Countdown to the New U.S. Postal Service Rules

Many of you are aware of the changes being made throughout the postal service and have heard the news reports about their efforts to reduce operating costs. Beginning in January, there will be a slew of new rules to follow in order to meet the automation guidelines and keep your postage costs down. I’m going to touch on two of the more common mail design issues that we expect will affect our customers in the coming year.

Folded Self-Mailers

Many of our customers create pieces that fold one or more times to reach a finish size that includes a address panel on the outside for mailing. Folding Self-Mailers (FSMs) will need to follow these new rules in order to avoid extra postage costs. Here are three ground rules that you need to know:

SIZES: Acceptable sizes for FSMs start at the minimum size 4-1/4” x 6” up to the max size of 6-1/8” x 10-1/2”. The old maximum size was 11 1/2″ and will no longer be acceptable.

ORIENTATION: We’ve recommended this for some time, but now your FSM will be required to have the folded edge at the bottom as you read the address, and open at the top edge. Landscape designs or Panoramic Products, that fold on the right side of the mailing panel, are still allowed. However, they also cannot exceed 10-1/2” in length.

SEALING YOUR MAILER: FSMs must be kept closed using glue spots or non-perforated wafer seals. Previously you could use perforated clear plastic wafer seals but now non-perforated translucent paper seals are required.

Fold Over CardThese new rules apply to FSMs beginning on January 5, 2013. We encourage you to speak with your consultant about any mailing projects to help you choose the right options and to avoid paying up to an extra $0.25 per piece.

Intelligent Mail Barcodes

Also becoming a requirement on January 28, 2013, eligibility for automation postage pricing will be limited to the use of mailpieces with the Intelligent Mail barcode. The old POSTNET barcodes will no longer be valid and will need to be replaced in any artwork you maintain. Items that this affects would include letters, flats, postcards, QBRM (Business Reply Mail) and Permit Reply Mail. There are two options for the use of IMb—Basic and Full Service. Basic is fairly simple and easy to use, and offers a reduced set of options. Full Service has additional requirements such as electronic documentation in order to employ the advanced features. While the new barcode requirements will mean updating existing artwork, the benefits should offset any inconvenience at the beginning.

What the new Intelligent Mail barcode can do:

  • Holds all routing, sorting and additional services information in one barcode
  • Enables unique identity of individual mailpieces
  • Offers OneCode ACS® at less cost than traditional ACS®
  • Opens up more real estate on the envelope for marketing messages
  • Allows customers to take advantage of the lowest price offerings in January 201
Post Net
The old POSTNET barcode – now a dinosaur!
The new and improved Intelligent Mail barcode – stronger, faster, etc!

The key to accessing these features and creating your Intelligent Mail barcode (IMb) is applying for and receiving your USPS Mailer ID number. The application process can be done online at https://gateway.usps.com/bcg/login.htm. Your application will tie your organization name, address and any permit number you hold to a nine digit Mailer ID that can be used to generate your new artwork. With this Mailer ID number, we can create BRM or CRM art for any of your mailing projects and provide you files to incorporate into future projects.

Should you have any questions about these or other mailing concerns, please feel free to give us a call or email and we will guide you to the best option for your project!

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