800 Quick Service Guide

Glossary of Postal Terms and Abbreviations in the DMM

additional entry (AE)

A Post Office other than the office of original entry where a publisher is authorized to mail a Periodicals publication.

Address Change Service (ACS)

An automated process that provides change-of-address information to participating mailers who maintain computerized mailing lists. The information is captured in Computerized Forwarding System (CFS) units and sent to mailers on electronic media, which reduces the volume of manual change-of-address notices.

address correction service

A system of ancillary service endorsements that allows mailers to obtain the addressee’s new (forwarding) address or the reason for nondelivery.

Address Element Correction (AEC)

A process that identifies and revises incomplete or incorrect computerized address files and then attaches ZIP+4 and carrier route codes. It involves computer matching address records that cannot be coded using CASS-certified address matching software.

airport mail center/airport mail facility (AMC/AMF)

A postal facility at an airport that receives, concentrates, transfers, dispatches, and distributes mail transported by air.

Alternate Mailing System (AMS)

A procedure, authorized by the director, Business Acceptance Solutions, that provides methods for accepting permit imprint mail to ensure proper postage payment and mail preparation without verification by weight.

ancillary service

Forwarding, change, return, or address correction service included within a mail class. Depending on the mail class, these services are performed at a charge or at no additional charge, if and when the service is actually provided. Also see forward.

ancillary service endorsement

A marking used by a mailer to request the new address of an addressee and to provide the USPS with instructions on how to handle mail that is undeliverable as addressed. Also see address correction service.

area distribution center (ADC)

A mail processing facility that receives and distributes mail destined for specific ZIP Codes. ADCs and their associated ZIP Codes are in DMM labeling list L004.

Army Post Office (APO)

A branch of a designated USPS civilian Post Office, which falls under the jurisdiction of the postmaster of either New York City or San Francisco, that serves either Army or Air Force personnel. Also see Military Post Office (MPO).

aspect ratio

The dimension of a mailpiece expressed as a ratio of length divided by height (for letters and cards, length is the dimension parallel to the address as read). For example, a postcard 5-1/2 inches long by 3-1/2 inches high has an aspect ratio of 1.57. An aspect ratio between 1.3 and 2.5, inclusive, is required for automation compatibility.

automated area distribution center (AADC)

A distribution center that uses multiline optical character readers (MLOCRs), barcode sorters, and other equipment designed for processing automation-compatible mail. Also see area distribution center (ADC).

automation-compatible mail

Mail that can be scanned and processed by automated mail processing equipment such as a barcode sorter.

automation price

A postage discount offered to mailers who barcode their mailpieces and meet addressing, readability, and other requirements for processing on automated equipment.

auxiliary service facility (ASF)

A mail processing facility, that has its own service area and serves as a satellite processing hub for a particular network distribution center (NDC).

balloon price

A price charged for USPS Retail Ground – Limited Overland Routes items that weigh less than 20 pounds and measure between 84 and 108 inches in combined length and girth.


Intelligent Mail barcode (IMb) and Intelligent Mail package barcode (IMpb) are the USPS-developed barcodes that mailers use to encode routing and tracking information on mail that can be read by automated mail processing equipment to sort mail and to provide tracking information to the mailers.

barcode clear zone

A rectangular area in the lower right part of a letter-size mailpiece that must be kept free of printing and symbols, except for the barcode itself. This requirement allows automated processing machines to read or apply a barcode.

barcode read area

A small area within the barcode clear zone in which the barcode must be printed. This area is defined by the position of the leftmost bar of the barcode and the bottom edge of the bar.

barcode reader

A component in certain mail processing equipment that reads and interprets the barcode applied to a mailpiece.

barcoded container label

A tray or sack label that has a barcode that can be read and processed by an automated tray or sack handling system.

Bound Printed Matter (BPM)

A subclass of Package Services that consists of permanently bound sheets of which at least 90% are printed with advertising, promotional, directory, or editorial matter (or a combination of such matter).

Bulk Parcel Return Service (BPRS)

A service by which high-volume mailers may have undeliverable-as-addressed USPS Marketing Mail machinable parcels returned to the mailer.


A group of addressed pieces assembled and secured together to make up a basic unit of bulk mail for processing purposes.

business mail entry unit (BMEU)

The area of a postal facility where mailers present bulk, presorted, and permit imprint mail for acceptance. The BMEU includes dedicated platform space, office space, and a staging area on the workroom floor. A business mail entry unit lookup tool is available on Postal Explorer.

Business Reply Mail (BRM)

A service that allows a permit holder to receive First-Class Mail and Priority Mail back from customers and pay postage only for the returned pieces. These pieces must have a specific address and format. Postage and per piece charges are collected when the mail is delivered back to the permit holder.

caller service

An optional delivery service provided for a fee at all Post Offices to customers with large volumes of mail, to customers needing multiple separations, and to customers who need a Post Office box number address when no Post Office boxes are available.

carrier route

The addresses to which a carrier delivers mail. In common usage, carrier route includes city routes, rural routes, highway contract routes, Post Office box sections, and general delivery units.

Carrier Route File

The official listing of all city and noncity delivery Post Offices, available to mailers in a standardized format. It contains schemes for city routes, rural routes, highway contract routes, Post Office box sections, and general delivery units. The data is formatted by ZIP Code, street name, and street number range.

carrier route presort mail

Mail sorted by carrier route to qualify for discounted postage. The mail requires no primary or secondary distribution. The term is a general descriptor of the available prices for this type of preparation, which includes Carrier Route USPS Marketing Mail, carrier route Periodicals, and carrier route Bound Printed Matter.

Centralized Postage Payment System (CPP)

A postage payment system administered by the Pricing and Classification Service Center that allows publishers of authorized Periodicals publications entered at three or more Post Offices to pay postage at a single postal facility rather than through individual accounts maintained at each entry Post Office.

Certified Mail

A service that provides the sender with a mailing receipt. A delivery record is maintained by the USPS. This type of mail must be sent at First-Class Mail or Priority Mail prices. Certified mail may be combined with return receipt service and restricted delivery service.


The grouping of mailable matter into mail classes and subclasses by price categories, according to content, weight, size, and preparation standards.

Classroom price

A Periodicals price that is available to an authorized mailer of educational, scientific, or religious publications for scholastic or religious instruction.

Coding Accuracy Support System (CASS)

A service offered to mailers, service bureaus, and software vendors that improves the accuracy of matching to delivery point codes, ZIP+4 codes, 5-digit ZIP Codes, and carrier route codes on mailpieces. CASS provides a common platform to measure the quality of address matching software and to diagnose and correct software problems. An Overview of the CASS Program and list of CASS certified vendors are available onon PostalPro at https://postalpro.usps.com.

collect on delivery (COD)

A service for mailers who need to mail an article for which they have not received payment. The amount due the sender is collected from the addressee and the USPS returns the amount due to the sender.

combined mailing

A mailing in which individually addressed mailpieces are merged and sorted together, usually using two or more postage payment methods.

commercial mail receiving agency (CMRA)

A private business that acts as the mail receiving agent for specific clients by providing a delivery address and other services.


To integrate dissimilar mail (such as subscriber and nonsubscriber copies or machinable and irregular parcels) into the same mailing.

computer-readable media

A DVD, CD (compact disk), and CD-ROM are mailable at single-piece and discount prices based on the packaging or mailer and contents. For additional information, contact the local Business Mail Entry office.

Computerized Forwarding System (CFS)

A centralized, computerized address label-generating operation that performs address correction and forwards or returns undeliverable-as-addressed mail to customers.

content identifier number (CIN)

A code number on a tray or sack label that represents and identifies the class of mail and presort level.

cooperative mailing

A mailing made jointly by one or more organizations authorized to mail at Nonprofit USPS Marketing Mail prices at the same Post Office.


To combine and present together on pallets mail from two or more different or separately produced mailstreams.

Courtesy Reply Mail (CRM)

Envelopes or postcards that a mailer provides to its customers to expedite delivery of their responses. The customer affixes the reply postage before mailing.

dead mail

Mail that is undeliverable as addressed and cannot be returned to the sender (usually because there is no return address on the piece).

delivery point barcode (DPBC)

A DPBC is an Intelligent Mail barcode that contains an 11-digit delivery point routing code. The DPBC allows automated sortation of letter mail in carrier walk sequence.

delivery sequenced mail

Mail that is arranged by a mailer in delivery order for a particular carrier route. This mail requires no primary or secondary distribution.

destination area distribution center (DADC) price

A price available for Periodicals mail that is prepared and entered by the mailer at the area distribution center (ADC) that serves the delivery address on the mail.

destination delivery unit (DDU) price

A price available for Periodicals, USPS Marketing Mail, Parcel Select, and Bound Printed Matter that is properly prepared and entered by the mailer at the delivery unit that serves the delivery address on the mail.

destination network distribution center (DNDC) price

A price available for USPS Marketing Mail, Parcel Select, and Bound Printed Matter that is properly prepared and entered by the mailer at the NDC or other designated postal facility that serves the delivery address on the mail.

destination sectional center facility (DSCF) price

A price available for Periodicals, USPS Marketing Mail, Parcel Select, and Bound Printed Matter that is properly prepared and entered by the mailer at the sectional center facility (SCF) or other designated postal facility that serves the delivery address on the mail.

detached address label (DAL)

Paper or cardstock used to carry address information when preparing a mailing of unaddressed Periodicals flats, USPS Marketing Mail flats and merchandise samples, and Bound Printed Matter.

detached mail unit (DMU)

An area in a mailer’s facility where postal employees perform mail verification, acceptance, dispatch, and other postal functions.

direct mail

Another name for advertising mail sent to targeted markets. It can be any mail class, but it is usually USPS Marketing Mail.

dimensional weight

Postage for Priority Mail Express, Priority Mail, Parcel Select Destination Entry and Ground, and USPS Retail Ground packages addressed for delivery to zones 1-9 and exceeding one cubic foot (1,728 cubic inches) is based on the actual weight or the dimensional weight, whichever is greater.

drop shipment

Typically the movement of a mailer’s product on private (nonpostal) transportation from the point of production to a postal facility located closer to the destination of that product.


Qualification standards such as content, mail processing category, and preparation applied to mail for a specific price or discount.


An authorized marking on a mailpiece that shows handling instructions, a service, or a request for an ancillary service. Also see marking.

entry facility

The USPS mail processing facility (e.g., NDC, SCF) that serves the Post Office at which the mail is entered by the mailer. Also called origin facility.

entry NDC

A network distribution center (NDC), including its satellite auxiliary service facility (ASF) unless specified otherwise, at which mail is entered by the mailer. Also see network distribution center (NDC) and auxiliary service facility (ASF).

entry Post Office

A Post Office at which a mailer deposits mailings to be paid for through an account maintained at the designated Post Office.

extended managed mail tray (EMM)

A 2-foot letter tray that measures 21-3/4 inches long by 11-1/2 inches wide (inside bottom dimensions) by 6-1/8 inches high. Must be used for “tall” letter-size mail that does not fit in a regular managed mail (MM) tray.


The side of a mailpiece with the delivery address. Also, to arrange mail in a uniform orientation; that is, with the delivery address facing forward and the postage area positioned in the upper right corner.

facing identification mark (FIM)

A series of five or six vertical bars used by automated postal equipment to identify, orient, and separate reply mail and mail produced by PC postage systems and some postage meters.

facing slip

A paper label attached to the top of a bundle that shows where the mail is to be distributed, the class and type of mail, and the country or military Post Office. Also see optional endorsement line.


A USPS-licensed automated system that updates addresses by matching names and addresses with current change-of-address orders on file. A piece updated with FASTforward can be delivered directly to the new address rather than forwarded from the old address.

Federal Register

A daily weekday publication distributed by the Office of the Federal Register in which certain U.S. government documents must be published. The USPS publishes proposed and final mail preparation changes in the Federal Register for public comment and notice. A listing of Postal Service Federal Register Notices is available at Postal Explorer at pe.usps.com.

First-Class Mail (FCM)

A class of mail that includes all matter wholly or partly in writing or typewriting, all actual and personal correspondence, all bills and statements of account, and all matter sealed or otherwise closed against inspection. Priority Mail is a subclass of First-Class Mail. Any mailable matter may be sent as First-Class Mail.


The general term for flat-size mail, so called because the large mail is sorted without bending it so that the mail remains flat.

flat-size mail

A flexible rectangular mailpiece that exceeds one of the dimensions for letter-size mail (11-1/2 inches long, 6-1/8 inches high, 1/4 inch thick) but that does not exceed the maximum dimension for the mail processing category (15 inches long, 12 inches high, 3/4 inch thick). Dimensions are different for Periodicals automation flat-size mail. Flat-size mail may be unwrapped, sleeved, wrapped, or enveloped.

Fleet Post Office (FPO)

A branch of a designated USPS civilian Post Office, which falls under the jurisdiction of the postmaster of either New York City or San Francisco, that serves Coast Guard, Navy, or Marine Corps personnel. Also see military Post Office.


An abbreviation used on mail container labels that identifies the contents as flat-size.


To redirect mail to the intended recipient’s new delivery address in cases where PS Form 3575, Change of Address Order, or other written or personal notice has been filed with the local Post Office. Also see Address Change Service (ACS), address correction service, and ancillary service.

franked mail

Official mail sent without postage prepayment by members and members-elect of Congress, the Vice President, and other authorized individuals. Mail must relate to the mailer’s official business, activities, and duties. The mailpiece bears a written signature, printed facsimile signature, or other required marking instead of a postage stamp. Compare with penalty mail.

full flat tray

A tray that is sufficiently filled with flats to allow or require preparation to the corresponding presort destination. A full flat tray contains at least enough pieces so that a single stack of mail lying flat on the bottom of the tray reaches to the bottom of the handholds. Additional pieces must be added when possible to physically fill the tray.

full letter tray

A full tray is filled between 85% and 100% with faced, upright pieces. Each tray must be physically filled to capacity before the filling of the next tray. Also see less-than-full tray and overflow tray.

full sack

A sack filled with the minimum number of pieces needed to qualify for the class and price claimed.

hazardous material (HAZMAT)

Any article or substance designated by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) as being capable of posing an unreasonable risk to health, safety, and property during transportation.

highway contract route (HCR)

A route of travel served by a postal contractor to carry mail over highways between designated points. Some HCRs include mail delivery to addresses along the line of travel. Formerly called star route.

identical piece

An individual mailpiece that has the same mail classification and physical aspect, size, and weight as all other pieces in a mailing.


Imprinted designation on mail that denotes postage payment (e.g., metered postage or permit imprint).

information-based indicia (IBI)

Digital indicia that include human-readable information and a USPS-approved two-dimensional barcode with a digital signature and other required fields.


A letter, card, or similar item placed inside another mailpiece (host piece).

insured mail

A service that provides indemnity coverage for a lost, rifled, or damaged article, subject to the standards for the service and payment of the applicable fee. Insurance is available for merchandise sent as provided in DMM 503.

International Mail Manual (IMM)

The USPS manual that contains prices and classification standards for mailing between the United States and all other countries. The IMM Index of Countries contains complete price information for each country.

International Standard Book Number (ISBN)

A publication number issued by the Library of Congress that identifies a specific book or other nonperiodical.

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

A publication number issued by the Library of Congress that identifies a specific book or other periodical.


Optional mailer information printed in or above the address or in the lower left corner of the envelope. The information in a keyline identifies the mailpiece and its presort level. Under some postage payment systems, the keyline is a required line that contains specific information about the mailpiece.

known office of publication

The business office of a Periodicals publication that is in the city where the original entry for Periodicals mailing privileges is authorized.

less-than-full tray

A tray that contains mail for a single destination that was not preceded by a full tray for that destination. Less-than-full trays may be prepared only if permitted by the standards for the price claimed.


According to the Private Express Statutes, a message directed to a specific person or an address and recorded in or on a tangible object. Also a shortened way to refer to letter-size mail.

letter-size mail

A mail processing category of mailpieces, including cards, that do not exceed any of the dimensions for letter-size mail (i.e., 11-1/2 inches long, 6-1/8 inches high, 1/4 inch thick).

Library Mail

A subclass of Package Services for items sent to or from or exchanged between academic institutions, public libraries, museums, and other authorized organizations. Books, sound recordings, academic theses, and certain other items may be mailed at the Library Mail price if properly marked.

line-of-travel (LOT) sequence

A sequence required for some carrier route prices in which mailpieces are arranged by ZIP+4 codes in the order in which the route is served by the carrier. The mailpieces are sequenced in delivery order.


An abbreviation used on mail tray labels that identifies the contents as letter-size pieces.


An abbreviation used on mail container labels that identifies the contents as machinable letters or parcels (mail that can be processed on mechanized mail sorting equipment).


The ability of a mailpiece to be sorted by mail processing equipment. Compare with nonmachinable.

machinable parcel

A parcel that is of the correct size and weight to be safely sorted by mail processing machinery such as a parcel sorting machine.


Any mailable matter that is accepted for mail processing and delivery by the USPS. Also, the sum total of the mail at any time that is in USPS custody. To deposit a mailable item in a collection box or present the item (or a mailing for large quantities of mailpieces) at a Post Office or business mail entry unit.

mail class

The classification of domestic mail according to content (e.g., personal correspondence versus printed advertising). It is codified in the Mail Classification Schedule.


A group of mailpieces within the same mail class and mail processing category that may be sorted together under the appropriate standards. Also, the action of depositing or presenting mail at a Post Office.

mailing agent

A private third party that mails on behalf of someone else.

Mailing Standards of the United States Postal Service, Domestic Mail Manual (DMM)

The USPS manual that contains the standards governing domestic mail services, descriptions of the mail classes and services and conditions governing their uses, standards for price eligibility and mail preparation, and all postage prices and fees. Domestic mail is classified by size, weight, shape, content, service, and other factors.

managed mail (MM) tray

A stackable cardboard or plastic container with an enclosing cardboard sleeve and plastic strap that is used to transport letter mail to or between Post Offices.

Manifest Mailing System (MMS)

A postage payment system that enables the USPS to accept and verify permit imprint mailings that contain nonidentical-weight and/or nonidentical-price pieces. These pieces are prepared by the mailer according to certain standards and require specialized documentation.


Words or abbreviations printed on a mailpiece that show the class of mail, presort level, or ancillary service endorsement. See also endorsement.

Media Mail

A subclass of Package Services that consists of books, sheet music, printed educational material, film, videocassettes, and computer prerecorded media such as CD-ROMs. Advertising restrictions apply.


MERLIN is an acronym for Mail Evaluation Readability Lookup Instrument, is a tool that is used by the U.S. Postal Service to assist with the acceptance of business mail.

meter reply mail (MRM)

A preprinted return envelope, card, or label provided by a meter license holder as a courtesy to customers on which the postage is prepaid with a meter stamp. These pieces must have a specific address and format. Compare to Business Reply Mail and Courtesy Reply Mail.

meter stamp

Postage printed on a mailpiece or label by a postage meter or PC Postage System. Meter stamps may be used to pay postage for all mail classes except Periodicals.

metered mail

Any piece of mail with postage printed by a USPS-approved postage meter or PC Postage System.

military ordinary mail (MOM)

A category for Department of Defense official mail sent at Periodicals or USPS Marketing Mail prices that requires faster service than sealift transportation to, from, and between military Post Offices. This mail is moved by surface transportation to a gateway facility and from there by air at a specific transportation price and service standard. Compare with parcel airlift (PAL).

Military Post Office (MPO)

A branch of a U.S. civil Post Office operated by the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps to serve military personnel overseas or aboard ships. Also see Army Post Office (APO) and Fleet Post Office (FPO).

minimum size standard

The smallest dimensions permitted for all mailable matter or for a specific mail processing category or specific price.

mixed class

A mailing containing more than one class of mail. With certain exceptions, the postage on the entire piece or bundle is charged at the price of the higher class.


An abbreviation used on mail container labels that identifies the contents as mixed mail for different destinations. Usually indicates the last presort level in a sequence.

National Change of Address Linkage System (NCOALink)

An address correction service that USPS provides to mailers through USPS licensees. The licensees match mailing lists submitted to them on tape or disk against change-of-address information for the entire country from all Computerized Forwarding System units. If a match is made, NCOALink can correct the address before it is printed on a mailpiece. Additional information and a list of Vendors and Licensees that have been certified through CASS and MASS address matching software is available online.

network distribution center (NDC)

A highly mechanized mail processing plant that distributes USPS Marketing Mail and Package Services in piece and bulk form. Also see auxiliary service facility (ASF).

network distribution center (NDC) Presort price

A price available for Parcel Select that is properly prepared and entered by the mailer at a NDC or other designated postal facility.


The inability of a mailpiece to be sorted on mail processing equipment because of size, shape, content, or address legibility. Such mail must be processed manually.

nonmailable articles and substances

Anything that, by statute, “may kill or injure another, or injure the mails or other property.” There are some exceptions to this rule that allow otherwise unmailable items to be mailed.

Nonprofit price

A preferred price for a Periodicals publisher authorized to mail as a nonprofit organization.

Nonprofit USPS Marketing Mail

A subclass of USPS Marketing Mail that is available only to qualified organizations specified by U.S. statute.

Nonprofit USPS Marketing Mail Eligibility

Publication 417, discusses eligibility, authorization, and the rules for mailing at the Nonprofit USPS Marketing Mail prices. Many customers find it helpful to reference this publication to gain authorization and determine the eligibility of their mailpiece. Also see the USPS Marketing Mail Eligibility Decision Tree.

official mail

Mail authorized by federal law to be sent by government officials without postage prepayment. It includes franked mail sent by members of Congress and penalty mail sent by U.S. government agencies.

optical character reader (OCR)

An automated mail sorting machine that interprets the address information on a letter-size mailpiece and sprays the corresponding ZIP Code information onto the piece as a barcode.

optional endorsement line (OEL)

A series of specific printed characters on the top line of the address block that identifies the sortation level of a bundle and may contain an ACS participant code. The OEL is used in place of bundle labels.

origin network distribution center (ONDC) Presort

A price available for Parcel Select that is properly prepared and entered by the mailer at the origin NDC or other designated postal facility.


Mailing industry term for an external attachment.

overflow tray

A less-than-full tray that contains pieces remaining after preparation of full trays for the same destination. Overflow trays may be prepared only if allowed by the standards for the price claimed.

oversized price

USPS Retail Ground and Parcel Select price for pieces exceeding 108 inches but not more than 130 inches in combined length and girth.

Package Services

A class of mail that comprises three subclasses: Bound Printed Matter, Library Mail, and Media Mail. There is no minimum weight limit for Package Services.


A reusable platform on which mail is stacked to be moved as a single unit. Pallets are made of rigid material designed for four-way forklift entry and capable of handling loads of up to 65 cubic feet and 2,200 pounds. A USPS pallet measures 48 by 40 inches. Also see copalletize and top cap.


Mail that does not meet the mail processing category of letter-size mail or flat-size mail. It is usually enclosed in a mailing container such as a box.

parcel airlift (PAL)

A service that provides air transportation for parcels on a space-available basis to or from military Post Offices outside the 48 contiguous states.

PC Postage System

A postage system used to purchase and print postage with a personal computer, a printer, and Internet access.

penalty mail

Official mail sent without postage prepayment by officers of the executive and judicial branches of the U.S. Government, by departments and agencies of the U.S. Government, and by specifically authorized individuals. Agencies then reimburse the USPS for the penalty mail service they receive. The term comes from the endorsement “Penalty for Private Use” printed on the mail. Compare to franked mail.


A class of mail consisting of magazines, newspapers, or other publications formed of printed sheets that are issued at least four times a year at regular, specified intervals (frequency) from a known office of publication. Periodicals usually must have a legitimate list of subscribers and requesters.


Any authorization required for specific types of preparation or postage payment. Specifically, an authorization to mail without postage affixed by using indicia or an imprint. Payment is made against an advance deposit account that is established with the USPS for postage and services. Permits also are required to participate in certain programs such as Business Reply Mail.

permit imprint

Printed indicia, instead of an adhesive postage stamp or meter stamp, that shows postage prepayment by an authorized mailer.


An individually addressed mailpiece. This definition also applies when the term “piece” is used in eligibility standards. Quantities indicated for optional or required sortations always refer to pieces unless specifically excepted.

piece price

For some mail classes, the postage charged for each mailpiece in addition to the pound price charge.

plant-verified drop shipment (PVDS)

A procedure that enables origin verification and postage payment for shipments transported by the mailer from the mailer’s plant to destination Post Offices for USPS acceptance as mail. PVDS is typically used for mailings for which a destination entry discount is claimed.


Payment for delivery service that is affixed or imprinted to a mailpiece, usually in the form of a postage stamp, permit imprint, or meter stamp.

postage statement

Documentation provided by a mailer to the USPS that reports the volume of mail being presented and the postage payable or affixed, and certifies that the mail meets the applicable eligibility standards for the price claimed.


A privately printed mailing card. Compare to stamped card.


To cancel postage stamps or stamped envelopes before mailing. If authorized, bulk mailers may precancel their own postage.

precanceled stamp

A postage stamp canceled by marking across the face before it is sold to mailers for use with discount mailings. Also, a stamp designated by the USPS as a precanceled stamp without cancellation marks. The USPS sells precanceled stamps for Presorted First-Class Mail and regular and nonprofit USPS Marketing Mail. Mailpieces with these stamps do not go through a canceling machine at the time of mail processing. Also see precancel.


The process by which a mailer groups mail by ZIP Code so that it is sorted to the finest extent required by the standards for the price claimed. Generally, presort is performed sequentially, from the lowest (finest) level to the highest level, to those destinations specified by standard and is completed at each level before the next level is prepared. Not all presort levels are applicable to all mailings.

Presort Accuracy Validation and Evaluation (PAVE)

A program that evaluates presort software and determine its accuracy in sorting address files under DMM standards. An overview of the program and a list of PAVE certified vendors are available on on PostalPro at https://postalpro.usps.com.

Presorted USPS Marketing

The postage price for USPS Marketing Mail pieces that are part of a mailing and that meet minimum volume and preparation requirements.

Price List (Notice 123)

The Price List is a publication that contains domestic and international prices and fees in a concise and accessible manner.

Pricing and Classification Service Center (PCSC)

A USPS field office that provides guidance to employees and customers on mail classification, postage prices, and mail preparation.

printed matter

Paper on which words, letters, characters, figures, or images (or any combination of them) not having the character of a bill or statement of account, or of actual and personal correspondence, have been reproduced by any process other than handwriting or typewriting.

Priority Mail

First-Class Mail that weighs more than 13 ounces and, at the mailer’s option, any other mail matter weighing less than 13 ounces mailed at Priority Mail prices. Priority Mail provides expedited delivery. Any mailable matter may be sent as Priority Mail.

Priority Mail Express

A mail class that provides expedited delivery service. This is the fastest mail service offered by the USPS. Priority Mail Express International Service is available between the United States and most other countries.

Priority Mail Express Military Service (PMEMS)

A Priority Mail Express service available between the United States and designated APO and FPO addresses that provides Department of Defense and other authorized personnel stationed overseas with expedited delivery service to or from the United States.

processing and distribution center/facility (P&DC/F)

A central mail facility that processes and dispatches part or all of both incoming mail and outgoing mail for a designated service area. It also provides instructions on the preparation of collection mail, dispatch schedules, and sorting plan requirements to mailers. The facility is usually a sectional center facility or a general mail facility, but it can also be a dedicated mail processing facility without a Post Office station or branch.

prohibited matter

Any material that is illegal to mail because it can kill or injure an individual or damage other mail. This includes certain poisons and controlled substances and certain flammable or hazardous matter.

qualified business reply mail (QBRM)

Business Reply Mail that is processed and rated by automated means, including the automated calculation of postage and fees. QBRM pieces must meet certain design specifications and may be eligible for the lowest per piece fee available for BRM and for reduced automation First-Class Mail postage.

Quick Service Guide

Publication 95, Quick Service Guide, a concise overview of mail preparation and deposit for specific mail classes.

raffle tickets

For an overview of the eligibility of lottery advertisements by authorized nonprofit organizations, see Customer Support Ruling 307.

Registered Mail

Provides the most secure service offered by the USPS. The sender receives a receipt at the time of mailing, and a delivery record is maintained by the USPS. This service also provides optional indemnity in case of loss or damage. Compare with Certified Mail and insured mail.

restricted delivery

A supplemental mail service that generally limits who may receive an item. This service is available for a fee when used with Certified Mail, collect on delivery, insured mail, and Registered Mail.

restricted matter

Any item on which certain mailing restrictions have been imposed for legal reasons other than risk of harm to persons or property involved in moving the mail and that require specific endorsements and markings. Examples include odd-shaped items in envelopes, motor vehicle master keys, and locksmithing devices as well as odor-producing materials, certain liquids and powders, and battery-powered devices. Compare to hazardous material.

rural route (RR)

A delivery route served by a rural carrier.


Systematic plan for the distribution of mail to its destination.

scheme sort

The distribution of mail to its destination according to a systematic plan determined by the mail processing functional area. Typically, a scheme sort allows mailers to combine pieces addressed to two or more 5-digit or 3-digit ZIP Code areas.

Science-of-Agriculture price

A Periodicals price that is available to an authorized mailer of agriculture publications.

sectional center facility (SCF)

A postal facility that serves as the processing and distribution center (P&DC) for Post Offices in a designated geographic area as defined by the first three digits of the ZIP Codes of those offices. Some SCFs serve more than one 3-digit ZIP Code range.

shipper paid forwarding (SPF)

An address change service (ACS) fulfillment vehicle. It allows mailers of USPS Marketing Mail machinable parcels and most Package Services pieces to pay forwarding charges via approved ACS participant code(s).

shortpaid mail

Mail on which additional postage is collectable on final delivery.

Signature Confirmation

A service that provides information to the mailer about the date and time of delivery, including the recipient’s signature or the date and time of the delivery attempt. This service may be obtained in two forms: (1) an electronic option for mailers who apply identifying barcodes to each piece, provide an electronic file, and retrieve delivery status information electronically; and (2) a retail option for mailers who retrieve delivery status through the Internet at www.usps.com or by calling 800-222-1811.


A postage price available for individual pieces of mail under certain products. It is not available for Periodicals except under the price category of basic. This type of price contrasts with prices available for commercial mail.


The misalignment or slant of a character, bar, line of characters, or barcode with respect to the bottom or top edge of the mailpiece.


A paperboard jacket that fits over the four sides (top, bottom, and two parallel sides) of a letter tray in order to keep the mail inside the tray from falling out.

stamped card

A postcard sold by the USPS (as distinguished from a privately printed postcard) with a printed or impressed postage stamp. Compare to postcard.

Service Type ID

The STID defines the mailpiece as full-service or basic (Nonautomation) and is also used to determine the disposition of undeliverable-as-addressed (UAA) mail and the form of address correction that a mailer desires if any.


A subdivision of a mail class, usually based on the consideration of a physical characteristic rather than content.

tap test

When a insert showing through the window is moved to any of its limits inside the envelope, the entire barcode must remain within the barcode clear zone, and a clear space must be maintained that is at least 1/8 inch between the barcode and the left and right edges of the window, at least 1/25 inch between the barcode and the top edge of the window, and at least 3/16 inch between the barcode and the bottom edge of the mailpiece.

top cap

Material that forms a flat, level surface horizontal to the base of a pallet that is used to protect the integrity of the mail under the top cap while also supporting a loaded pallet above. A top cap must be secured to a pallet of mail with either stretchwrap or at least two crossed straps or bands.


A container used in postal facilities to hold letters and First-Class Mail flats. It is used as a basic unit of mail quantity for purposes of preparing mail to qualify for discounted postage. Also see full flat tray, full letter tray, less-than-full tray, and overflow tray.

undeliverable-as-addressed (UAA)

Mail that the USPS cannot deliver as addressed and must forward to the addressee, return to the sender, or send to a mail recovery center.

unique ZIP Code

A ZIP Code assigned to a company, government agency, or entity with sufficient mail volume, based on average daily volume of letter-size mail received, availability of ZIP Code numbers in the postal area, and USPS cost-benefit analyses.

USPS Marketing Mail

A class of mail that weighs less than 16 ounces. It comprises the subclasses of Regular USPS Marketing Mail, Nonprofit USPS Marketing Mail, Carrier Route USPS Marketing Mail, and Nonprofit Carrier Route USPS Marketing Mail. These subclasses include circulars, printed matter, pamphlets, catalogs, newsletters, direct mail, and merchandise. USPS Marketing Mail may be sent at Carrier Route, automation, nonautomation, and Not Flat-Machinable prices.

USPS Retail Ground

A separate product offered only at retail with prices based generally on weight and zone.

USPS Returns service

A service whereby an authorized company provides a customer with a special mailing label to return a shipment without prepaying postage. The company pays the return postage.

United States Code (USC)

The official restatement of the general and permanent laws of the United States; 39 USC contains laws relating to the USPS.

USPS Tracking

A service that provides the date and time of delivery or, if delivery was attempted but not successful, the date and time of the delivery attempt. This service may be obtained in two forms: (1) an electronic option for mailers who apply identifying barcodes to each piece, provide an electronic file, and retrieve delivery status information electronically; and (2) a retail option for mailers who retrieve delivery status through the USPS Internet at www.usps.com or by calling 800-222-1811.


The procedural checks of a mailing presented by a mailer to determine proper preparation and postage payment.

walk sequence

The order in which a carrier delivers mail for a route. This order is required for most carrier route presort mail.


An abbreviation for “working” used on mail container labels that identifies the contents as mail that needs to be worked (sorted and distributed).

ZIP code

A system of 5-digit codes that identifies the individual Post Office or metropolitan area delivery station associated with an address. ZIP+4 is an enhanced code consisting of the 5-digit ZIP Code and four additional digits that identify a specific range of delivery addresses.

ZIP+4 code

A nine-digit numeric code composed of two parts: (a) the initial code: the first five digits that identify the sectional center facility and delivery area associated with the address, followed by a hyphen; and (b) the four-digit expanded code: the first two additional digits designate the sector (a geographic area) and the last two digits designate the segment (a building, floor, etc.).

ZIP+4 barcode

A ZIP+4 barcode is an Intelligent Mail barcode that contains a 9-digit ZIP+4 routing code.

zone chart

The USPS Official National Zone Chart Data Program is administered from the National Customer Support Center (NCSC) in Memphis, Tennessee. Zone charts for originating mail are available using the Domestic Zone Chart tool located on Postal Explorer at https://postcalc.usps.com/DomesticZoneChart.

zoned price

A price structure for certain products that is based on weight and distance traveled (or number of zones crossed).