How to send money to a prisoner

Updated February 21, 2017

Inmates can buy beverages, snacks, writing materials, shoes, clothing and toiletries in prison. If you have a friend or family member in prison and would like to send that person some money, keep the following guidelines in mind.

Send a cashier's check, a certified check or a money order. Obtain these from your banking institution at no cost. Money orders are typically available at many grocery stores' customer service department.

Include the prisoner's name, as well as his identification number. This is the most accurate way to locate and identify an inmate.

Make sure that the sender's name (in print) appears on the check or money order.

Mail the certified check, money order or cashier's check to the facility where the inmate is housed. Write the prisoner's name and the identification number on the envelope.

Send money through Western Union if you reside outside the United States and you're sending money to a federal prison. Include the inmate's register number (eight digits) and the inmate's name, as well as the city and state code.

Deposit funds on an inmate's account by going to You need a credit card to deposit money online. You may deposit cash at the facility's lobby. The inmate receives a receipt of the amount deposited to her account and the date it was deposited.


Avoid sending cash or personal checks, as they're not accepted. Don't hand cash or monetary gifts to an inmate during a visit. You need to send it in the mail.

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