General Mail Rules

Mail rules differ from one facility to another, so don’t hesitate to ask your pen-pal; they know best! But here are some general rules to start with:

  • On the envelope, write your return address on the top left corner and don’t forget to write your country if you live abroad. As for the inmate’s address, write the exact address provided on their profile, and don’t forget their ID number!

  • We recommend to write your first letter on plain or lined white paper, with a blue or black ink pen. Avoid colored paper, including colored envelopes.

  • Mail rooms are busy, and your letter could get separated from its envelope. For this reason, write the last name and ID number of the inmate on every single page of your mail. If it is your first letter and the inmate does not have your address yet, you might want to write it down again somewhere in your letter.

  • Some countries/states/institutions allow letters in foreign languages, some don’t. We strongly recommend you to write your first letter in one of the official languages of the country you’re sending your letter to and ask the inmate if it is possible for you to switch to another language or not before doing so.

  • No stickers, tape, white-out, staples, paper-clips, glitters, perfume, lipstick, drawing, painting, cardboard material, etc. Keep it to the minimum for the first letter, until you find out more about the mail regulations of the facility.

  • Do not talk about anything that could be seen as a threat to security, for example weapons, alcohol, drugs, other inmates, escape, tattoos (in some facilities), etc. Do not talk badly about the officers either, or this could lead to some sort of retaliation. If in doubt, simply avoid anything that could be misinterpreted by an officer in the mail room, including jokes. Apart from that, you can pretty much say whatever you want 😉

  • If the inmate is located in the United States, check out our US Federal & State Prison Information page to find more detailed information about the mail restrictions. You can also call the facility directly and ask the mailroom for further clarification. Finally, you can read our FAQ and our tips for beginning a correspondence.