up to 2000 grams: Rs 30
By Surface Air Limited Mail
A surcharge of Rs.4/- for 20 grams or part thereof shall be charged in addition to normal surface mail rates.
The above rates are for mailing a letter unregistered, uninsured. Premium postal services carry additional charges.
What is the Cost to Mail a Postcard from India?
India Post defines the average size of acceptable postcard to be 14 cm x 9 cm. Using this as an example, the cost to mail a postcard from India to the follow countries will cost:
By Surface Mail
To Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan: Rs 4
To Asian Pacific Postal Union Countries (APPU) : Afghanistan, Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, China (Peoples Republic), Fiji, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Korea (R), Laos (R), Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nauru, New Zealand, Papua, New Guinea, Philippines, Singapore, Solomon Island, Srilanka, Thailand, Vietnam, Magnolia and Vanuatu: RS 6
To All Other Countries: Rs 7
By Airmail Postcard
To Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan: Rs 8
To Asian Pacific Postal Union Countries (APPU) : Afghanistan, Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, China (Peoples Republic), Fiji, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Korea (R), Laos (R), Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nauru, New Zealand, Papua, New Guinea, Philippines, Singapore, Solomon Island, Srilanka, Thailand, Vietnam, Magnolia and Vanuatu: RS 12
To All Other Countries: Rs 12
How do I Mail a Letter or Postcard from India?
You’d think it would be rather easy to send off that postcard or letter back to loved ones at home now that you have the proper stamps. But, when it comes to sending mail from India, there are two options: the way most of us are accustomed to, and the Indian way.
Option #1 Place a stamp and stick it in the bin A.K.A. the wrong way
Con: Theft prone. Uncanceled stamps are commonly ripped off envelopes and postcards dropped by unsuspecting tourists at collection boxes or left at postal counters. Without a stamp, and no way to contact you while in India, your mail will ultimately find it’s way into the garbage.
Option #2 Attach the appropriate postage stamp, walk your mail into a post office, physically hand each item to the clerk and ask that each stamp be hand cancelled by the clerk.
Pro: 99% chance of your mail being delivered at it’s final destination
Con: Travelers will need to find an open post office and wait in line.
Tip: For those traveling by car & driver service, ask your driver to take your mail to the post office. Drivers often spend hours waiting for their clients as they tour a local landmark. This is a welcome diversion for your driver to pass time. Remember to reward him with a separate tip or within his final compensation. An extra Rs 50-100 will be appreciated.