DMM TOC > 200 Commercial Letters and Cards > 230 First-Class Mail|
1.2 Price Computation for First-Class Mail Letters
First-Class Mail letter 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. The minimum postage per addressed piece is that for a piece weighing 1 ounce.
Determine single-piece weight and weight (postage) increment for each addressed piece as prescribed in 1.7 and 1.2, Price Computation for First-Class Mail Letters. For First-Class Mail, affix postage to each piece under 234.2.2, 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.
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.
With the exception of restricted material as described in 601.8.0, any mailable item may be mailed as First-Class Mail.
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.
Mail containing personal information must be mailed as First-Class Mail (or Express Mail). Personal information is any information specific to the addressee.
Mail containing handwritten or typewritten material must be mailed as First-Class Mail or Express Mail.
Any matter marked “Postcard” or “Double Postcard” must be mailed as First-Class Mail or Express 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.
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.
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 letters offer shape-based single-piece prices in 133.1.0 and discounted prices in 1.0 for presorted mailings of 500 or more pieces that weigh 3.5 ounces or less.
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
3.2.3 Return Service
First-Class Mail is the only class of mail eligible to receive the following extra services: Registered Mail service and Certified Mail service.
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.
b. Weigh 3.5 ounces or less.
d. Be part of a single mailing of at least 500 pieces of Presorted First-Class Mail.
f. Bear a delivery address that includes the correct ZIP Code or ZIP+4 code and that meets these address quality standards:
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.
3.5.1 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.
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
c. FASTforward MLOCR processes if used each time before mail entry. If a mailpiece that initially uses FASTforward MLOCR processing is rejected and then entered into a Direct View Encoding Desk (DVED) operation (or similar system), the piece does not meet the Move Update standard. The name and address information on the piece must then be processed through a FASTforward RVE system to meet the Move Update standard. FASTforward RVE processes also meet the Move Update standard if used each time before mail entry.
d. 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 for address) administers and approves both Mailer Move Update Process Certification and alternative methods.
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.
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 in the sample 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.
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 a COA are not subject to the assessment, regardless of the failure percentage.
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 3.6.1d 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.
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
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.
1. Surveys of addressees on mailer’s address list inquiring about the accuracy of ZIP Code information.
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.
4.0 Additional Eligibility Standards for Nonautomation First-Class Mail Letters
In addition to the standards in 3.0, Basic Standards for First-Class Mail Letters, all pieces in a First-Class Mail Presorted price mailing must be marked, sorted, and documented as specified in 235.5.0, Preparing Nonautomation Letters.
Any POSTNET barcode on a mailpiece in a nonautomation First-Class Mail mailing must be correct for the delivery address and meet the standards in 202.5.0, Barcode Placement, and 708.3.0, Coding Accuracy Support System (CASS) and 708.4.0, Standards for POSTNET and Intelligent Mail Barcodes.
5.0 Additional Eligibility Standards for Automation First-Class Mail Letters
5.1 Basic Standards for Automation First-Class Mail Letters
b. Be part of a single mailing of at least 500 pieces of automation price First-Class Mail.
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 the address matching and coding standards in 5.5, Address Standards for Barcoded Pieces, and 708.3.0, Coding Accuracy Support System (CASS).
e. Bear an accurate delivery point POSTNET barcode or an Intelligent Mail barcode encoded with the correct delivery point routing code, matching the delivery address and meeting the standards in 202.5.0, and 708.4.0. Mailers must apply the barcode either on the piece or on an insert showing through a window.
Maximum weight for First-Class Mail automation letters is 3.5 ounces (0.2188 pound) (see 201.3.6, Heavy Letter Mail (over 3 ounces), for pieces heavier than 3 ounces).
Automation prices apply to each piece that is sorted under 235.6.0 into the corresponding qualifying groups:
a. Groups of 150 or more pieces in 5-digit/scheme trays qualify for the 5-digit price. Preparation to qualify for the 5-digit price is optional. Pieces placed in full 3-digit/scheme trays in lieu of 5-digit/scheme overflow trays under 235.6.6 are eligible for the 5-digit prices.
b. Groups of 150 or more pieces in 3-digit/scheme trays qualify for the 3-digit price. Pieces placed in full AADC trays in lieu of 3-digit/scheme overflow trays under 235.6.6 are eligible for the 3-digit prices.
c. Groups of fewer than 150 pieces in origin 3-digit/scheme trays and pieces in AADC trays qualify for the AADC price. Pieces placed in mixed AADC trays in lieu of AADC overflow trays under 235.6.6 are eligible for the AADC prices.
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 equivalent of the delivery point barcode (DPBC) consists of five digits followed by a hyphen and seven digits as specified in 202.5.6. 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 P.O. 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.
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.
6.1 Card Price
A card may be a single or double (reply) stamped card or a single or double postcard. Stamped cards are available from USPS with postage imprinted on them. Postcards are commercially available or privately printed mailing cards. To be eligible for a card price, a card and each half of a double card must meet the physical standards in 201.1.2 and the applicable eligibility and preparation standards for the price claimed. Ineligible cards are subject to letter-size prices. Cards may be prepared and mailed at the First-Class Mail single-piece card price, Presorted card price, or automation card prices.
Pieces claimed at card prices and pieces claimed at letter prices are subject to separate minimum volume criteria, but may be combined in the same mailing and reported on the same postage statement.
The Reply Rides Free program provides an incentive for mailers to include additional contents in their automation First-Class Mail letters by providing a postage credit for letters weighing over 1 ounce but no more than 1.2 ounces. Applicants are required to review and certify the accuracy of the data used by the USPS to calculate their threshold level (see 7.2.1); and, upon request, may be required to provide documentation of their mailing activity in fiscal years 2009 and 2010 and during the 2011 program period.
Letter-size mailpieces mailed by an approved program participant are eligible for a postage credit under all of the following conditions:
a. Eligible automation letters must weigh more than 1 ounce but no more than 1.2 ounces and bear the correct Intelligent Mail barcode corresponding to the address. Mailers pay the applicable 2-ounce price for these pieces.
b. Letters must include a reply card or envelope, either Business Reply Mail or Courtesy Reply Mail. The reply piece may be part of a reusable envelope prepared according to 601.6.5 or 601.6.6. Mailers must provide a sample of the reply card or envelope at the time of mailing. Reply pieces must be automation-compatible and must bear the correct POSTNET or Intelligent Mail barcode corresponding to the address.
c. The postage credit is for the amount paid for the second ounce for eligible letters that meet the standards in 7.2, that are mailed during the 2011 program period, and that meet or exceed their USPS-determined threshold volume for 2011. To be eligible for program participation, a mailer must have mailed at least one mailing of 500 or more presorted or automation First-Class Mail letters during USPS fiscal years (FY) 2009 and 2010 (October 1 through September 30).The threshold volume is determined as follows:
1. The USPS determines a mailing volume trend for mailers with all commercial First-Class Mail letter volume mailed during both USPS FY 2009 and USPS FY 2010. To qualify for postage credit, the mailing volume in 2011 must be at least 2.5 percent greater than the projected mail volume based on the volume trend percentage from FY 2009 to FY 2010. For example, if a mailer's letter-size volume has declined from 100,000 to 95,000 pieces (a trend of 5 percent decline) from USPS FY 2009 to USPS FY 2010, that mailer's projected volume for 2011 would be 95,000 pieces times 0.95 (90,250). The actual volume mailed during calendar year 2011 must be at least 92,507 pieces (the threshold volume, which is 1.025 times the projected volume of 90,250) during the program period.
2. However, mailers with a positive volume trend will have a threshold of 2.5 percent more than their FY 2010 volume, rather than 2.5 percent more than their trend. For example, a mailer's whose volume rose from 90,000 in FY 2009 to 100,000 in FY 2010 would have a threshold for the 2011 calendar year of 102, 500 (1.025 times 100,000).
d. In addition to an annual volume threshold, separate thresholds will be set for each of the first three quarters of calendar year 2011, based on the trend for each comparable quarter in FY 2010. Quarterly thresholds for mailers with a positive mail volume trend will be set at 2.5 percent more than the volume in the comparable quarter of FY 2010. Postage credit will be provided after the end of each quarter, upon calculation and verification of the mail volume data.
e. The threshold for quarter four of calendar year 2011 will be the yearly threshold, with all previous three quarters' volume being added to the volume for quarter four. Postage credit will be provided at the end of quarter four only when the annual volume threshold is met.
f. Credit is provided to the mail owner's CAPS account, upon USPS calculation and verification of the mail volume data after the end of each quarter.
g. The program period for eligible mail volume is from January 2, 2011 through December 31, 2011. To be eligible for any postage credit, the participant must ensure that the total volume of First-Class Mail commercial letters paid at presorted or automation letter prices mailed during the 2011 program period meets or exceeds the USPS-determined threshold volume, as determined under 7.2.1.
h. Mailers who do not meet the calendar year 2011 volume threshold are ineligible for any postage credit for this program. Any quarterly credits provided to mailers for quarters one through three must be returned to the Postal Service if the calendar year 2011 volume threshold is not met.
Mail service providers are not eligible to participate in this program. Mail owners are considered eligible for the program as follows:
a. Applicants must have mailed at least one presorted or automation First-Class Mail mailing of 500 letters or more during both USPS FY 2009 and FY 2010. Applicants must be able to document their total mailed volume of commercial First-Class Mail letters for FY 2009 and 2010, as follows:
1. Volume through one or more permit imprint advance deposit accounts, precanceled stamp permits, or postage meter permits owned by the applicant, or
2. Volume prepared by a mail service provider when entered through a permit owned by the applicant, or
3. Volume mailed under a mail service provider's permit that can be specifically identified as being mailed on behalf of the applicant.
b. Approved participants must be able to document the total mailed volume of letters that are eligible, under 7.2, for postage credit. Accordingly, pieces must be presented for mailing under either of the following conditions:
1. A separate mailing of identical weight pieces, all of which weigh more than 1 ounce up to 1.2 ounces.
2. A mailing of nonidentical weight pieces, supported by documentation under the manifest mailing standards in 705.2.0, with individual piece weight listings substantiating that participant pieces weigh more than 1 ounce but no more than 1.2 ounces. The manifest listing must also provide a total of eligible pieces.
c. At the end of the 2011 program period, approved participants must be able to document their total mailed volume of commercial First-Class Mail letters during the program period, the total mail volume eligible for postage credit under 7.2.2b, and meet the following conditions:
1. Letters mailed in the 2011 program period that meet the USPS-determined mail volume threshold, as provided in 7.2.1, must weigh more than 1 ounce up to a maximum of 1.2 ounces.
2. Letters mailed during the 2011 program period must contain a reply card or reply envelope. Reply pieces must be automation-compatible and barcoded.
d. Fluctuations in mailing activity resulting from the merger or acquisition of one or more program participants, prior or subsequent to the beginning of the program period, are subject to review, possible recalculation of thresholds, and approval by the USPS.
e. Mailers participating in the Reply Rides Free incentive program are not eligible for simultaneous participation in any other USPS-sponsored volume incentive program that includes First-Class Mail commercial letters during the 2011 program period.
Mail owners wishing to participate may apply at www.usps.com/firstclassmailincentive no later than January 31, 2011. Following registration, mailers are required to provide documentation demonstrating their total commercial First-Class Mail letter volume mailed during USPS FY 2009 and FY 2010 (as described in 7.2.1). The USPS reviews the documentation provided for adequacy and provides an electronic response that includes:
a. Notification of approval (or of the need for additional documentation) for participation in the program.
d. A certification letter. Mailers must present a printed copy of the certification letter to a postal acceptance employee with the first mailing under this program, at each mailing office.
7.2.4 Mailer Response
Mailers wishing to dispute the USPS-verified mail volume or USPS-determined threshold (see 7.2.1) may request a review by following the procedure outlined at www.usps.com/firstclassmailincentive no later than February 15, 2011.
7.2.5 Program Credits
Approved participants that can demonstrate an increase in their mailed volume of commercial First-Class Mail letters in the 2011 program period, meeting or exceeding the threshold volume as determined under 7.2.1, qualify for a credit, after the end of the program period, to their designated Centralized Account Payment System (CAPS) permit imprint account, as follows:
a. The letter-size pieces for which the credit is claimed must weigh more than 1 ounce but no more than 1.2 ounces and be mailed under all standards in 7.2.
b. Participants that meet or exceed their threshold volume receive a credit in the amount of the postage paid for the second ounce for each eligible piece meeting all the conditions in 7.2 that are mailed during the 2011 program year from January 2, 2011 through December 31, 2011.