How to Find a Penpal

Three Parts:Finding the Right WebsiteSearching for Your PenpalStaying in Touch

Writing to a penpal can be a deeply enriching and rewarding experience - one that can make you a friend for life. Thankfully, the Internet has made finding one a much easier experience due to the proliferation of penpal websites. Using some discretion and foresight can allow you to pick the perfect penpal and create a lasting friendship.

Part 1
Finding the Right Website

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    Think about what you want to send. There are many different ways to correspond with a penpal, and deciding on the one that’s right for you makes it easier to sort through the number of penpal websites on the Internet. Some people prefer communicating electronically while others like to use penpals as a means of creative communication.
    • The International Union of Mail-Artists is a website dedicated to those who like sending postal art to their penpals. IUMOA is a much more niche community as it has roughly 4,000 active members. However, it is the perfect medium for those who like to have an artistic element to their penpal correspondences. [1]
    • Swap-Bot is another website dedicated to creative forms of corresponding. The website focuses on swapping where users exchange postcards, stickers, coins, and a variety of other small crafts. Swapping is ideal for hobbyists and those interested in sending hand-assembled mail. [2]
    • Global Pen Friends is a good example of a website designed to facilitate more traditional penpal relationships. Users can search for potential penpal partners from around the world, using a nuanced search engine to find their perfect penpal. Instead of sending crafts or postal art, users communicate through writing. [3]
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    Consider whether you want to correspond electronically or through snail mail. Some websites don’t allow users to add their postal addresses, preferring more secure electronic communication. If you prefer old-fashioned snail mail and the feel of fresh paper, then it’s best to find a website that facilitates postal communication. Global Pen Friends allows both electronic and postal correspondence, where users can exchange physical addresses after establishing contact. [4]
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    Look at free versus paid websites. Many websites allow you to search for penpals for free, but require premium memberships where users pay a low monthly or annual fee in exchange for communication with their penpal. Other websites allow for free memberships, but that often comes at the cost of excessive advertisements. InterPals is a reliable free penpal website with a robust database of users and minimal advertisements [5]
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    Use Google to find the right penpal website. Check out any suggestions listed in this guide, but feel free to search for a website on your own. However, there are a great deal of poorly run or defunct penpal websites so it’s important to know how to find the right one.
    • Look at the website’s design. Is it clunky, filled with oversized text, and stuffed with annoying advertisements? These are all telltale signs of an inefficient penpal website. A trustworthy website should have a sleek, user-friendly layout with a well-defined explanation of how the website works.
    • Check out the frequently asked questions section. This part of the website should answer all of the important questions about whether it’s a paid website, how to setup a profile, and whether it allows for postal and/or electronic communication.
    • Play around with the website before you decide to make a profile. Check out the search engine and see how easy it is to use. Look at how many users are available to communicate with and see if you can find users from the countries you’re interested in.
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    Make your profile. When you have activated your account, it's time to set up your own profile which other pen pals can see. Designing a profile plays a key role in getting new pen pals. Depending on this information, members will choose to click on your profile when they are searching for members and whether to write you a message. Complete the about me and hobby boxes with great detail, because this is how users decide if they have anything in common with you. Upload at least one good profile picture so people know you are a real person. Be thorough with your personal description, but careful not to give away any personal information you aren’t comfortable with sharing.

Part 2
Searching for Your Penpal

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    Decide on your ideal penpal. Consider where you want your penpal to be from, how old you want them to be, and whether you want a male or female penpal. It's best to be flexible on terms of locations and stick to someone only two years older or younger than you if you are a kid, maybe even a difference of five or so if you are an adult. Having a penpal can be a wonderful educational experience, so put some thought into what you want to learn.
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    Connect with others who share your hobby. When looking through profiles pay attention to what the users enjoy doing so you can find someone who shares your particular interest. Or choose someone with a completely different set of hobbies so the both of you can teach each other something new.
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    Look for ways to learn more about a country and improve your language skills. Think about a part of the world you’ve always been curious about but never had a chance to visit. A penpal can give you a personal look into a country that you wouldn’t be able to get through any other means. Many people pick penpals in faraway countries with varying host languages, which is a crucial aspect to consider when choosing a communicant. Make sure that you and your penpal will be able to understand each other using some common language. Penpals are fantastic ways to learn and practice new languages, so consider looking for one who speaks a language you're interested in learning or understanding better.
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    Consider using penpals as a form of community service. There are often elderly users who are interested in developing friendships in their old age. Communicating with these penpals can not only allow you to make a friend across generations, but help somebody who needs a friend.
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    Refine your search. Most penpal sites have many search options that allow you to sift through multiple possibilities for new pen pals. For example, Global Pen Friends has a robust search engine that lets you tweak various search parameters.
    • In its basic search, Global Pen Friends lets you choose gender, age, country, state/province, city/town, and whether you only want to search for profiles with photos and registered postal addresses.
    • There are even more options available on its advanced search where you can choose the preferred race, religion, hobbies, language, and whether you want to communicate via snail mail or electronically.
    • It’s important to be flexible with your search as it may be difficult to find your ideal penpal. Try searching for penpals with different interests and experiences as you often learn much more from these correspondences. [6]
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    Check the website guidelines to find out how to make contact. When you find a penpal you’re interested in, websites will allow you to add them as friends or send them a message. Don't get attached to them before they write back to avoid letdowns. Paid websites will typically only let you send one initial message or a smiley, so make sure you have a premium membership if you’re trying to maintain contact.
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    Make your initial contact short, light, and friendly. Write a bit about yourself and why you are writing. For example, you could say “I am a high school student in Allentown, Pennsylvania looking to find friends abroad who are interested in botany.” Don’t give too much information upfront so you can decide if this is the right penpal for you before disclosing a physical address.

Part 3
Staying in Touch

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    Keep the conversation alive. As you communicate with your penpal, you will inevitably start sharing more about yourself. Developing a friendship is a game of give and take where you each reveal more personal information as time goes on. Try to progress your communication naturally like you would in any friendship. Start off by talking about the basics such as your profession and interests, then start to divulge difficult emotions, hardships, and insecurities as you and your penpal can begin to know each other on a deeper level. However, only reveal more about yourself if you feel absolutely comfortable with the individual you're communicating with.
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    Stay safe. Penpals offer up a wonderful opportunity to make friends across the world, but it also puts you in a vulnerable place. Be careful when giving out personal information, even simple things such as your Skype, email, MSN, phone number, etc. Wait some time before giving out or asking for other information. Build up trust over time. Be wary of displaying your email address on your profile as spammers can use it to send unwanted emails. Always use your judgement when sharing personal details with your penpal, making sure you trust this person before revealing anything too intimate.
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    Make time for your penpal. Keeping in contact with a penpal seems like something that should be painless, but it’s easy to slip up in your communication. Developing a lasting friendship with your penpal is like maintaining any other friendship - it requires time and dedication. You must make the effort to regularly correspond with your penpal, otherwise your friendship could slip away. [7]
    • Create a routine. Whether it’s once a week or once a month, carve out an hour in your schedule to sit down and write a thoughtful letter to your penpal.
    • If your penpal starts to correspond less, consider sending a follow-up letter to make sure they are okay.
    • Think about keeping in touch through social media outlets like Facebook and Instagram in order to strengthen your relationship. Social media can be a great way to maintain regular contact with your penpal and learn more about their lives.
    • Consider meeting in person or at some point in the future. This option may not be available if you don’t have the financial means to travel a great distance, but if the relationship with your penpal is strong then an in-person meeting is the perfect way to take your friendship to the next level.
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    Be patient. Developing an enriching penpal friendship takes even longer than normal friendships considering how long it can take snail mail to travel around the world. Realize that you should be ready to at least correspond for a few years in order to truly get to know your penpal. Slowly understanding the ins and outs of someone else can be a rewarding experience that only becomes richer with time. If you make the effort to keep a consistent correspondence and allow time to know your penpal, then a distant stranger could become a lifelong friend.


  • Make sure if you do get contact details to write them down in case you lose them!
  • Reply to people if they contact you and try to write quickly- nobody likes waiting around.
  • Don't expect everybody to write in your language, learn some basic words in other languages.
  • Often, penpals look to exchange languages. Offer to teach them English, or any other language you speak. They might want to teach you their language.


  • If you’re under 18, then consult a parent to help you choose a penpal.
  • Some people may lie about who they are online, or may even lie in their correspondences. Understand this risk before picking a penpal.
  • Take great caution when meeting a penpal in person. Be sure to meet only after you have been corresponding with them for a few years, preferably after talking on the phone or video chatting so you know who they really are.

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Categories: Enjoying Friendship