Pen Friends (Penpals) — A Great Way to Make Genuine Friends

Updated on April 27, 2017

Writing to a Pen Friend

Handwritten letters add a personal touch.
Handwritten letters add a personal touch. | Source

Featured on BBC News Magazine Online

As Katherine Moller, who met her husband online but still hand writes letters says in the BBC News Magazine,

"In a world where it is so easy to hop online to email or to send a fast text, it is so personal and so precious to know someone chose to turn off the virtual world to spend some time with you". (

Pen Friends

The hobby of writing to people all over the world has experienced a mild come back during recent years as many people feel they need a digital detox from emails.

This hobby is known as 'writing to pen friends' if letters are exchanged and 'writing to key pals' if the friends message online. Often the people who are corresponding never meet. However, strong friendships can develop between long-term pen pals.

A circle of friendly people can be built up easily. Any unpleasant or toxic people can be dropped. You just don't write back.

54 Years Is a Long Time to Be Pen Friends

I've been pen pals with Mary Lou for 54 years. Now we follow each other on Facebook as Mary Lou can't write anymore due to ill health. Over the years we have shared ideas, talked about our lives and families in our different countries, (she lives in America and I live in UK), and, knowing each others since we were 14, we have developed a very strong friendship.

Pen Friends Promote World Unity

Pen Friends help mutual worldwide understanding.
Pen Friends help mutual worldwide understanding. | Source

Anyone Can Be a Pen Friend

Pen friends can be from any country, any walk of life, any age and any culture. All that is needed is a friendly nature, a desire to learn about how others live and the ability to communicate through writing letters.

Initially I would advise writing to people of similar age to yourself as new pen pals are more likely to have lots of common interests to write about if they are from the same generation. However, I have written to considerably younger people successfully. I currently write to several aged 80 plus years who are very interesting people.

It's useful to have contacts abroad. I had two lovely holidays staying in France with my pen friend. In turn, I gave her a holiday in UK. Also, when my Finnish pen friend's son came to UK for a convention, I offered him a place to stay in my home.

Ways of Writing to Pen Friends

Letters to penfriends can be hand written using pen and paper. This is known as snail mail because it's a slower means of communicating. The letters are mailed through the postal systems of the countries involved by airmail or surface mail according to the stamp value you put on.

Alternatively, many people use email or other digital ways of messaging each other. They are known as 'Key Pals'. This is still a form of being pen friends and is, of course, much faster than snail mail.

Gold Post Box in Wrexham, UK

Royal Mail has painted more than 100 of its iconic and much-loved red post boxes gold to celebrate every Team GB and ParalympicsGB gold medal won during the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games. The post boxes will remain permanently gold.
Royal Mail has painted more than 100 of its iconic and much-loved red post boxes gold to celebrate every Team GB and ParalympicsGB gold medal won during the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games. The post boxes will remain permanently gold. | Source

Finding Pen Friends

There are several ways to find pen friends if you want to join this hobby. I have a few suggestions for you to try according to your preference.

Pen Friend Clubs

Clubs are a good way to contact like minded people. Some clubs offer a matching service which adds to the likelihood of finding a suitable pen friend.

Clubs usually have a joining fee.

Rainbows Penpal Club is an example of this. Run by Marjorie Edwards, it has a Facebook page. The email address is:

International Pen Friends, based in Finland, is a long established club that matches people by age. It also has a website at: Their email is:


'Yours' Magazine has a Facebook page. Every issue of the magazine has a section called 'Friends of Yours' with instructions on how to advertise for penfriends. You have to obtain an issue of the magazine to see it but otherwise the service is free.


PenPal World has an attractive website. They just ask for your e-mail address, birthday, sex, and country to sign you up.

InterPals Penpals ( and Global Penfriends ( say they cater for snail mail as well as online pen pals. As their names suggest they are worldwide.

There are also websites specializing in snail mail. An example is Snail Mail Penpals at

Some sites have a joining fee or you buy credits to see people's addresses.

Schools and Young People

There are special introductory services for schools. They are usually online but when I was teaching I sometimes received advertising shots from offline companies who link up pen friends in schools.

Originally I was introduced to my long term pen friend, Mary Lou, by my school.

PenPal Schools who have a 'PenPals Plus' page that you can join. On their main page there are lots of exciting projects.The website address for pen pals is:

Intercultural E-mail Classroom Connections (IECC) has a basic website where you can sign up to link with classes in other countries. Here is their address:

Find Teen Pen Pals has a fun, attractive site where you can register. The address is:

Some of the Codes Used in Friendship Books

  • A/A means 'all letters will be answered'.
  • NPW means 'new penfriends welcome'.
  • SNNP means 'sorry no new pen friends'.
  • M/F means 'male or female pen friends wanted.

Friendship Books

Once you have several penfriends you can use a 'Friendship Book'.

This is a small booklet that you make yourself. It is then enclosed with your letter to a pen pal. The recipient adds their name, address and a few details about themselves if they want to, then sends it on to another pen pal. When the booklet is full it is returned to you to write to whoever you want. This is all free.

I have found some great pen friends from Friendship Books.

Spam Emails

Just delete spam email penpals and report them.
Just delete spam email penpals and report them. | Source

Problems With Penpals

I only ever had a problem twice in my fifty plus years of penpalling. Once a person sent me an unpleasant letter because I hadn't replied quickly enough to her previous one. I simply threw it away and never corresponded with her again. The other time was when an online pen friend had some kind of bug on her comp that copied her ID. I unfriended her and only corresponded by snail mail from then on.

A Variety of Stationery

Snail mailers have a wide choice of stationery
Snail mailers have a wide choice of stationery | Source


Snail mail penpallers soon develop their preferences for stationery.

Standard letters, notelets, cards and postcards are examples of suitable stationery to use.

Lovely stationery can be found for sale on eBay and other online sites as well as in the high street shops.

Likewise with pens, it is the user's preference. I prefer ink to pencil as I think it gives a better impression to the recipient of the letter.

Why Not Give It a Try?

Should you want to try the hobby of writing to penpals I hope this article will be helpful. Please feel free to leave comments or ask questions. Happy Pen Friending!

Questions & Answers


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      • profile image

        Dilip solanki 

        6 weeks ago

        I need male pen friend

      • profile image


        7 weeks ago


      • profile image

        Princemike Mulenga 

        4 months ago

        I am looking for a loving and caring person to be my pen pal friend. I live in a peaceful and friendly country called Zambia

      • profile image

        Emily Patricio de Souza 

        7 months ago

        oi meu nome é Emily e quero fazer amigos que seja

        da california

      • profile image


        9 months ago

        Can i have a pen pal from a european country? I am 49 years from India.

      • profile image


        11 months ago

        Am looking for friends who are innovative and like developing youth mindset

      • profile image


        11 months ago

        I need male pen friend

      • profile image


        11 months ago

        Am looking for penpals with good sense of humour ,who love to laugh,love nature and open minded.Am from Zambia.

      • profile image

        Thomas Nartey 

        11 months ago

        I need penpal friend here

      • profile image

        Luzviminda adonis 

        12 months ago

        Im interested in writing and i want to meet friends that are true and honest from all over the world

      • profile image


        12 months ago

        i I am from Kenya, a very peaceful country in the Western part of Kenya. Iand happily married with two lovely children. I want to meet Christians - good and honest people as life time friends to share experiences by exchanging ideas about life. I want my children to also learn from other cultures. Please if someone is interested to have me as a friend please kindly write to me and l will respond quickly.

      • profile image


        12 months ago

        Hi looking for friends to mail

      • profile image


        12 months ago

        Hi I'm looking for someone I can mail letters to and become good friends with

      • profile image

        (Miss) Elham 

        12 months ago

        Hi . Im from Germany and looking for a pen friend.

      • profile image


        14 months ago

        I'm looking for penpals so as we may share different matters, friendly,

      • profile image

        Rowland P. Baffoe 

        15 months ago

        Hi I am from Ghana, a very peaceful country in the Western part of Africa. I am an Administrator in a University and happily

        married with four lovely children. I want to meet good and honest people as life time friends to share experiences about life. I want my children to also learn from other cultures. Please if someone is interested to have me as a friend please kindly write to me and l will respond quickly.

      • profile image


        15 months ago

        I want pen friend. Iam sri Lankan

      • profile image


        19 months ago

        Hi I am Kashif i want meet some people who will discus with me in education i want to know foreign countries student how to study and i want to know the way of education in foreign countries. and I am from PAK.

      • profile image

        Louise Peters 

        19 months ago


        My name is Louise i am 53 and have recently finished work so have found i have lots of time on my hands and would love to find some lovely snail mail friends from around the world. To build lasting friendships, be there for each other through good times and bad to share laughter and tears to be friends

      • profile image


        20 months ago

        I'm Brazilian, I would like to correspond with letters, to exchange stamps, cards, and other gifts, with friends from all over the world. I will answer every letter I receive with greater joy.


        BOX 211




      • profile image


        20 months ago

        I want to learn i want to find a friend from Korea,japan,China

      • profile image

        Vast chirwa 

        21 months ago

        How would I find a penpal coz life living without friend is not good i need one please from other countries like uk USA sweden italy Netherlands Holland etc

      • profile image

        Said kidisha 

        22 months ago

        Hi.i need some friends from ather countryz how will i get conected?.

      • profile image

        Nsasira lsabella 

        22 months ago

        Ohhhhh life is good with friends

      • profile image

        Joseph sesay 

        22 months ago

        please i need a help how my school, kids will have penpal friends from other countries.

      • profile image


        23 months ago

        How can i help my young nephews and niece get pen pals?thanks.

      • profile image


        23 months ago

        I would like to meet pen pals all over the world. my mail

      • profile image


        24 months ago

        I would like to meet pen pal from across the world. Would like to socialise and meet friends.

      • profile image


        2 years ago

        i am fifty plus in twenty plus age , now i am on the edge of retirement. this hobby give you pleasure and very devotional peace of mind as i am educationist. hence, like continue my ambition of expression through literacy with reality of humanity. it is really good forum for exchange of thoughts and views and to build healthy global community

      • profile image

        Thomas Boduwa Nartey 

        2 years ago

        Let the Global World become unity.

      • profile image

        Neeraj Kumar Mishra 

        2 years ago

        Tell me the procedure to join the pen pal friends ...expalin it in simple English

      • Dee Marshall profile imageAUTHOR


        2 years ago from London, UK

        Thank you Eduardo :)

      • Dee Marshall profile imageAUTHOR


        3 years ago from London, UK

        Thank you for your comment Genevieve. I'm glad you pen pal too.

      • profile image


        3 years ago

        great blog! i have also been penpalling for years and really love it. i think everyone could benefit from having a penpal and escaping the digital world every now and then. i hope lots of people read this article and check out the links you posted so that they start penpalling too!


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