Sending letters
Jun 3 2013

Top 4 postal rate questions for sending mail to your sponsored friend

mail for CFCA sponsored friends

CFCA staffers in Guatemala pick up sacks and sacks of letters from sponsors at the local postal office.

With postal rates constantly changing, it can be difficult to keep track of mailing regulations and guidelines. Read these top 4 postage questions to find out the skinny on sending mail to your sponsored friend!

Creating a one-on-one relationship between you and your sponsored friend is at the core of the CFCA sponsorship experience.

You form a relationship through the exchange of letters and photos.

And, while many sponsors are now taking advantage of the eLetter feature on the CFCA website, there is still something special about sending handwritten letters and cards through the mail.

To help you send those special mailed letters, we take a moment to answer some of the most commonly asked questions about sending mail to sponsored friends.

1. Can I use Forever Stamps?

Forever Stamps were issued into standard circulation in the United States in 2007, when several rapid increases in postage rates made it inconvenient for customers to keep up with the current rate and constantly having to purchase new stamps.

The Forever Stamp is always valued at the current U.S. postage rate for a 1-ounce envelope.

Currently, the postage rate is 46 cents, which is far less than the average international mail rate. While it is allowed to use Forever Stamps on international mail, one stamp would be insufficient for the actual cost of the mailing. Additional postage is required (see No. 2 below).

letters in Guatemala

A stack of letters waiting to be sorted at the CFCA office in Guatemala.

2. What is the cost of sending international mail?

According to, the cost of sending a 1-ounce envelope internationally is $1.10 U.S.D. This would require at least two Forever Stamps with an additional 18 cents in postage.

If the envelope contains several sheets of paper, photos, stickers or other items, it may weigh more than 1 ounce, and would need additional postage.

(Editor’s note: Thanks to Leah Olszowy, whose comment at the end of this post noted that the post office now has an international forever stamp that costs $1.10 and covers a 1-ounce piece of mail to anywhere in the world!)

3. Can I send a box?

When sending items to sponsored friends, we ask that all items be no larger than 9 x 12 inches and that they weigh less than a pound and be under an inch thick.

A 9 x 12 envelope is considered a standard-letter size by international mailing criteria.

If a mail item exceeds this size, the CFCA field project accepting the item may be asked to pay high customs fees in order to accept the item.

When this situation occurs, the project staff is instructed not to pick up the mail item.

Unfortunately, we do not have a way for the sponsor to pay the customs fees at the receiving end, so we ask that sponsors follow the suggested mailing size.

sorting letters at the CFCA office

Once the staffers bring the mail back to the CFCA office, they begin to sort through the letters.

4. Can I mail something overnight or use an express mail service to send something faster?

We understand that the estimated six- to eight-week mailing time can be frustrating. Or perhaps a sponsored friend’s birthday came sooner than remembered.

But when sending items by overnight or express mail, typically a physical address and a signature of receipt are required by the companying delivering the item.

Most of the addresses on our project mailing labels (the pink stickers) are post office boxes, and many overnight and express mail services do not deliver to P.O. addresses.

It is also quite costly to send anything overnight or through an international express mail service.

Another thing to consider is that part of the six- to eight-week estimate includes the time it takes for letters to be sorted and translated.

Many sponsored friends live some distance away from the CFCA office, so the letter is hand delivered by our project staff after it has been translated.

It’s always important to remember that your sponsored friend will still appreciate the gesture whenever your item may arrive.

Did we answer all your mailing questions? If not, leave us a comment and we will quench your thirst for mailing knowledge!

13 thoughts on “Top 4 postal rate questions for sending mail to your sponsored friend”

  1. Very nice information about the forever stamp and that is also available for international postage also. this will definitely encourage the people to write hand written mails to their friends and love ones.

  2. I just mailed $5 worth of items to my sponsor child in Guatemala it cost $16 for a one lb package. Will not do that again

    1. Karen,

      Thanks for sharing. If you need some future ideas for light-weight gifts, check out this blog post. Many sponsored friends have also shared that the best gift they could receive is a photo of their sponsor.

      Thank you for taking time to send something to your sponsored friend.
      -Jordan Kimbrell, writer/editor

  3. When sending mail that does not have enough postage, do you know if the letter will be “returned to sender” or just lost mail? I ask because I sent a letter to my friend almost a month ago and have not heard anything since that time.

    1. Thank you for your question, Mark.

      If you send a letter to your sponsored friend without enough postage, the letter will be returned to CFCA in Kansas City because the return address sticker provided is our office address.

      However, please know that letters can take 6-8 weeks to reach your sponsored friend. It also takes time for your friend to respond and send a letter back to you. Letters are first translated, then sent to our office in Kansas and then delivered on to you.

      As you can see, this can be a long process, but we will send you your sponsored friend’s letter as soon as we can!

      Thank you,

      Christina, Sponsor Services

  4. Is it possible for our sponsored child to e-mail us so we know if they truly did get our e-letter?

    1. Thank you for your question, Joyce!

      When you send your eLetter, it is printed in the country where your friend lives, translated and then hand delivered — just like a regular letter sent through the mail.

      While all sponsors have the option of using our eLetter feature to correspond with their friend, we currently do not have the proper resources for all of our sponsored friends to respond via e-mail or eLetter.

      Please visit our website and click the “My sent eLetters,” link, to verify that your letter was received.

      Please let us know if you have any other questions or concerns.

      Have a blessed day!


      Sponsor Services

  5. Thank you for communicating this information in an interesting manner. Many of us sponsors are hungry for any type of information concerning mailings, etc. This was excellent.

    1. Thank you for your great feedback! We love knowing we can offer useful information for our sponsors. We’ll soon be publishing another post with suggestions on what makes good gifts to send by mail and what doesn’t, so keep an eye out for that.
      Sponsor Services

  6. Thank you for your comments on letter mailing. Every little bit of information helps me become a better sponsor. Peace to all in CFCA

  7. The office has now come out with an International forever stamp, it’s in the shape of the globe and costs $1.10. It covers 1-ounce piece of mail to anywhere in the world. hope this helps. Leah Olszowy.

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