The majority of the women listed in the twentieth-century and twenty-first-century services are from Southeast Asia, countries of the former Soviet Union and (to a lesser extent) from Latin America.Since the collapse of the Soviet Union large numbers of eastern European women have advertised themselves in such a way, primarily from Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova.

Mail-order brides work with "international marriage agencies".

An international marriage agency (also called an international introduction agency or international marriage broker) is a business that endeavors to introduce men and women of different countries for the purpose of marriage, dating or correspondence.

Many of these marriage agencies are based near women in developing countries (such as Ukraine, Russia, Colombia, Brazil, China, Thailand and the Philippines).

International marriage agencies encourage women to register for their services, and facilitate communication and meetings with men from developed regions of North America, Western Europe, South Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

This network of smaller international marriage agencies is often affiliated with web-based international dating sites that are able to market their services on a larger scale, in compliance with regulations such as the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act.

Experian, a market research firm, reports that the top 10 international dating sites attracted 12 million visitors in March 2013, up 29% from March 2012.One of the biggest international dating sites, based on the market share, is Anastasia Date.A mail-order bride is a woman who lists herself in catalogs and is selected by a man for marriage.In nineteenth-century America, mail-order brides came from well-developed areas on the Eastern seaboard to marry men in Western frontier lands.In the twentieth century, the trend was towards women living in developing countries seeking men in more developed nations.In the twenty-first century, the trend is now based primarily on internet-based meeting places which do not per se qualify as mail-order bride services.