Direct Mail Postal Guidelines

Contact Us if you need more specific detail on these USPS guidelines.  Here are the basics . . .

Postage Classes

First class mail: up to one ounce at lowest postage rate, up to 13 ounces

Standard mail: up to 3.3067 ounces (between 3.0 and 3.3071 ounces must be envelopes) at lowest postage rate, up to 16 ounces

  • 2.5 ounce limit for zip+4 coded mail, 3 ounce limit for zip+4 barcoded mail
  • Use when mailing at least 200 pieces or 50 pounds of mail at a time

Direct Mail Package Sizes

  • Postcards
      3 ½”high x 5″ long to 4 ¼” to 6′” (to qualify for the first class “postcard rate”) Minimum 75 pound (7 pt) card stock, .007 inch thick Maximum card stock .0095″
  • Letter size
      3 ½” high x 5 ” long, up to 6 1/8″ high x 11 ½” long (to qualify for the “letter rate”) .007 inch thick to ¼” thick .009 inch thick if piece exceeds 4 ¼” high x 6″ long, cards larger than 4 ¼” x 6″ should use minimum 80 pound stock Envelopes should use a minimum of 16 pound paper stock
  • Flats
      up to 12″ high x 15″ long (minimum 6″ high and 6″ long) .007 inch thick up to ¾” thick Envelopes should use a minimum of 16 pound paper stock

Shape

Direct mail packages should be rectangular (address runs parallel to longest side) for the lowest postage rates. Length divided by height must equal 1.3 to 2.5 (otherwise $.12 per piece surcharge)

Nonstandard Size Mail: add $.12 per piece

Pieces weighing one ounce or less, and exceeding any of these, are considered “Non-Standard” and subject to a $.12 per piece surcharge on top of the required postage:

  • Height exceeds 6 1/8″
  • Length exceeds 11 ½”
  • Thickness exceeds ¼”
  • Length divided by height is less than 1.3 or more than 2.5

International Direct Mail

  • Minimum 5 ½” long
  • Put postal code on same line with city
  • Put name of country in capital letters as last line of address

Folded Self-Mailers (no envelope used)

  • Single folded sheet sealed with one tab, 28 pound (or 70 pound) minimum stock
  • Two or more sheets sealed with one tab, 24 pound ( or 60 pound) minimum stock
  • Single or multiple sheets sealed with two tabs, 20 pound minimum stock

Fold at bottom of piece (address side), tab (or tabs) at top of piece

Direct Mail Addressing

Address to run along length (longest side) of piece, oriented horizontally

  • Length is the dimension parallel to the lines of the address. The top and bottom of the piece are also parallel to the address.

Bottom line of address to only contain zip code – postal machines read from the bottom up, looking first for a zip code. Don’t put any promotional numbers below the street address line of your address.

Postcard Design/Addressing

Right side must be at least 2 1/8″ wide (from right edge). Non-delivery address information may appear on the right side above the delivery address, when it has a shaded background or is surrounded by a border.

Business Reply Mail (BRM)

Prepaid postage on envelopes or cards. To use Business Reply Mail, you must obtain a permit from the US Postal Service and pay permit fees, or you may use the BRM permit number of your mailing house. The USPS will provide art upon request for Business Reply Envelopes and Cards. Be sure you have the USPS approve your artwork before printing BRM pieces. BRM BASIC Plan 1: Annual Permit Fee $200 (for less than 910 pieces/year)

  • Cost per piece returned = First class postage + $.30 per piece returned

BRM VOLUME Plan 2: Annual Permit Fee $200 + Annual Maintenance Fee $635 (for 910 or more pieces of any type per year, advance deposit account required for return postage)

  • Cost per piece returned = First class postage + $.08 per piece returned

BRM Plan 3: Qualified BRM  — Annual Permit Fee $200 + Annual Maintenance Fee $635 + 25 pieces approved by USPS (for 850 or more of the same pieces per year with intelligent bar codes, advance deposit account required for return postage)

  • Cost per piece returned = First class postage + $.05 per piece returned

Courtesy Reply Mail

You provide a pre-addressed envelope, but postage is not prepaid. Courtesy Reply Envelopes require a FIM and preprinted barcode. The USPS can also provide artwork for your Courtesy Reply Mail envelopes.

Form 3602

ALWAYS request a copy of Form 3602 from any direct mail program. Form 3602 confirms exactly how many pieces were delivered to the USPS.