Sending an Appeal

Sending an Appeal


Domestic Rates:

First class letters, 1 ounce or less: 49 cents
Postcards: 34 cents

International Rates:

To Canada:
Airmail letters, 1 ounce or less: $1.15
Postcards: $1.15

To Mexico:
Airmail letters, 1 ounce or less: $1.15
Postcards: $1.15

To all other countries:

Airmail letters, 1 ounce or less: $1.15
Postcards: $1.15

(Effective September 2014. Source: Page 46

Your letters to government officials should ideally consist of one page and the envelope, which will always keep the weight under one ounce. Some individuals have notified us that letters they attempted to send overseas were returned to them by the U.S. Postal Service, even though the envelopes bore correct addresses. This is an ongoing problem that seems to be the result of postal workers not recognizing the names of some foreign countries or from their incorrectly categorizing the envelopes.

When sending letters abroad, here are a few pointers to keep in mind:

  • Write country names in capital, block letters.
  • Write "Air Mail" on the envelope.
  • Be sure to use the appropriate postage for Air Mail (currently $1.15 for a standard letter).
  • Have your mail meter-stamped or use dull, uninteresting stamps. (In some countries, colorful stamps could lead to an envelope being stolen to obtain the stamp.)

For specific domestic and international rates, please consult the United States Postal Service Rate Calculator.


When an email address is available for an official, it is included in the address section of the Urgent Action or Freedom Writers Sample Letter. If you have access to email, feel free to send your appeal this way, as it is the fastest method. It is not necessary to send a letter or fax in addition to an email. If your email bounces back to you or you receive an "undeliverable" notice, please contact us, and we will try to rectify the situation.



The cost of sending a fax is simply the cost of a phone call and is automatically charged to your telephone account. There is no special fax etiquette although you may want to include your fax number in your message and request a faxed reply from the official.

When a government official's fax number is available, it will be listed in the address section of the Urgent Action or Freedom Writers Sample Letter. To send a fax, slip your paper in the machine and dial the number as it appears on the Urgent Action/Freedom Writers Sample Letter. If you get a busy signal or the fax terminal does not respond, try back later. If you are still unsuccessful, just send the fax appeal as an airmail letter. The paramount goal is to get your appeal to the official, so don't let a connection error stop your message.

Because a fax message is received as it appears, you can send petitions with signatures. Using a letterhead may add to the effectiveness of your message and help individualize it.


Receiving a Reply

Urgent Action or Freedom Writers letter-writing often results in silence from the government authorities to whom we appeal. However, each year, the Urgent Action and Freedom Writers Networks collectively receive thousands of copies of government replies written to letter writers. Government replies may not accurately address the human rights violations alleged but they do indicate authorities' concern with their position and with the countries' image internationally.

All Urgent Action and Freedom Writers Networks participants are asked to send copies of any government replies they may receive to the Urgent Action Network Office in Washington DC. The replies are then promptly forwarded to the appropriate research staff and to the Amnesty International offices in the respective country.

Urgent Action Network
Amnesty International USA
600 Pennsylvania Ave, SE, 5th Fl.
Washington DC, 20003