- Published on Sunday, 17 February 2013 23:22
- Written by Webmaster
The Universal Postal Union (UPU) has introduced the newest model of the International Reply Coupon (IRC): The Doha model -- so named for the 25th Universal Postal Congress that took place in Doha, Qatar in October 2012 -- will replace the current model, known as the Nairobi model.
The Doha model IRC will go on sale on July 1, 2013. It is valid for exchange it until the end of 2017. The Nairobi model -- first issued on July 1, 2009 -- remains valid until December 31, 2013. IRCs are exchangeable in every UPU member country for stamps representing the minimum postage for an ordinary priority letter-post item or airmail letter sent abroad for a reply. According to the UPU, 120 postal systems around the world worldwide had issued more than four million Nairobi IRCs with a total value of approximately $5 million as of October 31, 2012.
The Czech Republic has won the UPU's competition to design a new international reply coupon (IRC), beating 13 or countries. The work of Czech artist and graphic designer Michal Sindelar will display the theme "Water for Life", chosen to reflect the 2013 United Nations International Year of Water Cooperation in 2013. The new "Water for Life" IRC will go on sale on 1 July 2013. Postal customers will be able to exchange it until the end of 2017. It will replace the current coupon, known as the Nairobi model, which was first issued on 1 July 2009 and will remain valid until 31 December 2013.
How does it work?
When one writes to a stranger and requests a reply, it is considered polite to enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope. This works well when both persons live in the same country; however, if they are from different countries, the enclosed postage stamp will not be valid. This technical problem was solved in 1906 when the Universal Postal Union, during its Congress in Rome, introduced the International Reply Coupon service. As the service began before the days of airmail, the earliest coupons could only be redeemed for a single-rate ordinary postage stamp to a foreign country. In terms of today's UPU Convention, International reply coupons (IRC) are exchangeable in all member countries for the minimum postage of a priority item or an unregistered airmail letter sent to a foreign country.
The UPU's International Bureau processes several million coupons each year and deals with of all accounting aspects. The International Bureau does not sell IRCs directly to customers; they must buy them from their local post office. Although Posts are not obliged to sell IRCs, it is mandatory for Posts to exchange the coupons. If a Post does not sell IRCs, it is possible to purchase them in a post office located in a neighbouring country.