Pouch Mail System

Missionaries love to get mail, packages, and other communications from their family and friends. Though missionaries are allowed to use email and other forms of electronic communications these days, sometime it is still nice for them to get a physical letter or perhaps a drawing from a primary aged sibling. Sending letters can be expensive and unreliable to get the mail to the recipients who can be serving in some of the farthest reaching parts of the globe. For many missionaries, the “pouch” mail system of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints provides and affordable and reliable alternative when sending a simple letter to a missionary.

What is the Pouch Mail System?

In about 38 countries, effecting approximately one-third of full-time missionaries worldwide, local postal systems are often unreliable. To help get letters to the missionaries, the Church provides a mail service known as the “pouch,” wherein family and friends send their letters to Salt Lake City where they are then forwarded to mission headquarters around the world. The Church mail room staff sorts the letters into packets for each of the missions on the pouch the service and then ships the bundle of letters using a reliable global carrier directly to the mission homes. The pouch system isn’t fast, it can often take several weeks for a letter to arrive, but it has proven to be a reliable way for missionaries to get their mail.

Pouch Guidelines

Your mission call packet will tell you if your mission is on the pouch system or not, and if so, it will provide detailed instructions on how to use it. In order for the pouch system to work, the letters sent through it must comply with several guidelines. Laws in each country are different, but most have regulations and taxes that apply to these types of postal items. The Church must comply with these regulations or they will not be able to continue the pouch service, therefore they have developed the following guidelines.

  • You can send two kinds of letter through the pouch: either a postcard or a letter on one side of a single sheet of paper. These are the only types of correspondence the pouch mail service will accept. The service does not accept envelopes or packages.
  • If you are using a piece of paper, the sheet should be folded into three parts, as is commonly done to insert a letter 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. They recommend a single 8 1/2-inch x 11-inch sheet of 20-pound paper (the equivalent of paper used in most copiers).
  • Write your return address in the top left corner. Apply a US postage stamp to the top right corner of the tri-folded paper or post card, and mail it to Church headquarters at this address, printed in the middle:

Name of the missionary
Mission name
P.O. Box 30150
Salt Lake City, UT 84130-0150

For more information, read this Church News article on Pouch Service Regulations, or, if you have received your mission call, check the instructions in your mission call packet.

See the related article on care packages for missionaries.

15 replies
    • Robin Devey
      Robin Devey says:

      No it has to be heavier paper than lined paper. Your standard white paper used to print on with a printer is acceptable.

    • Jimmy
      Jimmy says:

      Yes, missionaries can utilize the same pouch system to write back, though, to do it, they will need US postage stamps. On my mission in Argentina, I brought a book of US postage stamps and my parents replenished the stock from time to time. I would write letters, put a stamp on them, and the letters would be brought back to the United States via the Church’s pouch systems. Once in Salt Lake, the letters would get dropped in the regular mail and sent to their destination.

  1. Kristen Hawkins
    Kristen Hawkins says:

    What about taking a greeting card and try-folding it as instructed? There is room to clearly write the missionary’s name and mission address on the back of the card, but when opened they will also have the card. It is thicker than regular paper and slightly smaller than a regular sized page of paper. I would really like to send encouraging cards to my missionary. Is this acceptable?

    Also mentioned is sending US stamps thru pouch mail, but how is this possible if you can only tape the very top of the letter together? It seems necessary to tape the sides of the letter to contain the stamps. Does the missionary send their return letters to the mission office and they return them via pouch mail? If your missionary is far away from the mission home, do they have to wait to go to the mission home to send the letters? Please explain, and thank you!

    • Jimmy
      Jimmy says:

      Sorry for the confusion. Let me attempt to answer your questions in the order you asked them. I hope this helps:
      1) With regard to the greeting card that is tri-folded…I suppose that might work. It might be best, though, to check with someone from the missionary department of the church. The intent of the pouch system, I believe, is to keep the weight down so shipping costs are low.
      2) When sending something like US postage stamps to a missionary, it cannot be done through the pouch system. You’ll need to, rather, send a package or envelope to the missionary using regular mail services in order to get the stamps to them.
      3) The missionary will get his or her letters to the mission office where personnel there will send it back to the US via the pouch system and once in the US, the letters will be dropped in the US mail. How the missionaries will get their letters to the mission office will vary from country to country. In Argentina, where I served in the 1990s, we gave our pouch letters to the zone leaders, who then delivered them to the mission office.

  2. Susanne Watson
    Susanne Watson says:

    Do you know… is pouch mail still functioning? If we received no pouch information with the mission call, should we assume it is not an option? This is a rather old post but I see comments from less than a year ago so I thought it might be worth asking. Thank you!

    • Jimmy
      Jimmy says:

      If the pouch system has been retired, then I never heard about it. As far as I know, the pouch mail system is still up and running. Regardless, if your mission call packet didn’t have any information on pouch, then I would presume your mission doesn’t use it. If you find out any more information on the pouch mail system, please come back here and let us know. Thanks!

  3. DF
    DF says:

    Do you know where I can find a list of all the missions that use the pouch system? Dearelder.com used to list them all, but their website seems to be down now.

  4. Linda
    Linda says:

    I will be giving this information to my kids to use while I’m in the Philippines.
    Does the pouch deliver to Tarlac City?
    Can a business size envelopes be used with a single page letter inside?


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