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140 International Mail Categories

141 Definitions

141.1 General

There are five principal categories of international mail that are primarily differentiated from one another by speed of service. They are Global Express Guaranteed® (GXG™) service, Global Express Mail™(EMS®) service, Global Priority Mail® (GPM) service, airmail service, and economy mail service.

141.2 Global Express Guaranteed

Global Express Guaranteed is the U.S. Postal Service's premium international mail service. Global Express Guaranteed is an expedited delivery service that is the product of a business alliance between the U.S. Postal Service and FedEx Corporation. It provides reliable, high-speed, time-definite service from designated U.S. ZIP Code™ areas to locations in most destination countries. Global Express Guaranteed is assured to meet destination-specific delivery standards or the postage will be refunded. If a shipment is lost or damaged, liability for lost or damaged merchandise or for document reconstruction is limited to a maximum of $100 or the amount of additional optional insurance purchased. The maximum weight limit for this service is 70 pounds, but some countries have a lower maximum weight limit. Countries with reduced weight limits are specified in the Individual Country Listings and in Publication 141, Global Express Guaranteed Service Guide.

141.3 Global Express Mail

The next level of service, in terms of speed and value-added features, is Global Express Mail (EMS). EMS is an expedited mail service that can be used to send documents and merchandise to most of the country locations that are individually listed in this publication. EMS insurance coverage against loss, damage, or rifling, up to a maximum of $100, is provided at no additional charge. Additional merchandise insurance coverage up to $5,000 may be purchased at the sender's option. However, document reconstruction insurance coverage is limited to a maximum of $100 per shipment. Return receipt service is available, at no additional charge, for EMS shipments that are sent to a limited number of countries. See 221.4. Country specific maximum weight limits range from 22 pounds to 70 pounds. See the Individual Country Listings. Although EMS shipments are supposed to receive the most expeditious handling available in the destination country, they are not subject to a postage refund guarantee if a delivery delay occurs. Global Express Mail with Guarantee service - which offers a date-certain, money-back guarantee - is available to select destinations; see IMM 220 and the individual country listings to determine the availability of such service.

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141.4 Global Priority Mail

Global Priority Mail is an accelerated airmail service that provides customers with a reliable and economical means of sending correspondence, documents, printed matter, and light-weight merchandise items to the foreign destinations that are listed in 231.4. GPM items receive priority handling within the U.S. Postal Service and the postal administration of the country of destination. Senders can pay flat-rate postage by placing their contents into a standardized GPM envelope; or they can elect to pay variable weight postage by affixing a GPM sticker to a tyvek envelope, box, or other customer-
furnished packaging. The maximum weight limit for GPM items is 4 pounds. Special services, such as registry, return receipt, recorded delivery, and insurance, are not available in combination with GPM service.

141.5 Airmail

Subject to the following definitions, airmail service may be used to send both letter-post items and parcel post packages to most foreign countries. Letter-post is a generic term for mailpieces of differing shapes, sizes, and contents, which weigh four pounds or less, that are subject to the provisions of the Universal Postal Union Convention. Letter-post items may contain any mailable matter that is not prohibited by the destination country. At the sender's option, special services, such as registry, return receipt, and recorded delivery, may be added on a country-specific basis.

Note: The letter-post classification encompasses all of the classes of international mail (i.e., letters and letter packages, postcards and postal cards, aerogrammes, printed matter, and small packets) that were formerly categorized as LC (letters and cards) and AO (other articles) respectively.

Parcel post, which is otherwise referred to as CP mail, is differentiated from letter-post because it is governed by the provisions of the UPU Postal Parcels Agreement. That classification is primarily designed to accommodate larger and heavier shipments, whose size and/or weight transcend the established limitations for letter-post items. It also affords senders the opportunity to obtain optional mailing services, such as insurance coverage and return receipt, which would otherwise be unavailable.

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141.6 Economy Mail

Mailpieces that are classified as letter-post or parcel post can also be entered as economy mail. Under that classification, they are subject to the same regulatory requirements and conditions of mailing as the airmail items. The substantive differences between the two levels of service primarily relate to mode of transportation (air or surface), speed of service, and price.

142 Envelope and Card Specifications

142.1 Color

Light-colored envelopes and cards that do not interfere with the reading of the address and postmark must be used. Do not use brilliant colors.

142.2 Quality

Envelopes and cards must be constructed of paper strong enough to withstand normal handling. Highly glazed paper or paper with an overall design is not satisfactory.

142.3 Shape


142.4 Minimum Size

a. Length: 5-1/2 inches.

b. Height: 3-1/2 inches.

142.5 Window Envelopes

Window envelopes must be used under the following conditions:

a. The address window must be parallel with the length of the envelope.

b. The address window must be in the lower portion of the address side.

c. Nothing but the name, address, and any key number used by the mailer may appear through the address window.

d. The return address should appear in the upper-left corner. If there is no return address and the delivery address does not show through the window, the piece will be handled as undeliverable mail.

e. The address disclosed through the window must be on white paper or paper of a very light color.

f. When used for registered mail, window envelopes must conform with the conditions in DMM 503.

g. Open panel envelopes, i.e., those in which the panel is not covered with a transparent material, are not acceptable in international mail.

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142.6 Bordered Envelopes and Cards

Envelopes and cards that have green-colored bars or red- and blue-stripped borders may be used for the sending of airmail letter-post items.

143 Official Mail

143.1 Mailings by Federal Agencies

Official mail (sent by federal agencies and departments listed in Postal Service Handbook DM-103, Official Mail) that bears the indicia prescribed in DMM 703 may be sent to foreign destinations. Such items are subject to the postage payment requirements, weight and size limits, customs form requirements, and general conditions for mailing that otherwise apply to the class and category of the international mail being sent.

143.2 Postal Service Mailings

International mailpieces that are sent by or on behalf of the U.S. Postal Service must bear the prescribed G-10 permit indicia. Postal Service official mail is subject to a 66-pound weight limit except for Global Express Mail destined for countries that have a higher limit and Global Express Guaranteed shipments going to authorized destination countries that have a 70-pound weight limit.

143.3 Mail of a Former President and Surviving Spouse of a Former President

All nonpolitical mail of former United States Presidents, and of the surviving spouse of a former President, must be accepted without prepayment of postage if it bears the written signature of the sender, or a facsimile signature and the words "POSTAGE AND FEES PAID" in the upper-right corner of the address side.

143.4 General Secretariat of the Organization of American States (OAS)

a. Ordinary (unregistered) economy mail and airmail letter-post items bearing the return address of the OAS General Secretariat and weighing not more than 4 pounds are accepted without postage when addressed to the OAS member countries listed in 143.4c.

b. Airmail service for items other than letter-post items and other special services may not be provided for OAS General Secretariat official mail without the prepayment of air postage or the fee for the special service requested.

c. The following countries are members of the Organization of American States (OAS):

Antigua and Barbuda
Costa Rica
Dominican Republic
El Salvador
St. Christopher and

St. Lucia
St. Vincent and the

Trinidad and Tobago
United States

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143.5 Pan American Sanitary Bureau Mail

a. Ordinary (unregistered) economy mail and all letter-post items bearing the return address of the bureau and weighing not more than 4 pounds is accepted without postage affixed when addressed to an OAS member country listed in 143.4c or to Cuba.

b. Airmail service for items other than letter-post items and other special services may not be provided for bureau official mail without prepayment of air postage or of the fee for the special service requested.

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