DMM TOC > 700 Special Standards|
703 Nonprofit Standard Mail and Other Unique Eligibility
1.1 Basic Standards
1.1.1 Organization Eligibility
Only organizations that meet the standards in 1.2, Qualified Nonprofit Organizations, or 1.3, Qualified Political Committees and State or Local Voting Registration Officials, and that have received specific authorization from the USPS may mail eligible matter at any Nonprofit Standard Mail price, including Nonprofit Enhanced Carrier Route prices.
Specific authorization is required to mail at Nonprofit Standard Mail prices and may be used at any Post Office with PostalOne! access. Mailers are required to confirm authorization at non-PostalOne! Post Office locations before mailings will be accepted at Nonprofit Standard Mail prices.
Pieces mailed at the Nonprofit Standard Mail prices must meet the standards in 243, 343, or 443 and the corresponding standards for any other discount or price claimed.
An organization described in 1.2.3 through 1.2.10 may be authorized to mail at the Nonprofit Standard Mail prices if it is not organized for profit and none of its net income inures to the benefit of any private stockholder or individual.
1.2.2 Primary Purpose
The standard of primary purpose used in the definitions in 1.2.3 through 1.2.10 requires that the organization be both organized and operated for the primary purpose. Organizations that incidentally engage in qualifying activities do not meet the primary purpose test.
A religious organization is a nonprofit organization whose primary purpose is to:
b. Support the religious activities of nonprofit organizations whose primary purpose is to conduct religious worship; or
c. Further the teaching of particular religious faiths or tenets, including religious instruction and the dissemination of religious information.
An educational organization is a nonprofit organization whose primary purpose is the instruction or training of individuals for improving or developing their capabilities or the instruction of the public on subjects beneficial to the community. An organization may be educational even though it advocates a particular position or viewpoint, as long as it presents a sufficiently full and fair exposition of the pertinent facts to permit the formation of an independent opinion or conclusion. Conversely, an organization is not considered educational if its principal function is the mere presentation of unsupported opinion. These are examples of educational organizations:
a. An organization (e.g., a primary or secondary school, a college, or a professional or trade school) that has a regularly scheduled curriculum, a regular faculty, and a regularly enrolled body of students in attendance at a place where educational activities are regularly carried on.
b. An organization whose activities consist of presenting public discussion groups, forums, panels, lectures, or similar programs, including on radio or television.
c. An organization that presents a course of instruction by correspondence or through the use of television or radio.
d. Museums, zoos, planetariums, symphony orchestras, and similar organizations.
A scientific organization is a nonprofit organization whose primary purpose is to conduct research in the applied, pure, or natural sciences or to disseminate technical information dealing with the applied, pure, or natural sciences.
A philanthropic (charitable) organization is a nonprofit organization organized and operated to benefit the public. Examples include those that are organized to relieve the poor, distressed, or underprivileged; to advance religion, education, or science; to erect or maintain public buildings, monuments, or works; to lessen the burdens of government; or to promote social welfare for any of the above purposes or to lessen neighborhood tensions, eliminate prejudice and discrimination, defend human and civil rights secured by law, or combat community deterioration and juvenile delinquency. That an organization organized and operated to relieve indigent persons may receive voluntary contributions from those persons does not necessarily make it ineligible for Nonprofit Standard Mail prices as a philanthropic organization. That an organization, in carrying out its primary purpose, advocates social or civic changes or presents ideas on controversial issues to influence public opinion and sentiment to accept its views, does not necessarily make it ineligible for Nonprofit Standard Mail prices as a philanthropic organization.
An agricultural organization is a nonprofit organization whose primary purpose is the betterment of the conditions of those engaged in agricultural pursuits, the improvement of the grade of their products, and the development of a higher degree of efficiency in agriculture; or the collection and dissemination of information or materials about agriculture. The organization may further and advance agricultural interests through educational activities; by holding agricultural fairs; by collecting and disseminating information about cultivation of the soil and its fruits or the harvesting of marine resources; by rearing, feeding, and managing livestock, poultry, bees, etc.; or by other activities related to agricultural interests.
A labor organization is a nonprofit organization whose primary purpose is the betterment of the conditions of workers. Labor organizations include, but are not limited to, organizations in which employees or workers participate, whose primary purpose is to deal with employers on grievances, labor disputes, wages, hours of employment, working conditions, etc. (e.g., labor unions and employee associations).
A veterans’ organization is a nonprofit organization of veterans of the armed services of the United States, or an auxiliary unit or society of, or a trust or foundation for, any such post or organization.
A fraternal organization is a nonprofit organization whose primary purpose is fostering fellowship and mutual benefits among its members. For this standard, a qualified fraternal organization must also be organized under a lodge or chapter system with a representative form of government; must follow a ritualistic format; and must be composed of members elected to membership by vote of the members. Qualifying fraternal organizations include the Masons, Knights of Columbus, Elks, and college fraternities or sororities, and may have members of either or both sexes. Fraternal organizations do not encompass such organizations as business leagues, professional associations, civic associations, or social clubs.
1.3.1 Political Committees
These political committees may be authorized to mail at the Nonprofit Standard Mail prices without regard to their nonprofit status:
a. A national committee is the organization that, by virtue of the bylaws of a political party, is responsible for the day-to-day operations of such political party at the national level.
b. A state committee is the organization that, by virtue of the bylaws of a political party, is responsible for the day-to-day operation of such political party at the state level.
Voting registration officials in a state or the District of Columbia are authorized to mail certain Standard Mail materials at the Nonprofit Standard Mail prices under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (see 1.6.12, Matter Mailed by Voting Registration Official).
These and similar organizations do not qualify for the Nonprofit Standard Mail prices, even if organized on a nonprofit basis:
State, county, and municipal governments are generally not eligible for the Nonprofit Standard Mail prices. However, a separate and distinct state, county, or municipal governmental organization that meets the criteria for any one of the specific categories in 1.2 may be eligible, notwithstanding its governmental status.
All matter mailed at the Nonprofit Standard Mail prices must identify the authorized nonprofit organization. The name and return address of the authorized nonprofit organization must be either on the outside of the mailpiece or in a prominent location on the material being mailed. Pseudonyms or bogus names of persons or organizations may not be used. If the piece bears any name and return address, it must be that of the authorized nonprofit organization. A well-recognized alternative designation (e.g., “The March of Dimes”) or abbreviation (e.g., “AFL-CIO”) may be used rather than the full organization name.
1.6.1 Organization’s Own Mail
An organization authorized to mail at the Nonprofit Standard Mail prices may mail only its own matter at those prices. An authorized organization may not delegate or lend the use of its authorization to mail at the Nonprofit Standard Mail prices to any other person or organization.
1.6.2 Ineligible Matter
No person or organization may mail, or cause to be mailed by contractual agreement or otherwise, any ineligible matter at the Nonprofit Standard Mail prices.
1.6.3 Cooperative Mailing
a. A cooperative mailing may be made at the Nonprofit Standard Mail prices only when each of the cooperating organizations is individually authorized to mail at the Nonprofit Standard Mail prices at the Post Office where the mailing is deposited.
b. A cooperative mailing involving the mailing of any matter on behalf of or produced for an organization not itself authorized to mail at the Nonprofit Standard Mail prices at the Post Office where the mailing is deposited must be paid at the applicable regular Standard Mail prices. The mailer may appeal the decision under 607.2.0.
c. Exception: The standard in 1.6.3b does not apply to mailings by an organization authorized to mail at Nonprofit Standard Mail prices when both of the following conditions are met:
1. Mailings must be soliciting monetary donations to the authorized mailer and not promoting or otherwise facilitating the sale or lease of any goods or services.
2. The organization authorized to mail at Nonprofit Standard Mail prices is given a list of each donor, contact information (e.g., address, telephone number) for each, and the amount of the donation (or waives in writing the receipt of this list).
Nonprofit Standard Mail prices may not be used for the entry of material that advertises, promotes, offers, or, for a fee or consideration, recommends, describes, or announces the availability of:
a. Any credit, debit, or charge card or similar financial instrument or account, provided by or through an arrangement with any person or organization not authorized to mail at the Nonprofit Standard Mail prices at the entry Post Office.
b. Any insurance policy, unless the organization promoting the purchase of such policy is authorized to mail at the Nonprofit Standard Mail prices at the entry Post Office; the policy is designed for and primarily promoted to the members, donors, supporters, or beneficiaries of that organization; and the coverage provided by the policy is not generally otherwise commercially available as explained in 1.6.5.
c. Any travel arrangement, unless the organization promoting the arrangement is authorized to mail at the Nonprofit Standard Mail prices at the entry Post Office; the travel contributes substantially (aside from the cultivation of members, donors, or supporters, or the acquisition of income or funds) to one or more of the purposes that constitute the basis for the organization’s authorization to mail at the Nonprofit Standard Mail prices; and the arrangement is designed for and primarily promoted to the members, donors, supporters, or beneficiaries of that organization.
1. The sale of the product or the provision of such service is substantially related to the exercise or performance by the organization of one or more of the purposes used by the organization to qualify for mailing at the Nonprofit Standard Mail prices. The criteria in IRS regulations at 26 C.F.R. section 1.513-1(d), supplemented by the definitions in 1.6.6, are used to determine whether an advertisement, promotion, or offer for a product or service is for a substantially related product or service and, therefore, eligible for Nonprofit Standard Mail prices.
2. The product or service is advertised in Standard Mail material meeting the prescribed content requirements for a periodical publication. The criteria in 1.6.8 are used to determine whether the Standard Mail material meets the content requirements for a periodical publication.
1.6.5 Definitions, Insurance
a. Except as specified in 1.6.5c, the phrase not generally otherwise commercially available applies to the actual coverage stated in an insurance policy, without regard to the amount of the premiums, the underwriting practices, and the financial condition of the insurer. When comparisons are made with other policies, consideration is given to coverage benefits, limitations, and exclusions, and to the availability of coverage to the targeted recipients. When insurance policy coverages are compared to determine whether coverage in a policy offered by an organization is not generally otherwise commercially available, the comparison is based on the specific characteristics of the mailpiece recipients (e.g., geographic location or demographics).
b. Except as specified in 1.6.5c, the types of insurance considered generally otherwise commercially available include, but are not limited to, homeowner’s, property, casualty, marine, professional liability (including malpractice), travel, health, life, airplane, automobile, truck, motorhome, motorbike, motorcycle, boat, accidental death, accidental dismemberment, Medicare supplement (Medigap), catastrophic care, nursing home, and hospital indemnity insurance.
c. Coverage is considered not generally otherwise commercially available if either of the following conditions applies:
1. The coverage is provided by the nonprofit organization itself (i.e., the nonprofit organization is the insurer).
2. The coverage is provided or promoted by the nonprofit organization in a mailing to its members, donors, supporters, or beneficiaries in such a way that the members, donors, supporters, or beneficiaries may make tax-deductible donations to the nonprofit organization of their proportional shares of any income in excess of costs that the nonprofit organization receives from the purchase of the coverage by its members, donors, supporters, or beneficiaries.
a. Standards established by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the courts with respect to 26 USC 513(a) and (c) of the Internal Revenue Code are used to determine whether the sale or provision of an advertised product or service, whether sold or offered by the organization or by another party, is substantially related to the qualifying purposes of an organization. (Advertisements in Standard Mail material that meet the content requirements for a periodical publication need not meet the substantially related standard to be mailable at the Nonprofit Standard Mail prices. See 1.6.8.)
b. To be substantially related, the sale of the product or the provision of the service must contribute importantly to the accomplishment of one or more of the qualifying purposes of the organization. This means that the sale of the product or providing of the service must be directly related to accomplishing one or more of the purposes on which the organization’s authorization to mail at the Nonprofit Standard Mail prices is based. The sale of the product or providing of the service must have a causal relationship to the achievement of the exempt purposes (other than the production of income) of the authorized organization. (Income produced from selling an advertised product or providing a service does not make such action a substantially related activity, even if the income will be used to accomplish the purpose or purposes of the authorized organization.) See 26 C.F.R. section 1.513-1(d).
1. If an organization pays Unrelated Business Income Tax (UBIT) on the income from the sale of a product or the provision of a service, that activity is by IRS definition not substantially related. See 26 U.S.C. section 512. The fact that an organization does not pay such tax, however, does not establish that the activity is substantially related because other criteria may exempt the organization from payment. See 26 C.F.R. section 1.513-1(e).
2. Third-party paid advertisements may be included in material mailed at the Nonprofit Standard Mail prices if the products or services advertised are substantially related to one or more of the purposes for which the organization is authorized to mail at the Nonprofit Standard Mail prices. However, if the material contains one or more advertisements that are not substantially related, then the material is not eligible for the Nonprofit Standard Mail prices unless it is part of material that meets the content requirements described in 1.6.8 and is not disqualified from using the Nonprofit Standard Mail prices under another provision.
c. Announcements of activities (e.g., bake sale, car wash, charity auction, oratorical contest) are considered substantially related if substantially all the work is conducted by the members or supporters of an authorized organization without compensation. See 26 U.S.C. section 513(a)(1); 26 C.F.R. section 1.513-1(e)(1).
d. Advertisements for products and services, including products and services offered as prizes or premiums, are considered substantially related if the products and services are received by an authorized organization as gifts or contributions. See 26 U.S.C. section 513(a)(3); 26 C.F.R. section 1.513-1(e)(3).
e. An advertisement, promotion, offer, or subscription order form for a periodical publication meeting the eligibility criteria in 707.4.0 and published by one of the types of nonprofit organizations listed in 1.2 is mailable at the Nonprofit Standard Mail prices.
f. Unless the mailing is ineligible for the Nonprofit Standard Mail prices for other reasons, mailings will be accepted at the Nonprofit Standard Mail prices upon certification that income derived from the sale of products or services advertised in the mailing is not subject to the Unrelated Business Income Tax (UBIT) described at 26 U.S.C. section 512, and that each of the products or services is substantially related to the nonprofit organization’s qualifying purpose.
1.6.7 Other Matter
An authorized nonprofit organization’s material is not disqualified from being mailed at the Nonprofit Standard Mail prices solely because that material contains, but is not primarily devoted to:
a. Acknowledgments of organizations or individuals who have made donations to the authorized organization.
b. References to and a response card or other instructions for making inquiries about services or benefits available from membership in the authorized organization, if advertising, promotional, or application materials for such services or benefits are not included. For purposes of this section, descriptions of membership benefits available as a part of membership, including the use of adjectives, terms, conditions, and brand names, are permissible when they are a minor part of a solicitation or renewal request for membership payments. For purposes of this provision, “minor” is defined as “less than half.” Measurement is made in accordance with 707.17.4.5. The solicitation or renewal request in which, to a minor degree, membership benefits may be promoted is considered to include only a printed letter to prospective members or current members whose membership is about to expire, and not to any separate, distinct, or independent brochure, circular, flyer, or other documents. Such separate documents will be considered advertising if they contain any advertising, promotional, or application materials. Exception: A separate document prepared by the qualifying organization, consisting of one sheet, will be considered to be part of the solicitation letter if it describes the organization’s membership benefits and the solicitation letter does not describe the organization’s benefits but instead refers the reader to the separate document.
Advertisements for products and services in material that meets the content requirements for a periodical publication are mailable at the Nonprofit Standard Mail prices. The material mailed must meet these standards:
a. Have a title. The title must be printed on the front cover page in a style and size of type that make it distinguishable from other information on the front cover page.
b. Be formed of printed sheets. (It may not be reproduced by stencil, mimeograph, or hectograph. Reproduction by any other process is permitted.) Any style of type may be used.
c. Contain an identification statement on one of the first five pages of the publication that includes these elements:
3. Statement of frequency showing when issues are to be published (daily; weekly; monthly; monthly except June; four times a year in June, August, September, and December; annually; irregularly, etc.).
4. Name and address of the authorized organization, including street number, street name, and ZIP+4 or 5-digit ZIP Code. The street number and street name are optional if there is no letter carrier service.
5. Issue number. Every issue of each publication is numbered consecutively in a series that may not be broken by assigning numbers to issues omitted. The issue number may be printed on the front or cover page instead of in the identification statement.
Announcements for premiums received as a result of a contribution or payment of membership dues are not considered advertisements if the membership dues or requested contribution is more than 4 times the cost of the premium item(s) offered and more than 2 times the represented value in the mailpiece, if any, of the premium item(s) offered.
1.6.10 Political Mailings
A qualifying political committee under 1.3 may mail election-related materials, such as candidate endorsements, at the Nonprofit Standard Mail prices if the materials are exclusively of the qualifying political committee. Political mailings may not be made at the Nonprofit Standard Mail prices when a political candidate or anyone else not authorized to mail at the Nonprofit Standard Mail prices assists the qualifying political committee with the preparation or mailing of such materials, or pays any of the costs of preparation or mailing, or provides any consideration to the qualifying political committee in return for the mailing being made. The following are examples of political mailings that would not qualify for mailing at the Nonprofit Standard Mail prices:
a. A mailing containing material identified as having been paid for by the campaign committee or treasurer of an individual candidate.
b. A mailing containing circulars, flyers, brochures, or other printed matter prepared or printed by a political candidate or his or her campaign organization.
c. A mailing on which the postage is paid for by a political candidate or his or her campaign organization.
d. A mailing made on behalf of a candidate in return for a contribution to the qualifying political committee.
a. Low-cost items within the meaning of 26 USC 513(h)(2), Internal Revenue Code. At the beginning of each calendar year, the value of low-cost items is adjusted for cost of living. Effective January 1, 2011, the cost of such items cannot exceed $9.70. This cost is the cost to the authorized organization that mails the items or on whose behalf the items are mailed.
b. Items donated or contributed to the qualified organization. Such items do not have to meet the definition of a low-cost item.
The voting registration official may mail, at the Nonprofit Standard Mail prices, only qualifying Standard Mail matter that is required or authorized to be mailed at those prices by the National Voter Registration Act of 1993.
1.6.13 Evidence of Eligibility
On request, an organization authorized to mail at the Nonprofit Standard Mail prices must provide evidence to the USPS, or cause evidence held by another party to be provided to the USPS, about the eligibility of any of its mail matter or mailings to be sent at those prices. Any failure to provide evidence needed for a ruling on the eligibility of matter to be sent at the Nonprofit Standard Mail prices, or to cause such evidence to be provided, is sufficient basis for a finding that the matter is not eligible for the Nonprofit Standard Mail prices, as well as for the revocation of the organization’s authorization to mail at the Nonprofit Standard Mail prices.
An application on Form 3624, Application to Mail at Nonprofit Standard Mail Rates, must be filed by an organization prior to being authorized to mail at Nonprofit Standard Mail prices. The applicant must indicate on Form 3624 the qualifying category of organization under which it seeks authorization.
Authorization to mail at Nonprofit Standard Mail prices does not relieve the mailer's obligation to obtain mailing permits and pay the required fees for mailing at presorted prices.
Form 3624 must be accompanied by evidence that the applicant meets the standards of a qualifying category in 1.2 and that the organization is nonprofit (e.g., a certificate of exemption from federal income tax). An exemption from the payment of federal income tax is not required to qualify for the Nonprofit Standard Mail prices. Such exemption is considered as evidence of qualification for preferred postal prices, but is not the controlling factor in the decision. When an organization submits proof that it is granted federal income tax exemption under 26 USC 501(c)(3), as a religious, educational, scientific, or philanthropic (charitable) organization; under 501(c)(5) as an agricultural or labor organization; under 501(c)(8) as a fraternal organization; or under 501(c)(19) as a veterans’ organization, it is considered as qualifying for the Nonprofit Standard Mail prices, unless other evidence discloses some disqualification.
1.7.5 Political Committees
Form 3624 filed by an organization seeking authorization as a qualified political committee must include evidence that the applicant meets the standards of one of the qualifying categories of political committees in 1.3; evidence of nonprofit status is not required.
Once an organization is authorized, it may mail at Nonprofit Standard Mail prices at any Post Office location that accepts presorted mailings within the United States. The Postal Service will issue a national Nonprofit Standard Mail authorization number to each organization authorized to mail at the Nonprofit Standard Mail prices. Authorized organizations must display this number in the appropriate space on each postage statement that accompanies a mailing at Nonprofit Standard Mail Prices.
An authorized organization, or organization pending authorization, wishing to mail at a non-PostalOne! Post Office location must file Form 3623, Request for Confirmation of Authorization (or Pending Authorization) to Mail at Nonprofit Standard Mail Prices, with the postmaster prior to mailings being made at Nonprofit Standard Mail prices.
1.8.3 Organization Name
If the organization name on Form 3623 is different from the one on USPS records, the applicant must revise the organization’s original application to reflect a name change by providing evidence that the organization name was officially changed (e.g., an official amendment to the organization’s Articles of Incorporation stating the former name and the new name and a letter issued by the Internal Revenue Service recognizing the name change).
Confirmation of authorization to mail at Nonprofit Standard Mail prices does not relieve the mailer's obligation to obtain mailing permits and pay the required fees for mailing at presorted prices.
An organization may not mail at Nonprofit Standard Mail prices at a Post Office before Form 3624 or Form 3623, if required, is approved.
1.9.2 Postage Record
While an application, or confirmation of authorization, is pending postage must be paid at applicable First-Class Mail or Priority Mail prices, or at applicable Standard Mail prices. The USPS records the difference between postage paid at regular Standard Mail prices and the postage that would have been paid at Nonprofit Standard Mail prices. No record is kept if postage is paid at First-Class Mail or Priority Mail prices.
If an authorization, or confirmation of authorization, to mail at Nonprofit Standard Mail prices is issued, the mailer may be refunded the postage paid at the Post Office where pending mailings were made for any amount that exceeds the Nonprofit Standard Mail prices since the effective date of the authorization or confirmation. No refund is made:
1.9.4 Effective Date
The effective date of the Nonprofit Standard Mail price authorization is the date of the application or the date of the organization’s eligibility, whichever is later.
1.9.5 Pending Status
The mailer may continue to mail in a pending status until a final decision is reached on an appeal of a denied application.
1.10.1 Additional Information
The PCSC manager may request additional information or evidence to support or clarify the application. Failure to provide such information is sufficient grounds to deny an application.
1.10.3 Appealing a Denial
If the application on Form 3624 or Form 3623 is denied, the applicant may submit a written appeal to the postmaster where the application was filed within 15 days of the applicant's receipt of the decision. After reviewing the file, if the PCSC manager still believes that the organization does not qualify to be authorized at Nonprofit Standard Mail prices, or the request for confirmation of authorization is not able to be confirmed, the applicable appeal is forwarded to the manager of Mailing Standards (see 608.8.0 for address), who issues the final agency decision.
1.11.1 USPS Review
The PCSC manager may initiate at any time a review of any organization authorized to mail at the Nonprofit Standard Mail prices. The PCSC manager may ask an organization for information or evidence to determine whether the organization is still qualified. Failure to provide such information is sufficient cause for revocation.
1.11.2 Revocation for Cause
If it is found that authorization has been given to an organization that was not qualified at the time of application or later became unqualified, the PCSC manager notifies the organization of the proposed revocation and the reasons for it.
Revocation for cause under 1.11.2 takes effect 15 days from the organization’s receipt of the notice, unless the organization files a written appeal within that time through the PCSC with the manager of Mailing Standards (see 608.8.0 for address). The manager of Mailing Standards may ask the organization for more information or evidence to determine the organization’s eligibility. Failure to provide such information is sufficient grounds for denial of the appeal. The manager issues a written appeal decision directly to the organization.
1.11.4 Revocation for Nonuse
The PCSC revokes an authorization to mail at Nonprofit Standard Mail prices if no Nonprofit Standard Mail price mailings are made by the authorized organization during a 2-year period. The PCSC notifies the organization of the revocation for nonuse.
2.1 Basic Standards
2.1.1 First-Class Mail
First-Class Mail letter mail, including stamped cards and postcards, and sound-recorded communications that have the character of personal correspondence are given airlift service on a space available basis between overseas military Post Offices outside the 48 contiguous states, and between those military Post Offices and the point of embarkation or debarkation of this mail within the 50 states. Unless sent free under 4.0, Mail Sent by U.S. Armed Forces, sound recordings must be marked “Sound Recorded Personal Correspondence” by the mailer on the address side.
For shipping convenience, there are multiple Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes as follows: Small Flat Rate Box to domestic, APO/FPO, and DPO destinations; Medium Flat Rate Boxes (FRB-1) or (FRB-2) to domestic, APO/FPO, and DPO destinations; Large Flat Rate Box or “special version of this box” to APO/FPO and DPO destinations; and Large Flat Rate Box to domestic destinations only. The Large Flat Rate Box to APO/FPO and DPO destinations or “special version of this box” is priced less than the conventional domestic Large Flat Rate Box. Items sent to APO/FPO and DPO destination addresses may be shipped in the Priority Mail Large Flat Rate Box or in a special version of the box identified with the additional logo: “Americasupportsyou.mil.” If the special version of the APO/FPO Flat Rate Box is used for non-APO/FPO and DPO destination addresses, the domestic or international Large Flat Rate Box prices will apply. Only USPS-produced Flat Rate Boxes are eligible for the Flat Rate Box prices. Each USPS-produced Priority Mail Flat Rate Box is charged a flat rate regardless of the actual weight (up to 70 pounds) of the mailpiece or domestic destination. See Notice 123—Price List for applicable prices.
2.1.3 SAM Parcels
Parcels of any class, paid at surface postage prices, are airlifted to, from, or between overseas military Post Offices outside the 48 contiguous states. These parcels must be marked “SAM” (space available mail) on the address side, preferably below the postage and above the addressee’s name. These maximum weight and size limits apply when mailed from:
a. The 48 contiguous states: 15 pounds, 60 inches in length and girth combined.
b. An APO or FPO outside the 48 contiguous states: Package Services and Parcel Select weight and size limits (401, Physical Standards).
2.1.4 Periodicals Publications
Periodicals publications featuring current news of general interest and published weekly or more frequently, mailed at or addressed to any military Post Office outside the 48 contiguous states, are given airlift service under 2.1.3. Airlift service in 2.1.3 and 2.1.4 is not provided for mailings of publications sent in bulk to exchanges or news agents for later resale or distribution.
Items sent by air or surface mail are subject to the size and weight standards in 201 or 401 unless limited further by this standard. Mail must be addressed under 602. Postage at the applicable Priority Mail or Package Services prices is charged for parcels sent by air or surface transportation.
2.1.6 Privacy of Mail
The Department of Defense (DOD) can provide information on mail security and mail cover regulations for mail in the military postal system overseas.
2.2.1 Overseas Address
Overseas military addresses must conform to domestic addressing standards. The delivery line (the second line from the bottom in the address) must show the ship name, unit number, CMR or PSC number, and box number if assigned. The last line must contain the APO and FPO designation and the appropriate two-letter “state” abbreviation (AA, AE, or AP), followed by the ZIP+4 or 5-digit ZIP Code. AA, AE, and AP are used for addresses with the 3-digit ZIP Code prefixes 340, 090-098, and 962-966, respectively. In addition:
a. Mail addressed to Army personnel must show full name, including first name and middle name or initial, and unit number.
b. Mail addressed to Air Force personnel must show full name, including first name and middle name or initial, and PSC or unit number.
c. Mail addressed to Navy and Marine Corps personnel must show full name, including first name and middle name or initial, and PSC number for shore-based units, or ship name.
d. Mail sent to dependents residing in overseas areas must be addressed in care of the sponsor.
2.2.2 Geographic Address
Mail showing a foreign city and country in addition to the military address is subject to the postage prices and conditions for international mail.
Mail addressed to military personnel within the United States must show the name of the military installation, state, and either the correct ZIP Code or ZIP+4 code. In addition:
a. Mail addressed to Army personnel must show full name, including first name and middle name or initial, and organization.
b. Mail addressed to Air Force personnel must show full name, including first name and middle name or initial, organization, and box number (if served by a PSC).
c. Mail addressed to Navy and Marine Corps personnel must show full name, including first name and middle name or initial, and organization.
d. Mail sent to dependents of military personnel for delivery through the sponsor’s military unit must be addressed in care of the sponsor.
e. Mail sent to dependents of military personnel for delivery at the sponsor’s military quarters need not be addressed in care of the sponsor.
2.3.1 Mailability Conditions
Hazardous, restricted, or perishable materials mailed to, from, and between overseas military Post Offices are subject to the conditions of International Mail Manual 130, the standards in 601, Mailability, and conditions prescribed by the Department of Defense (DOD), as listed in Conditions Applied to Mail Addressed to Military Post Offices Overseas in the Postal Bulletin.
Firearms are subject to 601.12.0. To export firearms not specifically prohibited by the Conditions Applied to Mail Addressed to Military Post Offices Overseas, periodically printed in the Postal Bulletin, a mailer exporting permissible firearms must present an export license from the Office of Munitions Control, Department of State, Washington, DC 20520-0001. Importing firearms by military personnel by mail from overseas military Post Offices is subject to 27 CFR 178.114(b), Revenue Ruling 69-309 of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), preparation of ATF Form 6, Department of Defense regulation 5030.49-R, and other appropriate military directives and standards of the U.S. Customs Service.
2.3.3 Animals and Plants
Information on mailing animal and plant products is in 601.9.0 and Publication 52, Hazardous, Restricted, and Perishable Mail.
2.3.4 Military Retirees
Except for eligible mail marked “Free Matter for the Blind or Handicapped,” any mailpiece addressed to a retiree at a military Post Office overseas must weigh less than 1 pound when the designation “Box R” is part of the address.
Packages addressed from, to, or between overseas military Post Offices must meet the standards in 601.1.0 through 601.10.0 in Mailability. All containers of liquids and substances that easily liquefy must be packed, with enough absorbent material to take up all leakage in case of breakage, inside a second sealed waterproof container.
2.3.6 Customs Declarations
Customs declaration PS Form 2976 or PS Form 2976-A must be applied to mailpieces sent to APO, FPO, and DPO addresses as required in the "Overseas Military/Diplomatic Mail" section of the Postal Bulletin. When a customs declaration is required, the surface area of the address side of the item to be mailed must be large enough to contain completely the applicable customs declaration, postage, and any applicable markings, endorsements, and extra service labels.
Except as provided in 2.3.8, the following mailpieces addressed to an APO, FPO, or DPO ZIP Code must bear a customs declaration PS Form 2976-A, Customs Declaration and Dispatch Note CP 72, or PS Form 2976, Customs Declaration
a. A properly completed PS Form 2976-A is required for any mailpiece weighing 16 ounces or more regardless of contents, value, shape, or mail class. When the surface area of the address side of the mailpiece is not large enough to contain PS Form 2976-A, the smaller PS Form 2976 may be substituted (e.g., the Priority Mail small Flat Rate Box).
b. A properly completed PS Form 2976 is required for any mailpiece containing potentially dutiable contents weighing less than 16 ounces.
The following exceptions to the customs declaration requirement are provided for items addressed to an APO, FPO, or DPO destination ZIP Code:
a. Known mailers are exempt from providing customs documentation on non-dutiable letters, and printed matter weighing 16 ounces or more. A known mailer is a business mailer who enters volume mailings through a business mail entry unit (BMEU) or other bulk mail acceptance location, pays postage through an advance deposit account, uses a permit imprint for postage payment, and submits a completed postage statement at the time of entry that certifies the mailpieces contain no dangerous materials that are prohibited by postal regulations.
b. All federal, state, and local government agencies whose mailings are regarded as "Official Mail" are exempt from providing customs documentation on mail addressed to an APO, FPO, or DPO except for those APO, FPO, and DPOs to which restriction "B2" applies as required in the Restriction Legend of the "Overseas Military/Diplomatic Mail" section of the Postal Bulletin.
c. Prepaid mail from military contractors is exempt, providing the mailpiece is endorsed "Contents for Official Use - Exempt from Customs Requirements."
Any mailpiece weighing more than 13 ounces bearing only postage stamps as postage may not be deposited into a collection box, Postal Service lobby drop, Automated Postal Center (APC) drop, Postal Service dock, customer mailbox, or other unattended location. These mailpieces are also precluded from pickup service. The sender must present such items to an employee at a retail service counter in a Postal Service facility. Improperly presented items will be returned to the sender for proper entry and acceptance.
Items, bearing only postage stamps, and not requiring a customs declaration may be deposited by one of the following methods:
Items paid with online postage, postage meters, or information-based indicia (IBI) weighing less than 16 ounces and not requiring a customs declaration may be deposited by one of the following methods:
2.3.12 Enter and Deposit—Items Requiring a Completed Customs Declaration
Except as provided in 2.3.13, a mailer may not deposit an item that requires a completed customs declaration into a collection box, Postal Service lobby drop, Automated Postal Center (APC) drop, customer mailbox, or at a Postal Service dock or other unattended location. In addition, these mailpieces are precluded from Pickup on Demand service and Carrier Pickup service under 507.6.0. Customers must present such items to an employee at a Post Office retail service counter. The Postal Service will return improperly presented items to the sender for proper entry and acceptance.
2.3.13 Items Bearing a Completed Customs Declaration with an Electronic Round Date
Items sent to APO, FPO, or DPO addresses that have the mailing label, customs declaration (including an electronic round date), and postage prepared and paid online through an authorized PC Postage vendor Web site may be deposited only as follows:
Military ordinary mail (MOM) is DOD official mail sent at Periodicals, Standard Mail, Parcel Select, or Package Services prices that requires faster service than sealift transportation to, from, and between military Post Offices. USPS transportation of MOM is by surface means. Expedited service is determined and provided by and at the expense of the DOD. MOM is limited to mail originated by the DOD or DOD-authorized contractors and each piece must:
a. Be conspicuously marked “MOM” on the address side, below the postage or penalty mail indicia, and above the addressee’s name.
b. Conform to the maximum size and weight limits for the postage price claimed (Periodicals, Standard Mail, or Package Services).
Parcel airlift service (PAL) provides for air transportation of parcels on a space-available basis to or from military Post Offices (MPOs) outside the 48 contiguous states (from the Post Office of origin to the appropriate port of embarkation) for onward dispatch to other overseas MPOs or (from the port of embarkation for onward dispatch) to a Post Office within the 48 contiguous states.
PAL is available for Package Services or Parcel Select pieces that do not exceed 30 pounds in weight or 60 inches in length and girth combined, when mailed at or addressed to any overseas military Post Office outside the 48 contiguous states.
2.5.4 Fee and Postage
The applicable PAL fee must be paid in addition to the regular surface price of postage for each addressed piece sent by PAL service.
2.5.5 Additional Services
The following extra services may be combined with PAL if the applicable standards for the services are met and the additional service fees paid:
EMMS is available between the United States and designated APOs and FPOs to provide Department of Defense personnel stationed overseas, and others entitled to APO and FPO mailing privileges, an expedited delivery service to or from the United States. EMMS Custom Designed Service and EMMS drop shipment service are available to authorized APO/FPO destinations.
EMMS postage prices correspond to the type of service requested, based on the weight of the addressed piece.
[10-3-11] EMMS is available at Post Offices for delivery to designated APO/FPO and DPO 5-digit ZIP Code locations. In addition, EMMS is available at designated APO/FPO and DPO Post Offices for delivery to the United States. Delivery time is typically 3 to 5-business days depending on origin and destination; however, the scheduled delivery date is determined at the time of mailing. EMMS is not available between APO/FPO and DPO destinations.
2.6.4 Service Limitation
[10-3-11] EMMS may not be available at or between all Post Offices. An EMMS directory, showing EMMS APO/FPO and DPO ZIP Code availability can be obtained at: https://ribbs.usps.gov/apo_fpo/documents/tech_guides/EMMSdirectory.pdf.
[10-3-11] Under EMMS Post Office to Addressee service, items mailed to APO/FPO and DPO destinations (from the United States) are available for delivery at the destination APO/FPO or DPO Post Office by 3 p.m. on the designated delivery day unless the designated delivery day is a weekend or holiday; in such cases, the item is available for delivery on the next business day.
[10-3-11] Under EMMS Post Office to Addressee service, items mailed from APO/FPO and DPO locations (going to the United States) are delivered to an addressee within the delivery area of the destination Post Office by noon or 3 p.m. on the designated delivery day.
2.6.8 Mailing Label
[10-3-11] For each EMMS item, the mailer must complete mailing Label 11-B or Label 11-F (for Post Office to Addressee Service). Mailers authorized to present EMMS items using an Express Mail Manifesting System are required to follow label preparation procedures in Publication 97, Express Mail Manifesting Technical Guide.
2.6.9 Customs Declaration
2.6.10 Waiver of Signature
2.6.11 ZIP Code Determination
For Express Mail Military Service (EMMS), the mailer must determine whether the item is addressed to a 5-digit APO/FPO ZIP Code to which EMMS is offered from the point of origin.
Express Mail Military Service items must be presented by the times authorized by the local postmaster.
2.7.1 Military Post Offices
Military Post Offices (MPOs) are branches of a U.S. civil Post Office, operated by the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps to serve military personnel overseas or aboard ships. The term includes Army Post Offices (APOs) for the U.S. Army and the U.S. Air Force and fleet Post Offices (FPOs) for the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps. MPOs provide postal service for military personnel where the U.S. civil postal service does not operate and a military situation requires the service. MPOs are established or discontinued by the USPS only on request of the military department that operates them. Notice of these actions is published in the Postal Bulletin. Military Post Offices do not verify and accept bulk or commercial mail; such mailings must be deposited at (nonmilitary) U.S. Post Offices.
2.7.2 Units Without MPOs
For units not operating military Post Offices (MPOs), mail addressed to officials by title and personnel of military organizations is delivered to unit mail clerks or mail orderlies if such individuals are designated on DD Form 285 to receive all mail addressed to that unit. Registered, numbered insured, certified, and restricted-delivery mail addressed to individuals by name may be delivered to the unit mail clerk or mail orderly only if the addressee so authorizes in a letter to the Post Office, on Form 3849 or Form 3801.
2.7.3 Units With MPOs
For units operating military Post Offices (MPOs), all mail is delivered to the military postal clerk, an assistant postal clerk, or postal finance clerk for the organization. Mail for other military organizations may be delivered to military postal clerks or military postal finance clerks for further delivery, when requested.
To obtain mail, unit mail clerks, mail orderlies, postal clerks, and assistant postal clerks must provide proper identification.
Return receipts for registered, numbered insured, and Certified Mail must not be completed by anyone other than the addressee.
Subject to its own regulations, conditions, and restrictions, the U.S. Department of State transmits limited amounts of certain types of personal mail to authorized U.S. citizen employees of the federal government stationed in other countries. Authorized mailers pay domestic postage prices and are not subject to foreign customs clearance standards. Customers can obtain current information regarding Department of State services, internal controls, and restrictions from the U.S. Department of State Diplomatic Pouch Division.
3.1.2 Inspection of Mail
The Department of State opens and inspects all mail sent to it for transmission abroad to determine whether the mail meets Department of State standards. Mail that does not comply may be returned to the USPS for return to sender.
3.1.3 Facilities Not Available
If Department of State destinations are not available, customers may mail articles to the addressee directly as regular international mail or, if the addressee has an APO or FPO address, as military mail under 2.0 or to a Department of State branch Post Office at a diplomatic post under Title 39 USC 406 or 413, if the addressee has a DPO address.
USPS mailability standards for international mail apply to mail sent to the Department of State for transmission abroad.
3.2.2 Prohibited Material
In addition to any restriction imposed by the Department of State, the following items are prohibited:
b. Items not meeting the standards in 601.8.0, Nonmailable and Restricted Articles and Substances Generally, or Publication 52, Hazardous, Restricted, and Perishable Mail.
j. Goods from a foreign country addressed to the Department of State that require clearance by customs authorities before onward shipment to posts abroad.
3.2.3 Weight and Size Limits
3.2.4 Postage Prices
Mailers must pay postage at the applicable domestic postage price for the class of mail and the type of service requested for mail sent through the Department of State. Zoned prices are computed to 3-digit ZIP Code area 205.
3.2.5 Express Mail
3.2.6 Extra Services
[7-5-11] The following extra services are not available for mail sent through the Department of State. If one of these services is requested, USPS returns the mailpiece to the sender with the endorsement “Service Not Available.” (Mailers may request other extra services under 503.)
3.2.7 Address Format
a. Individuals may not file a change-of-address order for mail originally addressed to Department of State ZIP Code 20521. Additionally, individuals may not file a change-of-address order to have mail forwarded to Department of State ZIP Code 20521.
b. Individuals may file a change-of-address order for mail addressed to or from Department of State ZIP Code 20189 only under the following conditions:
1. The change-of-address order is submitted through the Internet Change of Address (ICOA) entry under 507.2.1.4b. All other change-of-address methods are prohibited.
3.2.9 Customs Declarations
Customs declarations (Form 2976 or 2976A) are not required on mail sent to individuals through Department of State facilities.
3.3 Mail Security
The Department of State does not assume liability for loss or damage to any mail it accepts for transmission abroad, including any liability for mail that has been accepted for mailing with extra services. However, if the Department of State receives such mail, it will attempt delivery. By using Department of State facilities, the sender consents both to the Department of State's examining the mail by means such as x-ray and other mail-screening methods, and to the department's opening, searching, and divulging the contents of any package.
4.1.1 Eligibility and Marking
Letters sent by soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines in the U.S. military service stationed in the United States or other places where U.S. domestic mail service operates, addressed to places in the United States, may be dispatched without postage for collection of the postage on delivery, if endorsed as follows:
a. The address side of the letter must be marked “Soldier’s Letter,” “Airman’s Letter,” “Sailor’s Letter,” or “Marine’s Letter,” as applicable.
b. Under the marking, the letter must bear the signature and official designation with a facsimile hand stamp or in writing of a commissioned officer to whose command the soldier or airman belongs, or of a surgeon or chaplain at a hospital where he or she is. In the Navy and Marine Corps, the letter must bear the signature and official designation with a facsimile hand stamp or in writing of a commissioned officer attached to the vessel on which the member is serving or an officer commanding a hospital or detachment ashore where he or she is.
Postage at the applicable single-piece price for First-Class Mail is collected from the addressee on delivery.
4.2 Matter Sent Free
Matter that may be mailed free of postage by certain military personnel is restricted to letters, postcards, and recorded communications (whether sound or video) with the character of personal correspondence.
The free mailing privilege may be used only by members of the U.S. Armed Forces on active duty who are either:
a. Assigned to military duty in a certain overseas area, as designated by the President or designee under 39 USC 3401(a)(1), and who mail the matter at an Armed Forces Post Office in that area.
b. Hospitalized in a facility under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Armed Forces because of disease or injury from military service in an overseas area, as designated by the President or designee.
The definition of overseas areas is administered by the Military Postal Service Agency, which periodically provides the USPS with information for publication in the Postal Bulletin listing current overseas areas and other pertinent details.
4.2.4 Military Address
Matter mailed free must be addressed to a military Post Office (APO/FPO) or a place in the United States (including its territories, possessions, and Puerto Rico) served by a U.S. Post Office.
The address side of a mailpiece must be marked “FREE,” written in the sender’s handwriting, in the upper right corner; and the sender’s name, military grade, and complete military address, in the upper left corner.
4.2.6 Extra Services
4.2.7 Undeliverable Mail
If matter mailed free is undeliverable as addressed, the matter is treated as First-Class Mail for transportation, processing, delivery, and handling.
5.0 Free Matter for the Blind and Other Physically Handicapped Persons
Subject to the standards below, matter may be entered free of postage if mailed by or for the use of blind or other persons who cannot read or use conventionally printed materials due to a physical handicap. The provisions of 5.0 apply to domestic mail only.
5.1.2 Mail Classification
Matter mailed free under this standard is not considered part of any particular class of mail and is not protected against postal inspection. This matter is treated as First-Class Mail for the exclusive purposes of determining appropriate standards for processing and delivery and for handling if undeliverable.
The following persons are considered to be blind or unable to read or use conventionally printed material due to a physical handicap for purposes of this section:
a. Certified participants in the Library of Congress National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS).
b. Blind persons whose visual acuity, as determined by competent authority, is 20/200 or less in the better eye with correcting lenses, or whose widest diameter of visual field subtends angular distance no greater than 20 degrees.
c. Other physically handicapped persons certified by competent authority as meeting one or more of the following conditions:
1. Having a visual disability, with correction and regardless of optical measurement, that prevents the reading of standard printed material.
2. Being unable to read or unable to use standard printed material as a result of physical limitations.
3. Having a reading disability resulting from organic dysfunction and of sufficient severity to prevent their reading printed material in a normal manner.
4. Meeting the requirements of eligibility resulting from a degenerative, variable disease that renders them unable to read or use conventional printed material because of impaired eyesight or other physical factors. These persons are eligible during the time in which they are certified by a competent authority as unable to read or use conventional materials.
d. Eligible participants must be residents of the United States, which includes territories, insular possessions, and the District of Columbia, or American citizens domiciled abroad.
5.1.4 Certifying Authority
a. The postmaster may extend the free matter privilege to an individual recipient based on personal knowledge of the individual’s eligibility.
b. In cases of blindness, visual impairment, or physical limitations, “competent authority” is defined to include doctors of medicine; doctors of osteopathy; ophthalmologists; optometrists; registered nurses; therapists; and professional staff of hospitals, institutions, and public or private welfare agencies (e.g., social workers, caseworkers, counselors, rehabilitation teachers, and superintendents). In the absence of any of these, certification may be made by professional librarians or by any person whose competence under specific circumstances is acceptable to the Library of Congress (see 36 CFR 701.10(b)(2)(i)).
c. In the case of reading disability from organic dysfunction, “competent authority” is defined as doctors of medicine and doctors of osteopathy.
5.1.5 Qualifying Individuals
The USPS may require individuals claiming entitlement to the free matter privilege to furnish evidence of eligibility consistent with the standards in 5.1.3 and 5.1.4, or verify by other means that the recipients are eligible to receive free matter.
5.2.1 Acceptable Matter
c. Paper, records, tapes, and other material for the production of reading matter, musical scores, or sound reproductions.
e. Braille writers, typewriters, educational or other materials or devices, or parts thereof, used for writing by, or designed or adapted for use of, a blind person or a person who has a physical impairment as described in 5.1.3.
b. Either no charge, rental, subscription, or other fee is required for this matter; or, if required, may not exceed the cost of the item.
1. All material of which a valuable consideration is paid, accepted, or promised, that calls attention to something to get people to buy it, sell it, seek it, or support it.
3. Articles, items, and notices in the form of reading matter inserted by custom or understanding that textual matter is to be inserted for the advertiser or the advertiser’s products in which a display advertisement appears.
4. An organization’s advertisement of its own services or issues, or any other business of the publisher, whether in display advertising or reading matter.
Letters prepared in any form by sighted individuals, to be sent to a blind or other physically handicapped person, or empty shipping materials for mailing matter described in this section, may not be sent free and must bear the full applicable postage.
5.3.1 Acceptable Letters
Only letters in braille or in 14-point or larger sightsaving type or in the form of sound recordings, and containing no advertising, may be mailed free, and only if unsealed and sent by a blind or other physically handicapped person as described in 5.1.3.
5.3.2 Other Letters
Letters that are handwritten, or printed or typed in a type size smaller than 14 points, may not be sent free. These letters must bear the full applicable postage.
5.4.1 Basic Standards
a. Must be marked “Free Matter for the Blind or Handicapped” in the upper right corner of the address side.
5.4.2 Extra Services
Insurance is the only extra service that can be added to mail sent under this standard. The fee for insurance must be paid by the sender.
6.1.1 Members of Congress
Official mail of Members of Congress is sent without prepayment of postage and bears instead either a written or printed facsimile signature or a specified marking. Exhibit 6.1.1 shows what is accepted under frank and who is authorized its use.
Exhibit 6.1.1 Franked Mail of Members of Congress
Any former President of the United States and any surviving spouse of a former President may send nonpolitical mail as franked mail if it bears the sender’s written or facsimile signature and the words “Postage and Fees Paid” in the upper right corner of the address side.
When a Member of Congress dies during the term of office, the Member’s surviving spouse may send correspondence relating to the death without prepayment of postage, for a period not to exceed 180 days after the death of the Member. The mail must bear the sender’s written or facsimile signature in the upper right corner of the address side. If there is no surviving spouse, this privilege may be exercised by an immediate family member of the deceased Member of Congress designated by the Secretary of the Senate or the Clerk of the House of Representatives, as appropriate.
A person entitled to use franked mail may not lend this frank or permit its use by any committee, organization, association, or other person. This restriction does not apply to a committee of the Congress.
Franked mail must be addressed to the recipient by name, except under 602.3.0, Use of Alternative Addressing, and it must meet the mailability criteria in 601 and the physical standards for the class of mail used.
Franked mail is entitled to all extra services for which it is properly endorsed and is handled and forwarded as ordinary mail, except that after delivery to the addressee, it may not be remailed.
6.1.7 Package to One Addressee
A person entitled to use franked mail may send a package of franked mail to one addressee, who may open the package and, on behalf of such person, address the franked articles and mail them.
6.2.1 Required Addressing
6.2.2 Alternative Addressing
Mail sent under the franking privilege of a member of or member-elect to Congress or a delegate, delegate-elect, resident commissioner, or resident commissioner-elect to the U.S. House of Representatives may be addressed under the alternative addressing formats in 602.3.2 through 602.3.4 for delivery to customers within the congressional district, state, or area that he or she represents. A member of the House of Representatives may not, under the franking privilege, use the alternative addressing formats to send mail outside the congressional district that he or she represents. Any representative-at-large may send franked mail with the simplified address format to USPS customers within the entire state that he or she represents.
6.2.3 Simplified Address Format—Mail Preparation
Mailers must prepare containers of mail using the simplified address format in the manner listed below:
a. Containers of congressional frank mailpieces using the simplified address format must be prepared under 602.3.0.
b. PS Tag 11, Congressional Mail (“Postmaster—Open and Distribute”), must be securely affixed to each sack or tray of congressional mail to ensure adequate identification of the mail. On trays, the tag must be affixed to the end that bears the tray label.
d. For deliveries under 6.2.4a and 6.2.4c, partial distribution of simplified address mailings is permitted only when the carrier's delivery territory crosses congressional district boundaries. In these cases, complete distribution is made to the portion of the route within a single congressional district.
6.2.5 Delivery Information
Delivery information as described in 509.1.0, Address Information System Services, is provided on request for a congressional district when a Post Office serves areas located in more than one district.
The term penalty mail refers to official mail, sent by U.S. government agencies, relating solely to the business of the U.S. government, that is authorized by law to be carried in the mail without prepayment of postage. For this standard, agencies are departments, agencies, corporations, establishments, commissions, committees, and all officers and authorities of the U.S. government authorized to use penalty mail.
7.2 Postage And Fees
Agencies must reimburse the USPS the equivalent amount of postage and fees due for the penalty mail service they receive, following instructions from the USPS. The USPS requires agencies to use penalty postage meters (postage evidencing systems) or other forms of direct accountability for penalty mail services to ensure proper reimbursement through the Official Mail Accounting System (OMAS).
An agency may also prepay postage by any method available to private-sector mailers. This prepaid mail is not considered penalty mail.
Only matter relating solely to the business of the U.S. government may be sent without prepayment of postage as penalty mail when mailed by officers of the executive and judicial branches of the government, the Legislative Counsel for the House of Representatives and the Senate, the Superintendent of Documents, and the Joint Committee on Printing when it mails correspondence on the Congressional Directory. Generally, the USPS holds that the agency determines which matter relates solely to its own business. Cases of questionable use must be referred to the agency.
a. All correspondence, bulletins, and reports about agriculture extension work and home economics carried on in cooperation with the USDA may be sent as penalty mail when mailed by the college officer or other person connected with the extension department of the college and designated by the Secretary of Agriculture. The designated officer may deposit mailings only at the Post Office authorized by the PCSC. Correspondence must be conducted under the designated officer’s name. Correspondence with an autograph signature may be sealed. All other matter must be unsealed.
b. All correspondence, bulletins, and other matter promoting cooperative extension work as a federal enterprise or relating exclusively to the business of the U.S. government may be sent as penalty mail by cooperative extension agents of the USDA Extension Service when part of their official duties. If cooperative extension employees mail correspondence, authorized USDA agents must sign it and give their official titles to show that they are authorized to use penalty mail.
c. Annual reports of government-aided colleges (under 7 USC 325) may be sent as penalty mail when addressed to the Secretary of Education, the Secretary of Agriculture, or to any other such government-aided college.
All mail prepared by state employment security offices cooperating with the U.S. Department of Labor is accepted without prepayment of postage or fees.
7.3.4 Others Authorized
The general secretariat of the Organization of American States and Pan American Health Organization (or Pan American Sanitary Bureau) are authorized by law to transmit official matter without prepayment (see the International Mail Manual).
7.3.5 Vice President-Elect
The Vice President-elect of the United States may send franked mail in connection with preparations for assuming official duties as Vice President. The right to use penalty mail ceases immediately on inauguration to the vice presidency.
7.4.1 Authorized Agencies
Agencies authorized to use penalty mail are listed in Handbook DM-103, Official Mail, and are updated periodically in the Postal Bulletin. Other agencies may request authorization to use penalty mail by writing to the Post Office Accounting manager, USPS Headquarters (see 608.8.0 for address).
7.4.2 College Officer
The college officer or other person connected with the extension department of the college and designated by the Secretary of Agriculture to use penalty mail under 7.3.2a must be authorized by the PCSC to deposit penalty mail at a specific Post Office.
7.4.3 Licenses and Permits
Any agency authorized to use penalty mail must obtain licenses or permits to use penalty postage meters, penalty permit imprints, penalty business reply mail, and penalty Periodicals at specific Post Offices under 7.7 through 7.13.
7.4.4 Private Use
Unless permitted by USPS standards, an agency may not lend or provide penalty envelopes, cards, cartons, labels, meter stamps, or penalty mail stamps to any private person, concern, or organization. The use of these items for matter not relating exclusively to the business of the U.S. government is prohibited.
7.4.5 Permit and BRM Numbers
Penalty mail permit imprint or BRM numbers, or information to help agencies track and account for penalty mail postage by cost center, may be obtained by written request to the Post Office Accounting manager, USPS Headquarters.
7.5.1 Postal Services
USPS policy is to give penalty mail customers all postal services for which they qualify, including forwarding, return, and address correction, unless otherwise provided by law or regulation. Agencies must pay for services in accordance with 604.6.0, 604.8.0, and 604.10.0.
7.5.2 Nonprofit Prices
7.5.3 Basic Preparation
b. Meet the eligibility, marking, preparation, and physical standards for the class of mail and price of postage used.
d. For all methods of payment, be endorsed for class or price except for single-piece price First-Class Mail.
7.5.4 Discounted Prices
a. Presorted mailings must be prepared with penalty postage meters or penalty permit imprints or, for Periodicals, the penalty Periodicals imprint.
b. Mailing fees and application fees are reimbursed under 7.2 and are not paid to the local Post Office, but are charged and billed through the Official Mail Accounting System (OMAS) from records of mailing activity.
c. Discounted mailings must meet the eligibility and preparation standards and must be submitted to the designated USPS acceptance unit with the proper USPS postage statement.
d. Discounted mailings are subject to the same USPS procedures for verifying mail preparation as private-sector mailings. First-Class Mail and Priority Mail, however, are not detained for improper mailer preparation. If the agency cannot be reached about a disqualified discounted mailing, the single-piece price is charged and the mailing is accepted.
7.5.5 Extra Services
Penalty mail endorsed for an extra service is given the requested service. Penalty mail may not be used for:
604.6.0, 604.8.0, and 604.10.0 apply to shortpaid and unpaid penalty mail, except that military units engaged in hostile operations or operating under arduous conditions may send mail postage-due, using a special postage-due format, when permitted under 7.5.7.
7.5.7 Military Units
Military units engaged in hostile operations or operating under arduous conditions may be authorized to use a special form of postage-due penalty mail, subject to these conditions:
b. The special postage-due endorsement must be printed or hand-stamped above the delivery address where postage normally is affixed.
c. Endorsements for class and requested extra services must be placed below the special postage-due indicia.
e. The Military Postal Service Agency must notify the Post Office Accounting manager, USPS Headquarters, within 3 business days after effecting these provisions.
f. The use of these provisions is limited to 120 days from date of authorization unless otherwise announced.
g. With prior agreement, the Military Postal Service Agency and the USPS may conduct tests of these provisions during designated military training exercises.
Postage-Due Mail for Military Units Engaged in Hostile Operations
7.5.9 Mail Detention
Except as permitted by standard, the USPS does not hold penalty mail even if the mail appears to abuse official mailing privileges. Reports of indicated abuse are submitted to the PCSC for referral to the proper agency for investigation and action.
7.6 General Standards for Penalty Indicia
The formats and methods of mailing penalty mail are penalty metered mail, penalty permit imprint mail, penalty mail stamps, penalty Periodicals imprint mail, and penalty reply mail. There are also special procedures for penalty Express Mail. Information on use of INTELPOST may be obtained from the Post Office Accounting manager, USPS Headquarters. All penalty mail matter must meet the applicable standards in 7.6 through 7.15.
Envelopes and labels prepared under these standards may be used only to transmit penalty mail within the U.S. Mail, except when:
c. Agencies reach written agreement with the Post Office Accounting manager, USPS Headquarters, to account for and pay postage on official items carried outside the U.S. Mail (18 USC 1693-1699 and 39 USC 601-606).
7.7 Penalty Meter
Any agency may use postage meters (postage evidencing systems) with a special penalty design, following the procedures in 604.4.0 as modified in 7.7.2 through 7.7.11.
The agency must include its 3-digit agency code on each application for a meter license submitted under 604.4.0 and may assign one cost code to each license. A meter may be licensed for use at only one licensing Post Office. The agency must have a license and assigned meter(s) for each Post Office where it will deposit mail. The agency may have any number of meters under a single license. All transactions for each meter on a single license are charged to the agency code on the license application.
7.7.3 Meter Indicia Format
Penalty mail meter stamp designs must be placed in the upper right corner of the mailpiece. Except under 604.4.0, Postage Meters and PC Postage Products (“Postage Evidencing Systems”), envelopes used with a penalty postage meter must not contain facing identification marks (FIMs) or printing other than the meter indicia in the area where the meter stamps are applied.
7.7.4 Return Address
The complete return address (agency name and mailing address) must be in the upper left corner of each mailpiece. The preprinted words “Official Business” must be immediately below the return address.
Refunds for complete, legible, valid, unused penalty mail meter indicia are made under 604.9.3.2. No refunds are made in cash or applied to a meter.
7.7.6 Transferring Meter
An agency transferring a meter from one licensing Post Office to another must obtain a license from the new licensing office under 7.7.2.
7.7.7 On-Site Service
An agency wanting on-site meter service must pay the required fee in cash or with a check when the service is rendered.
7.7.8 Replacement Meter
If a meter is replaced, the remaining postage is transferred from the original meter to the replacement meter. The postage may not be transferred to a penalty meter operating under a different license number. Cash refunds are not issued to agencies for penalty mail postage meters checked out of service.
7.7.9 Insufficient Postage
Penalty metered mail with insufficient postage imprinted, and envelopes and labels designed for penalty meter use found in the mail without a penalty meter stamp, are treated as postage due under 604.6.0, 604.8.0, and 604.10.0.
7.7.10 Computerized Meter Resetting
An agency may use a penalty mail version of the authorized postage meter payment process for remotely reset meters if it is offered by the postage meter provider and approved by the USPS. The agency must follow the procedures in 604.4.0, except the agency is not required to prepay for metered postage.
7.7.11 Disaster Field Office Meters
Authorized federal government agencies also may use a special penalty version of the authorized postage meter payment process for remotely reset meters for meters known as Disaster Field Office (DFO) meters. These meters are only for temporary use in federal government-declared disaster areas and must be replaced by regular penalty meters within 30 days, except for those used by designated agency staff specialists not in a fixed location (e.g., mobile vehicle or temporary office), who may use them through the duration of the emergency operation declaration. Written requests for authorization to use DFO meters must be submitted to the Post Office Accounting manager (see 608.8.0) and include the name, office address, and telephone number of an agency headquarters manager responsible for tracking and maintaining these meters, including complying with the necessary examination requirements. License applications for DFO meters are handled by the meter providers, who set up the licenses through the Washington, DC, licensing Post Office under normal meter licensing procedures.
An agency may apply to use penalty permit imprint procedures by completing Form 3615. The agency submits it to the Post Office where the mailings are to be deposited. The agency must show the complete name of the agency and, if applicable, the name of the component unit in the “Name of Applicant” section of the form. When the agency receives authorization to use a penalty permit imprint number not shown in the most recent listing in the Postal Bulletin, a copy of the authorizing letter from the Post Office Accounting manager, USPS Headquarters, must be submitted with Form 3615 to the Post Office where mailings are to be made. These procedures also apply when an agency uses a contractor to mail penalty permit imprint matter, unless the agency provides the contractor with the completed Form 3615 to submit to the entry Post Office. Fees are reimbursed under 7.2 and are not paid to the local Post Office. The USPS is not required to complete Form 3615 to activate its own permit imprint number (G-10) at Post Offices.
7.8.2 Indicia Format
The penalty permit imprint indicia must be in a rectangular box in the upper right corner of the mailpiece. The indicia must include the words “Postage and Fees Paid,” the agency name, and the agency’s assigned penalty permit imprint number or other penalty permit imprint number authorized by the Post Office Accounting manager, USPS Headquarters, preceded by the letter “G.” In addition, the class of mail or appropriate price endorsement must be the first item within the indicia or immediately below or to the left of the indicia. Price endorsements for certain price categories may also be directly above the top line of the address. The city of mailing, amount of postage, and weight of the piece may be included within the indicia but are not required. First-Class Mail penalty permit imprints may also show the date.
7.8.3 Return Address
The complete return address (agency name and mailing address) must be in the upper left corner. The preprinted words “Official Business” and “Penalty for Private Use $300.00” must be directly below the return address. The penalty statement must not be handwritten or typewritten.
7.8.4 Postage Statement
Mail sent under penalty permit imprint procedures must meet the standards of 604.5.0, except for prepayment and imprint format. The proper USPS postage statement must be submitted with each penalty permit imprint mailing. If a receipt is needed, the mailer must submit a duplicate of the postage statement. When a postage statement is submitted by a Government Printing Office (GPO) contractor, the serial number of the accompanying GPO Form 712 must be shown in the upper right corner.
7.8.5 GPO Contractor
b. All other applicable standards for use of permit imprints are met, including those on minimum quantity and class of mail endorsements.
c. A completed Form 3602-G is submitted to the entry Post Office for each mailing, in duplicate if the contractor wants a copy.
d. The mailing is separated by the class and weight categories on Form 3602-G when presented to the Post Office. Postage is computed on the average weight of a piece for each category of mailing reported.
7.9 Penalty Postage Stamps and Stationery
Penalty mail stamps may be used by any authorized federal agency to facilitate postage accountability. Enough penalty mail stamps to cover the correct single-piece price postage, including applicable surcharges or extra service fees, must be affixed to each mailpiece. Pieces with insufficient penalty mail stamps affixed, and envelopes and labels designed for penalty mail stamps found in the mail without a penalty mail stamp, are handled under 604.6.0, 604.8.0, and 604.10.0.
Penalty mail stamped stationery (plain stamped envelopes, personalized envelopes, and stamped cards) and penalty mail adhesive stamps (see Exhibit 7.9.2) are available in various denominations.
Penalty Mail Postage Format
A federal agency may apply to use penalty mail stamps by submitting a letter to the Post Office Accounting manager, USPS Headquarters, stating how the agency plans to use the stamps. The Post Office Accounting manager provides a written response stating approval or denial of the application.
Penalty mail adhesive stamps must be affixed in the upper right corner of the address side of the mailpiece.
7.9.5 Return Address
The complete return address of the agency (agency name and mailing address) must be in the upper left corner of the address side of the mailpiece. The preprinted words “Official Business” must be immediately below the return address. On penalty stamped stationery, “Penalty for Private Use $300.00” must be placed below “Official Business.”
7.9.6 Ordering Stock
a. Orders for penalty mail stamp stock other than personalized envelopes must be sent on Form 17-G to the stamp distribution office (SDO) serving the ZIP Code area to which the stamp stock is to be shipped. Orders for personalized envelopes must be sent on Form 17-J to Stamp Fulfillment Services (see 608.8.0 for address).
b. Each order must total at least $50. Smaller orders received are increased to meet or exceed the minimum by adding full 100-stamp coils at the current First-Class Mail single-piece 1-ounce price.
c. Each denomination of stamps must be ordered in multiples of 100 (i.e., full sheets or coils), except that $1 and $5 stamps must be ordered in multiples of 10.
e. Penalty stamped envelopes (plain and personalized) must be ordered in full units of 500 envelopes.
Incorrectly shipped items or items damaged in shipping or defective or otherwise unserviceable may be exchanged by the SDO at full value.
7.10 General Standards for Penalty Reply Mail
An agency may distribute penalty envelopes, cards, cartons, or labels to any person, concern, or organization. To distribute penalty reply mail, agencies must use the penalty business reply mail format; the penalty metered reply format; penalty mail adhesive stamps or penalty mail stamped stationery; or the penalty merchandise return service label.
Prepaid adhesive postage stamps may be affixed to cards and envelopes distributed for reply purposes.
7.10.3 Penalty Metered Reply
An agency that holds a penalty postage meter license may distribute penalty metered reply cards and envelopes for return to the meter license holder, subject to 604.4.0.
7.10.4 Penalty Stamped Mail
An agency authorized to use penalty mail may furnish to a person, concern, or organization from or through whom official matter is desired, for reply purposes, printed penalty mail stamped stationery or envelopes or cards bearing penalty mail stamps that contain the preprinted address of a federal office or officer.
An agency may participate in business reply mail service (including Qualified Business Reply Mail). Standards for business reply mail are in 505.1.0. Agencies can choose to pay postage and per piece charges for BRM by setting up a BRM advance deposit account to be billed through the Official Mail Accounting System (OMAS) or by paying for BRM through an OMAS postage due account. Under a BRM advance deposit account, the agency is billed an annual accounting fee by each Post Office ZIP Code where mail is returned, the appropriate postage, and high-volume BRM per piece charges. Under the postage due option, the agency pays the appropriate postage and basic BRM per piece charges through an OMAS postage due account. The postage, fees, and per piece charges are the same as those for private-sector customers (see 505.1.1). Government agencies cannot use cash, penalty meter stamps, or penalty mail stamps to pay postage due.
An agency must apply for a BRM permit on Form 3615 at each Post Office where its BRM is to be returned. The form must include the BRM permit number, the agency code, the agency cost code (if desired), and whether the agency wants to set up a BRM account. A contractor for the agency may submit the form if it is signed by an authorized agency representative. The USPS is not required to complete Form 3615 to activate its own BRM permit number at Post Offices.
7.11.3 Permit Fees
If an agency uses BRM at any location, it is charged an annual BRM permit and renewal fee for each permit number assigned. These fees are billed automatically by USPS Headquarters each year, and no agency action is necessary.
7.11.4 Addressing and Format
Penalty BRM envelopes must show the address of an authorized agency or a component unit. Envelopes must be printed as detailed in 505.1.0 and as shown in Exhibit 7.11.4, with these exceptions:
a. The address may be printed, typewritten, or hand-stamped directly on the mailpiece, or a printed gummed label may be affixed in the address area. The address must not be handwritten. Letter-size BRM enclosed in automation price mailings must meet the standards in 201.3.0 and 505.1.0.
c. The space for the permit holder’s use must include the statement “Official Business, Penalty for Private Use $300.00.” Space above this statement may be used for return address, logos, and distribution codes.
Penalty Business Reply Mail Format
If an agency wants to cancel a BRM account, the agency must notify the Post Office handling the account.
Merchandise return service allows an authorized permit holder to pay the postage and extra service fees on single-piece price First-Class Mail, Priority Mail, and Package Services (Parcel Post, Bound Printed Matter, and Media Mail only) that is returned by the permit holder’s customers via a special label produced by the permit holder as specified by 505.3.0.
a. The permit holder guarantees payment of the proper postage and extra service fees on all returned merchandise return service articles distributed under the permit holder's permit number. Postage is collected for each article from an OMAS MRS account.
b. Returned parcels are charged single-piece price postage and extra service fees based on the class or subclass marking on the label. If a piece is unmarked, then it is charged Parcel Post prices. If the postage for the returned piece is zoned and there is no way to determine the zone of origin (i.e., no postmark or return address), then postage is calculated at zone 4 (for Priority Mail or Parcel Post).
7.12.3 Annual Accounting Fee
All MRS permit holders are required to pay the annual accounting fee in 505.3.1.2, which is assessed automatically through OMAS.
An agency must apply by letter to the Post Office Accounting manager, USPS Headquarters, to use merchandise return labels. A single permit number is assigned to each agency unless the agency asks for multiple numbers.
7.12.5 Post Office Notification
Agencies must apply for authorization to use their penalty merchandise return permit by submitting a Form 3615 at each Post Office where pieces bearing penalty merchandise return labels will be received. No fee should accompany this application since all fees for penalty mailers are assessed through OMAS.
7.12.6 Permit Renewal
Authorization to use a penalty merchandise return permit number at a local Post Office is renewed automatically unless the agency notifies the Post Office that it wishes to cancel its authorization. Annual authorization fees are assessed automatically through OMAS.
7.12.7 Label Format
The one-part merchandise return labels available for federal agencies must bear the address of an authorized agency or a component. Exhibit 7.12.7a Merchandise Return Label With No Extra Services or With Insurance and/or Special Handling shows the format required when no extra services are requested or when insurance and/or special handling are requested. Exhibit 7.12.7b Merchandise Return Label for Registered Mail Service Without Insurance shows the format required when registered service without postal insurance is requested. The label must be printed in the format required by 505.3.0, except:
a. The phrases “Official Business” and “Penalty for Private Use $300.00” must be printed directly below the return address and above the class of service requested in the upper left corner of the label.
Merchandise Return Label With No Extra Services or With Insurance and/or Special Handling