USPS Operation Santa

Need some magic this season?
Write a letter to Santa!

Someone could adopt your letter and send you the magic you need. USPS Operation Santa® relies solely on random acts of kindness and the generosity of strangers. More letters equals more magic.

Write a letter Adopt a letter

Learn more

How USPS Operation Santa works

Write a letter to Santa

Everyone deserves a little magic during the holidays!

thumnail illustration of a kid's letter

What to include within the letter:

  • Tell Santa what type of year you’ve had. Be honest. He knows!
  • Requests for clothes and shoes should include preferred size, style and color. For toys, games and books, include names and titles.
  • Return address information with a full name, street address, apartment/unit number (if applicable), city, state and ZIP Code.

Addressing a letter to Santa

Letters to USPS Operation Santa must be postmarked no later than December 12.

Return address:
Mailing address: Santa Claus
123 Elf Road
North Pole 88888
Postage stamp: USPS Holiday Forever Postage Stamp
  1. Return address: Write your full name and home mailing address, including apt # if applicable, in the upper left corner of the envelope.
  2. Santa's mailing address: Address the envelope to: Santa Claus, 123 Elf Road, North Pole, 88888
  3. Postage stamp: A First-Class Mail postage stamp is required, placed in the upper right corner of the envelope.

A note on privacy:

USPS Operation Santa is committed to protecting the privacy of all our participants, including children and adopters. Before letters written to Santa are posted online for adopters to view, all personal information and identifying details are redacted to protect the anonymity of children and their families (like last names, addresses, community, location and contact information). Additionally, those who adopt letters are kept anonymous — it’s from Santa, after all!

Letter adoption

Read letters from Santa’s mailroom and answer the ones he can’t.

thumnail illustration of Santa holding a letter

If you've registered and had your identity verified, you can help a child or family experience the magic of the holidays by adopting letters written to Santa.

Adopt a letter

You don't need to have your identity verified to send a letter.

Shipping gifts

Once you have confirmed letter adoption, it is recommended to send packages no later than Priority Mail shipping deadlines.

thumnail illustration of Santa holding a letter

USPS Operation Santa shipments must be sent from a participating Post Office™ location.

Ship your gifts

You must register and have your identity verified before you can adopt a letter.

Register & verify ID

About USPS Operation Santa

USPS Operation Santa is a much-beloved 110-year old program run by the U.S. Postal Service.

In 1912, Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock authorized local postmasters to allow employees and citizens to respond to letters addressed to Santa Claus and the program came to be known as Operation Santa.

In the 1940s, mail volume increased to the point where the Post Office Department invited charitable organizations and corporations to participate for philanthropic purposes —providing written responses and small gifts.

Over the years, the program took on a life of its own. And today cities around the country have established successful programs with recognized charitable organizations, major corporations, local businesses and Postal Service employees, making a major difference in the lives of the children coast to coast.

In 2017, work on the digital USPS Operation Santa program began. The pilot test occurred in New York City. Only letters from NYC populated the site and adopters were required to be within proximity of the James A. Farley Post Office in Manhattan because packages had to be shipped from that facility. Puerto Rico was included after the hurricanes impacted the island and its residents that year. Packages for both destinations had to be shipped from the Farley building.

In 2018, the Postal Service expanded the 2017 pilot test to include additional locations (Austin, Indianapolis, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego, Washington DC – and Puerto Rico and Chico, CA (site of major wildfires that year)). Letters from those locations populated the website and only people in those locations could adopt them. Packages had to be shipped from one designated post office in each location.

In 2019, the digital program expanded further. Letters from 17 locations populated the website and anyone in the country could adopt them. Packages could be shipped from more than 19,000 post offices across the country.

In 2020, the program went nationwide. Letters were accepted from every location and could be adopted by anyone. The letters had to be addressed to Santa’s official US Postal Service address: 123 ELF ROAD, NORTH POLE 88888. Packages could be shipped from 19,000 post offices around the country.

The goal for the future is, and has always been, to help more children and families in need have a happy holiday when they otherwise may not — one letter to Santa at a time.

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USPS Operation Santa FAQ

Top FAQs

  • A letter to Santa is written
  • It is placed into an envelope
  • A First-Class Mail postage stamp is placed in the upper right corner of the envelope
  • The writer’s return address is written clearly in the upper left corner of the envelope
  • The envelope is addressed to Santa Claus, 123 Elf Road, North Pole, 88888
  • The envelope is mailed — either by handing it to a mail carrier, dropping it in a blue collection mailbox or putting it in a mail chute at a local post office
  • The letter travels to 123 Elf Road, Santa’s official Postal Service address
  • Elves open the letters and make sure it contains a full name and complete address
  • The letters are coded, copied, personally identifiable information (PII) is redacted and the redacted letter is posted for adoption
  • Generous volunteers adopt letters and fulfill wishes
  • Adopted letter writers generally receive gifts
  • Sep. 15: Letters can be sent to 123 Elf Road, North Pole, 88888.
  • Nov. 14: Registration and ID verification (of adopters) begins.
  • Nov. 28: Letter adoption begins.
  • Dec. 12: Last day to send letters. Must be postmarked by this date.
  • Dec. 19: Last day to adopt. Website closes for the season at 8pm ET. Recommend sending packages no later than this day to follow Priority Mail shipping deadlines.

Yes. The letter writer’s personally identifiable information (PII) is redacted — last names, addresses, school or community names, identifying information, etc., are blacked out on the letter that is posted. The sender of the gift does not know the PII of the letter writer.

Unfortunately, military servicemen and women deployed overseas cannot participate in the program at this time. We are working on ways to resolve this issue, but it will not happen for the 2022 season.

No. While there used to be a few locations around the country where letters could be adopted in person, USPS Operation Santa is now exclusively online.

How to write a letter

Yes. Anyone can write a letter! The Postal Service receives tens of thousands of letters each year written by children and adults. Everyone deserves a little magic during the holidays!

The letter doesn’t NEED to say anything specific, but it should. Being specific — including details like whether the gift is for a boy or girl and including ages helps. Games and book titles, sizes (infant, toddler, teen, etc), colors, etc. makes it easier for the letter adopter to know what kind of gift to purchase.

Yes. The envelope addressed to 123 Elf Road, North Pole, 88888, requires a First-Class Mail postage stamp in order to be processed through the postal network.

The letter writer’s complete, legible return address is necessary so when the letter is adopted, there is a location to send a gift. LETTERS WITH NO RETURN ADDRESS WILL NOT BE POSTED.

The official U.S. Postal Service address for Santa Claus is 123 Elf Road, North Pole, 88888.

How to create an account

Beginning Nov. 14, customers can register and get their identities verified so they can create an account. Simply go to USPSOperationSanta.com to begin the process. After you register, your identity must be verified. Follow the prompts. Once your identity is verified, you have created an account.

Yes. Account information from previous years is not retained and potential adopters must create a new account each year to participate in the program.

Verifying online adopters helps simplify the process of keeping the letter writers safe. We want to ensure we know who is responsible for each gift sent.

In order to verify your identity, we try to match the information you provide with records matching your information. This lets us know you are really you and who is responsible for each gift sent. This year, for the first time, we are offering an in-person verification option for customers unable to get verified online.

There are numerous reasons why you couldn’t get verified. For example: There might not be enough records tied to your name in order to verify you are really you. You will have the opportunity to get verified in person at one of 19,000 post offices nationwide. Find the post office closest to you.

No. Unfortunately, as part of the Postal Service effort to protect the letter writer, if your identity cannot be verified, you cannot adopt letters.

How to adopt letters

Yes. Anyone can adopt a letter after they have registered; first they must create an account and have their identity verified.

Yes. It’s completely up to you how you fulfill the letter writer’s wishes. However, no more than six boxes can be sent per individual adoption. NOTE: you are responsible for postage for every package.

You can fulfill the gift however you wish. Sending a gift card is an easy solution to many requests. The gift card will need to be sent in a Priority Mail envelope, along with the note from Santa.

Yes. Each registered person can adopt no more than 15 letters.

In many instances, letters are adopted as soon as there are posted. The letters must be opened, reviewed, coded, copied, processed and posted. If there are no letters, it means they’ve all been adopted. But please check back — we are working hard to add new letters.

Packages must be under 70 pounds and have a maximum combined length and girth of 108 inches (girth is the distance around the thickest part of the package). If you are worried about the weight or size of your package, consider shipping in multiple boxes. No more than 6 boxes will be accepted per individual adoption or a total of 12 boxes per family adoption.

Read our Shipping Guidelines for more information.

How to ship packages

You can ship your gift any time after you have adopted the letter and purchased the gift.

You can ship your gift from 19,000+ Post Office locations around the country.

Since the letter writer’s personal information is protected — including their address — the QR Code sent to your email account must be taken to the Post Office when you’re ready to ship the gift. The postal clerk will retrieve the information and will place the shipping label (with the letter writer’s address) on the package without you seeing it.

Yes. The price of postage depends on various factors such as the shipping distance and the weight and the length and girth of the package. Using Priority Flat Rate boxes is a good option to control shipping costs. Read our Shipping Guidelines for more information.

Yes. The Label Broker application (which is used to keep the recipient’s identification anonymous) is limited to Priority Mail service.

Yes. Size and weight matter in terms of ability to ship and in terms of postage.

  • The box and its contents must not weigh more than 70 pounds
  • In most cases, the maximum combined length and girth is 108 inches (girth is the distance around the thickest part of the package)

Yes. Many common household and consumer products may not be mailed. Although these items are not dangerous when stored in your home, they can become dangerous when shaken or exposed to temperature or pressure changes. Additional information can be found here.

Read our Shipping Guidelines for more information.

  • Choose a sturdy box
  • We’d prefer you not reuse a box because they weaken in the shipping process. But if you do, make sure all labels, codes and markings are removed or completely covered over
  • Pack the gifts with cushioning material around the contents to protect fragile items and prevent items from shifting in transit
  • Tape the box shut and reinforce the seams with packing tape
  • Do not use cord, string, or twine, because it may get caught in the mail processing equipment
  • Do not wrap the box in wrapping paper

Postage is based on size, weight and distance. Smaller, lighter packages shipped in-state or to an adjacent state will be the less expensive shipping option.

  • Use Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes — free at your local Post Office location.
  • Adopt a letter in the same state as you, or in a nearby state.
  • Get a large Priority Mail Flat Rate box from your local Post Office and take it with you when you go shopping. Only purchase things that can fit in the box. You can send 6 boxes to each letter writer.
  • Look at the dimensions of the gift very carefully, paying special attention to size and weight.
  • Consider a gift card for larger, heavier items. If you want to send just a gift card, it will need to be sent in a Priority Mail envelope, 4x6 or larger to accommodate the shipping label.

Read our Shipping Guidelines for more information.

USPS Postmaster van illustration.