Church News - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Pouch service has new regulations

Letters to missionaries must now be a three-fold sheet, no envelopes
Published: Saturday, Dec. 15, 2007

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Receptionists in the Missionary Department have been overwhelmed with phone calls from members wondering why letters and packages sent to missionaries through the Church pouch mail service have been abruptly returned.

Church leaders are asking members to send single sheet letters folded into three parts.
Photo by Shaun D. Stahle
Sorting mail for missionaries is a labor-intensive effort, as seen by Loralee Wright who is organizing letters by mission in the Church's mail center. At least 1,200 letters arrive daily that do not conform to new regulations.

Recent changes in mailing letters have caught many by surprise. The changes are simple, but crucial.

To avoid possible discontinuation of the pouch mail service, the Church has revised its policy on missionary correspondence.

Instructions issued in September call on families and friends of missionaries to simplify their correspondence by mailing a single 8 1/2-inch x 11-inch sheet of 20-pound paper, or equivalent to paper used in copiers. Envelopes may not be used.

The sheet is to be folded into three parts, as is commonly done to insert into a business envelope. The top edge of the sheet should be fastened with tape on the top edge only, no closer than one inch to either side.

The name of the missionary is addressed on the outside of the sheet, with the name of the mission and the pouch address of the Church: P.O. Box 30150, Salt Lake City, Ut., 84130-0150.

Apply a stamp to the sheet and mail to Church headquarters.

The pouch system has been a reliable source of providing mail service to missionaries in 38 countries where local postal systems were often unreliable.

In recent years, letters to missionaries occasionally included cash and other sensitive material such as medications, and often printed pictures.

Each country regulates the pouch mail service differently. The Church must comply with these regulations or face fines or possible cessation of the service.

Single sheet letters and post cards are the only correspondence the pouch mail service will accept.

Pouch service to Brazil and its 27 missions has also been discontinued, largely due to the improved quality of the Brazilian postal system.

Parents and friends who wish to send other items for Christmas or personal use may ship through the U.S. Postal Service, or through a private courier. Cash is not accepted for conveyance by any carrier.

iconInstructions for making a three-fold letter:

• Lay the blank side of the single-sheet letter facing down with the writing facing you.

• Fold the top of the letter about one-third of the way down, and crease.

• Fold the bottom of the letter to the top of the first fold, and crease.

• Use two pieces of tape or two sticker tabs on the top to secure it, not more than one inch from each side, but do not seal the ends.

• Do not include any other item in the letter such as printed pictures, currency or medication, etc.

• In the top left corner, write the return address.

• Affix a stamp in the top right corner

• In the middle of the sheet, write:

Missionary's name

MTC or Mission name

P.O. Box 30150

Salt Lake City, Ut 84130-0150