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The Private Express Statutes are a group of laws under which the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has the exclusive right, with certain limited exceptions to carry letters for compensation. The Statutes are based on the provision in the U.S. Constitution that empowers Congress “to establish Post Offices.”
Congress enacted the Statutes to protect the USPS and thereby enable it to fulfill its mission of providing mail service to all parts of the country at uniform rates. The Statutes enable the USPS to fulfill its responsibilities by preventing private courier services from competing selectively with the USPS on its most profitable routes.
For the purpose of the Private Express Statutes, a letter is defined as a message directed to a specific person or address and recorded on a tangible object. A more complete definition can be found at title 39, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), 310.1.
The Statutes provide that letters may be transported outside the U.S. Mail system only if one or more of the exceptions apply, or appropriate postage is paid. The basic prohibition is against private carriage of letters for other persons without payment of postage.
The law allows for the private carriage of letters under certain circumstances, including:
More information regarding exceptions and suspensions to the Private Express Statutes is available in 39 C.F.R. §§ 310.3 and 320.