US Postal Mail
New information regarding certified
The Central Mailroom is now offering a new service from
Pitney Bowes for Certified Mail.
Electronic Return Receipt (ERR) was introduced in 2004 by the United States Postal
Service (USPS) as an alternative to the traditional Return Receipt service Remember
the little hardcopy green cards you'd receive back in the mail to confirm your correspondence
had been delivered? ERR now allows mailers to receive an electronic file
with delivery tracking information, such as date/time of delivery, delivery
address and the name and signature of recipient, rather than the green card mailed back to the
The newer method is more user-friendly. Pitney Bowes and the USPS have worked
together to greatly improve Certified Mail. The new Pitney Bowes procedure
not only simplifies the process for the mailer, but also saves more
than $1.00 per letter.
The new label, available through the Central Mailroom, is specific to Pitney Bowes.
The new Certified Electronic Return Receipt label has two parts: a peel-off
barcode label for the letter and a smaller peel-off label with number you retain
for your documentation. The new label is attached to the mail piece by the
agency and delivered to the Mailroom. As the Mailroom staff processes the
Certified mail piece, the Certified ERR barcode is scanned, postage applied and
the data is electronically transmitted to USPS. At that point, the mailer
can track its delivery progress through the USPS website and even print a hard copy
of delivery progress and confirmation, if desired. The delivery info on the
mail piece is retained on the USPS website for up to seven years.
New Certified Electronic Return Receipt label
Electronic signatures are commonly used in legal matters. In fact, the State
of Alabama Appellate Court uses electronic signatures almost daily.
The Post Office and state's Central Mailroom support both the old way (hardcopy
green card) and the new ERR process.
To obtain ERR supplies or for further information, please contact Central
Mailroom Operations at 334.353.0386, or by e-mailing
Effective May 14, 2007, First Class Mail (letters, large
envelopes/flats and packages) had a new rate--depending on
weight in ounces. Also,
an item once considered a letter is now classified
as a letter, flat or package--based on its thickness.
Thickness is measured with the item lying on a flat
surface--NOT pressed down.
is usually a #10 envelope with correspondence. It can
not be over 6 1/8 high x 11 long and must be
FLAT is a large envelope with correspondence.
It must not be larger than 12 high x 15
long and must be
LESS than thick.
Tip for saving postage:
If a letter is over thick, it will most likely be
classified at the lower-cost letter rate if it is folded and
placed in a 6 x 9 envelope.
ADDRESSING FOR SUCCESS
- Specific Format
The following is recommended in the sequence and
position indicated for addressing to insure efficient
handling and delivery by the US Postal Service.
You will get the best possible service if you:
- CAPITALIZE EVERYTHING IN THE ADDRESS
- Use 2-letter state abbreviations (Exhibit 5)
- Eliminate all punctuation (except the hyphen
between ZIP Code and plus four)
- Use common abbreviations (Exhibit 6)
- Use ZIP + 4 Codes
Make sure the place where you want the mail
delivered appears on the line immediately above the
city, state and ZIP code line. Never put the APT# on
the line just above the city and state (See Exhibit
If both the street address and the P O Box are on
the same line, the mail piece will be delivered to
the P O Box. Example: in Exhibit 2, you will notice
our physical address and our PO BOX DELIVERY
- Address Placement
Placement of the address on the face of an envelope
should conform to USPS specifications as shown on (Exhibit
Labels for use on parcels, packages or large envelopes
must be addressed according to the recommended format in
(Exhibit 2). Improperly prepared labels will be returned to
you for correction and/or completion. Labels that are
applied must be parallel to the bottom edge of the envelope
to be processed by the USPS on automation equipment.
FONT STYLE SHEET
ADDRESSING 'BEST PRACTICES' AND FORMAT
- Type or machine-print all address information.
- Make sure print is clear and sharp.
- Ensure address characters don't touch or overlap.
- Black ink on a white background is best.
- Maintain a uniform left margin.
- Use upper-case letters
- Omit all punctuation
- Include floor, suite and apartment numbers whenever
- Put the city, state and ZIP Code or ZIP + 4 code in that
order on the last line. If there's not enough room, you can
put the ZIP Code or ZIP + 4 code alone on the bottom line.
- Use standard two-letter state abbreviations.
- When using window envelopes, make sure the complete
address is always visible, even when the insert moves.
- Leave one or two spaces between words and between the
state abbreviation and ZIP Code or ZIP + 4 code.
The Address Area. The complete
address should be located within the OCR
read area (no return address
(non-address) printing or markings
should appear as high on the mail piece
and as far away from the address as
Barcode Read Area. Please make
sure that this area remains clear of all
printing. It's reserved for the
bar code that will be printed by the
Multi-Line Optical Character Reader
STANDARD ADDRESS ABBREVIATIONS
Mail of any kind for transport by the US Postal Service
should be enclosed in an appropriate envelope or parcel and
sealed. The types of enclosures determine the mailing
The following are samples of non-mailables in envelopes:
Paper Clips, Metal Pieces, Glass Chips, Sand
In addition to jamming and/or damaging the mailing
machines, these items can also cause serious injury to Mail
The following are also classified as non-mailables and
may be returned to sender:
Envelopes and Cards if pieces are less than:
3 1/2" in height
5" in length
.007" in thickness (thickness of a post card)
All foreign countries also impose various restrictions
depending on country and item(s) being mailed. It is
recommended that when mailing questionable items to US
or foreign destinations, the mailer should call Mail
Services for assistance.
- Window Envelope Enclosures
Enclosures must be designed so that the address appears
in the window and should not be stapled to prevent movement
of the address from window view. If the addressed enclosure
does not properly fit the window, use an envelope without a
- Sizes and Types
The size of the envelope should properly accommodate the
contents. In the US Postal System there are two categories
of envelopes: letter size and flats.
Letters, non-letters and bar-coded flats are rated
differently by the USPS. To assure the best rate, call Mail
Services for size and rates before preparing the mail piece.
Use light colored envelopes for legibility and please avoid
- Letter Size
Letter size mail must be rectangular in shape for
automated processing by USPS.
To ensure prompt and efficient processing of First-Class
mail, it is recommended that all envelopes and cards:
a) Have an aspect ratio (length divided by height)
between 1 to 1.3 and 1 to 2.5 inclusive. See Mail Services
for envelope template if you are not sure of sizing.
b) Be sealed or secured on all four edges so that they
can be handled by machines.
c) Meet the following dimensions for automated
processing by USPS:
Height 3 1/2" Min 6 1/8" Max
Length 5" Min 11 1/2" Max
Thickness* .007 Min 1/4" Max
* Firmly compressed
Card Stock should not exceed .016"
Note: Maximum thickness for automated processing is
1/4". Mail that does not meet automated processing size may
not qualify for discounted rates. Letter size envelopes (up
to 6 1/8" x 11 1/2") over 1/4" thick will be returned to
originator for re-enveloping.
- Non-Letter (Flats)
Non letter size envelopes are larger than the maximum
letter size, but not larger than 12" high by 15 3/4" long
and 1 1/4" thick.
- International Letter Size Envelopes
Mail going to foreign countries should be banded
separately and marked "FOREIGN MAIL". Complete name,
addresses, country and zip must be used or the USPS will not
- Plain White or Manila - Can be used for first class or
- Padded - These envelopes contain a cushioned lining to
provide a degree of safety for mailing small and fragile
- Priority - Should be used for First-Class mail weighing
over 13 ounces and up to 70 pounds, or any other mail under
13 ounces requiring expedited delivery. Priority Mail
provides two-day service between major metropolitan areas.
THE VARIOUS CLASSES OF MAIL AND USPS SPECIAL SERVICES
The cost of mailing varies with each classification.
- Oversize/Underweight Mail
First-Class, Standard Mail and International Letter-Post
Mail weighing one ounce or less is non-standard* if it
exceeds any of the following size standard limits:
6 1/8" in height
11 1/2" in length
" in thickness
Its aspect ratio (length divided by height) does not
fall between 1 to 1.3 and 1 to 2.5 inclusive.
- There is an additional charge on each piece of mail that
is found to be non-standard.
In addition, pieces which are less than the following
dimensions are non-mailable in the US Postal Service and
will be returned to you.
3 1/2" in height
5" in length
.007" in thickness (thickness of a postcard)
- First-Class Mail
Any mailable matter may be mailed as First-Class Mail.
The following examples are considered First-Class matter and
must carry postage at First-Class or Priority Mail rates.
a) Matter wholly or partially handwritten or typewritten
(including identical copies prepared by automatic
typewriter), originals or carbons, invoices, (except when
accompanying the matter to which they relate), postal cards,
b) Matter sealed against postal inspection. "Standard"
mail can be sealed and opened by the USPS for inspection.
c) Bills and statements of account.
d) Price lists with written-in figures changing items or
e) Blank printed forms filled out in writing, including
canceled or un-canceled checks.
f) A computer printout may or may not be First-Class
matter. It depends on the content. Contact Mail Services for
g) If you are not sure if it is First-Class, ask us!
h) Discounted presort rates are available for 500 or
- Priority Mail
All First-Class mail exceeding 13
ounces and not exceeding 70 pounds is considered priority
mail and at the option of the mailer, any mail weighing 13
ounces or less.
Use Priority Mail when 2 to 3
day service is desired.
Use Flat Rate Priority Envelopes
when possible. These free envelopes allow any weight of
material for the 1-pound rate.
DO NOT use tape to seal the envelope.
Note: Priority Mail is a 2 day service between 64
major markets i.e. Atlanta to Dallas or Chicago to New York.
When using Priority Mail we recommend use of priority
envelopes available at no charge from your local Post
- Standard Mail
The following is considered Standard Mail Matter:
- Product Samples
- Printed Matter
To qualify for Standard Mail rates, you must mail at
least 200 pieces or a mailing that weighs 50 pounds.
Each piece of Standard Mail must be less than 16
ounces. Anything heavier must be mailed as Package
Services or Priority mail.
- Package Services
The following is considered Package Services Matter:
- Packages or Parcels
- Library Materials
- Bound Printed Matter
- Sound Recordings
- Computer Media
- Video Tapes
Each piece of Package Service Mail must not exceed
70 pounds in weight and a maximum size of 130" in
length and girth combined. All oversized pieces,
regardless of actual weight, will be charged at an
"oversized" rate based on zone or entry, which is a
higher rate than the 70-pound rate. A number of
quantity discounts are available for bulk mailings.
Call Central Mail Operations.
There are four sub-categories of Package Service
Mail that might save postage. They are:
- Media Mail (Known as "Book Rate", but not just for
- Library Mail
- Bound Printed Matter
- Parcel Post
Call Central Mail Operations for qualifying items
and postage rates.
- Special Services
Accountable Mail includes all Certified, Registered and
Insured mail. Do not place critical mail for these
categories in the internal mail.
Certified Mail - provides you with a mailing
receipt and a record of delivery is maintained at the
recipient's post office. A return receipt provides you with
proof of delivery and can be obtained for an additional fee.
Certified mail service is available only for First-Class
Mail. No insurance coverage is provided. A numbered label
and completed receipt must be affixed. These labels can be
obtained from mail services.
Registered Mail - the registered mail system is
designed to provide added protection for valuable mail.
Postage insurance may be purchased to cover articles valued
up to $25,000. Registered mail is the most secure mail the
Postal Service offers. It incorporates a system of receipts
to monitor registered articles from the point of acceptance
to delivery. Return receipt and restricted delivery services
are available for additional fees. Added security may delay
delivery by 24 - 48 hours.
Insured Mail - you can obtain payment for
domestic mail that has been lost, rifled or damaged by
having it insured. You can buy insurance up to $5,000 for
Package Services mail. It is also available for items mailed
at the Priority mail or First-Class mail rates. Express Mail
includes insurance at no extra charge.
Return Receipts - A return receipt is your proof
of delivery. It is available for insured mail, certified,
registered and domestic Express mail shipments. The return
receipt identifies the article number, who signed for it and
the date it was delivered. It is not necessary to utilize a
return receipt on all certified or registered mailings. Be
certain to identify your department with provider code on
the return side.
TRACKING - Certified and registered mail can not
be tracked until an attempt of delivery is made. Go to
USPS.COM to track and confirm.
Changes to endorsement procedures by the USPS require all
envelopes to be re-evaluated to insure proper handling. The
following information will help determine the proper
endorsement to meet our objective for undeliverable mail.
TYPE, SIZE AND PLACEMENT
Endorsements must be at least 8-point type and appear in one
of the following locations:
Immediately below the return address.
Immediately above the delivery address.
Immediately to the left of the postage area and
below any rate marking.
Immediately below the postage area and below any
In addition, there must be at least 1/4" clear space around
TREATMENT BY CLASS
Ancillary service endorsements will be the same for all
classes of mail. Treatment for each class and
applicable charges generally remain unchanged with the
exceptions described in the following paragraphs.
First-Class Mail: "ADDRESS SERVICE REQUESTED".
Months 1 through 12:mail piece forwarded and a
separate notice of new address is provided at a cost
of $0.70. Months 13 through 18 the mail piece
will be returned to sender with the new address
attached at no charge. After 18 months, the
mail piece will be returned and reason for
First-Class Mail: "RETURNED SERVICE REQUESTED".
Mail piece will be returned at no charge with the
new address or reason for non-delivery attached.
Standard Mail. Standard Mail mailers who do not want
forwarding service will have three options:
UAA "UNDELIVERABLE AS ADDRESSED".
1. No endorsement. An unendorsed UAA piece will be
discarded and the mailer will not get a notice of
address change or the reason for non-delivery.
2. "Return Service Requested" endorsement. A UAA
piece will be returned to the mailer with the new
address or the reason for non-delivery attached.
The mailer will pay first class postage when
3. "ADDRESS SERVICE REQUESTED". Months 1 through
12:mailpiece forwarded and a separate notice of new
address is provided at a cost of $0.70. Months 13
through 18 the mail piece will be returned at the
"FIRST CLASS RATE X 2.472" ex.$0.39 x 2.472 =$0.96.
- Express Mail
Express Mail is handled the same as First-Class.
G. EXPRESS MAIL SERVICE
Provides next day or second day service to all major markets
in the United States. Express Mail can weigh up to 70 lbs.,
and is delivered 7 days a week at no extra charge.
Do not place critical mail for this service in the internal
Express mail offers a variety of service options to meet
your mailing needs. The following is a list of these
options. Contact the Mail Center for further details.
- Post Office to Addressee
- Post Office to Post Office
Domestic Overnight Delivery is guaranteed by the US
Postal Service (to most locations), and provides for a full
postage refund if the item is not delivered on time.
H. INTERNATIONAL MAIL
Most items are mailable to foreign countries. However, there
are certain restrictions. It is important that mailers
contact Mail Services to determine the proper classification
and documentation required.
If customs regulations are not followed and documentation is
not exact, the item will be impounded by customs until the
addressee makes arrangements for clearance and the payment
of whatever duties required for the release of the item.
Custom rules apply the same whether mail is sent by USPS or
The last line of any foreign address should be the country
name spelled out in capital letters, in English.
I. REPLY MAIL
All business reply postage and handling charges are billed
back to using departments. When you decide to design
any business reply envelope or card, please call mail
services supervisor at extension 221 for proper format.
Your department provider code must appear in the address for
- BUSINESS REPLY MAIL (BRM)
BRM service enables mailers to receive First-Class mail
by paying postage only on the mail which is returned. We
guarantee payment of the appropriate First-Class postage
plus a handling charge per piece. A special return zip+4
will be assigned.
- METER REPLY MAIL
In some instances Meter Reply Mail is the best method.
For information, contact Central Mail Operations.
- COURTESY REPLY MAIL
Pre-printed envelopes with special formats are
available. Mailers returning these to us must prepay the
postage. A special zip+4 will be assigned.
CONTACT CENTRAL OPERATIONS prior to designing or printing
any BUSINESS REPLY mail pieces to insure the most
J. LARGE MAILINGS
Before producing a large or specialized mailing, include
Central Mail Operations in your mailing arrangements to
ensure your mailing program is timely and cost effective.
Advance notice is required to effectively handle and process
large or specialized mailings. Large mailings are considered
any mailing consisting of 2,500 or more pieces.
PERSONAL MAIL - INCOMING AND OUTGOING
- Personal mail should not be
sent through Central Mail
Operations. Central Mail
Operations is for official state