Russia-Kosovo Mail Experiment

Retour postmark

After learning about sending mail to some of the partially recognized countries, like Abkhazia, Transnistria, and Nagorny Karabakh, I wondered, how do I send mail from Russia to Kosovo ? Russia doesn’t recognize Kosovo’s independence, and supports Serbia in the conflict. So, it may not be as easy as writing “Kosovo” in the address.

Searching the web shed no light on this question, nobody on postcrossing forum knew either. I asked Russian Post rep in Vkontakte (“Russian Facebook”), he came back with “you have to address it to Serbia”. I was skeptical it would make it. So, I decided to test…

Find suitable destination

I needed to find someone in Kosovo who’s willing to give me his or her postal address, and let me know when they receive my postcard (or that they did not receive it in couple of months).

I found help on Reddit from the owner of The White Tree Hostel in Pristina. I also got some tips on what to write on the card: some people also doubted, that writing Serbia as a destination country would allow the card to arrive, and suggested writing “Kosovo via Albania”, and or “via Switzerland”.

Send a few cards

So, I sent three cards, addressed “Kosovo”, “Kosovo via Albania”, and “Kosovo, Serbia”. I dropped them in different post boxes on different days, thinking they get handled by different people, but now I’m thinking it was silly — they would all end up in sorting facility anyway.

The Results

Long story short: the last one — addressed to “Kosovo, Serbia” — arrived 🙂 The first two turned up in my mail box with “RETOUR” postmark the next day after I received the message that the card via Serbia arrived. Though, it wasn’t clear where they were returned from. So, I decided to try again…

Not conclusive…

Since it seemed that sending via Serbia works, and my ultimate goal was to receive a postcard from Kosovo, I decided to send two more cards to Post of Kosovo, kindly asking for a postcard. So I did, addressing to “Kosovo, Serbia”… but they both came back as well, this time with more explanatory reason:

“Due to unexpected situation occurred in <unreadable> of Kosovo and Metohija traffic is interrupt temporary 11003 Belgrade”

Kosovo card returned

More tests to come

I’m curious if sending mail to Kosovo from other countries is unreliable too. I’m also curious if card addressed to Kosovo would actually make to to Albania, will it be routed to the actual destination in Kosovo. So, here are a couple more tests I’m going to run:

  • Send from USA to “Kosovo”, “Kosovo via Albania”, and “Kosovo, Serbia”
  • Send from Russia, writing Kosovo in Albanian (one of the official languages in Kosovo) “KosovĂ«, Albania”

Stay tuned for the results 🙂

4 thoughts on “Russia-Kosovo Mail Experiment”

  1. Hello Erik
    I am a philatelist from Novi Sad, Vojvodina, Serbia and the history of returned cards you had sent to Kosovo interests me very much. Since you are familiar with the geo-political situation there, no need to waste space. Therefore straight to the point: ever since year 2000, (with limits from 2002) the exchange of posts between Serbian Post and Kosovo Post (PTK) existed, but under UNMIK control. In parallel, international airmail came in, via Basel (CH), Ljubljana (SI), surface mail via Skopje (MK) etc. Ever since May 2005, when UPU granted Int-l postal code for Kosovo and 118 new city codes, the Serbia, obliged to comply UPU recommendation, through the Post-of-Exchange 11003 (mentioned in the cachet) “out of security reasons -due to crisis” returns ALL postal shipments lacking the word Serbia in address, as “insufficiently addressed”. It is also better NOT TO USE the Kosovo city codes (which I believe you had used on cards sent to Post of Kosovo).
    To answer your question: reliability depends on place/country of posting. F.i. : if mailed in Slovenia, (or any country that has direct airmail link), mail is normally delivered to Pristina , whatever the address. If mailed in Croatia, or Russia etc. it will be routed via Belgrade, and returned if lacking Serbia in address. Use of ‘via Albania’, ‘via Macedonia’ etc is obsolete nowadays.
    Please, if possible, send me the scanned addressed side of the returned postcards, at least the one from above, dated Aug 10. 2016, with permission to use it in the philatelic article I will be preparing on the subject. Unfortunately, I have no contacts to help from Kosovo, but can direct you to
    FILATELIA Post of Kosovo,27
    containing also email address. If you contact them, explaining your needs, I’am pretty sure they can spare a postcard and stamp to send to you!
    with friendly regards

  2. Hi Ivan!
    I just sent you the scans you requested.

    Thank you very much for the information! I guess more experiments needs to be done 🙂 As I wrote you in the email, I sent more mail to Kosovo, and I’ll just duplicate it here in case anyone else is interested in the results of my experiments:

    In addition to what I wrote in the article, I did following experiments:

    1. Sent USA -> “Kosovo” — it was received.
    2. Sent USA -> “Kosovo, SERBIA” — is was not received, and was not returned.
    3. Sent Russia -> “KosovĂ«, Albania” (idea was that automated sorting machines in of Russian Post don’t route it to Serbia when detect “Kosovo” in the address), it was received!
    4. Sent Russia -> “KosovĂ«, Albania” to the Philatelia of Kosovo Post, asking for a postcard. It did not return, but I also have no confirmation it was received. I did not receive a postcard from them.


  3. I get all my mail from the UK with just Kosovo on the address, yet mail that is sent from Australia goes straight to Serbia and then gets returned. Australia Post don’t understand the situation.
    I also did an experiment sending 2 letters to my friend who lives in a part of Kosovo where the municipality is Serbian. She never gets her mail. So I sent her 2 letters, one to her name and another to the same address, but with a Serbian name. Neither arrived.

    1. Hi Julie! Thanks for sharing/ Yeah, two years ago when I wrote this article I didn’t even know there are towns in Kosovo that use Serbian post. Now I know, and I have a postcard from one of them. Still no card via Kosovo Post.

      I’m thinking of trying it our again, see if things have improved or not in 2 years. Would you be on the receiving side? (I’ll email you)

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