Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The new IRC, known as the Nairobi model

The new illustration that will adorn the international reply coupon (IRC) as from 1 July 2009 was unveiled today in Geneva during a plenary meeting of the 24th Universal Postal Congress. A Luxembourg artist won the competition, organized by the UPU's International Bureau in order to find a design for the next generation of IRCs. The work by Rob vAN GOOR, a graphic artist from the Luxembourg Post, was selected from amongst 10 designs presented by UPU member countries. The artist interpreted the theme of the contest, "The postage stamp: a vehicle for exchange", by depicting the world being cradled by a hand, and the perforated outline of a postage stamp. All 169 countries present at the UPU Congress had the opportunity to cast a vote for the winning design.

The new IRC, known as the Nairobi model, will go on sale on 1 July 2009. Postal customers, collectors and philatelists will probably be able to exchange it until the end of 2013. It will replace the current coupon, known as Beijing 2, which first went on sale on 1 July 2006 and will remain valid until 31 December 2009.

The international reply coupon is a postal product exchangeable in every UPU member country for one or more postage stamps representing the minimum postage for an ordinary priority letter-post item or an ordinary airmail letter sent abroad for the reply. Some 2.2 million reply coupons are sold each year by 121 postal administrations. While not all countries sell IRCs, all the postal operators of the UPU's 191 member countries, and their territories, are required to exchange them.

More than a century after it first appeared in 1907, the international reply coupon remains a useful item. Aside from its traditional use for correspondence, two particular groups of users have emerged: students, who use it as a means of exchanging correspondence with academic institutions, and amateur radio enthusiasts, who use coupons when exchanging their "QSL cards" confirming radio reception.

Just a reminder for those who like to stockpile International Reply Coupons
(IRCs) - the current IRC will expire at the end of year.

Unlike the old style coupons, the current types all have an expiry date,
giving them a maximum life of 3 years. If you purchased a current IRC today,
they will still expire on December 31, 2009.

Ken, ZL2HU, advises us on the following information from the International
Postal Union in Geneva:

"The current issue (Beijing 2) IRC may be exchanged up to 31 December 2009
(date printed on coupon). In principle, Beijing 2 coupons will no longer be
sold from 31 August 2009.
"The new international reply coupon (Nairobi model) is due to go on sale
from 1 July 2009, and will be valid for exchange until 31 December 2013."

Ken states, "So make sure you aren't holding any of the Beijing 2 coupons at
the end of this year."

To see what the new IRC looks like, go to:

http://www.upu. int/news_ centre/2008/ en/2008-08- 08_irc.shtml

Source: OPDX via Southgate
http://www.southgat earc.org/ news/april2009/ irc_dates. htm

(Mike Terry Via DXLD)