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333 Rates and Eligibility

1.0 Rates and Fees for First‑Class Mail

1.1 Rate Application

Postage is based on the rate that applies to the weight (postage) increment of each addressed piece. [P013.2.1]

1.2 Rate Computation for First‑Class Flats

First‑Class rates are charged per ounce or fraction thereof; any fraction of an ounce is considered a whole ounce. For example, if a piece weighs 1.2 ounces, the weight (postage) increment is 2 ounces. [P013.2.3]

1.3 Nonautomation Presorted Rates

A nonmachinable surcharge applies to flat‑size pieces 1 ounce or less.

Weight Increment

Rate

First ounce or fraction of an ounce

 

(For pieces weighing 2 ounces or less)

$0.352

(For pieces weighing more than 2 ounces)

0.311

Each additional ounce or fraction

0.225

[R100.2.2]

1.4 Automation Mixed ADC Rates

A nonmachinable surcharge might apply to pieces 1 ounce or less.

Weight Increment

Rate

First ounce or fraction of an ounce

 

(For pieces weighing 2 ounces or less)

$0.341

(For pieces weighing more than 2 ounces)

0.300

Each additional ounce or fraction

0.225

[R100.4.3]

1.5 Automation ADC Rates

A nonmachinable surcharge might apply to pieces 1 ounce or less:

Weight Increment

Rate

First ounce or fraction of an ounce

 

(For pieces weighing 2 ounces or less)

$0.333

(For pieces weighing more than 2 ounces)

0.292

Each additional ounce or fraction

0.225

[R100.5.3]

1.6 Automation 3‑Digit Rates

A nonmachinable surcharge might apply to pieces 1 ounce or less:

Weight Increment

Rate

First ounce or fraction of an ounce

 

(For pieces weighing 2 ounces or less)

$0.322

(For pieces weighing more than 2 ounces)

0.281

Each additional ounce or fraction

0.225

[R100.6.3]

1.7 Automation 5‑Digit Rates

A nonmachinable surcharge might apply to pieces 1 ounce or less:

Weight Increment

Rate

First ounce or fraction of an ounce

 

(For pieces weighing 2 ounces or less)

$0.302

(For pieces weighing more than 2 ounces)

0.261

Each additional ounce or fraction

0.225

[R100.7.3]

1.8 Summary Presorted and Automation Rates for Flats

Weight
Not Over

(ounces)1

Nonautomation

Automation

Presorted

Mixed ADC

ADC

3‑Digit

5‑Digit

12

$0.352

$0.341

$0.333

$0.322

$0.302

2

0.577

0.566

0.558

0.547

0.527

3

0.761

0.750

0.742

0.731

0.711

4

0.986

0.975

0.967

0.956

0.936

5

1.211

1.200

1.192

1.181

1.161

6

1.436

1.425

1.417

1.406

1.386

7

1.661

1.650

1.642

1.631

1.611

8

1.886

1.875

1.867

1.856

1.836

9

2.111

2.100

2.092

2.081

2.061

10

2.336

2.325

2.317

2.306

2.286

11

2.561

2.550

2.542

2.531

2.511

12

2.786

2.775

2.767

2.756

2.736

13

3.011

3.000

2.992

2.981

2.961

  1. For each additional ounce, computed postage includes $0.225 for presorted and automation rates. The rates include a $0.041 discount for presorted and automation rate flats weighing more than 2 ounces.
  2. Flats weighing 1 oz. or less may be subject to a nonmachinable surcharge of $0.055 per piece.

[R100.9.1 and R100.9.2]

1.9 Nonmachinable Surcharge

Surcharge per piece (see 4.3, Nonmachinable Surcharge for Flat‑Size Pieces) for Presorted and automation rate: $0.055. [R100.12.0]

1.10 Presort Mailing Fee

Presort mailing fee, per 12‑month period, per office of mailing: $150.00. [R100.13.1]

1.11 Computing Postage for First‑Class Mail

Determine single‑piece weight and weight (postage) increment for each addressed piece as prescribed in 1.12 and 1.2, Rate Computation for First‑Class Flats. For First‑Class Mail, affix postage to each piece under 334.2.2, Affixed Postage for Presorted First‑Class Mail, or, for permit imprint mailings, multiply the number of addressed pieces at each rate increment (and in each rate category, if applicable) by the corresponding postage rate, add the unrounded products, and round off the total postage to the nearest whole cent. [P013.6.0]

1.12 Determining Single‑Piece Weight

To determine single‑piece weight in any mailing of nonidentical‑weight pieces, weigh each piece individually. To determine single‑piece weight in a mailing of identical‑weight pieces, weigh a sample group of at least 10 randomly selected pieces and divide the total sample weight by the number of pieces in the sample. Express all single‑piece weights in decimal pounds rounded off to four decimal places. [P013.1.3]

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2.0 Content Standards for First‑Class Mail Flats

2.1 General

All mailable matter may be sent as First‑Class Mail, except Customized MarketMail under 705.1.0 or other matter prohibited by the respective standards. [E110.1.1]

2.2 Written or Typewritten Matter

Matter wholly or partially in handwriting or typewriting must be mailed as First‑Class Mail or Express Mail, except authorized additions to Periodicals, Standard Mail, and Package Services and written or typewritten matter in Library Mail and Media Mail, as permitted by the corresponding standards. [E110.1.2]

2.3 Correspondence

Matter that has the character of actual and personal correspondence must be mailed as First‑Class Mail or Express Mail. [E110.1.4]

2.4 Bills and Statements of Account

Bills and statements of account must be mailed as First‑Class Mail or Express Mail according to these definitions:

a. A bill is a request for payment of a definite sum of money claimed to be owing by the addressee to the sender or a third party. The mere assertion of a debt in a definite sum combined with a demand for payment is sufficient to make the message a bill.

b. A statement of account is the assertion of a debt in a definite amount owed by the addressee to the sender or a third party but does not necessarily contain a request or a demand for payment. The amount may be immediately due or may become due after a certain time or on demand or billing at a later date.

c. A bill or statement of account must present enough details of a debt to inform the debtor of the amount the debtor must pay to acquit himself or herself of the debt. Neither a bill nor a statement of account need state the precise amount if the bill or statement contains enough information to enable the debtor to determine the exact amount of the claim asserted.

d. A bill or statement of account does not lose that character just because the amount claimed is not, in fact, owing or may not be legally collectible. [E110.1.5]

2.5 Examples of First‑Class Mail

These are examples of material that must be mailed at First‑Class Mail or Express Mail rates:

a. Handwritten or typewritten matter, including identical copies prepared by automatic typewriter and manifold or carbon copies of this matter. Handwritten or typewritten matter does not include all matter produced by computers, but computer‑prepared material is subject to First‑Class postage if it has the character of actual and personal correspondence.

b. Autograph albums containing writing.

c. Notebooks or blank books containing written or typewritten entries or stenographic or shorthand notes.

d. Blank printed forms filled out in writing, such as notices, certificates, and checks, either canceled or uncanceled.

e. Printed price lists containing written figures changing individual items.

f. Printed cards or letters bearing a written date, where the date is not the date of the card but gives information about when something is to occur or has occurred.

g. Any matter marked "Postcard" or "Double Postcard." [E110.1.6]

2.6 Postal Inspection

Matter closed against postal inspection includes First‑Class Mail and Express Mail. The USPS may open mail other than First‑Class Mail or Express Mail to determine whether the proper rate of postage is paid. Material wrapped or packaged so that it cannot be examined easily or examined without destruction or serious damage is closed against postal inspection and is charged the appropriate First‑Class Mail or Express Mail rate. [E110.1.3]

2.7 Prohibited Air Transportation

All First‑Class Mail is subject to limitations for air transportation. Generally, all mailable matter may be transported by aircraft, unless restricted in 601.10.0, Hazardous Materials. [E110.2.0]

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3.0 Eligibility Standards for First‑Class Mail Flats

3.1 Basic Standards for First‑Class Mail

All pieces of First‑Class Mail must:

a. Meet the basic standards for First‑Class Mail in 2.0, Content Standards for First‑Class Mail Flats.

b. Weigh 13 ounces or less.

c. Meet the applicable standards in 333, Rates and Eligibility, 334, Postage Payment and Documentation, and 604.8.0, Computing Postage.

d. Be part of a single mailing of at least 500 pieces of Presorted First‑Class Mail.

e. Meet the applicable physical standards in 301.2.0.

f. Bear a delivery address that includes the correct ZIP Code or ZIP+4 code and that meets these address quality standards:

1. The Move Update standard in 3.3.

2. The ZIP Code accuracy standard in 3.4.

3. If an alternative addressing format is used, the additional standards in 602.3.0. [E130.1.1 and E130.3.1]

3.2 Presort Mailing Fee

A First‑Class Mail presort mailing fee must be paid once each 12‑month period at each office of mailing by any person or organization entering mailings at automation or Presorted First‑Class Mail rates. Payment of one fee allows a mailer to enter mail at all those rates. Persons or organizations paying this fee may enter mail of their clients as well as their own mail. The fee may be paid in advance only for the next 12 months and only during the last 60 days of the current service period. The fee charged is that which is in effect on the date of payment. [E110.4.1]

3.3 Move Update Standards

3.3.1 Basic Standards

The Move Update standard is a means of reducing the number of mailpieces in a mailing that require forwarding or return by the periodic matching of a mailer's address records with customer‑filed change‑of‑address orders received and maintained by the USPS. For the purposes of this standard, address means a specific address associated with a specific occupant name. Addresses subject to the Move Update standard must meet these requirements:

a. Each address and associated occupant name used on the mailpieces in a mailing must be updated within 185 days before the mailing date, with one of the USPS‑approved methods in 3.3.2.

b. Each individual address in the mailing is subject to the Move Update standard.

c. If an address used on a mailpiece in a mailing at one class of mail and rate is updated with an approved method (e.g., Address Change Service), the same address may be used during the following 185 days and meets the Move Update standard. [A030.1.1]

d. Except for mail bearing an alternative address format, addresses used on pieces claiming First‑Class Mail Presorted rates, regardless of any required surcharge, must meet the Move Update standard. [A030.1.2]

3.3.2 USPS‑Approved Methods

The following methods are authorized for meeting the Move Update standard:

a. Address Change Service (ACS).

b. [02-03-05] National Change of Address Linkage System (NCOALink).

c. FASTforward Mailing List Correction (MLC).

d. FASTforward MLOCR processes (letter‑size and flat‑size mail only) if used each time before mail entry. If a mailpiece that initially uses FASTforward MLOCR processing is rejected and then entered into a Direct View Encoding Desk (DVED) operation (or similar system), the piece does not meet the Move Update standard. The name and address information on the piece must then be processed through a FASTforward RVE system to meet the Move Update standard. FASTforward RVE processes also meet the Move Update standard if used each time before mail entry.

e. Mailer Move Update Process Certification and USPS‑approved alternative methods for mailers with legitimate restrictions on incorporating USPS‑supplied change‑of‑address information into their mailing lists. The National Customer Support Center (see 608.8.1 through 608.8.3 in USPS Contact Information for address) administers and approves both Mailer Move Update Process Certification and alternative methods.

f. Ancillary service endorsements under 507.1.5.1, First‑Class Mail and Priority Mail, except "Forwarding Service Requested." [A030.1.4]

3.3.3 Mailer Certification

The mailer's signature on the postage statement certifies that the Move Update standard has been met for each address in the corresponding mailing presented to the USPS. [A030.1.5]

3.4 ZIP Code Accuracy

3.4.1 Basic Standards

The ZIP Code accuracy standard is a means of ensuring that the 5‑digit ZIP Code in the delivery address correctly matches the delivery address information. For the purposes of this standard, address means a specific address associated with a specific 5‑digit ZIP Code. Addresses used on pieces claiming certain rates under 3.4.1d3, Basic Standards that are subject to the ZIP Code accuracy standard must meet these requirements:

a. Each address and associated 5‑digit ZIP Code used on the mailpieces in a mailing must be verified and corrected within 12 months before the mailing date with one of the USPS‑approved methods in 3.4.2.

b. Each individual address in the mailing is subject to the ZIP Code accuracy standard.

c. If an address used on a mailpiece in a mailing at one class of mail and rate is verified and corrected with an approved method, the same address may be used during the following 12 months to meet the ZIP Code accuracy standard required for mailing at any other class of mail and rate. [A030.2.1]

d. Except for mail bearing a simplified address, addresses used on pieces claiming First‑Class Mail rates, regardless of any required surcharges, must meet the ZIP Code accuracy standard. [A030.2.2 and A030.2.3]

3.4.2 USPS‑Approved Methods

The following methods are authorized for meeting the ZIP Code accuracy standard:

a. For computerized lists, Coding Accuracy Support System (CASS)‑certified address matching software and current USPS City State Product, within a mailer's computer systems or through an authorized service provider.

b. For manually maintained lists or small computerized lists, options include the following:

1. Current USPS Publication 65, National Five‑Digit ZIP Code and Post Office Directory.

2. Surveys of addressees on mailer's address list inquiring about the accuracy of ZIP Code information.

3. Any mailing list service in 507.6.0, Mailing List Services.

4. An authorized service provider.

5. CASS‑certified matching software.

6. USPS Web site www.usps.com. [A030.2.4]

3.4.3 Mailer Certification

The mailer's signature on the postage statement certifies that the ZIP Code accuracy standard has been met for each address in the corresponding mailing presented to the USPS. [A030.2.5]

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4.0 Additional Eligibility Standards for Nonautomation First‑Class Mail Flats

4.1 Basic Standards for Nonautomation First‑Class Mail

In addition to the standards in 3.0, Eligibility Standards for First‑Class Mail Flats, all pieces in a First‑Class Mail Presorted rate mailing must be marked, sorted, and documented as specified in 334.4.0, Mailing Documentation, and 335.5.0, Preparation of Nonautomation Flats, or, alternatively under 705.9.0, Preparation for Cotraying and Cosacking Bundles of Automation and Presorted Flats. [E130.3.1]

4.2 Barcodes on Nonautomation First‑Class Mail

Any POSTNET barcode on a mailpiece in a nonautomation First‑Class mailing must be correct for the delivery address and meet the standards in 708.3.0, Coding Accuracy Support System (CASS), and 708.4.0, Barcoding Standards for Letters and Flats. [E130.1.2]

4.3 Nonmachinable Surcharge for Flat‑Size Pieces

Flats that weigh 1 ounce or less are subject to the nonmachinable surcharge in 1.9 if any one of the following applies (see 301.1.2, Length and Height of Flats, for how to determine the length and height of a mailpiece):

a. The piece is greater than 1/4‑inch thick.

b. The length is more than 11‑1/2 inches or the height is more than 6‑1/8 inches.

c. The aspect ratio (length divided by height) is less than 1.3 or more than 2.5. [E130.3.4]

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5.0 Additional Eligibility Standards for Automation Rate First‑Class Mail Flats

5.1 Basic Standards for Automation First‑Class Mail

All pieces in a First‑Class Mail automation rate mailing must:

a. Meet the basic standards for First‑Class Mail in 3.0.

b. Be part of a single mailing of at least 500 pieces of automation rate First‑Class Mail.

c. Meet the physical standards in 301.3.0.

d. Bear a delivery address that includes the correct ZIP Code, ZIP+4 code, or numeric equivalent to the delivery point barcode (DPBC) and that meets these address quality standards:

1. The address matching and coding standards in 5.5, Address Standards for Barcoded Pieces, and 708.3.0, Coding Accuracy Support System (CASS).

2. If an alternative addressing format is used, the additional standards in 602.3.0.

e. Bear an accurate barcode meeting the standards in 708.4.0, a ZIP+4 barcode or DPBC, either on the piece or on an insert showing through a barcode window.

f. Be marked, sorted, and documented as specified in 335.6.0, Preparation of Automation Rate Flats, or 705.9.0, Preparation for Cotraying and Cosacking Bundles of Automation and Presorted Flats. [E140.1.1]

5.2 Nonmachinable Surcharge for Flat‑Size Pieces

Flats that weigh 1 ounce or less are subject to the nonmachinable surcharge in 1.9 if any one of the following applies (see 301.1.2, Length and Height of Flats, for how to determine the length and height of a mailpiece):

a. The piece is greater than 1/4‑inch thick.

b. The length is more than 11‑1/2 inches or the height is more than 6‑1/8 inches.

c. The aspect ratio (length divided by height) is less than 1.3 or more than 2.5. [E130.3.4]

5.3 Rate Application—Bundle‑Based Flats

Automation rates apply to each piece that is sorted under 335.6.0 or 705, Advanced Preparation and Special Postage Payment Systems:

a. Pieces in 5‑digit bundles of 10 or more pieces qualify for the 5‑digit rate. Preparation to qualify for the 5‑digit rate is optional and need not be done for all 5‑digit destinations.

b. Pieces in 3‑digit bundles of 10 or more pieces qualify for the 3‑digit rate.

c. Pieces in ADC bundles of 10 or more pieces qualify for the ADC rate.

d. Pieces in mixed ADC bundles qualify for the mixed ADC rate. [E140.3.1]

5.4 Rate Application—Tray‑Based Flats

Automation rates apply to each piece that is sorted under 335.6.6, First‑Class Mail Optional Tray‑Based Preparation, into the corresponding qualifying groups:

a. Groups of 90 or more pieces in 5‑digit trays qualify for the 5‑digit rate. Preparation to qualify for the 5‑digit rate is optional and need not be done for all 5‑digit destinations.

b. Groups of 90 or more pieces in 3‑digit trays qualify for the 3‑digit rate.

c. Groups of fewer than 90 pieces in origin 3‑digit trays and all pieces in ADC trays qualify for the ADC rate.

d. All pieces in mixed ADC trays qualify for the mixed ADC rate. [E140.3.2]

5.5 Address Standards for Barcoded Pieces

5.5.1 Basic Address Standards for Barcodes

To qualify for automation rates, addresses must be sufficiently complete to enable matching to the current USPS ZIP+4 Product when used with current CASS‑certified address matching software. Standardized address elements are not required. Any barcode that appears on a mailpiece claimed at an automation rate must be the correct barcode for the corresponding delivery address on the piece. [A800.1.1]

5.5.2 Numeric ZIP+4

A numeric ZIP+4 code must consist of five digits, a hyphen, and four digits. [A800.1.2]

5.5.3 Numeric Delivery Point Barcode (DPBC)

A numeric equivalent of the delivery point barcode (DPBC) consists of five digits followed by a hyphen and seven digits as specified in 708.4.1.4, Delivery Point Barcode. The numeric equivalent is formed by adding three digits directly after the ZIP+4 code. [A800.1.3]

5.5.4 Address Elements

Addresses must include the correct street number, predirectional, street name, suffix, and postdirectional that are input to obtain a match with the current USPS ZIP+4 Product. [A800.2.2]

5.5.5 Firm Name

An address must include a firm name when necessary to obtain a match with the finest level of ZIP+4 code in the USPS ZIP+4 Product. If an address contains a firm name assigned a unique ZIP+4 code in the USPS ZIP+4 Product, the unique ZIP+4 code must be used. If the firm name is not one assigned a unique ZIP+4 code in the USPS ZIP+4 Product and the apartment/suite number is included in the address, the ZIP+4 code for the range in which the apartment/suite number appears must be used in that address. If the firm name does not correspond to a firm name that has a unique ZIP+4 code assigned in the USPS ZIP+4 Product and the apartment/suite number is not included in the address, the ZIP+4 code for the building must be used. [A800.2.1]

5.5.6 Secondary Designator

If a secondary address designator (e.g., an apartment number) is shown in the address, the mailpiece must show the appropriate ZIP+4 code representing the range for that secondary address as contained in the current USPS ZIP+4 Product. If a secondary address designator is required to obtain an exact match with the finest level of ZIP+4 code in the USPS ZIP+4 Product but the information is not available, the alternative ZIP+4 code or ZIP+4 or delivery point barcode for the building must be used. [A800.2.3]

5.5.7 Rural and Highway Contract Routes

If a rural route or highway contract route box number is included in the address, the mailpiece must show the appropriate ZIP+4 code representing the range for that box number as contained in the current USPS ZIP+4 Product. If a rural route or highway contract route box number is required to obtain a match with the finest level of ZIP+4 code but is not available, the alternative ZIP+4 code or ZIP+4 or delivery point barcode for the rural route or highway contract route must be used. If used, the rural route or highway contract route box number must be placed on the line immediately above the city/state/ZIP Code line. [A800.2.4]

5.5.8 Post Office Box

A post office box address must contain a post office box number that can be exactly matched with the USPS ZIP+4 Product in effect. [A800.2.5]

5.6 Reply Cards and Envelopes Enclosed in Automation Rate First‑Class Mail

All letter‑size reply cards and envelopes provided as enclosures in automation First‑Class Mail and addressed for return to a domestic delivery address must meet the standards in 201.3.0, Physical Standards for Automation Letters and Cards, for enclosed reply cards and envelopes. The mailer must certify that this standard has been met when the corresponding mail is presented to the USPS. [E140.1.4]