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Quick Service Guide 201
Discount Letters and Cards
Physical Standards for Discount Letters and Cards

January 2006
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Overview

Card Dimensions

The graphic show the minimum and maximum size for a postcard. The minimum and maximum size for a card claimed at a card rate must be: a. Rectangular; b. Not less than 3-1/2 inches high, 5 inches long, and 0.007 inch thick; c. Not more than 4-1/4 inches high, or more than 6 inches long, or greater than 0.016 inch thick.

 

Letter Dimensions

The graphic show the minimum and maximum size for letters. Letter-size mail is: a. Not less than 5 inches long, 3-1/2 inches high, and 0.007-inch thick; b. Not more than 11-1/2 inches long, or more than 6-1/8 inches high, or greater than 1/4-inch thick.

In addition to shape, the Postal Service classifies mailpieces by the way they are prepared. These classifications are based on how efficiently mailpieces can be processed on Postal Service equipment. The Postal Service classifies letters and cards into one of three categories: machinable, nonmachinable, and automation.

 

Machinable Letters and Cards (201.1)

If you prepare your letters and cards so that they have an accurate address and can be processed on Postal Service equipment, your mail is "machinable" and eligible for "presort" rates. Machinable mailpieces must meet specific standards, including size, shape, and weight.

Maximum weight: First-Class Mail and Standard Mail: 3.3 ounces.

Machinable letters must not meet any of the nonmachinable characteristics (201.2).

Shape: rectangular.

Dimensions:

  • Minimum: 5 inches long, 3-1/2 inches high, and 0.007 inch thick.
  • Maximum for First-Class Mail card rates: 6 inches long, 4-1/4 inches high, and 0.016 inch thick.
  • Maximum for letters and other cards: 11-1/2 inches long, 6-1/8 inches high, and 1/4 inch thick.

Length is the dimension parallel to the address as read (601.1.3).

 

Nonmachinable Letters and Cards (201.2)

If your mailpiece does not meet the machinable standards, you may have to pay the presort rate plus a "nonmachinable surcharge." Nonmachinable letters require extra steps to bundle the mail before they are placed into trays.

Maximum weight: First-Class Mail: 13 ounces; Standard Mail: less than 16 ounces.

Dimensions: see machinable letters and cards above.

Examples of a nonmachinable letter include:

  • It has an aspect ratio (length divided by height) of less than 1.3 or more than 2.5 (a square envelope has an aspect ratio of 1, making it nonmachinable).
  • It is over 4-1/4 inches high and/or 6 inches long and is less than 0.009 inch thick.
  • It is polybagged, polywrapped, or enclosed in any plastic material.
  • It has clasps, strings, buttons, or similar closure devices.
  • It is too rigid.
  • It has a delivery address parallel to the shorter side of the mailpiece.
  • It contains items such as pens, pencils, or keys that create an uneven thickness.

Additional restrictions apply to self-mailers and booklets. For a complete listing of nonmachinable criteria, see 201.2.1.

First-Class Mail letters (except card-size) 1 ounce or less and Presorted Standard Mail letters 3.3 ounces or less (including card-size) that meet one or more of the nonmachinable characteristics above are subject to the applicable nonmachinable surcharge: First-Class Mail $0.058, Standard Mail Regular $0.042, or Standard Mail Nonprofit $0.021.

 

Automation Letters and Cards (201.3)

If your letter-size mailpiece is machinable and displays the correct barcode, you may qualify for lower, "automation" rates. A letter or card meets automation standards and qualifies for automation rates if it meets the specific addressing, barcoding, and design standards.

For additional information, see:

Maximum weight:

  • First-Class Mail and Periodicals: 3.3 ounces.
  • Standard Mail: 3.5 ounces.
  • See 201.3.13.5 for heavy letter mail weighing over 3 ounces.

Shape: rectangular. Aspect ratio: (length divided by height) from 1.3 to 2.5 (201.3.3).

Dimensions:

  • Minimum: 3-1/2 inches high, 5 inches long, and either 0.007 inch thick if not more than 4-1/4 inches high and 6 inches long; or 0.009 inch thick if more than 4-1/4 inches high or 6 inches long, or both.
  • Maximum for First-Class Mail card rates: 4-1/4 inches high, 6 inches long, and 0.016 inch thick.
  • Maximum for letters and other cards: 6-1/8 inches high, 11-1/2 inches long, and 1/4 inch thick.

Length is the dimension parallel to the address as read.

All letter-size reply cards and envelopes (business reply, courtesy reply, and meter reply mail) provided as enclosures must meet the physical standards for automation letters and cards in 201.3.14.

 

Quick Service Guides

First-Class Mail
See Quick Service Guides:
230b Presorted Letters and Cards—Nonmachinable
230c Presorted Letters and Cards—Machinable
230d Automation Letters and Cards

Standard Mail
See Quick Service Guides:
240a Presorted Letters—Nonmachinable
240b Presorted Letters—Machinable
240c Automation Letters
240d Enhanced Carrier Route—Letters
240e Enhanced Carrier Route—Automation Letters

Periodicals
See Quick Service Guides:
707d Presorted Nonautomation Letters
707f Automation Letters

For the specific DMM standards applicable to this category of mail, consult the DMM sections referenced above and the general sections within each DMM module.

 

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