140 International Mail Categories
There are five principal categories of international mail that are primarily
differentiated from one another by speed of service. They are Global Express
Guaranteed® (GXG™) service, Global Express Mail™(EMS®) service, Global
Priority Mail® (GPM) service, airmail service, and economy mail service.
Global Express Guaranteed is the U.S. Postal Service's premium
international mail service. Global Express Guaranteed is an expedited
delivery service that is the product of a business alliance between the U.S.
Postal Service and FedEx Corporation. It provides reliable, high-speed,
time-definite service from designated U.S. ZIP Code™ areas to locations in
most destination countries. Global Express Guaranteed is assured to meet
destination-specific delivery standards or the postage will be refunded. If a
shipment is lost or damaged, liability for lost or damaged merchandise or for
document reconstruction is limited to a maximum of $100 or the amount of
additional optional insurance purchased. The maximum weight limit for this
service is 70 pounds, but some countries have a lower maximum weight limit.
Countries with reduced weight limits are specified in the Individual Country
Listings and in Publication 141, Global Express Guaranteed Service Guide.
141.3 Global Express Mail
The next level of service, in terms of speed and value-added features, is
Global Express Mail (EMS). EMS is an expedited mail service that can be
used to send documents and merchandise to most of the country locations
that are individually listed in this publication. EMS insurance coverage
against loss, damage, or rifling, up to a maximum of $100, is provided at no
additional charge. Additional merchandise insurance coverage up to $5,000
may be purchased at the sender's option. However, document reconstruction
insurance coverage is limited to a maximum of $100 per shipment. Return
receipt service is available, at no additional charge, for EMS shipments that
are sent to a limited number of countries. See 221.4. Country
specific maximum weight limits range from 22 pounds to 70 pounds. See the
Individual Country Listings. Although EMS shipments are supposed to
receive the most expeditious handling available in the destination country,
they are not subject to a postage refund guarantee if a delivery delay occurs.
Global Express Mail with Guarantee service - which offers a date-certain,
money-back guarantee - is available to select destinations; see IMM
220 and the individual country listings to determine the availability of
Global Priority Mail is an accelerated airmail service that provides customers
with a reliable and economical means of sending correspondence,
documents, printed matter, and light-weight merchandise items to the foreign
destinations that are listed in 231.4. GPM items receive priority
handling within the U.S. Postal Service and the postal administration of the
country of destination. Senders can pay flat-rate postage by placing their
contents into a standardized GPM envelope; or they can elect to pay variable
weight postage by affixing a GPM sticker to a tyvek envelope, box, or other
furnished packaging. The maximum weight limit for GPM items is 4 pounds.
Special services, such as registry, return receipt, recorded delivery, and
insurance, are not available in combination with GPM service.
Subject to the following definitions, airmail service may be used to send both
letter-post items and parcel post packages to most foreign countries.
Letter-post is a generic term for mailpieces of differing shapes, sizes, and
contents, which weigh four pounds or less, that are subject to the provisions
of the Universal Postal Union Convention. Letter-post items may contain any
mailable matter that is not prohibited by the destination country. At the
sender's option, special services, such as registry, return receipt, and
recorded delivery, may be added on a country-specific basis.
Note: The letter-post classification encompasses all of the classes of
international mail (i.e., letters and letter packages, postcards and postal
cards, aerogrammes, printed matter, and small packets) that were
formerly categorized as LC (letters and cards) and AO (other articles)
Parcel post, which is otherwise referred to as CP mail, is differentiated from
letter-post because it is governed by the provisions of the UPU Postal
Parcels Agreement. That classification is primarily designed to accommodate
larger and heavier shipments, whose size and/or weight transcend the
established limitations for letter-post items. It also affords senders the
opportunity to obtain optional mailing services, such as insurance coverage
and return receipt, which would otherwise be unavailable.
141.6 Economy Mail
Mailpieces that are classified as letter-post or parcel post can also be entered
as economy mail. Under that classification, they are subject to the same
regulatory requirements and conditions of mailing as the airmail items. The
substantive differences between the two levels of service primarily relate to
mode of transportation (air or surface), speed of service, and price.
142 Envelope and Card Specifications
Light-colored envelopes and cards that do not interfere with the reading of
the address and postmark must be used. Do not use brilliant colors.
Envelopes and cards must be constructed of paper strong enough to
withstand normal handling. Highly glazed paper or paper with an overall
design is not satisfactory.
142.4 Minimum Size
a. Length: 5-1/2 inches.
b. Height: 3-1/2 inches.
142.5 Window Envelopes
Window envelopes must be used under the following conditions:
a. The address window must be parallel with the length of the envelope.
b. The address window must be in the lower portion of the address side.
c. Nothing but the name, address, and any key number used by the
mailer may appear through the address window.
d. The return address should appear in the upper-left corner. If there is no
return address and the delivery address does not show through the
window, the piece will be handled as undeliverable mail.
e. The address disclosed through the window must be on white paper or
paper of a very light color.
f. When used for registered mail, window envelopes must conform with
the conditions in DMM 503.
g. Open panel envelopes, i.e., those in which the panel is not covered with
a transparent material, are not acceptable in international mail.
142.6 Bordered Envelopes and Cards
Envelopes and cards that have green-colored bars or red- and blue-stripped
borders may be used for the sending of airmail letter-post items.
143 Official Mail
143.1 Mailings by Federal Agencies
Official mail (sent by federal agencies and departments listed in Postal
Service Handbook DM-103, Official Mail) that bears the indicia prescribed in
DMM 703 may be sent to foreign destinations. Such items are subject to the
postage payment requirements, weight and size limits, customs form
requirements, and general conditions for mailing that otherwise apply to the
class and category of the international mail being sent.
143.2 Postal Service Mailings
International mailpieces that are sent by or on behalf of the U.S. Postal
Service must bear the prescribed G-10 permit indicia. Postal Service official
mail is subject to a 66-pound weight limit except for Global Express Mail
destined for countries that have a higher limit and Global Express
Guaranteed shipments going to authorized destination countries that have a
70-pound weight limit.
143.3 Mail of a Former President and Surviving Spouse of a
All nonpolitical mail of former United States Presidents, and of the surviving
spouse of a former President, must be accepted without prepayment of
postage if it bears the written signature of the sender, or a facsimile signature
and the words "POSTAGE AND FEES PAID" in the upper-right corner of the
143.4 General Secretariat of the Organization of American States
a. Ordinary (unregistered) economy mail and airmail letter-post items
bearing the return address of the OAS General Secretariat and
weighing not more than 4 pounds are accepted without postage when
addressed to the OAS member countries listed in 143.4c.
b. Airmail service for items other than letter-post items and other special
services may not be provided for OAS General Secretariat official mail
without the prepayment of air postage or the fee for the special service
c. The following countries are members of the Organization of American
Antigua and Barbuda
St. Christopher and
St. Vincent and the
Trinidad and Tobago
143.5 Pan American Sanitary Bureau Mail
a. Ordinary (unregistered) economy mail and all letter-post items bearing
the return address of the bureau and weighing not more than 4 pounds
is accepted without postage affixed when addressed to an OAS
member country listed in 143.4c or to Cuba.
b. Airmail service for items other than letter-post items and other special
services may not be provided for bureau official mail without
prepayment of air postage or of the fee for the special service