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333 Prices and Eligibility

1.0 Prices and Fees for First-Class Mail

1.1 Price Application

Postage is based on the flat-size price that applies to the weight of each addressed piece.

1.2 Price Computation for First-Class Mail Flats

First-Class Mail prices are charged per ounce or fraction thereof; any fraction of an ounce is considered a whole ounce. For example, if a piece weighs 1.2 ounces, the weight (postage) increment is 2 ounces.

1.3 Presorted and Automation Prices for Flats

For prices, see Notice 123-Price List.

1.4 Presort Mailing Fee

Presort mailing fee, per 12-month period, per office of mailing.

1.5 Computing Postage for First-Class Mail

Determine single-piece weight and weight (postage) increment for each addressed piece as prescribed in 1.6 and 1.2, Price Computation for First-Class Mail Flats. For First-Class Mail, affix postage to each piece under 334.2.2, Affixed Postage for Presorted First-Class Mail, or, for permit imprint mailings, multiply the number of addressed pieces at each price increment (and in each price category, if applicable) by the corresponding postage price, add the unrounded products, and round off the total postage to the nearest whole cent.

1.6 Determining Single-Piece Weight

To determine single-piece weight in any mailing of nonidentical-weight pieces, weigh each piece individually. To determine single-piece weight in a mailing of identical-weight pieces, weigh a sample group of at least 10 randomly selected pieces and divide the total sample weight by the number of pieces in the sample. Express all single-piece weights in decimal pounds rounded off to four decimal places.

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2.0 Content Standards for First-Class Mail Flats

2.1 General

With the exception of restricted material as described in 601.8.0, any mailable item may be mailed as First-Class Mail.

2.2 Bills and Statements of Account

Bills and statements of account must be mailed as First-Class Mail (or Express Mail) and are defined as follows:

a. Bills and statements of account assert a debt in a definite amount owed by the addressee to the sender or a third party. In addition, bills include a demand for payment; statements of account do not include a demand for payment. The debt does not have to be due immediately but may become due at a later time or on demand. The debt asserted need not be legally collectible or owed.

b. Bills and statements of account do not need to state the precise amount due if they contain information that would enable the debtor to determine that amount.

2.3 Personal Information

Mail containing personal information must be mailed as First-Class Mail (or Express Mail). Personal information is any information specific to the addressee.

2.4 Handwritten and Typewritten Material

Mail containing handwritten or typewritten material must be mailed as First-Class Mail or Express Mail.

2.5 Matter Not Required to be Mailed as First-Class Mail

Matter eligible for Standard Mail or Package Services prices or authorized as Periodicals is not required to be mailed as First-Class Mail or Express Mail.

2.6 Prohibited Air Transportation

All First-Class Mail is subject to limitations for air transportation. Generally, all mailable matter may be transported by aircraft, unless restricted in 601.10.0, Hazardous Materials.

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3.0 Eligibility Standards for First-Class Mail Flats

3.1 Description of Service

3.1.1 Service Objectives

First-Class Mail receives expeditious handling and transportation. Service objectives for delivery are 1 to 3 days; however, delivery time is not guaranteed.

3.1.2 Price Options

First-Class Mail offers the flexibility of single-piece prices (133.1.0), and commercial prices (1.0) for presorted mailings of 500 or more pieces that weigh 13 ounces or less.

3.2 Defining Characteristics

3.2.1 Inspection of Contents

First-Class Mail is closed against postal inspection. Federal law and USPS regulations restrict both opening and reviewing the contents of First-Class Mail by anyone other than the addressee.

3.2.2 Forwarding Service

The price of First-Class Mail includes forwarding service to a new address for up to 12 months.

3.2.3 Return Service

The price of First-Class Mail includes return service if the mailpiece is undeliverable.

3.2.4 Extra Services Exclusive to First-Class Mail

First-Class Mail is the only class of mail eligible to receive the following extra services: Registered Mail service and Certified Mail service.

3.2.5 Additional Extra Services

Additional extra services available with First-Class Mail are certificate of mailing service, COD service, Delivery Confirmation service (parcels only), insured mail service (merchandise only), return receipt service, restricted delivery service, Signature Confirmation service (parcels only), and special handling. See information regarding extra services in 503.

3.3 Additional Basic Standards for First-Class Mail

All pieces of presorted First-Class Mail must:

a. Meet the basic content standards for First-Class Mail in 2.0.

b. Weigh 13 ounces or less.

c. Meet the applicable standards in 333, Prices and Eligibility, 334, Postage Payment and Documentation, and 604.7.0, Computing Postage.

d. Be part of a single mailing of at least 500 pieces of Presorted First-Class Mail.

e. Meet the applicable physical standards in 301.2.0.

f. Bear a delivery address formatted according to 302.2.4 that includes the correct ZIP Code or ZIP+4 code and that meets these address quality standards:

1. The Move Update standard in 3.5.

2. The ZIP Code accuracy standard in 3.6.

3. If an alternative addressing format is used, the additional standards in 602.3.0.

3.4 Presort Mailing Fee

A First-Class Mail presort mailing fee must be paid once each 12-month period at each office of mailing by any person or organization entering mailings at automation or Presorted First-Class Mail prices. Payment of one fee allows a mailer to enter mail at all those prices. Persons or organizations paying this fee may enter mail of their clients as well as their own mail. The fee may be paid in advance only for the next 12 months and only during the last 60 days of the current service period. The fee charged is that which is in effect on the date of payment.

3.5 Move Update Standards

3.5.1 Basic Standards

The Move Update standard is a means of reducing the number of mailpieces in a mailing that require forwarding or return by the periodic matching of a mailer's address records with customer-filed change-of-address orders received and maintained by the USPS. For the purposes of this standard, address means a specific address associated with a specific occupant name. Addresses subject to the Move Update standard must meet these requirements:

a. Each address and associated occupant name used on the mailpieces in a mailing must be updated within 95 days before the mailing date, with one of the USPS-approved methods in 3.5.2.

b. Each individual address in the mailing is subject to the Move Update standard.

c. The Move Update standard is met when an address used on a mailpiece in a mailing at any class of mail is updated with an approved method in 3.5.2, and the same address is used in a First-Class Mail mailing within 95 days after the address has been updated.

d. Except for mail bearing an alternative address format, addresses used on pieces claiming First-Class Mail Presorted prices, regardless of any required surcharge, must meet the Move Update standard.

3.5.2 USPS-Approved Methods

The following methods are authorized for meeting the Move Update standard:

a. Address Change Service (ACS).

b. National Change of Address Linkage System (NCOALink).

c. Mailer Move Update Process Certification and USPS-approved alternative methods for mailers with legitimate restrictions on incorporating USPS-supplied change-of-address information into their mailing lists. The National Customer Support Center (see 608.8.1 through 608.8.3 in USPS Contact Information for address) administers and approves both Mailer Move Update Process Certification and alternative methods.

d. Ancillary service endorsements under 507.1.5.1, First-Class Mail and Priority Mail, except "Forwarding Service Requested."

3.5.3 Mailer Certification

The mailer's signature on the postage statement certifies that the Move Update standard has been met for each address in the corresponding mailing presented to the USPS.

3.5.4 Basis for Move Update Assessment Charge

[2-1-10] Mailings are subject to a Move Update assessment charge if more than 30 percent of addresses with a change of address (COA) are not updated, based on the error rate found in USPS sampling at acceptance during Performance-Based Verification. Specifically, mailings for which the sample contains greater than 30 percent failed COAs out of the total COAs are subject to additional postage charges as follows:

a. The percentage of the mailing paying the charge is based on the percentage of failed pieces above 30 percent.

b. Each of the assessed pieces is subject to the $0.07 per piece charge.

c. As an example, if 40% of COAs in the sample are not updated, then the charge is applied to 10% (=40% - 30%) of the total mailing.

d. Mailings for which the sample has five or fewer pieces that were not updated for COA are not subject to the assessment, regardless of the failure percentage.

3.6 ZIP Code Accuracy

3.6.1 Basic Standards

The ZIP Code accuracy standard is a means of ensuring that the 5-digit ZIP Code in the delivery address correctly matches the delivery address information. For the purposes of this standard, address means a specific address associated with a specific 5-digit ZIP Code. Addresses used on pieces claiming certain prices under 3.6.1d3, Basic Standards that are subject to the ZIP Code accuracy standard must meet these requirements:

a. Each address and associated 5-digit ZIP Code used on the mailpieces in a mailing must be verified and corrected within 12 months before the mailing date with one of the USPS-approved methods in 3.6.2.

b. Each individual address in the mailing is subject to the ZIP Code accuracy standard.

c. If an address used on a mailpiece in a mailing at one class of mail and price is verified and corrected with an approved method, the same address may be used during the following 12 months to meet the ZIP Code accuracy standard required for mailing at any other class of mail and price.

d. Except for mail bearing a simplified address, addresses used on pieces claiming First-Class Mail prices, regardless of any required surcharges, must meet the ZIP Code accuracy standard.

3.6.2 USPS-Approved Methods

The following methods are authorized for meeting the ZIP Code accuracy standard:

a. For computerized lists, Coding Accuracy Support System (CASS)-certified address matching software and current USPS City State Product, within a mailer's computer systems or through an authorized service provider.

b. For manually maintained lists or small computerized lists, options include the following:

1. Surveys of addressees on mailer's address list inquiring about the accuracy of ZIP Code information.

2. Any mailing list service in 507.7.0, Mailing List Services.

3. An authorized service provider.

4. CASS-certified matching software.

5. USPS Web site www.usps.com.

3.6.3 Mailer Certification

The mailer's signature on the postage statement certifies that the ZIP Code accuracy standard has been met for each address in the corresponding mailing presented to the USPS.

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4.0 Additional Eligibility Standards for Nonautomation First-Class Mail Flats

4.1 Basic Standards for Nonautomation First-Class Mail

In addition to the standards in 3.0, Eligibility Standards for First-Class Mail Flats, all pieces in a First-Class Mail Presorted price mailing must be marked, sorted, and documented as specified in 334.4.0, Mailing Documentation, and 335.5.0, Preparation of Nonautomation Flats, or, alternatively under 705.9.0, Combining Bundles of Automation and Nonautomation Flats in Trays and Sacks.

4.2 Barcodes on Nonautomation First-Class Mail

Any POSTNET barcode on a mailpiece in a nonautomation First-Class mailing must be correct for the delivery address and meet the standards in 708.3.0, Coding Accuracy Support System (CASS), and 708.4.0, Standards for POSTNET and Intelligent Mail Barcodes.

4.3 Nonmachinable Flat-Size Pieces

Flat-size pieces that do not meet the standards in 301.1.3 through 301.1.4 must be prepared as parcels and pay the applicable parcel-size prices.

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5.0 Additional Eligibility Standards for Automation First-Class Mail Flats

5.1 Basic Standards for Automation First-Class Mail

All pieces in a First-Class Mail automation mailing must:

a. Meet the basic standards for First-Class Mail in 3.0.

b. Be part of a single mailing of at least 500 pieces of automation price First-Class Mail.

c. Meet the physical standards in 301.3.0.

d. Bear a delivery address that includes the correct ZIP Code, ZIP+4 code, or numeric equivalent to the delivery point barcode (DPBC) and that meets these address quality standards:

1. The address matching and coding standards in 5.5, Address Standards for Barcoded Pieces, and 708.3.0, Coding Accuracy Support System (CASS).

2. If an alternative addressing format is used, the additional standards in 602.3.0.

e. Bear an accurate delivery point POSTNET barcode or Intelligent Mail barcode encoded with the correct delivery point routing code, matching the delivery address and meeting the standards in 302.4.0, and 708.4.0, either on the piece or on an insert showing through a barcode window.

f. Be marked, sorted, and documented as specified in 335.6.0, Preparation of Automation Flats, or 705.9.0, Combining Bundles of Automation and Nonautomation Flats in Trays and Sacks.

5.2 Eligibility Standards for Full-Service Automation First-Class Mail Flats

All pieces entered under the full-service Intelligent Mail automation option must:

a. Bear a unique Intelligent Mail barcode.

b. Be part of a mailing that meets the standards in 705.22.0.

5.3 Price Application—Bundle-Based Flats

Automation prices apply to each piece that is sorted under 335.6.0 or 705, Advanced Preparation and Special Postage Payment Systems:

a. Pieces in 5-digit bundles of 10 or more pieces qualify for the 5-digit price. Preparation to qualify for the 5-digit price is optional and need not be done for all 5-digit destinations.

b. Pieces in 3-digit bundles of 10 or more pieces qualify for the 3-digit price.

c. Pieces in ADC bundles of 10 or more pieces qualify for the ADC price.

d. Pieces in mixed ADC bundles qualify for the mixed ADC price.

5.4 Price Application—Tray-Based Flats

Automation prices apply to each piece that is sorted under 335.6.6, First-Class Mail Optional Tray-Based Preparation, into the corresponding qualifying groups:

a. Groups of 90 or more pieces in 5-digit trays qualify for the 5-digit price. Preparation to qualify for the 5-digit price is optional and need not be done for all 5-digit destinations.

b. Groups of 90 or more pieces in 3-digit trays qualify for the 3-digit price.

c. Groups of fewer than 90 pieces in origin 3-digit trays and all pieces in ADC trays qualify for the ADC price.

d. All pieces in mixed ADC trays qualify for the mixed ADC price.

5.5 Address Standards for Barcoded Pieces

5.5.1 Basic Address Standards for Barcodes

To qualify for automation prices, addresses must be sufficiently complete to enable matching to the current USPS ZIP+4 Product when used with current CASS-certified address matching software. Standardized address elements are not required. Any barcode that appears on a mailpiece claimed at an automation price must be the correct barcode for the corresponding delivery address on the piece.

5.5.2 Numeric ZIP+4

A numeric ZIP+4 code must consist of five digits, a hyphen, and four digits.

5.5.3 Numeric Delivery Point Barcode (DPBC)

A numeric equivalent of the delivery point barcode (DPBC) consists of five digits followed by a hyphen and seven digits as specified in 708.4.2.4, Delivery Point Barcode. The numeric equivalent is formed by adding three digits directly after the ZIP+4 code.

5.5.4 Address Elements

Addresses must include the correct street number, predirectional, street name, suffix, and postdirectional that are input to obtain a match with the current USPS ZIP+4 Product.

5.5.5 Firm Name

An address must include a firm name when necessary to obtain a match with the finest level of ZIP+4 code in the USPS ZIP+4 Product. If an address contains a firm name assigned a unique ZIP+4 code in the USPS ZIP+4 Product, the unique ZIP+4 code must be used. If the firm name is not one assigned a unique ZIP+4 code in the USPS ZIP+4 Product and the apartment/suite number is included in the address, the ZIP+4 code for the range in which the apartment/suite number appears must be used in that address. If the firm name does not correspond to a firm name that has a unique ZIP+4 code assigned in the USPS ZIP+4 Product and the apartment/suite number is not included in the address, the ZIP+4 code for the building must be used.

5.5.6 Secondary Designator

If a secondary address designator (e.g., an apartment number) is shown in the address, the mailpiece must show the appropriate ZIP+4 code representing the range for that secondary address as contained in the current USPS ZIP+4 Product. If a secondary address designator is required to obtain an exact match with the finest level of ZIP+4 code in the USPS ZIP+4 Product but the information is not available, the alternative ZIP+4 code or ZIP+4 or delivery point barcode for the building must be used.

5.5.7 Rural and Highway Contract Routes

If a rural route or highway contract route box number is included in the address, the mailpiece must show the appropriate ZIP+4 code representing the range for that box number as contained in the current USPS ZIP+4 Product. If a rural route or highway contract route box number is required to obtain a match with the finest level of ZIP+4 code but is not available, the alternative ZIP+4 code or ZIP+4 or delivery point barcode for the rural route or highway contract route must be used. If used, the rural route or highway contract route box number must be placed on the line immediately above the city/state/ZIP Code line.

5.5.8 Post Office Box

A Post Office box address must contain a Post Office box number that can be exactly matched with the USPS ZIP+4 Product in effect.

5.6 Reply Cards and Envelopes Enclosed in Automation Price First-Class Mail

All letter-size reply cards and envelopes provided as enclosures in automation First-Class Mail and addressed for return to a domestic delivery address must meet the standards in 201.3.0, Physical Standards for Machinable and Automation Letters and Cards, for enclosed reply cards and envelopes. The mailer must certify that this standard has been met when the corresponding mail is presented to the USPS.

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