230a Quick Service Guide

Commercial - First-Class Mail Nonmachinable Letters

Physical Standards (201)






5 inches

11-1/2 inches


3-1/2 inches

6-1/8 inches



1/4 inch

Maximum weight: 3.5 ounces. All letter-size pieces over 3.5 ounces are prepared as letters and charged the flat-size prices.

For an overview of the physical standards for commercial letters and postcards, see Quick Service Guide 201.

Prices and Fees (233.1.0)

For a complete listing of commercial First-Class Mail prices, see Notice 123–Price List.

Letters are subject to a nonmachinable surcharge if they meet any of the characteristics in 201.2.1. The nonmachinable characteristics do not apply to pieces mailed at postcard prices.

Annual presort mailing fee applies.

Content (233.2.0)

First-Class Mail is required for personal correspondence, handwritten or typewritten material, and bills or statements of account. First-Class Mail may also be used for most mailable items, including advertisements and lightweight merchandise.

Eligibility Standards (233.4.0)

Mailings of 500 or more addressed pieces, sorted and marked as described below. All pieces must be letter-size and meet one of the nonmachinable criteria in 201.2.0. Pieces mailed at card prices and pieces mailed at letter prices must meet separate 500-piece minimums.

Each piece must include a complete delivery address with correct ZIP Code or ZIP+4 Code.

Addresses on all pieces must be updated within 95 days before mailing through a USPS-approved address update method (e.g., ACS, NCOALink, or the appropriate ancillary service endorsement except Forwarding Service Requested, under 507.1.5). For an overview of the Move Update standards, see Quick Service Guide 602a.

A certified process (233.3.5) must be used within 12 months before mailing to ensure accuracy of 5-digit ZIP Codes.

Mailers can apply Repositionable Notes. See 202.7.0.

Postage Payment and Documentation (234)

Precanceled stamp (604.3.0), meter (604.4.0), or permit imprint (604.5.0).

Additional standards apply to mailings of nonidentical-weight pieces.


Mail Preparation (

Mark each piece “Presorted” or “PRSRT” and “First-Class Mail” in the postage area. For optional marking location, see 202.3.0.

When preparing full trays, mailers must fill all possible 2-foot trays first; if mail remains for the presort destination, mailers must use a combination of 1-foot and 2-foot trays that result in the fewest total number of trays for that presort level.

Use 2-inch tray labels (245.4.0).

Trays sleeved and strapped (203.5.0). See 203.5.5 for exceptions to strapping for mixed ADC trays and mailings that originate and destinate in delivery areas of same SCF or ADC (mail processing plant) service areas.

Enter and Deposit (236)

Mailing entered at an acceptance point designated by USPS.


Bundling and Traying Sequence (235.5.3)


Bundles: Required, pieces must be bundled if 10 or more pieces to same 5-digit ZIP Code; fewer than 10 pieces in a bundle not permitted. Bundling not required if sufficient quantity to fill a 5-digit tray.

Labels: Red Label 5 or optional endorsement line (OEL) (203.7.0).


Bundles: Required, pieces must be bundled if 10 or more pieces to same 3-digit ZIP Code prefix; fewer than 10 pieces in a bundle not permitted. 1

Labels: Green Label 3 or OEL.

Mixed ADC

Bundles: Required, any remaining pieces must be bundled in mixed ADC bundles.

Labels: Tan Label X or OEL.

Bundling and traying sequence for first-class mail nonmachinable letters.

Trays: Required, 150-piece minimum for pieces to same 5-digit ZIP Code; bundling not required; less-than-full trays not permitted.

Labels: For Line 1, use city, state, and 5-digit ZIP Code on mail.

Price: 5-Digit

Trays: Required, 150-piece minimum for bundles to same 3-digit ZIP Code prefix; less-than-full trays not permitted.

Exception: One less-than-full tray must be prepared for any remaining bundles for each origin 3-digit ZIP Code prefix.

Labels: For Line 1, use L002, Column A, for destination facility.

Price: 3-Digit

Trays: Required for any remaining bundles placed in mixed ADC trays; only one less-than-full tray permitted.

Labels: For Line 1, use L201. For mail originating in 3-digit ZIP Codes in Column A, use “MXD” followed by city/state/3-digit ZIP Code in Column C.

Price: Mixed ADC

Bundling required in mailings consisting entirely of postcard-size pieces and for other pieces in less-than-full trays.

The maximum bundle thickness is 6 inches (203.4.0).

1. Bundling not required if sufficient quantity to fill a tray and none of the mail in the tray would have been more finely sorted if bundled (203.4.0).