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Quick Service Guide 401a

Commercial Parcels

Designing Parcels for Automated Processing

June 7, 2010
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Related QSGs

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440a, Standard Mail Machinable Parcels

450, Parcel Select

460, Bound Printed Matter Irregular and Machinable Parcels

Physical Standards (401)

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Minimum weight: 6 ounces except under 401.1.5.2.

Standard Mail: maximum weight is less than 16 ounces.

Bound Printed Matter: maximum weight is 15 pounds.

Parcel Select: maximum weight is 35 pounds (25 pounds for books and other printed matter).

Dimensions: 6 to 34 inches long, 3 to 17 inches high, and 1/4 to 17 inches thick. Parcels 1/4 inch thick must be at least 3-1/2 inches high and 6 inches long.

For an overview of the physical standards for commercial parcels, see Quick Service Guide 401.

Eligibility Standards

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Parcels are nonmachinable if they meet any of the criteria in 401.2.5.

Machinable parcels must bear the correct readable GS1-128 barcode under 708.5.0.

Barcoded discount: Package Services (Parcel Select, Bound Printed Matter, Media Mail, and Library Mail) barcoded discount pieces must meet the standards in 708.5.0.

Package Services barcodes may be combined with Delivery Confirmation or Signature Confirmation and insurance barcode.

Standard Mail barcodes may be combined with electronic Delivery Confirmation and insurance.

Standard Mail and Package Services barcodes must be prepared with the address and barcode placed squarely onto the largest surface area of the parcel except when the shape and contents require specific orientation for stability during processing. The barcode should be placed immediately adjacent to the delivery address and no closer than 1/2 inch from the edge of the parcel.

Acceptable Container (601.3.0)

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Use sturdy materials to withstand handling.

Size must be adequate to contain items and provide space for cushioning material:

  • Paperboard boxes for easy and average loads up to 10 pounds.
  • Metal-stayed paperboard boxes for easy and average loads up to 20 pounds.
  • Soft goods in paper or plastic bags and enveloped printed matter up to 5 pounds.
  • Avoid waxed or oiled materials, exterior foam boxes, and unsecurely packaged articles.
  • Solid corrugated fiberboard boxes as shown below.

Cushioning (601.4.0)

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Cushioning absorbs shock and vibration of handling. Combinations of cushioning materials are most effective. Cushion items separately.

Closure and Sealing (601.4.0)

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  • Except for pressure-sensitive filament tape, tapes used for closure and reinforcement must be at least 2 inches wide. Avoid twine, cord, rope, cellophane tape, and masking tape.
  • Paper tape must be at least 60-pound basis weight.
  • Adhesive (glue, paste, thermal plastic, etc.) must be serviceable from -20F to 160F.
  • Staples and steel stitching acceptable if spaced less than 5 inches apart for easy loads, less than 2-1/2 inches for difficult loads.

Mail Preparation

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First-Class Mail: Unless prepared in 5-digit/scheme containers or paid at a single-piece price, presorted parcels are subject to a surcharge if:

  • The parcels weigh less than 2 ounces.
  • The parcels do not bear a GS1-128 (708.5.0) or POSTNET barcode (708.4.0).
  • The parcels are irregularly shaped, such as rolls, tubes, and triangles.

Standard Mail Parcels and Not Flat-Machinables: Unless prepared in a carrier route or 5-digit/scheme containers, Standard Mail parcels and Not Flat-Machinable pieces are subject to a surcharge if:

  • Not Flat-Machinable pieces weighing 6 ounces or more and machinable parcels do not bear a
    GS1-128 barcode.
  • Irregular parcels and Not Flat-Machinable pieces weighing less than 6 ounces and do not bear a
    GS1-128 or POSTNET barcode.

The GS1-128 barcode is required when used on all other parcels.

Parcels must be prepared and marked under applicable standards for machinable parcel preparation:

For pallet preparation, see 705.8.0.

For combined mailings of Standard Mail and Package Services parcels, see 705.6.0.

Physical Standards for Automation-Compatible Parcels

dorsements and markings under the postage area.

GS1-128 Barcode
For GS1-128 barcode specifications and placement, see 708.5.1.
If the barcode is printed on the delivery address label and in close proximity to the address, the ZIP Code or ZIP+4 code information below the barcode may be omitted. If the barcode is printed on a separate label, the ZIP Code or ZIP+4 code preceded by the word "ZIP" must be printed between 1/8 inch and 1/2 inch below the barcode.

This graphic shows a UCC/EAN Code 128 Barcode with the placement of a ZIP Code 1/4 inch under the barcode.

Postal routing codes must meet the technical specifications in the GS1-128; see 708.5.1.
Packaging and Sealing

This graphic shows three packages with the use of pressure-sensitive filament tape, reinforced Kraft paper tape and Kraft paper tape.

Container (see page one for details):
  • Sturdy paperboard or fiberboard boxes.
  • Plastic or paper bags up to 5 pounds.
  • Enveloped printed matter up to 5 pounds.
  • Avoid waxed or oiled materials, exterior foam boxes.
  • Cushion items separately.
  • Combine materials for most effectiveness. Cushioning materials: foamed plastics, corrugated fiberboard, loose-fill material, and shredded newspapers.
Sealing (see page one for details):
  • Pressure-sensitive reinforced tape.
  • Reinforced paper tape.
  • Staples or steel stitching.
  • Adhesive.
  • Avoid twine, cord, rope, cellophane tape, and masking


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