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Quick Service Guide 401a

Commercial Parcels

Designing Parcels for Automated Processing

January 27, 2013
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Related QSGs

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440a, Standard Mail Machinable Parcels

450, Parcel Select

460, Bound Printed Matter Irregular and Machinable Parcels

Physical Standards (401)

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Minimum weight: 6 ounces except under 401.1.5.2.

Standard Mail: maximum weight is less than 16 ounces.

Bound Printed Matter: maximum weight is 15 pounds.

Parcel Select: maximum weight is 35 pounds (25 pounds for books and other printed matter).

Dimensions: 6 to 34 inches long, 3 to 17 inches high, and 1/4 to 17 inches thick. Parcels 1/4 inch thick must be at least 3-1/2 inches high and 6 inches long.

For an overview of the physical standards for commercial parcels, see Quick Service Guide 401.

Eligibility Standards

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Parcels are nonmachinable if they meet any of the criteria in 401.2.5.

Commercial parcels (except for Standard Mail parcels) mailed at a presorted or destination entry price must include a unique Intelligent Mail package barcode (IMpb) or extra services barcode, including a postal routing code. On January 7, 2013, an Intelligent Mail package barcode will be required for all commercial mailpieces that include a tracking or extra services barcode and on all parcels (except Standard Mail parcels) claiming presort or destination entry pricing.

Package Services barcodes may be combined with USPS Tracking/Delivery Confirmation or Signature Confirmation and insurance barcode.

Standard Mail barcodes may be combined with electronic USPS Tracking/Delivery Confirmation and insurance.

Standard Mail and Package Services barcodes must be prepared with the address and barcode placed squarely onto the largest surface area of the parcel except when the shape and contents require specific orientation for stability during processing. The barcode should be placed immediately adjacent to the delivery address and no closer than 1/2 inch from the edge of the parcel.

Acceptable Container (601.4.0)

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Use sturdy materials to withstand handling.

Size must be adequate to contain items and provide space for cushioning material:

Cushioning (601.3.0)

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Cushioning absorbs shock and vibration of handling. Combinations of cushioning materials are most effective. Cushion items separately.

Closure and Sealing (601.3.0)

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Mail Preparation

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First-Class Package Service: A surcharge applies for parcels with the following characteristics:

Standard Mail parcels: Unless prepared in a carrier route or 5-digit/scheme containers, Standard Mail parcels are subject to a surcharge if:

Parcels must be prepared and marked under applicable standards for machinable parcel preparation:

For pallet preparation, see 705.8.0.

For combined mailings of Standard Mail and Package Services parcels, see 705.6.0.

Physical Standards for Automation-Compatible Parcels

This graphic shows the placement of a return address in the upper left corner of a package, the placement of an optional carrier release instructions under the return address, the placement of a delivery address in the center of a package, the placement of a parcel barcode to the left of the address, the placement of postage in the upper right of a package, the placement of an Extra Service label between the return address and postage area, and the placement of endorsements and markings under the postage area.

Packaging and Sealing

This graphic shows three packages with the use of pressure-sensitive filament tape, reinforced Kraft paper tape and Kraft paper tape.

Container (see page one for details):


Sealing (see page one for details):


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