Three ICAO stamps

showing the evolution of the emblem.

The first successful flight of a powered controlled and sustained flying machine by Orville and Wilbur Wright on 17 December 1903 was the beginning of the evolution of flight and civil aviation. It was also the fulfilment of the centuries-old dream of flight passionately shared by early aviators in many countries.


For more than a century, air transport has been the catalyst for fundamental economic, social and cultural transformation. The structuring of civil aviation was greatly helped by international cooperation through the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), established in 1944 by the Chicago Conference. Since that time, ICAO has created and continually updated the International Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs), as well as the related policies and guidance.


The Provisional International Civil Aviation Organization (PICAO) carried out the basic purposes of the Chicago Convention of International Civil Aviation until 4 April 1947, when ICAO came into being upon sufficient ratifications of that Convention. From the outset as per Preamble to the Chicago Convention, ICAO’s vision has been for international aviation to promote friendship and understanding among peoples of the word, as well as peace and prosperity based on a global air transport system that would be operated soundly and economically, with equality of opportunity for all. The SARPs contained in the Convention’s Annexes, alongside the tremendous technological progress achieved in the intervening years, have enabled the realization today of what must be recognized as one of mankind’s greatest cooperative achievements and a critical driver of global socio-economic prosperity, i.e., the modern international air transport network.


ICAO embodies the spirit of cooperation and dedication of 193 countries in 2022 to achieve the safe and orderly development of civil aviation throughout the world. As with philately, the goal of these countries has been to breakdown borders and frontiers, leading to a better understanding between people of all nations. As with aviation, philately brings us closer together, allows us to explore cultures around the world and to learn from one another; stamps celebrate the people, events and cultural milestones that are unique to the history of nations.


Brazil – Medal struck for the Second South American/South Atlantic Regional Air Navigation (SAM/SAT) Meeting, held in São Paulo, from 22 October to 16 November 1957.

Every stamp collector is different, as every stamp collection. Besides arrangements by country and date of issue, the specialty of topical collecting has grown over the years. One such example of a topical collection is that of collecting ICAO-related stamps and covers, crossing aviation and United Nations themes. This unusual theme may be appealing to some collectors, since it consists of a limited number of items from over a hundred different countries; it includes any stamp or cover relating to the Organization, whether the ICAO logo or the Organization’s full name or its acronym can be found on them, or with an implied relation to ICAO such as an airplane within the UN family’s framework. Countries usually issued such stamps and covers to commemorate ICAO meetings or anniversaries, anniversaries of the United Nations or its Agencies. Moreover, ICAO topical collection also covers forerunners of ICAO, referring to stamps and covers related to intergovernmental meetings or bodies dealing with international civil aviation prior to the birth of ICAO in 1944.


Not surprisingly, aircraft are the most commonly used features in the ICAO topical collection. From the first fragile biplanes to the wide-body jets, from balloons and gliders to the space shuttle, stamps have continued to reflect the amazing interest that people have in vehicles travelling through the sky.


This site is a source of current reference for the philatelic material pertaining to ICAO and the related Postal History, i.e., the history of ICAO based on its philatelic material (stamps, first day covers, covers related to commemorative events, Assembly Sessions and conferences/meetings, service covers, coins and medals, phone cards, postcards, date cancellations, meter stamp slogans, stationery, aerograms, etc.). Postal history brings together all these items into one large and important collecting field. The thematic exhibit, arranged hereafter in the form of chapters, tells ICAO’s story, or the story of its historical events through the use of postal artifacts; it is also intended to preserve history for future generations, so that any philatelic collector could start a new hobby or complete available information.


Individual pages of The Postal History of ICAO have been quoted worldwide by many other sites or pages, which is a clear indication of its international interest; the site had been referenced in a large number of documents; more than fifty references are found across books, theses, documents and articles, courses, websites, and presentations, thus marking its relevance for authors and researchers in the world, both in the field of aviation and philately; even the famous Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum in Washington, D.C. and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) referred to it. This impressive number of references shows the quality and in-depth of the information available on this website. Even ICAO refers to it occasionally for the history of its events.


The site is not intended to replace postage stamp catalogues, as those provide information on numbers, designers, printers, perforation, cost, etc. This Postal History will certainly enable the present and future generation to cherish the wonderful memories of aviation history and also to tell the world of ICAO’s commitment to develop the international civil aviation industry for the benefit of the peoples of the world and the travelling public.


After a first part of the site devoted to the detailed history of ICAO documented by its philatelic items, the second part of the website focuses on the contribution of these items to ICAO, with an incredible number of digitized images. The site provides a complete list of philatelic issues (stamps and covers) and coins, small miscellaneous ICAO-related items: phone cards, pins, chromos, medals. Everything is richly described with an incredible amount of details; so that it may either generate new collector talents or keep collections up to date. In addition, my website recalls the various anniversaries of ICAO and how they were commemorated by philately, and gives a short history of civil aviation history and its impact on philately. Philatelic exhibitions that have resulted in stamp issues and philatelic errors are widely documented by the website. All philatelic articles related to ICAO that were published are provided in their original text.


ICAO has secured global cooperation and consensus among its Member States to build and maintain a robust regulatory framework through the SARPs, thereby bringing the enormous economic, social and cultural benefits of air transport to entire populations all over the world. After more than 75 years, ICAO remains the global forum where States have and will continue to come together, in cooperation with the industry and other stakeholders, to address all issues facing the international air transport sector.


Partnerships are central to ICAO’s core mission and the consensus-building approach of ICAO plays a major role in addressing the greatest challenges faced by the development of global aviation. As the global forum of States for international civil aviation, ICAO proactively fosters cooperation, collaboration and coordinated approaches to manage the administration and governance of international civil aviation as mandated by the Chicago Convention. The range of entities with which ICAO collaborates is wide and diverse: they may be international, regional, or State organizations; public (governmental) or private; they may be ‘for-profit’ or ‘not-for-profit’. Strengthening partnerships is identified in the ICAO Business Plan as an Organization-wide focus area to enhance the efficiency, effectiveness and impact of ICAO’s work. A critical component of ICAO’s vision on partnerships is the Organization’s commitment to the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. A core theme and cornerstone of ICAO’s partnership activities are ensuring the availability of funding and resources to facilitate assistance to States.


Emblem of the BAnQ

An electronic book in PDF format called THE POSTAL HISTORY OF ICAO had been deposited at the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) in January 2013 (ISBN: 2-920904-37-X 978-2-920904-37-8, edited by Réjean Olivier). This website is a reformat of the e-book and could be considered a second version of the document existing at the BAnQ, but with constant improvements. BAnQ regularly proceeds to a selective collection of websites presenting a value by the richness of their content, covering a range of subjects and representative of Québec’s society at a time in its history. This website has been selected by the BAnQ to be preserved permanently; it has therefore been copied to this effect and made available worldwide. It can be viewed at the following URL:

for the prior versions of the website if required.


This site has been used as a reference in a multitude of documents (more than 50 references found in books, theses, documents and articles, courses, websites, presentations) marking its relevance for authors and researchers around the world, both in the field of aviation and philately; even the famous Smithsonian National Postal Museum in Washington, D.C. and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in one of its Guides referred to it.


The vast majority of the texts of the site are in English, the vehicular language of aviation; a few pages have been written in French allowing French-speaking readers to become acquainted with the mission of ICAO and familiarize themselves with its history and its activities in the field of civil aviation. This website, with more than 550 entries or chapters, is a work-in-progress and changes are regularly introduced. To view all prior stamp issues related to ICAO, click on the following link: Stamp issues related to ICAO.


The United Nations General Assembly designated 31 October as World Cities Day, by its Resolution A/RES/68/239 (72nd plenary meeting, 27 December 2013). The Day is expected to greatly promote the international community’s interest in global urbanization, push forward cooperation among countries in meeting opportunities to address challenges of urbanization and contributing to sustainable urban development around the world. Urbanization provides the potential for new forms of social inclusion, including greater equality, access to services and new opportunities, and engagement and mobilization that reflects the diversity of cities, countries and the globe. Yet too often this is not the shape of urban development. Inequality and exclusion abound, often at rates greater than the national average, at the expense of sustainable development that delivers for all.

The aviation sector contributes greatly to the socio-economic development of urban areas. In fact, the industry directly and indirectly generates 65.5 million direct and indirect jobs worldwide. Air transport also contributes greatly to global economic prosperity and has an annual global economic impact of USD 2.7 trillion to the GDP. The importance of aviation in the sustainable development of all States is demonstrated every day. Tourism, for example, is an area that greatly depends on flights to function effectively. Moreover, aviation is essential for world trade since it permits the continuous flow of goods and services over borders thus linking international markets. Airports contribute to trading efficiency since they can be used, among other things, as warehouses and distribution centers. What is fundamental is establishing dynamic corridors between airports and urban centers, since metropolitan areas at the social, economic and environmental level partly depends on the axis linking them to airports. The relationship is reciprocal as urban conditions impact on aviation safety, efficiency, security, economic viability and environmental soundness.


The International Day of Peace (Peace Day) is observed around the world each year on 21 September as a day devoted to commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples”. Established in 1981 by the UN Assembly Resolution A/RES/36/37 (18 November 1981), the Peace Day provides a globally shared date for all humanity to commit to Peace above all differences and to contribute to building a Culture of Peace. Aviation plays a crucial role in fostering understanding among nations: this was one of their motivations to create the 1944 Chicago Convention.



Egypt – 1 October 1946

First Middle East Regional Air Navigation Meeting

This is the only stamp issued during the lifetime of PICAO, the Provisional International Civil Aviation Organization.




First and latest issue (1950 and 2014 respectively)



Latest issue – 13 December 2019

Kyrgyzstan - 75th Anniversary of ICAO


Souvenir sheet with one label and 5 stamps showing various airports in Kyrgyzstan.



Front and back of a chromolithographic picture

from the book Vlaggenalbum distributed by Gouda’s Roem in 1950. It shows the PICAO Council in session in March 1947.


ICAO Headquarters in 1080 University Street, Montreal,

from July 1949 until mid-1975. Picture taken in the early 1950s.



Lima Regional Office – Postmark dated 29 April 1970.

Meter slogan with the Organization’s name in the dater circle.


Service cover sent (through the pouch) from the UNDP Project in Indonesia to the Director of the Technical Assistance Bureau. Slogan: STAMPS FOR PEACE, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the UN postal service. Postmark dated 28 March 1973.


Portugal - 40th Anniversary of ICAO - 7 December 1984

Flight cover carried by TAP (Transport Air Portugal), between Montreal (Canada) and Lisbon (Portugal)



50th Anniversary of ICAO - 7 December 1994

Phone cards issued by Monaco and Thailand.


The La Presse+ tablet edition of Monday 21 April 2014 made a historical overview of ICAO based on this site of the Postal History of ICAO. In the actual electronic version, each circle corresponded to a tooltip providing background information on the important dates in aviation history and the development of air navigation regulation.