The goal of this project is to allow people to receive postcards from all over the world, for free. Well, almost free! The main idea is that: if you send a postcard, you will receive one back from a random Postcrosser from somewhere in the world.

Why? Because, like the founder, there are lots of people who like to receive real mail. The element of surprise of receiving postcards from different places in the world (many of which you probably have never heard of) can turn your mailbox into a box of surprises - and who wouldn't like that?

The first step is to request to send a postcard. The website will display (and send you an email) with the address of another member and a Postcard ID (e.g.: US-786). You then mail a postcard to that member. 

The member receives the postcard and registers it using the Postcard ID that is on the postcard. At this point, you are eligible to receive a postcard from another user. You are now in line for the next person that requests to send a postcard. Where the postcard comes from is a surprise!  

You can have up to 5 postcards traveling at any single time. Every time one of the postcards you send is registered, you can request another address. The number of postcards allowed to travel at any single time goes up the more postcards you send!

How Does It Work?

It's quite simple:
  1. Create an account on the website (it's free). You need to provide your address so that you can receive postcards back.
  2. Request to send a postcard - the website selects a random member for you to send a postcard to. The address and some profile details are shared with you. A Postcard ID is also given to you: that's an unique code that identifies the postcard that you are about to send.
  3. Choose a postcard, write something nice and make sure to also write its Postcard ID on it. That's it - now all you need to do is post it just like any other postcard. Don't forget the stamps!
  4. The card arrives to its destination - hurray! The other postcrosser registers it, using the Postcard ID written on the card.
  5. Now, you will receive a postcard as well! When you receive it, simply register it on the website - that makes the sender the next person to be selected to receive a postcard.
And you can send several postcards at once - the more you send, the more you will receive back.

What is Postcard ID?

A Postcard ID is a little code that uniquely identifies a postcard in the system. It is composed of two parts: two letters (the country code) and a number.

To get a Postcard ID, you simply request to send a postcard and the Postcard ID for that specific postcard will be given to you. This means only official cards have Postcards IDs (postcards that you have privately swapped with other users cannot be registered).

It is important that you always write in each postcard its unique Postcard ID - that is what allows the receiver to register that postcard when it is received.

Is Postcrossing Free?

Yes! Postcrossing is offered to you completely for free. We believe this is the best way to allow more people from around the world to join the project, increasing its diversity and making it much more interesting for everyone. So go ahead and join us!

We'd love to be able to offer you postcards and postage as well... but that's beyond us. So, those costs are on you.

And if you are curious, the project does have many running costs. They are supported by displaying advertisement banners on the website and also through the contributions of many of its members. This is what makes it possible for Postcrossing to be offered to everyone for free.

Is Postcrossing Safe? 

The Postcrossing system is designed to be safe and protect your data. Your personal data, including your address, is important to you (and to us) so we work hard to keep it secure. Please be aware of the following:
  • The addresses stored in Postcrossing are only used for the purposes of exchanging postcards in the project.
  • It is not possible for anyone to intentionally get your address from the system. In Postcrossing, the destination of all postcards is selected randomly among all accounts in the system, so your address is shared only with the few selected members that will be sending you a postcard. To learn more about this, see how Postcrossing works.
  • Any member can only request a small number of addresses from the system. This is by design so that no one can get all the addresses from our database. Several other safety measures are also in place to prevent this.
  • All maps displayed in Postcrossing are only approximate and are not calculated from actual addresses. The coordinates used only show the geometric center of the nearest large city as selected by you in your account. The lack of precision is intentional to protect your privacy.
  • Your address and private data stored in Postcrossing is not sold, traded, given or shared with other third parties, or have any other use other than exchanging postcards in Postcrossing. No one else will have access to your address without your explicit permission, as specified by our Privacy Policy.
You should understand that your address will be shared with the few members that will be sending postcards back to you (as explained above) since that is the only way you can receive postcards. Also, the information you publish in your profile such as the about text and your Postcrossing username is public. As with any other internet website, you should share only what you feel comfortable with.

If you wish to do some additional steps to maximize your privacy, here are some ideas:
  • Consider getting a PO Box in your local post office instead of using your home address. Alternatively, you can use your work or school address to participate in Postcrossing.
  • All fields in your profile are optional: only share in your profile information what you feel comfortable sharing in a public place such as the internet.
  • When you write a postcard to another member, don't include a return address if you prefer to. In fact, most postcards don't include the return address since space is quite limited.
Lastly, please understand that we offer this website to you completely for free and we will not be held responsible for anything that may occur as a result of its use or misuse. The system is very safe to use and designed to be secure, but if you run into problems as a result of using the service, we might not be able to help you.

Source : Postcrossing

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