Do Wax Seals Increase Postage Cost? Domestic and International

In most countries in the 21st-century postal charges are based on weight and size. Domestic and international mail will also differ in cost. Based on these charges we aim to find out whether using a traditional wax seal to gentrify your correspondence will actually cost you more.

Before any official postal service was established early colonists would use friends, merchants, and even Native Americans to send their correspondence either by foot or horseback. Most communications in this era were between the colonists and the families they had left behind in England.

The early days of postal services in the US were even before the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Then in 1971, an act of Congress saw the US government take over the Post Office Department becoming the USPS that we know today.

Wax seals weigh very little at around 0.02 ounces, a little over half a gram. The weight of the wax seal itself should not add to your postage cost. However, be prepared to pay a few extra cents to have your mail hand-canceled preventing any damage to the seal from the canceling machines.  

What is a Wax Seal?

In days gone by wax seals were initially used by wealthy aristocrats and governing classes to authenticate documents. Towards the end of the Middle Ages, their use had evolved to be more commonplace. Illiteracy was rife in the 1400s and the seal was often used in place of a signature or an ‘x’.

With the development of gummed envelopes in the late 19th-century wax seals slowly diminished until their recent resurgence as an aesthetically pleasing addition to today’s invitations and memos.

How Do you use a Wax Seal?

Today there is not just the traditional way of sealing wax which would be using sealing wax with a wick. Other methods include using a glue gun or a melting spoon.

All techniques, however, require the wax to be heated until it melts and then embossed with a handheld seal. You can do this straight onto the envelope itself or pre-make your wax seals and then glue them on.

How Much do Wax Seals Weigh?

The weight of the wax seal you use can vary depending on the wax you use. However, on average a wax seal used to seal an envelope and to be within the standard postage scope will weigh 0.02 ounces (0.57 grams). It will also be 0.03” thick which is 0.76mm.

How Much Does It Cost to Post a Letter?

The size and weight of your letter will determine its cost. In most circumstances, standard postage will cover your wax-sealed mail although occasionally there may be an additional cost. However, we would advise that you always check the actual costs with your local Post Office by taking an example along.

NB: All prices are in local currencies.


Standard postage covers mail weighing up to 1oz (30g) and up to 0.25” (0.6cm) thick. Anything over will incur extra charges.

First Class Standard Rectangular Envelopes:

Domestic from $0.60

International from $1.40

Q: Will a wax seal increase the postage cost in the US?

A: Yes, by $0.21 if you choose to have your mail hand canceled.


Standard postage covers letters up to and including 100g (3.5oz). Dimensions for a standard letter in the UK are 24cm (9.4”) in length, 16.5cm (6.5”) in width, and no more than 0.5cm (0.2”) thick. Anything over is classed as a large letter and will incur further costs.

First Class Standard Rectangular Envelopes:

Domestic £0.95

International from £1.60

Q: Will a wax seal increase the postage cost in the UK?

A: Providing the standard weights and measurements are met then the cost will not increase.


Standard small letters can weigh up to 250g (8.8oz). Maximum dimensions are 24cm (9.4”) length, 13cm (5.1”) in width and 0.5cm (0.2”) thick. Anything bigger than the standard dimensions will attract additional rates.

First Class Standard Rectangular Envelopes:

Domestic $1.10

International from $2.50

Q: Will a wax seal increase the postage cost in Australia?

A: Prices will only rise from the standard charge if the wax seal increases the dimensions of the envelope over the standard maximum.


In Canada, standard-sized mail is classed as letter envelopes, postcards, and standard cards. Standard weight is up to 30g (1oz) which equates to 5 pieces of paper. Anything oversized is classed as non-standard and will increase the postal charges.

First Class Standard Rectangular Envelopes:

Domestic $1.07

The US $1.30

International $2.71

Q: Will a wax seal increase the postage cost in Canada?

A: No, prices will not increase unless the wax stamp takes the weight of the standard letter over 30g.

Related Questions

Will a Wax Seal Make It Through the Mail?

There is every chance that a good quality wax seal, used on a thin envelope will make it through the normal postal service. This would involve dropping your envelope, memo, or invitation into your nearest mailbox and allowing the USPS to do their thing.

However, if it is guarantees you are looking for then there are a few extra precautions to take to lessen the risk of the seal being damaged:

  • Have your mail hand canceled at the Post Office. Not all Post Offices will offer this service so it may be best to check in advance. Hand canceling will incur an extra cost of $0.21 per envelope although some Post Offices may not enforce the charge.
  • Use an outer envelope, keeping the seal protected on the inside.
  • Use a good quality wax.
  • Ensure that your envelope is fully sealed before adding the stamp. Using the wax to seal your envelope rather than an ornate decoration will leave gaps that may get caught in the canceling machines.

Are Wax Seals Non-Machinable?

Not necessarily. A thinner envelope and a good quality, professional-level embossed wax seal ‘should’ be ok (but we can’t make any promises). That said, our advice to avoid damage from the canceling machines would be to hand cancel any mail with wax seals or use an outer envelope.