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6 Content-Based Restrictions

6-1 Overview

6-1.1 Effective Date

In the 1990s, legislation was enacted that imposed content-based eligibility restrictions affecting the mailing of certain products and advertisements for products and services at the Nonprofit Standard Mail (nonprofit) rates.

6-1.2 Summary of Restrictions

The content-based restrictions concern these two questions:

Whether a product is eligible for mailing at the nonprofit rates.

Whether an advertisement for a product or service is eligible for mailing at the nonprofit rates.

6-1.3 Legislative History

6-1.3.1 Public Law 101-509

On November 5, 1990, the President signed into law Public Law 101-509, the Treasury, Postal Service and General Government Appropriations Act for 1991, adding new subsection (j) to 39 U.S.C. 3626. This provision prohibits the mailing of material at the nonprofit rates if it contains advertising for credit, debit, or charge cards or similar financial instruments or accounts. This provision also restricts the mailing of material at the nonprofit rates if it contains advertising for insurance policies and travel arrangements.

6-1.3.2 Public Law 103-123

On October 28, 1993, the President signed into law Public Law 103-123, the Treasury, Postal Service and General Government Appropriations Act for 1994. Title VII of the Act, the Revenue Forgone Reform Act, amended 39 U.S.C. 3626 by adding provisions to subsection (j) and new subsection (m). The new provisions in subsection (j) add additional advertising restrictions; new subsection (m) restricts the mailing of products at the nonprofit rates.

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6-1.3.3 Public Law 103-329

On September 30, 1994, the President signed into law Public Law 103-329, the Treasury, Postal Service and General Government Appropriations Act for 1995, amending Public Law 103-123, which is a revision to 39 U.S.C. 3626(j).

This amendment creates an exemption to the statutory provisions for certain advertisements printed in material that meets the content requirements for a periodical publication as prescribed by the USPS.

6-1.4 Different Rules for Products and Advertisements

When considering eligibility for mailing at the nonprofit rates, the law distinguishes between products and advertisements for products and services. The tests for determining whether a product may be mailed at nonprofit rates are different than those used to determine whether an advertisement for a product or service may be mailed at those rates. When considering whether an advertisement for a product or service may be mailed at the nonprofit rates, it is important to determine the product or service advertised. The law imposes different eligibility tests for advertisements depending on the type of product or service advertised. (For an overview of these rules and our suggested procedure for analyzing eligibility of mailpieces for nonprofit rates, see the six-step process in 6-3.)

Since different eligibility standards apply to products and advertisements, it is possible that a product itself can be eligible for mailing at the nonprofit rates, but an advertisement for that same product may not be. The reverse is also true. That is, a product might not be eligible for mailing at the nonprofit rates, while an advertisement for that same product or service might be eligible for mailing at these rates.

Example: Product Versus Advertising Standards

A church buys Bibles at $20 each. The Bible is ineligible for the nonprofit rates because it does not meet any statutory provision for mailing a product. However, advertisements for the Bible are likely to be considered eligible for the nonprofit rates.

The sections below will discuss the factors used to determine eligibility of such products and advertisements to be mailed at nonprofit rates.

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