International reply coupon

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An international reply coupon (IRC) is a coupon that can be exchanged for one or more postage stamps representing the minimum postage for an unregistered priority airmail letter of up to twenty grams sent to another Universal Postal Union (UPU) member country. IRCs are accepted by all UPU member countries.

UPU member postal Import services are obliged to exchange an IRC for postage, but are not obliged to sell them. The purpose of the IRC is to allow a person to send someone in another country a letter, along with the cost of postage for a reply. If the addressee is within the same country, there is no need for an IRC because a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) will suffice; but if the addressee is in another country an IRC removes the necessity of acquiring foreign postage or sending appropriate currency. For information on exchange rates please refer to this guide Import Export Exchange Rates.


The Ponzi Scheme

The profit that could be made by taking advantage of the differing postal rates in different countries to buy IRCs cheaply in one country and exchange them for stamps to a larger value in another country was the intended profit generator for a scheme operated by Charles Ponzi, which became the fraudulent Ponzi scheme; in practice the overhead on buying and selling large amounts of the very low-value IRCs precluded profitability.

The selling price and exchange value in stamps in each country were since adjusted to some extent to remove some of the potential for profit, but ongoing fluctuations in cost of living and exchange rates make it impossible to achieve this completely.


References:

1.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_reply_coupon


External Links:

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