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Three and a half weeks ago I was in Poland and I sent a letter (actually, a postcard in an envelope) home (in Russia) to my family, but the letter still hasn't been delivered. I know that parcels from eBay and AliExpress are usually delivered in 30 days or even more, but that's a parcel from China - while in my case, it's a letter.

Is it common to wait for a letter for so long considering not that large distance between countries? Is there any way to know about the status of my letter if I don't have any receipts left?

By the way, there was a blue sticker on the envelope saying "priority" - so, I guess, it has to go faster than usual?

closed as off-topic by David Richerby, Giorgio, user 56513, Rory Alsop, VMAtm Jun 23 '17 at 14:03

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    It took me almost one month to get in Spain a postcard from Russia and I recall it taking almost the same from Spain to Russia. – fedorqui Jun 22 '17 at 11:17
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is a question about mail tracking, not about travel. – David Richerby Jun 22 '17 at 13:33
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    "Priority" only works to the border of Poland, other countries don't have to respect that on unregistered mail. And even inside Poland, it does not guarantee anything, only increases chance. – Mołot Jun 22 '17 at 13:39
  • When I was in Moscow, I sent a postcard to my Polish family and friends, and it took about a month to arrive. Keep your fingers crossed, apparently the delays work both ways! :) – Daniel Kamil Kozar Jun 22 '17 at 13:50
  • @DavidRicherby: I don't know about you, but I don't really ever find an urge to send a postcard to someone in another country unless at least one of us has traveled to or from there. Unless you're just really bored or really gullible, if you're sending someone a postcard, it's probably someone you feel close to, which means in all likelihood you've met them in person, which means one of you has traveled to or from that location. In other words, it's a problem that comes up almost exclusively for travelers or during/after traveling. I don't see how it would not fit here. – Mehrdad Jun 23 '17 at 3:24
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I used to do Postcrossing a lot a few years ago and I can tell you that the shipping times for unregistered mail are just plain unpredictable. Sometimes you can get a letter from the other end of the world in 1 week and sometimes it takes 40 days to get a postcard from a neighboring country. Obviously the median times follow a certain trendline, but you can't be sure about a particular letter.

There is no way for you to track anything unless you've sent it as a registered envelope and have a tracking code. Next time try to send at least two postcards from two different locations, just to increase the chances of getting one on time.

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    +1. My personal record is almost 6 months for a postcard from Africa to Australia. – jpatokal Jun 22 '17 at 7:33
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    @fedorqui that journey would be mostly sitting in a few places for a long time not doing anything. – Mixxiphoid Jun 22 '17 at 11:50
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    +1, my Postcrossing record was 14 months from Russia to Poland – Kuba Jun 22 '17 at 13:15
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    @fedorqui in most of the countries I visited there was an option of tracked international mail, but for example Poland-Brazil unregistered was ~1.5 USD and registered ~30 USD just for a piece of paper... – Kuba Jun 22 '17 at 13:16
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    @fedorqui, a chip in postcards is a good idea, we could call it "electronic mail", or "e-mail" for short. – ESR Jun 23 '17 at 0:40
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It's impossible to find out what exactly has happened with lost postcard, because it would require finding it first, so it wouldn't be lost postcard anymore...

There are many points of failure. First of all, letters in Poland do disappear. With registered letter, you can at least get some compensation in that case, and they are lost less often. But with the normal letters and postcards many things can happen.

Letters disappear in sorting facilities. If they are sorted wrongly and returned, then anything can happen. Those facilities works like washing machines on socks.

Letters got thrown into wrong postbox. Either they are thrown away, or thrown to 'unsolicited' postbox, where nobody seems to care about them.

If they are sent abroad, something might get wrong on Russian side as well.

You should just accept the fact, that in many countries the post is not fully reliable. Although most letters in Poland are delivered without problems, so you've simply got bad luck.

Or maybe the letter lies somewhere in sorting facility and someone will notice it in a few months... Wonder happens...

Honestly, when I get to post because I was noticed about registered package awaiting for me, and when I'm asked after 5 minutes of futile search, how big exactly is the package, I consider it a miracle that the letters are delivered at all...

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You can't track mail if you don't have a tracking number (which is on the receipt in some cases, if there is a tracking number at all). There is a workaround:

Nowadays, in pretty much every country there is a service where you can print and send postcards you design online. If you send your vacation photo from Poland to Russia, you can use a Russian postcard printing service to send the card from Russia to Russia, with pictures from Poland while you are in Poland. These services often provide tracking, as well as reasonable estimates of delivery time.

  • Doesn't that defeat the whole purpose of postcard? – el.pescado Oct 31 '17 at 11:13
  • @el.pescado Not really. You still send a card with a picture from where you are, while you are there. The main differences are that it's cheaper, faster, and that you can include a personal touch. – Peter Oct 31 '17 at 13:03

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