I was told about this about three years ago, that if you were desperate and didn't have time to buy stamps for a postcard, merely putting the code '2FABE' would get your postcard to its intended destination.

Sceptical at the time, I searched for it on Google and found nothing. Now searching for it has a couple of people asking if it's real, but no actual answer.

After being in the expatriate community in London for four years, I'd met several people who have tried this, from many countries, and aside from sending from China, word is they've all gotten through.

The obvious question would be 'is it real?' - but that doesn't seem to matter as it seems to work. The real question is WHY does it work? Is it a special code that means something? Is it an informal system like the old 'S2S' (Student to Student) code was meant to do? Or is it just blind luck that these have all made it through.

It came up in tonight's #TTOT (Travel Talk on Twitter), after I mentioned it, but nobody else had heard of it, so figured it might be a good one to ask on here.


I don't need to know HOW to test it, that's easy - I just want to know - if it's real, WHY is it real?

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    Magic and witchcraft, I say. Oct 18, 2011 at 10:55
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    I did not know of the 2FABE acronym, but drawing a little head in the stamp area of a postcard in countries with stamps with royals works as well. I am afraid that this might be something that works until its secret is exposed to a larger audience (asking about it on the Internet).
    – user141
    Oct 18, 2011 at 13:45
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    @Roflcoptr I refrain from answering here, again tricks like this usually work if it is only known to a selected (small) group.
    – user141
    Oct 19, 2011 at 11:02
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    @Prashanth the link doesn't work for me? And as I said in the question, I know of several attempts to use it in dozens of countries, and all of them have gotten through (apart from one from China).
    – Mark Mayo
    Mar 20, 2012 at 20:11
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    This question may be on scope for skeptics stack exchange as well as this site. You may want to ask there if you're still interested. Apr 21, 2012 at 22:56

2 Answers 2


I'd propose the "null hypothesis" that 2FABE has no special meaning, but that postal services may just handle postcards that don't have postage, either because they don't really check, or as a "tourist-friendly" policy.

One could test this by sending a bunch of postcards, some marked 2FABE, some marked with other random sequences of characters, and some with no markings at all (and perhaps some more with cartoons of the Queen). If significantly more of the 2FABE cards arrive than the others, then you have some reason to think there is something special about 2FABE, and could investigate further. It might be best to mail the postcards to and from a variety of addresses, so that they don't attract attention by all being processed or delivered together.

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    So, I've tested with a few sets of cards, all mailed from and to US addresses, with various markings or blank postage. Only the ones marked with the code got through. It didnt matter if the code was split up, for example "2" and "FABE" on separate lines, or even "2F-ABE" but "II-Fabe" did not work.
    – J. Win.
    Dec 10, 2013 at 21:21

The best explanation for this phenomenon I've found is this:

For your information, most of the postcards that are being sent with "student to student" recommendation from your website that arrive get a circled black 'T' letter stamp on them which means "postage is due" and that destination should pay it. This means that the receiver of such mail might have to pay not just the due postage but as well as a small fine. Unfortunately, mail services have costs on applying such fee to the receiver and often do not do it - the fee would have to be returned to the originating country anyway, and they don't always enforce this.


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