It Pays To Run A Postal Service

Australia Post announced February 23rd that Fahour has resigned, as of July 2017. Although there is no mention of why or where Fahour is going, the press release sings his praises.

Who makes more? The head of the postal service or the head of state?

In Australia, the answer is “postal service.”

According to the Associated Press, Ahmed Fahour (right), managing director of Australia Post, was paid AU$4.4 million in salary and a AU$1.2 million bonus in the last fiscal year.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull should deliver mail: He wasn’t paid a tenth as much — just AU$507,000.

The AP points out that U.S. Postmaster General Megan Brennan only made $286,137 last year, but in fairness, we should point out that the Australian dollar is only worth 76% of the U.S. dollar. So Brennan made AU$374,780.72, while Fahour “only” made US$4.3 million (US$4,275,090.99, to be exact). That’s at today’s exchange rate; it wasn’t that much different last year.

Just as an aside, the President of the United States receives an annual salary of US$400,000, or AU$524,179.20.

Australia Post didn’t want the senate committee to disclose how much Fahour made, saying it and its top executives “would become targets of unwarranted media attention.” Such as showing up in The Virtual Stamp Club’s LloydBlog.

Turnbull was a banker before entering politics and has a personal fortunate estimated at AU$200 million, but he says he told Australian Post’s chairman “that remuneration is too high.”

“As someone who spent most of his life in the business world before I came into politics, I think that is a very big salary for that job,” Turnbull told reporters.

(By the way, the Associated Press referred to the postal agency throughout its story as “Australian Post.”

Some U.S. Postal Rates Rise Jan. 22, 2017

Call it the “stealth rate hike.” With little fanfare, The cost to mail a letter within the U.S. is going up two cents on January 22, 2017, just as the U.S. Postal Service requested in October. The Postal Regulatory Commission allowed the increase without action or announcement because it fell within the rate of inflation.

Not all consumer rates, however, are going up. The additional-ounce charge will remain at 21¢. So will the “nonmachineable surcharge,” the fee for odd-shaped pieces of mail, such as greeting cards.The postcard rate will remain 34¢. The international one-ounce rate will still be $1.15.

The base price for a “flat” (large envelope that is flexible enough to bend more than a half inch and less than three-quarters of an inch thick) goes up four cents, to 98¢, but, again, the additional ounce is 21¢.

First-class parcels (not bendable or thicker than 3/4 of an inch or both) are both more complicated and less. Four ounces or less are now $2.67. Additional ounces in parcels go from 19¢ to 18¢, so five-ounce parcel is now $2.85 and a six-ounce one is $3.03, both more than before January 22nd. A seven-ounce parcel (or anything between 6.1 and 7.0 ounces) is the same before and after the rate change, $3.21, and above that weight, prices are actually cheaper under the new structure.

Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express (previously called “Express Mail” and still called that by most customers and clerks) are considered commercial shipping products in competition with companies like United Parcel Service and Federal Express, and so don’t require PRC approval or adherence to inflation rates.

The base price for Priority Mail (a flat-rate envelope) will go up 20¢ to $6.65. The basic flat-rate Express Mail rate will be $23.75.

USPS Ready For Santa Letters

[press release]
U.S. Postal Service Letters from Santa Program
Provides Santa’s Personalized Response to Your Child’s Letter
Great Photo Opportunity to Treasure for Years

santaletter8NORTH POLE — Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus — and the U.S. Postal Service can help you prove it when Santa replies to your child’s letter — complete with a North Pole postmark.

Here are the steps for your child to get a letter back from Santa:

  1. Have your child write a letter to Santa and place it in an envelope addressed to: Santa Claus, North Pole.
  2. Later, when alone, open the envelope and write a personalized response.
  3. Insert the response letter into an envelope and address it to the child.
  4. Add the return address: SANTA, NORTH POLE, to the envelope.
  5. Affix a First-Class Mail stamp, such as a new Holiday Windows stamp, to the envelope.
  6. Place the complete envelope into a larger envelope — preferably a Priority Mail Flat Rate envelope — with appropriate postage and address it to:

North Pole Postmark
4141 Postmark Drive
Anchorage, AK 99530-9998

“Letters from Santa” must be received by the Anchorage, AK, postmaster no later than Dec. 15. Santa’s helpers at the Postal Service will take care of the rest.

Be sure to share the experience on social media using #LettersFromSanta.


  • To save paper, write Santa’s response on the back of your child’s letter. If you keep them together, your child will also be able to recall what he or she wrote.
  • When responding as Santa, make the response as personal as possible by highlighting your child’s accomplishments over the past year, for example, helping around the house, receiving good grades in a particular subject at school or participating in community service activities.
  • This is a great activity to do at Thanksgiving that the whole family can enjoy, including parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and other caregivers.

The Letters from Santa program adds to the excitement of Christmas and is ideal for interesting youngsters in letter writing, stamps and penmanship.

Canada Post Ready For Santa Letters

[press release]
Canada Post gearing up for letters to Santa
More than 1.5 million notes, cards and lists expected

NORTH POLE, CANADA – Every year, kids from across the country write to Santa, and every year, Canada Post works hard to make sure those letters reach the North Pole – and that Santa’s replies reach their destination too. With less than six weeks till Christmas, the letter-writing campaign is under way again.

The national program has been around for more than 35 years, and in that time answers to more than 26 million letters – in more than 30 languages, including Braille – have been mailed.

Connecting with Santa
Please mail letters before December 14 so Santa has enough time to send an answer – don’t forget to include a return address. There’s no need for postage, but make sure to get the special address right:

Write to Santa (CNW Group/Canada Post)

Write to Santa (CNW Group/Canada Post)

Santa Claus
North Pole
H0H 0H0

Keeping the tradition going
For Nadia Chegrinec, a Canada Post employee, writing to Saint Nick has been a family tradition for a decade. After the Santa Claus parade, her three kids pull out construction paper and write their letter. “And it has to be a real letter, not just a list!” says Chegrinec. Her kids need to ask how Santa’s year has been and wish him well. This is important family time. “I feel as the kids are growing up, our traditions are waning, and that’s one I’d like to hold on to,” says Chegrinec. It’s also a time for the kids to reflect on the previous year.

Nadia is part of a group of six busy moms, called the Canada Post Mom Squad, who all work at Canada Post in various departments. Throughout the holiday season, they will be offering behind-the-scene glimpses of our operations, talking about online shopping, featuring gift ideas from retailers and sharing holiday shopping tips – both online and traditional. You can find the latest Mom Squad activities on Canada Post’s social media channels and at

USPS Seeks Higher Mail Rates

Note that this is a proposal, not a certainty. Increases in U.S. postal rates are supposed to be tied to the rate of inflation. Rates were decreased by two cents last year, which the USPS protested vehemently. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the rate of inflation since last year would only justify a one-cent increase. —VSC

[press release]
Postal Service Announces 2017 Mailing Services Prices
First increase in three years for First-Class Mail Forever Stamps

usps_mailboxpickupWASHINGTON — The United States Postal Service today filed notice with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) of price changes for Mailing Services products to take effect next year, following the end of the holiday mailing season. The new prices, if approved, include a two cent increase in the price of a First-Class Mail Forever stamp, returning the price to 49 cents, the price of a Forever stamp before the Postal Service was forced to reduce prices by the PRC as part of the exigent surcharge removal.

The last time stamp prices increased was in January 2014. Today’s price change filing does not include any price change for Postcards, for letters being mailed to international destinations or for additional ounces for letters.

The First-Class Mail prices for these products are:

Current New
Letters (1 oz.) 47 cents 49 cents
Letters additional ounces  21 cents 21 cents
Letters to all international destinations $1.15  $1.15
Postcards 34 cents 34 cents

Stamp prices have stayed consistent with the average annual rate of inflation since the Postal Service was formed in 1971.

Pricing for Standard Mail, Periodicals, Package Services and Extra Services will also be adjusted next year and can be found at The PRC will review the prices before they are scheduled to become effective on Jan. 22, 2017. Today’s filing does not affect Postal Service Shipping products and services.

The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.

USPS Seeks Higher Shipping Prices

[press release]
Postal Service Announces 2017 Shipping Prices
Pricing Unchanged for Priority Mail International, First-Class Package International and Priority Mail Express International Service

usps_boxesWASHINGTON — The U.S. Postal Service today filed notice with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) of price changes for Shipping Services products to take effect next year, following the end of the holiday mailing season. The filing does not include any price increase for First-Class Package International Service, Priority Mail Express International and Priority Mail International.

The Postal Service continues to provide excellent value and reliability for the shipping industry, along with convenient choices for consumers. The average Shipping Services price change is 3.9 percent, which results in an average shipping price of less than $5 per shipment across all shipping products.

The new prices, if approved, represent a modest price increase in Priority Mail by 3.9 percent and an average of 3.3 percent in Priority Mail Retail prices.

The Priority Mail Flat Rate Box and Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelope prices for these products are:

Current New
Small flat-rate box $6.80 $7.15
Medium flat-rate box 13.45 13.60
Large flat-rate box 18.75 18.85
Large APO/FPO flat-rate box 16.75 17.35
Regular flat-rate envelope 6.45 6.65
Legal flat-rate envelope 6.45 6.95
Padded flat-rate envelope 6.80 7.20

The PRC will review the prices before they are scheduled to take effect Jan. 22, 2017. The complete Postal Service price filing with the new prices for all Shipping Services products can be found on the PRC site under the Daily Listings section:

The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.

USPS Adds Digital Philatelic Products

[press release]
U.S. Postal Service to Announce Innovative New Stamp Products at World Stamp Show-NY 2016

USPS StampApp, eGuide to U.S. Stamps, Souvenir Portfolio and Water Soluble Forever Stamps to be Featured

NEW YORK CITY — The U.S. Postal Service will announce several new and innovative stamp products during the World Stamp Show-NY 2016, which begins Saturday, May 28 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City. The new products include The World Stamp Show Souvenir Portfolio, a book with a number of impressive digital and tactile features; the 2015 eGuide to U.S. Stamps, a digital version of the Postal Service Guide to U.S. Stamps, 42nd Edition; the USPS StampApp, the only official U.S. stamp collecting app; and new Forever stamps that are water soluble.

s_classicsThe water soluble feature is available on the Classics Forever stamps, which will be issued during the show on Wednesday, June 1. The pressure-sensitive adhesive on the stamps make them water soluble, enabling philatelists to remove these special stamps from envelopes after they have been used by soaking them in plain water. This is the first time this feature has been included on a Forever stamp.

“Stamps have a way of connecting the world, and now it’s happening digitally,” said Postal Service Chief Marketing and Sales Officer Jim Cochrane. “Leveraging digital technology is incredibly important to the future of stamp collecting, and increasingly, you will find new technologies embedded within stamps that will have the potential to bridge the physical and digital.”

USPS StampApp
stampappThe USPS StampApp is the only official U.S. collecting app and the only collectibles app that includes an entire reference library along with user-generated content for philatelists to upload their own stamp collection. Designed for collectors and stamp enthusiasts of all ages, StampApp affords users beautiful, high-resolution imagery of the U.S. stamp archive, with details and production specifications that are important to collectors. Users can manage their personal collections on StampApp, knowing that everything is securely and permanently stored in the Cloud, where it is always accessible on all of their devices.

  • Browse the entire USPS stamp archive, from the Postmaster’s Provisionals of 1845 to the 2016 first quarter issues.
  • Inventory, valuate and manage your own collections, with extensive fields for condition, purchase price, specifications, current values and the like.
  • Personalize your viewing content by selecting stamp information and data fields of choice.
  • Create “Wish Lists” by browsing the USPS archive and selecting desired stamps.
  • Share your wish lists with others via email or social media.
  • Export your entire personal collection to XML, Excel or Plain Text format.
  • Stamp and collecting data sync automatically among all your devices.
  • Upload images to StampApp from your personal collection.

The USPS StampApp will be available on, Apple’s App Store and Google Play.

2015 eGuide to U.S. Stamps
e-guideThe Postal Service crosses philately’s digital divide with the brand new 2015 Postal Service eGuide to U.S Stamps.

The U.S. Postal Service takes the lead in digital stamp display with a first-of-its-kind eBook of stamps. Like its print-book brother, the eGuide to U.S. Stamps encompasses more than 7,000 U.S. stamps from 1845 to the present. This is the only official compilation of U.S. postage stamps issued by the Postal Service. Extensive content includes detailed listings for each stamp with color illustrations, dates of issue, quantities issued, and separate listings for design variations. Multiple categories are covered — definitive, commemorative, airmail, duck stamps, stamped envelopes, and more — all organized into easily accessible indexes with an updated Stamp Series section that lists all stamps issued per series.

The benefits of the eGuide to US Stamps include:

  • Immediately downloadable and always available, requiring no internet connection once downloaded
  • Pinch and zoom for close-up and full page viewing
  • Responsive and accurate full-text search capability
  • Links to external-referenced resources and internal links via comprehensive indexes
  • Customizable fontpreferences and sizes
  • Perfectly portable – tuck the entire U.S. stamp archive into your pocket or purse

The Postal Service eGuide to U.S. Stamps will be available for reading on Kindle, Apple and Android tablets and phones, and can be purchased online at over 1,000 eBook retailers including the Apple Store, Google Play, Amazon, and

[In a discussion I had with one of the developers of the eGuide, this is a real e-book, not just a .pdf file saved in Kindle and Nook formats. We’ll have more on these two digital products in the near future. —Lloyd de Vries]

The World Stamp Show Souvenir Portfolio
folioThe World Stamp Show Souvenir Portfolio is a coffee-table book that features information about each of the eight stamps to be released during the Show. The design elements in this book include lenticular, textured and even Augmented Reality sprinkled throughout the pages. It also includes sleeves for inserting the stamp panes being issued during the week of the show, which must be purchased separately. The August 2015 World Stamp Show-NY 2016 stamp pane is included. The Portfolio can be purchased at World Stamp Show-NY 2016.

Learn more about the innovative new stamp products along with many other digital features at the U.S. Postal Service’s exhibit booth at the World Stamp Show-NY 2016, which continues through June 4. The United States plays host to this sanctioned international stamp show only once every 10 years.

On June 2, during the show, United States Postmaster General and CEO Megan J. Brennan will dedicate a pane of 16 stamps featuring America’s National Park Services in celebration of their centennial year. This event will be webcast and coincides with special dedication ceremonies across the nation that day. Also throughout the week, the U.S. Postal Service will dedicate seven other commemorative postage stamps on site.

These products and many of this year’s other stamps may be seen on Facebook via Twitter@USPSstamps oron the website, the Postal Service’s online site for information on upcoming stamp subjects, first-day-of-issue events and other philatelic news.

The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.

Canada Post, MoneyGram Aid Wildfire Victims

[press release]
MoneyGram Waives Fees for Donations to American Red Cross for Wildfire Relief Efforts in Canada
Company also working with Canada Post and Canadian Government to provide financial aid to victims

moneygramMoneyGram (NASDAQ: MGI) announced it has initiated support initiatives to help those impacted by the massive wildfires in Canada. From now through the end of June, MoneyGram is waiving fees for those who want to donate to the American Red Cross to support wildfire relief efforts.

MoneyGram and Canada Post are also working together to distribute $1.6 million in relief funds being granted by the Canadian Government. More than 1700 MoneyGram issued money transfer checks will be available for pick-up at Canada Post locations.

“Our hearts go out to those impacted by these terrible fires,” said Pete Ohser, executive vice president, Americas and Europe. “With the help of the Red Cross and Canada Post, we are focused on ensuring financial assistance gets to those who need it most during this crucial time. I’d also like to say ‘thank you’ to each and every first responder who continues to fight these fires by putting themselves in harm’s way; their courage and determination are inspiring.”

In response to a request for assistance from the Canadian Red Cross, the American Red Cross has deployed 50 disaster response specialists who are working in several functional areas, including case management, information management, shelter management, mapping and psychosocial support.

Donations to the Red Cross can be made at or any MoneyGram agent location in the U.S. All donations should be submitted to the American Red Cross under receive code 2540 to waive the transaction fee. Any dollar amount will be accepted up to a maximum of $249.99 per transaction.

Penner Confirmed as U.S. Stamps Chief

pennerOne year to the day after she was appointing Acting Director of Stamp Services for the U.S. Postal Service, Mary-Anne Penner has been promoted to Director, Stamp Services.

The appointment was made by Chief Marketing and Sales Officer and Exec. Vice President Jim Cochrane on Friday, April 22, 2016.

As you will read in the VSC post from one year ago, Penner has had a variety of management positions within the USPS. Since her appointment as Acting Director, she has been very visible at stamp shows and very accessible to collectors.



U.S. Resumes Mail Service To Cuba

There are special postmarks to commemorate the resumption of service. See the bottom of this page.

[press release]
United States Postal Service Resumes Mail Service to Cuba
First Direct Transportation of Mail Service to Cuba in More Than 50 Years

WASHINGTON — Today the United States Postal Service announced it resumed direct transportation of mail service with Cuba for the first time in more than 50 years. [The USPS tells The Virtual Stamp Club that direct service began March 16th, the day before this announcement.]

“The U.S. Postal Service is pleased to participate in the historic direct transportation of mail service with Cuba,” said Postmaster General and CEO Megan J. Brennan. “Moving letter mail and package volume directly between our countries will improve service for businesses and consumers.”

The types of mail customers in the U.S. can send to Cuba include First-Class Mail International items, such as postcards and letter size envelopes, First-Class Package International Service items, Priority Mail International Flat Rate Envelopes and Priority Mail International Small Flat Rate Priced Boxes. A comprehensive list of mailing conditions to Cuba can be found in the International Mail Manual at:

The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.

The VSC radio feature on this, and how it could prove an opportunity for postal history colletors, can be found here.

Special March 16th postmarks, available until May 16th:

cubapmk1United States Postal Headquarters
USA⁄Cuba Direct White House Station
National Postal Museum Post Office⁄Special Cancellations
2 Massachusetts Avenue
Washington, DC 20002-9998

cubapmk2United States Postal Headquarters
USA⁄Cuba Direct Postal HQ Station
National Postal Museum Post Office⁄Special Cancellations
2 Massachusetts Avenue
Washington, DC 20002-9998