Customer Support Ruling
Headquarters, US Postal Service
Washington, DC 20260-3436
Pay to Bearer Checks
UPDATED June 2014
In this Customer Support Ruling a determination will be made as to whether a “check” is “personal” information and mailable only at First-Class Mail, Priority Mail, or Priority Mail Express prices.
This ruling concerns the classification of “Bearer” checks that are often found in mailpieces that serve as purchase incentives or after-purchase rebates, e.g., a check issued by a retailer styled as “Pay to John Doe or Bearer” in the amount of $5.00.
Domestic Mail Manual (DMM) 243.2.1 provides that mailable matter that is neither mailed or required to be mailed as First-Class Mail or Periodicals may be eligible for Standard Mail prices. DMM 233.2.3* prescribes that matter containing personal information must be mailed as First-Class Mail, Priority Mail, or Priority Mail Express. Personal information is any information specific to the addressee.
A check which is made payable only to the addressee or only to a specific individual, i.e., “Pay to the order of John Doe,” “Pay to Jane Doe or order,” is considered “personal” information and generally is mailable only at First-Class Mail prices.
A printed (computer-generated) bearer check, that may be negotiated by anyone who presents it for payment would be acceptable at the Standard Mail prices. Examples include those styled to "Pay to John Doe or Bearer," "Pay to Bearer," "Pay to Addressee or Bearer," “Pay to Cash,” “Pay to the Order of John Doe or Bearer,” “Pay to the Order of Bearer” or “Pay to the Order of Bearer or John Doe Addressee.”
Since the $5.00 rebate check in the example is a “bearer” check that can be negotiated by anyone, it does not have the characteristics of “personal information” and is therefore, not required to be mailed as First-Class Mail. The bearer check may be mailed at the Standard Mail prices.