Get Supplies

You'll need supplies to sort and prepare your mail. You can pick up most of these supplies during normal business hours at the Business Mail Entry Unit (BMEU)—the place at a Post Office where mailers drop off business mail. A BMEU clerk will help you find exactly what you need.

  • Most BMEUs have a work area for customers; that's where you'll find the supplies you need. If you need something but don't see it, just ask!
The Postal Service supplies the following items at no charge for your use in preparing your mailing:
  1. Trays

    For letters: The Postal Service has 1-foot and 2-foot trays. If this is the first time you've mailed, take a few of each and be sure to always return the extras. The next time you do a mailing, you'll have a better idea of the number of trays you need.

    For "tall" letters: The Postal Service has special trays called "EMM" trays that are deeper than the regular 1-foot and 2-foot trays. EMM trays come in 2-foot lengths.

    For flats: First-Class Mail flats get sorted into deep tubs called flat trays. USPS Marketing Mail flats get sorted into white or clear sacks.

  2. Tray "sleeves" or lids.

    "Sleeves" are tray lids, and each tray needs one. Get the same number and size (1-foot or 2-foot) to fit the number of trays you need. Flat trays get lids.

    You will also need strapping material. Trays of mail must be secured with a single strap around the length of the sleeved tray. Most large office supply stores carry strapping material.

  3. Bundle Labels.
    These colored stickers identify your bundles of mail. Get a roll of each of the four stickers: Business Mail 101 - Barcoded Presort Labels
  4. Container labels.

    Every container of mail (tray or sack) MUST have a label. The label tells the Postal Service the destination of the mail in that tray or sack. Ask the Business Mail Entry Unit clerk to help you find the right labels. For your future mailings you'll have a better idea of what labels you use on a regular basis.

    • Use the cardstock labels supplied by the Postal Service. Do not use flimsy paper or stickers for your labels.
    • For mailings prepared to meet automation requirements, container labels must be barcoded.
    • Sack and tray labels are different sizes -- use tray labels for trays and sack labels for sacks.
  5. Labeling Lists.

    These lists contain destination ZIP Codes with corresponding postal facility destination information. Mailers use labeling lists to properly label bundles, trays, sacks, and pallets of mail to the correct presort destinations. Mailers will use different lists for different types of mail. All the labeling lists are available on the Postal Explorer website. See Labeling Lists.

  6. Quick Service Guides (QSGs).

    These two-page guides use words and pictures to show you how to sort mail for any class of mail or any presort level. The Quick Service Guides are available online and in hard copy from your local Business Mail Entry Unit. See Quick Service Guides Table of Contents.

  7. Postage statement.

    Mailers use postage statements to record the number of pieces in a mailing and calculate the applicable postage. Hardcopy postage statements are available on the Postal Explorer website by choosing "Postage Statements" from the Business Solutions drop down menu. They are also available at local Business Mail Entry Units.

Once you have all of your supplies, you're ready to sort your mail.