Every postcard from a foreign land brings a little piece of the big, wide world to our letterbox. That was what Paulo Magalhães from Portugal thought, and that is why he founded the Postcrossing platform in 2005. To mark this date Austrian Post released a commemorative stamp to this admirable project, which brings together postcard and stamp collectors from around the world.

From the start the aim of the project was to connect people around the world, irrespective of where they live, their age, gender, skin colour or beliefs, through real postcards – no electronic messages. Over the years the little idea has grown into a highly successful project, which is now being praised in the media and which currently has approximately 600,000 members in more than 200 different countries.

To date more than 30 million picture postcards have been sent via the Postcrossing platform, having travelled a combined distance of an incredible 171 billion kilometres – and the figures increase with every hour that passes. Here in Austria, too, there are around 2,500 people who use this free service and have already sent more than 200,000 postcards to all of the participating countries. Even remote regions such as Nepal, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands are taking part in Postcrossing and even the Vatican has a few members.

The system is very simple: registered members are sent the postal address of another member at random, and send a picture postcard to that address. In return they receive a postcard from yet another member. The more postcards you send, the more you receive. Furthermore, it gives stamp collectors a unique opportunity to add international and exotic rarities to their collection, and perhaps even to make contact with collectors in other countries.

And who doesn’t enjoy getting a friendly message – from someone you don’t even know, sent from a foreign country on a colourful picture postcard? A postcard is simply more personal and more tangible than an electronic message via social media channels.

With this commemorative stamp Austrian Post hopes to make more people aware of this charming project. The red-white-red lettering on the stamp design symbolises Austria’s participation in Postcrossing; in the background a stylised “postcard wall” shows the many picture postcards sent via Postcrossing.