If you are heading to the Vatican, you may be wanting to send a postcard or letter from Vatican City. We always stop to send a postcard or two from the Vatican when we visit.
Vatican City has had its own postal service since 1929 and it issues its own stamps. These stamps are notable for their high-quality designs and limited quantities, which make them prized among stamp collectors.
But everyday travelers and pilgrims also flock to the Vatican post offices to mail postcards and letters bearing the Vatican stamps to send greetings to loved ones and as inexpensive personal souvenirs. It can be fun to send or receive a postcard bearing the Vatican postmark.
Roman Catholics may view a postcard from the Vatican as mail with a touch of holiness. My grandmother, a devout Catholic, loved the Vatican postcard I sent her of the Pope. She showed it to all her friends and family when they came to visit her.
Whether you are a stamp collector, regular postcard sender, or just wanting a special souvenir, we’ll tell you all you need to know to send your own postcard from the Vatican.
In this article, we’ll explain how to send mail from the Vatican, where to buy stamps, where to find the Vatican post offices, and tips for mailing your postcards in the most efficient way.
Table of Contents:
A Guide to Sending Mail from Vatican City
In this section we’ll answer all the frequently asked questions regarding finding post offices, buying stamps, writing postcards, and sending mail from the Vatican.
How do I send a postcard from the Vatican?
The two most important things to remember in sending a postcard from the Vatican is that you need to use Vatican stamps and you need to mail your postcard in a Poste Vatican mailbox within Vatican City.
We’ll cover all the details about where to buy stamps, postcards, and how to find the post offices and mailboxes below.
Where can I buy Vatican stamps?
You can buy Vatican stamps at any of the post offices within Vatican City (see the specific post office locations later in the article).
The Vatican post offices accept both credit cards and cash, but they may have a credit card minimum (e.g., 10 euros) on an individual purchase so it is a good idea to have some cash (euros) on you. The euro is the official currency used in Vatican City.
If you are a collector of Vatican stamps (or coins), you can also purchase them online, you can see the official sales website here.
How much does it cost to send mail from the Vatican?
It will depend on what you are mailing, its weight, its destination, and whether you want it sent priority or regular mail. But if you are sending a standard postcard or letter, you should estimate between 1.20 euros and 3.10 euros, depending on its destination.
Based on the Vatican postage rates as of June 2023, if you are sending a non-priority postcard or a letter under 20g of weight then it should be:
- 1.20 euros if sending to Vatican/Italy/San Marino
- 1.25 euros if sending to Europe
- 2.40 euros if sending to Americas/Asia/Africa
- 3.10 euros if sending to Australia/New Zealand.
For example, when I was last here, it cost 1.25 euros to send a postcard to the UK and 2.40 to send a postcard to the United States.
You can find the current Vatican postal rates and postal zones here.
Do I get to choose which stamps I receive?
If you are just sending a few postcards, then normally they just give you the correct postage and don’t give you much choice in the specific stamps. They give you whatever is quick and efficient, and I have never asked for specific stamps.
For example, I sent three postcards and one letter during a visit in May 2023. Each required 2.40 euros worth of postage. I received the same postage for them all. I need to affix 3 stamps to each postcard/letter so I received 12 stamps in total.
Here are the three different Vatican stamps I received:
- 2010 500th Anniversary of the Death of Sandro Botticelli, 1.45 euros
- 2013 Pontification of Pope Francis, 0.85 euros
- 2022 Europa Myths, 0.10 euros
You can see from the above selection that I received quite a range and each was from a different year and stamp collection. I was surprised that two of the stamps were over 10 years old.
However, if you are a collector and are buying souvenir stamps, stamp sheets, or other collectible items, you will of course get to choose which ones you want to purchase. It is a good idea to know what you want to purchase before you go. Collectors can buy stamps at the Vatican post offices or online here.
Where can I buy get Vatican postcards and envelopes?
You can purchase souvenir postcards and envelopes at most of the Vatican post offices, gift shops, and bookstores. There are several Vatican bookstore and gift shop locations within the Vatican Museums and one in St. Peter’s Square.
Typical postcard designs sold at the Vatican are ones featuring the Pope, St. Peter’s Basilica, religious scenes, and famous artworks from the Vatican Museums. Regular postcards typically cost between 50 cents and 1 euro.
But you can also send regular postcards and envelopes that were purchased elsewhere, such as in Rome or ones you brought from home. You don’t need to buy your postcard or envelope in Vatican City. We have mailed regular Rome postcards as well as those we purchased from the Vatican.
If you are sending a letter, I would recommend writing it, sticking it in an envelope, and addressing it before you arrive to save time at the post office. Then all you need to do is buy and affix the stamps and put it in the mailbox.
Remember that the important thing is that you have proper Poste Vaticane postage and that you put it in a Poste Vaticane mailbox.
Where can I post mail in Vatican City?
You can post mail in any of the postal boxes located around Vatican City. There are a number of them and most are bright yellow with the words Poste Vaticane or simply Poste on them. So they are pretty easy to spot.
The easiest ones to locate are the ones next to the three post office branches that are most accessible to tourists. So I’d head to St. Peter’s Square to use any of the post office boxes located there. There are at least four post office boxes located in or next to St. Peter’s Square.
If you are visiting the Vatican Museums, you can use the mailboxes next to the post office branch there. Note that these are brown wooden postboxes, not the yellow ones. There are other post office boxes located within the museums as well.
Just be sure that any mail you send here has the correct amount of Poste Vaticane postage on it! You can’t send mail via Poste Vaticane with stamps from Post Italiane (or anywhere else!).
If you need to mail a larger parcel or package, then you’ll need to take it and mail it at one of the post offices if it doesn’t fit in the mail boxes.
If you are mailing a package or special delivery letter, then the post office worker may take your mail from you to post once you’ve paid for the postage. But for most postcards and letters, they will normally hand you the stamps and tell you to put your mail in one of the nearby mail boxes.
How many post offices are there within Vatican City?
I think there are four post offices within Vatican City, but I believe only three are generally open to the public. We list the locations of each of these in the next section.
There is also the Vatican Central Post Office (Via della Posta, 00120 Città del Vaticano) which is the one you’ll probably see if you check Google Maps. Although it is technically listed as open to the general public, that location seems to mainly be reserved for Vatican residents, staff, and clergy.
If you try to visit the Vatican Central Post Office location, the guards at the gate will generally redirect you to the post office locations in St. Peter’s Square. This is fair enough as residents probably want access to a post office not clogged with postcard-sending tourists and stamp collectors, but they should make this clearer as it is listed as the main post office on their website and on Google.
There is also a postal branch within Pontifical Lateran University, which has Vatican extraterritorial status, for university staff and students.
Where are the Vatican post offices located?
All the post office are located within the Vatican City. Since they do not have specific street addresses (two are in a square and one inside a museum), we’ll give you both a written description of how to locate each of them and have placed them on Google Maps here as well.
St. Peter’s Square Post Office Locations
For visiting either of the post office branches in St. Peter’s Square, you’ll want to first make your way to the square. The address is Piazza San Pietro, 00120 Vatican City.
- Vatican Post Office in St. Peter’s Square (Charlemagne branch) – This office branch is located within St. Peter’s Square. If you stand looking at the front of St. Peter’s Basilica, you’ll want to head past the obelisk and Bernini’s Fountain and head towards the left side of the piazza. Continue onwards along the side towards the basilica exit. The Post Office is located next to the Vatican gift shop, book shop, toilets, and Tourist Information Office. You’ll see a couple of yellow post office boxes outside.
- Vatican Post Office in St. Peter’s Square (Mobile) is located within St. Peter’s Square. If you are looking at the front of St. Peter’s Basilica, you’ll want to scan the area to the left side as you walk into the square towards the basilica. You should see a white and yellow mobile trailer unit that has the words Poste Vaticane and Post Vatican on it. If for any reason it is not open or there, just head on to the fixed post office location above.
The two locations above within the piazza are only about a 2-minute walk from one another. If one is busy or closed (during opening hours), you can try heading to the other one.
Vatican Museums Post Office Location
You need to have a valid ticket, pass, or be part of a guided tour to enter the Vatican Museums. If you are planning to visit the Vatican Museums, I recommend taking a look at our guide to visiting the Vatican for tips on booking tickets or tours and visiting.
- Vatican Post Office in the Vatican Museums is located within the Vatican Museums. You need to enter the Vatican Museums and go through ticket check and security. Once you are inside the Museums area, you’ll find the post office located on the First Floor near the Courtyard of the Corasses (Cortile delle Corazze). It is not far from the main entrance or the main museum exit via the spiral Momo staircase. If you look at a Vatican Museums map or directory, it should be noted as “Vatican Post Office”, “Poste Vaticane”, or “Ufficio Postale” with an envelope icon. There is only one location so if you get lost, just ask a staff member.
Since the Vatican Museums post office location is near both the entrance and exit, it can be a good idea to visit the post office at the beginning or the end of your visit. If you don’t have a postcard yet, I would maybe wait until the end as there are a few bookshop locations within the museums where you can buy postcards.
Note that if you are visiting with a tour group, you’ll probably need to visit after your tour ends. If your tour ends outside of the Vatican Museums (such as in St. Peter’s Square or St. Peter’s Basilica), you will probably want to visit one of the post office locations in St. Peter’s Square instead as you likely will not have time if part of a tour.
You can view the locations of the three Vatican Post post office locations on the Google map below (purple envelope icons), click on the map or this link for a closer view of the map and locations.
Do I need to pay to visit the Vatican post office?
No, not at all. You can go freely to either of the two post offices located at St. Peter’s Square (one a permanent office and one a mobile branch) without needing to pay or show any kind of ticket.
For the post office located within the Vatican Museums, you do need a ticket to be able to visit the Vatican Museums and will need to go through a security check.
What times are the Vatican post offices open?
You can generally visit a Vatican post office between 8:30am and 6:30pm from Monday to Saturday all year long. All post offices are typically closed on Sundays, but in high season (summer) the mobile post office is sometimes open on Sundays.
Here are the specific normal operating hours for the Vatican post offices open to the public:
- The regular post office branch in St. Peter’s Square (Charlemagne branch) is generally open Monday through Saturday from 8:30am to 6:30pm (8:30 – 18:30).
- The mobile post office branch in St. Peter’s Square is generally open Monday through Saturday from 8:30am to 6:30pm (8:30 – 18:30).
- The post office branch located inside the Vatican Museum is open the same hours as the Vatican Museums regular public opening hours. This is generally from 9:00am to 6:00pm (9:00 to 18:00).
Note that you might want to confirm opening times before your visit. You can check this official website for opening hours (although not always updated). But generally, you’ll find the post offices are open during the normal visiting hours of the Vatican Museums.
How long are the lines to mail postcards from the Vatican?
It really depends. Sometimes there is no one in line and at other times you may need to wait a while, especially in the afternoons. But the wait is rarely going to be more than 30 minutes.
We noticed on our last visit that there were no lines at any of the post offices in the mornings when they opened, but lines often got longer in the afternoon.
I typically go to the post office location within the Vatican Museums and have never had to wait more than a few minutes for service.
Note if you find yourself standing in a long queue to get into St. Peter’s Basilica and are traveling with someone else, this can be a good time for one of you to head over to the mobile post office location to purchase your stamps.
Can I send a Vatican postcard to myself?
Of course. Just write your own mailing address on the postcard.
A lot of people send Vatican postcards to themselves. This is a great inexpensive souvenir that you can send to yourself from the Vatican. It is also popular among stamp collectors who are wanting the Vatican postmark and some cancelled stamps.
How do I write a postcard?
When I was at the Vatican, I actually realized how many people have never mailed a postcard before. If this is your first postcard, here is a quick guide on how you fill out a postcard.
Once you have your postcard:
- Write your greeting and a short message in ink on the left side of the postcard. This can say whatever you wish to the person you are sending the postcard to. It can be nice to write the date here as well so the person knows when you wrote it.
- Write the name and full address of your recipient (the person you want to receive the postcard) on the right side of the postcard. There are typically lines on the postcard indicating where you should write the address. You do NOT need to write a sender’s address.
- Make sure you write the address clearly, without abbreviations, and with proper address formatting. The last line of the address needs to be the destination country (e.g., UNITED STATES OF AMERICA or FRANCE) unless you are sending it within Vatican City.
- Be sure when writing your message and the address, that you leave plenty of space on the top right area of the postcard for the postage. You will attach your stamps on the top right corner of your postcard. Remember that you may need to affix multiple stamps. If you are not sure how much space to leave, you may want to add the postage first, then fill out your postcard.
- After you have written your message, addressed it, and stamped it, you just need to check it over to make sure everything is correct. Then put it in an official Vaticane Poste mailbox.
It is very simple to write a postcard once you know how to do it. People back home will likely really appreciate you taking the time to think about them while on your trip. Hopefully it will make you want to send postcards wherever you travel.
How do I send a letter to the Pope?
If you are wanting to send a letter or card to Pope Francis, you can address your letter to:
His Holiness Pope Francis
Casa Santa Marta
00120 Vatican City
How long does it take for mail to arrive from the Vatican?
The length of time it takes for mail to arrive from the Vatican will depend on the type of mail, type of mail service, and destination. Times can vary, and may of course also be affected by your own country’s mail system.
But if you are sending a postcard or letter from the Vatican, I would expect it to takes from a few days to a few weeks depending on how far away the destination.
Postcards and letters we have sent from the Vatican to the United States have taken from about 7 days to 2 weeks to arrive. They tend to arrive faster than those I have sent from Italy.
The Vatican mail system is generally known for its efficiency. In a 2004 New York Times article, a spokeswoman for the Universal Postal Union stated that “more mail is sent each year, per inhabitant, from the Vatican’s 00120 postcode than from anywhere else in the world”. She also noted that the Vaticane Poste is ”probably one of the best postal systems in the world.”
Why have my Vatican postcards not arrived?
There could be a number of reasons why a Vatican postcard takes a long time to arrive or perhaps never arrives at all. These are all the same reasons that any piece of mail may not turn up or turns up late.
This could be due to the address not being written clearly or correctly, the correct postage amount not being used, not using Poste Vaticane postage, not putting it into one of the Poste Valicane mailboxes, etc. The mail may have also been mistakenly delivered to the wrong person or address, or it may have been damaged or lost during transit.
But it can also just be due to delays in the network that delivers mail between the Vatican and the final destination of the postcard. Mail can be heavily affected by transportation delays, holidays, pandemics, breakdowns, bad weather, industrial strikes, etc.
So if it hasn’t arrived yet, try to be patient. Hopefully it will arrive soon. We have never experienced any great delays or losses when sending postcards or letters from the Vatican.
We have found, based on our experience of sending lots of postcards internationally over the years from around the world, that almost all the postcards do eventually arrive. But we have had postcards which we thought were lost forever turn up at their destinations several months after we have sent them. We’ve only had two postcards (one from Spain, one from the UK) which we sent and they never arrived.
Can I use Vatican stamps in Italy?
No, Poste Vatican stamps are only valid when used within Vatican City or in a few places which has Vatican extraterritorial status. The stamps are invalid if you try to use them to send mail within Italy or any other country.
In Italy, you can buy stamps from the Italian postal service Poste Italiane, and these stamps are also available in many tabacchi shops. There are also private mail services that also deliver mail and sell tourist postage stamps in Italy.
How to visit the Vatican Philatelic and Numismatic Museum?
If you are interested in learning more about the history of stamps and the postal service of the Vatican, I recommend making time to visit the Philatelic and Numismatic Museum (Museo Filatelico e Numismatico) of the Vatican Museums.
You will need a ticket to the Vatican Museums to be able to visit. You can read our guide to visiting the Vatican Museums if you want tips on planning a visit to the Vatican Museums.
This small museum opened in 2007 and is a museum dedicated to stamps and coins issued by the Vatican. It includes all the stamps issued by the Vatican Post Office since the Lateran Treaty of 1929. It also includes older stamps and postage marks used by the Papal States and Roman States before that treaty. The Vatican issued its first stamp all way way back in 1852!
Unless you are a stamp collector this is unlikely to be a highlight of your Vatican Museums visit, but it is definitely worth a visit for anyone interested in stamps or coins.
When I last visited, I was the only person there and I think this may be one of the least visited museums within the Vatican Museums. It was refreshing to be away from the crowds for a bit.
It can be a little tricky to locate but on a Vatican Museum map or directory is will be labeled as Museo Filatelico e Numismatico (in Italian) or Philately and Numismatic Museum (in English). If you head to the Courtyard of the Corasses (Cortile delle Corazze) on the First Floor, you can access it easily from there.
The museum is conveniently located right next to the Post Office within the Vatican Museums. It is located in the Basement with the entry staircase just next to the post office and some toilets.
Where can I find more information about Poste Vaticane?
For more information on postal services and philatelic issues, you can check out the Services section of the Vatican State official website here.
If you want to learn more about Vatican stamps and stamp collecting, you might want to check out the Vatican Philatelic Society, you can see their official website here.
But if you have a general question about sending mail from Vatican City or about visiting the Vatican Museums or St. Peter’s Basilica, feel free to leave your questions in the Comments section below and we can try to help answer your question.
Tips for Mailing your Vatican Postcards
Here are a number of tips to help you prepare for your visit to the post office based on our own experiences. Some of these can make your visit more efficient and easy, whereas other tips are geared to making sure that your Vatican postcards reach their final destination.
- Bring your mailing addresses. Before you arrive at Vatican City, I’d recommend making sure you have a list of mailing addresses for where you want to send your mail. If you are not sure of someone’s address, be sure to get it from that person before you visit. I normally have mine written and keep them with my travel journal, but storing them in your phone is also a good idea.
- Bring a pen to write with as sometimes there are no pens available in the post office locations. If you don’t bring one, you may end up needing to purchase a souvenir pen. Don’t use a pencil as it is more likely to smear.
- If you are sending a letter, it is a good idea to pack envelopes and paper with you and to write the letter before your visit to the Vatican so you have it all ready in an addressed envelope before you arrive. Then all you need to do is buy a stamp and post it.
- Remember the Vaticane Poste and all of its post office services are typically closed on Sundays (mobile post office sometimes open on Sundays during high season).
- Before you go up to the post office counter, you’ll want to know what you want to buy, how much mail you want to send, and the destination country of each piece of mail. This information will be needed to make sure you get the correct amount of postage.
- I also think it is best to have all your mail ready and addressed before you get to the counter so I recommend buying postcards or writing your letters before you go to the post office to buy postage. Having the items in front of you makes it easier for staff to know what you want and make sure you get the correct postage. If you have anything heavier than a regular postcard or letter, you will need to have this weighed to determine the correct amount of postage.
- The Post Office staff in my experience have always spoken both Italian and English (and likely other languages as well) but if you don’t speak either of those languages, you might want to look up the English or Italian words for what you want. The word for “stamps” in Italian is francobolli.
- If you are just mailing postcards and have them with you, you can simply say Buongiorno, place your postcards on the counter and point, say (or point to) the country you want to send them to, and smile. That will generally be enough. The staff will then give you the appropriate postage and tell you how much it costs.
- The Vatican post offices accept both credit cards and cash as payment, but it is a good idea to make sure you have some cash (euros) with you in case there is a minimum amount on credit card purchases (e.g., 10 euros).
- Make sure each piece of mail has the proper amount of postage. You can only use Poste Vaticane stamps (you can’t use stamps from Italy or elsewhere).
- Be sure to check over your mail before you put it in the mailbox. Make sure you have the correct address for the recipient, make sure it is written clearly, and the address is complete and properly formatted. Make sure you put the country (e.g., United States of America) as the last line of your address unless you are sending it to someone within Vatican City. This includes if you are sending it to someone in Italy!
- Make sure you put the mail in one of the Poste Vaticane mail boxes (most Vatican post offices are yellow). You cannot use the Poste Italiane mailboxes or the tourist postcard boxes elsewhere in Rome.
- Remember that you need to mail everything while you are in Vatican City. You can’t mail anything outside of Vatican City if you are using Vatican stamps.
- Finally, if you are planning to visit St. Peter’s Basilica and/or the Vatican Museums you will want to plan your visit in advance or risk standing in very long lines (and potentially not having a chance to visit at all). These are two of the most visited places in the world! You can see our Vatican guide for tips on making your visit as smooth as possible.
And that is our guide to sending mail from Vatican City! We hope that it has been helpful to you if you are planning a visit and want to send a postcard from the Vatican.
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If you have any questions about visiting the Vatican or sending mail from here, just ask us and we are happy to try to help. If you have sent mail from the Vatican, feel free to tell us about your experience. We’d love to hear your personal experiences and tips.
If you are planning a trip to the Vatican (or elsewhere in Rome) feel free to ask us any questions in the Comments section below and as always, we’ll do our best to answer your questions!