1.0 Prices and Fees
2.0 Content Standards for First-Class Mail
3.0 Basic Eligibility Standards for First-Class Mail
4.0 Additional Eligibility Standards for Nonautomation First-Class Mail
5.0 Additional Eligibility Standards for Automation First-Class Mail
6.0 Eligibility Standards for Card Price First-Class Mail
[10-3-16] Postage is based on the price that applies to the weight of each addressed piece.
Commercial First-Class Mail Presorted letters are charged at one price for the first 2 ounces, with separate prices for pieces over 2 ounces up to 3 ounces and for pieces over 3 ounces up to 3.5 ounces. Any fraction of an ounce is considered a whole ounce. The pricing per ounce is similar for automation First-Class Mail letters, with pricing per sortation level. Single-piece price letters that are residual pieces from either a Presorted or automation mailing are charged the residual single-piece price for letters up to 2 ounces, when the mailing contains both 1-ounce and 2-ounce pieces and the pieces are presented together, and the applicable Metered Mail prices (see 234.1.0) for all other residual pieces.
First-Class Mail flat prices 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.
For prices, see Notice 123–Price List.
For the letter-size nonmachinable prices see Notice 123–Price List.
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 prices. Payment of this fee is waived for full-service automation mailings (under 705.23.0). Payment of one fee allows a mailer to enter mail at all those prices. 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.
Determine single-piece weight and weight (postage) increment for each addressed piece as prescribed in 1.7 and 1.2. For First-Class Mail, affix postage to each piece under 234.2.2, or, for permit imprint mailings, multiply the number of addressed pieces at each price increment (and in each price category, if applicable) by the corresponding postage price, add the unrounded products, and round off the total postage to the nearest whole cent.
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.
With the exception of restricted material as described in 601.8.0, any mailable item may be mailed as First-Class Mail.
Bills and statements of account must be mailed as First-Class Mail, Priority Mail or Priority Mail Express and are defined as follows:
- Bills and statements of account assert a debt in a definite amount owed by the addressee to the sender or a third party. In addition, bills include a demand for payment; statements of account do not include a demand for payment. The debt does not have to be due immediately but may become due at a later time or on demand. The debt asserted need not be legally collectible or owed.
- Bills and statements of account do not need to state the precise amount due if they contain information that would enable the debtor to determine that amount.
Mail 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.
Mail containing handwritten or typewritten material must be mailed as First-Class Mail, Priority Mail, or Priority Mail Express.
Any matter marked “Postcard” or “Double Postcard” must be mailed as First-Class Mail, Priority Mail, or Priority Mail Express.
Matter eligible for Standard Mail or Package Services prices or authorized as Periodicals is not required to be mailed as First-Class Mail, Priority Mail, or Priority Mail Express.
All First-Class Mail is subject to limitations for air transportation. Generally, all mailable matter may be transported by aircraft, unless restricted in 601.9.0.
When a letter-size mailpiece weighing no more than 1 ounce in round-trip mailings includes one standard optical disc no larger than 12 centimeters in diameter per mailpiece, the disc will not be considered to be rigid and a nonmachinable surcharge will not be charged on either the outgoing piece or the returned BRM or PRM piece as long as the disc is not put in a rigid container and the envelope itself is not rigid. When a flat-size mailpiece weighing no more than 2 ounces in round-trip mailings includes one standard optical disc no larger than 12 centimeters in diameter, the mailpiece will be subject to the applicable price for a 1-ounce First-Class Mail letter if the disc is not in a rigid container and the envelope itself is not rigid and all other standards in 2.8 are met. The disc is not considered to be rigid for purposes of the flexibility test in 201.4.3. BRM or PRM pieces that meet the standards will be charged the applicable 1-ounce First-Class Mail letter price for pieces that weigh no more than 2 ounces. For the purpose of this standard, round-trip mailings are mailings entered under these conditions:
- The mailing is presented at a BMEU or other acceptance facility as a:
- presort mailing at presort machinable or automation First-Class Mail letter prices, or
- single-piece mailing using a permit imprint or as a presort mailing at presort or automation First-Class Mail flats prices.
- The outbound mailpieces are addressed to subscribers and include either a BRM (under 505.1.0) or PRM (under 505.2.0) envelope designed for return of the disc to the permit holder.
- A sample of the return envelope is provided to the acceptance employee at the time of mailing for verification that the mailing is designed for round-trip purposes.
- Returned BRM or PRM pieces must be picked up by the mailer at designated postal facilities, upon payment of all applicable postage and fees.
[10-3-16] First-Class Mail receives expeditious handling and transportation. The USPS does not guarantee the delivery of First-Class Mail within a specified time.
[10-3-16] First-Class Mail offers shape-based commercial prices for presorted mailings of 500 or more pieces.
[10-3-16] First-Class Mail must weight 3.5 ounces or less for letters or 13 ounces or less for flats.
First-Class Mail is closed against postal inspection.
The price of First-Class Mail includes forwarding service to a new address for up to 12 months and return service if the mailpiece is undeliverable.
Extra services are available for First-Class Mail as provided in 503.
All presorted First-Class Mail letters must:
- Meet the basic content standards for First-Class Mail in 2.0.
- Weigh 3.5 ounces or less.
- Meet the applicable standards in 234, and 1.0.
- Be part of a single mailing of at least 500 pieces of Presorted First-Class Mail.
- Meet the applicable physical standards in 201.
- Bear a delivery address that includes the correct ZIP Code or ZIP+4 code and that meets these address quality standards:
- The Move Update standard in 3.4.
- The ZIP Code accuracy standard in 3.5.
- If an alternative addressing format is used, the additional standards in 602.3.0.
The Move Update standard requires the periodic matching of a mailer‘s address records with customer-filed change-of-address orders maintained by the USPS. See 602.5.0 for Move Update 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. Each address in a mailing at commercial First-Class Mail letter prices must meet the ZIP Code accuracy requirements in 602.6.0.
In addition to the standards in 3.0, all pieces in a First-Class Mail Presorted price mailing must be marked, sorted, and documented as specified in 235.5.0 and 235.8.0.
Any Intelligent Mail barcode on a mailpiece in nonautomation First-Class Mail mailings must be correct for the delivery address and meet the standards in 202.5.0, 708.3.0, and 233.4.0.
The nonmachinable prices in 1.4 apply to letter-price pieces (except card-price pieces) that meet one or more of the nonmachinable characteristics in 201.2.1.
Flat-size pieces that do not meet the machinability standards in 201.4.3 through 201.4.4 must be prepared as parcels and pay the applicable parcel-size prices.
All pieces in a First-Class Mail automation mailing must:
- Meet the basic standards for First-Class Mail in 3.0.
- Be part of a single mailing of at least 500 pieces of automation price First-Class Mail.
- Meet the physical standards in 201.3.0 or 201.6.0.
- 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 the address matching and coding standards in 5.7, and 708.3.0. If an alternative addressing format is used, the additional standards in 602.3.0.
- Bear an accurate unique Intelligent Mail barcode encoded with the correct delivery point routing code, matching the delivery address and meeting the standards in 202.5.0 and 708.4.0.
- Be marked, sorted, and documented as specified in 235.6.0, for letters and cards, or 235.8.0 or 705.9.0 for flats.
All pieces entered under the full-service Intelligent Mail automation option must:
- Bear a unique Intelligent Mail barcode.
- Be part of a mailing that meets the standards in 705.23.0.
Maximum weight for First-Class Mail automation letters is 3.5 ounces (0.2188 pound) (see 201.3.6, for pieces heavier than 3 ounces).
Automation prices apply to each piece that is sorted under 235.6.0 into the corresponding qualifying groups:
- Groups of 150 or more pieces in 5-digit/scheme trays qualify for the 5-digit price. Preparation to qualify for the 5-digit price is optional. Pieces placed in full 3-digit/scheme trays in lieu of 5-digit/scheme overflow trays under 235.6.5 are eligible for the 5-digit prices.
- Groups of 150 or more pieces in 3-digit/scheme trays qualify for the 3-digit price. Pieces placed in full AADC trays in lieu of 3-digit/scheme overflow trays under 235.6.5 are eligible for the 3-digit prices.
- Groups of fewer than 150 pieces in origin 3-digit/scheme trays and pieces in AADC trays qualify for the AADC price. Pieces placed in mixed AADC trays in lieu of AADC overflow trays under 235.6.5 are eligible for the AADC prices.
- Pieces in mixed AADC trays qualify for the mixed AADC price, except for pieces prepared under 5.4c.
Automation prices apply to each piece that is sorted under 235.8.0 or 705:
- Pieces in 5-digit bundles of 10 or more pieces qualify for the 5-digit price. Preparation to qualify for the 5-digit price is optional and need not be done for all 5-digit destinations.
- Pieces in 3-digit bundles of 10 or more pieces qualify for the 3-digit price.
- Pieces in ADC bundles of 10 or more pieces qualify for the ADC price.
- Pieces in mixed ADC bundles qualify for the mixed ADC price.
Automation prices apply to each piece that is sorted under 235.8.6, into the corresponding qualifying groups:
- Groups of 90 or more pieces in 5-digit trays qualify for the 5-digit price. Preparation to qualify for the 5-digit price is optional and need not be done for all 5-digit destinations.
- Groups of 90 or more pieces in 3-digit trays qualify for the 3-digit price.
- Groups of fewer than 90 pieces in origin 3-digit trays and all pieces in ADC trays qualify for the ADC price.
- All pieces in mixed ADC trays qualify for the mixed ADC price.
To qualify for automation prices, 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 price must be the correct barcode for the corresponding delivery address on the piece.
A numeric ZIP+4 code must consist of five digits, a hyphen, and four digits.
The numeric equivalent to the delivery point routing code is formed by adding two digits directly after the ZIP+4 code.
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.
An address must include a firm name when necessary to obtain a match with the finest level of ZIP+4 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 must be used. If the firm name is not one assigned a unique ZIP+4 in the USPS ZIP+4 Product and the apartment/suite number is included in the address, the ZIP+4 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 assigned in the USPS ZIP+4 Product and the apartment/suite number is not included in the address, the ZIP+4 for the building must be used.
If a secondary address designator (e.g., an apartment number) is shown in the address, the mailpiece must show the appropriate ZIP+4 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 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.
If a rural route or highway contract route box number is included in the address, the mailpiece must show the appropriate ZIP+4 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 but is not available, the alternative ZIP+4 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.
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.
A card may be a single or double (reply) stamped card or a single or double postcard. Stamped cards are available from USPS with postage imprinted on them. Postcards are commercially available or privately printed mailing cards. To be eligible for a card price, a card and each half of a double card must meet the physical standards in 201.1.2 and the applicable eligibility and preparation standards for the price claimed. Ineligible cards are subject to letter-size prices. Cards may be prepared and mailed at the First-Class Mail single-piece card price, Presorted card price, or automation card prices.
Pieces claimed at First-Class Mail card prices and pieces claimed at First-Class Mail letter prices are each subject to a separate minimum volume criteria whether prepared as separate or combined mailings. Either way, card-size and letter-size pieces may be presented at the same time and reported on the same postage statement.