Mailpieces bearing references to expedited handling or delivery (e.g., “Urgent,” “Rush Delivery,” “Time Sensitive”) meet the requirements under 604.5.3.5.
3.6 [7-9-23] USPS Ground Advantage — Commercial Markings
The basic required marking “USPS Ground Advantage” must be printed as part of, directly below, or to the left of the postage on all parcels. Optionally, the basic required price marking may be printed on a shipping address label as a service indicator composed of a service icon and service banner.
3.6.2 [7-9-23] USPS Ground Advantage — Commercial Cubic Markings
USPS Ground Advantage — Commercial pieces claimed at the cubic price must be marked as provided under 3.6.1 and bear the applicable marking that reflects the correct price tier printed on the piece or produced as part of the postage indicia. The cubic tiers are determined by the cubic measurement of each mailpiece up to the defined threshold, (for example, measurements from .01 up to .10 for “Cubic .10” and from .101 up to .20 for “Cubic .20”). Place the marking directly above, directly below, or to the left of the postage. Approved markings are as follows:
- “Cubic .10.”
- “Cubic .20.”
- "Cubic .30.”
- “Cubic .40.”
- “Cubic .50.”
- “Cubic .60.”
- “Cubic .70.”
- “Cubic .80.”
- “Cubic .90.”
- “Cubic 1.00.”
3.6.3 [7-9-23] Price Marking – Permit Imprint
USPS Ground Advantage – Commercial permit imprint pieces claimed at the cubic price must be marked as provided under 3.6.1 and bear the “cubic” marking printed on the piece or produced as part of the permit imprint indicia. Place the marking directly above, directly below, or to the left of the postage. The approved marking is “Cubic” (or “CUBIC,” or “cubic”).
3.6.4 [7-9-23] Soft Pack and Padded Envelope Markings
Regardless of the postage payment method used, soft pack and padded envelopes must be marked as provided under 3.6.1 in addition to the tier price markings in 3.6.2 and the dimensions (length and width) of the original packaging. Place the markings directly above, directly below, or to the left of the postage.
The basic required marking (i.e., “Parcel Select”, “Parcel Select Lightweight”, “USPS Connect Local”,“Bound Printed Matter”, “Media Mail”, “Library Mail”) must be printed on each piece claimed at the respective price. The basic required marking must be placed in the postage area (printed or produced as part of, or directly below or to the left of, the permit imprint indicia or meter stamp or impression). Optionally, the basic required marking may be printed on the shipping address label as service indicators composed of a service icon and service banner (see Exhibit 3.7.1):
- The service icon that identifies the marking will be a 1-inch solid black square. If the service icon is used, it must appear in the upper left corner of the shipping label.
- The service banner must appear directly below the postage payment area and the service icon, and it must extend across the shipping label. The appropriate marking (e.g., “PARCEL SELECT”, “MEDIA MAIL”) must be preceded by the text “USPS” and be printed in minimum 20-point bold sans serif typeface, uppercase letters, centered within the banner, and bordered above and below by minimum 1-point separator lines. There must be a 1/16-inch clearance above and below the text.
Exhibit 3.7.1 Marking Indicator Examples
[7-9-23] Each piece in a Parcel Select mailing must bear a price marking. Markings must appear in either the postage area described in 3.7.1 or in the address area on the line directly above or two lines above the address if the marking appears alone (when no other information appears on that line). The following product markings are required:
- Destination Entry — “Parcel Select”.
- Lightweight — “Parcel Select Lightweight” or “PS Lightweight”.
- USPS Connect Local — “USPS Connect Local”.
In addition to the basic marking “USPS Connect Local”, each piece of USPS Connect Local must bear the 5-digit ZIP Code of the local mailing Post Office (i.e., USPS Connect Local — 12345) additional price marking. For USPS Connect Local Sunday delivery, in addition to the 5-digit ZIP Code additional price marking, the piece must include the marking “SUN” (i.e., USPS Connect Local — 12345 SUN).
In addition to the basic marking “Bound Printed Matter” or “BPM,” each piece of Bound Printed Matter mailed at a presorted or carrier route price must bear additional price markings. The additional markings may be placed in the postage area as specified in 3.7.1. Alternatively, these markings may be placed in the address area on the line directly above or two lines above the address if the marking appears alone, or if no other information appears on the line with the marking except postal optional endorsement line information under 203.7.0 or postal carrier route bundle information under 204.3.0. The additional price markings are:
- For Presorted price mail, the additional required marking is “Presorted” (or “PRSRT”). For presorted flats claiming the barcode discount prepared under 265.7.0, the optional marking “AUTO” may be used in place of “Presorted” (or “PRSRT”). If the “AUTO” marking is not used, the automation price flats must bear the “Presorted” (or “PRSRT”) price marking.
- For carrier route price mail, the additional required marking is “Carrier Route Presort” (or “CAR-RT SORT”).
When a Bound Printed Matter machinable parcel consists of multiple pieces for a single address secured with transparent shrinkwrap, the delivery address information and barcoded pressure-sensitive Label F or firm optional endorsement line must be visible and readable by the naked eye. Mailers must label the parcel using one of the following options:
- A firm optional endorsement line under 203.7.0, followed by the 5-digit destination ZIP Code of the parcel.
- A blue, pressure-sensitive, barcoded Label F on the address side of the parcel.
Each piece of Media Mail or Library Mail mailed at a presorted price must bear the required marking “Presorted” or “PRSRT” in addition to the basic marking “Media Mail” or “Library Mail,” as applicable. This additional marking may be placed in the postage area specified in 3.7.1. Alternatively, these markings may be placed in the address area on the line directly above or two lines above the address if the marking appears alone or if no other information appears on the line with the marking except postal optional endorsement line information under 203.7.0.
Exceptions are as follows:
- Automation Letters and Flats. Automation letters and flats do not require an “AUTO” marking if they bear an Intelligent Mail barcode with a delivery point routing code in the address block or on an insert visible through a window. First-Class Mail letters not marked “AUTO” must bear both the “Presorted” or “PRSRT” and “First-Class” markings. USPS Marketing Mail letters not marked “AUTO” must bear the appropriate basic marking in 3.5a.
- Manifest Mailings. The basic marking must appear in the postage area on each piece as required in 3.5a. The two-letter price category code, printed in the keyline on manifest mailing system pieces using batch processing under 705.2.0, meets the requirement for other price markings when those pieces are part of a manifest mailing or another automation mailing. If a single-piece marking (“SP”) has been applied to pieces that subsequently become part of a presorted or automation mailing, the “SP” marking must be marked out and replaced with a “Presorted” or “PRSRT” marking. Mail manifested using the Electronic Verification System (eVS) under 705.2.0 must bear the basic marking and the additional marking “eVS” (or the alternative “e-VS” or “EVS”) in two places:
- In the required permit imprint as described in 604.5.0.
- In the human-readable text above the required barcode described in 705.2.9 and 204.2.0.
- MLOCR Prepared Automation Mailings. The basic marking must appear in the postage area on each piece as required in 3.5a. The other “AUTO” marking described in 3.5b must be replaced by the appropriate identifier/price code marking described in 705.5.0, on those pieces that have the marking applied by an MLOCR. This seven-character marking provides a description of the Product Month Designator, NCOALink MPE system identifier, postage payment method, and the price of affixed postage or other postage information for permit imprint mail.
All mailable hazardous materials must be labeled and/or marked as required in Publication 52, Hazardous, Restricted, and Perishable Mail.
The mailer must place the correct endorsement on each mailpiece to provide delivery instructions (retention period under 507.4.3.4, or carrier release under 4.3c) or to request an ancillary service (forwarding, return, or address correction under 507.1.0), subject to the corresponding standards for use and availability.
When a printed ancillary service endorsement is used, or a request is embedded within an Intelligent Mail barcode, a domestic return address must be placed in the upper left corner of the address side of the mailpiece or the upper left corner of the addressing area. If the return address is a multiple delivery address, it must show a unit designator (e.g., an apartment number).
Placement of the endorsement on the mailpiece is determined as follows:
- A retention period specified by the mailer must be placed directly above the return address.
- Any ancillary service endorsement (e.g., Address Service Requested, Forwarding Service Requested, Return Service Requested, Change Service Requested) must be placed in one of these four positions:
- Directly below the return address.
- Directly above the delivery address area (which includes the delivery address block and any related nonaddress elements such as a barcode, keyline, or optional endorsement line).
- Directly to the left of the postage area and below or to the left of any price marking.
- Directly below the postage area and below any price marking.
- The carrier release endorsement “CARRIER—LEAVE IF NO RESPONSE” must appear directly to the left of the postage area (preferred) or placed directly below the return address. A minimum 1/4 inch clear space must appear between any other printing and the carrier release endorsement. If an ancillary service endorsement is used, the carrier release endorsement must be separated from the ancillary service endorsement by the equivalent of one blank line of the type size used.
The endorsement or, if combined, endorsements must meet these physical standards:
- The type size of the endorsement must be at least 8 points.
- The read direction of the endorsement and return address must be the same as the read direction of the delivery address.
- The color contrast between the endorsement and the mailpiece background must be kept at a reasonable degree. A brilliant colored background or reverse printing is not permitted.
- A clear space of at least 1/4 inch around (above, below, and both sides) the total area containing the endorsement(s) is required. This 1/4-inch clear space is not required for an endorsement that is applied with a multiline optical character reader (MLOCR) inkjet and placed in the location directly below the postage area and any price marking if the endorsement is clear and legible.
Each reference to letter or letter-size piece in 5.0 includes both letters and postcards. Each letter-size piece in a machinable price, automation price, or an Enhanced Carrier Route mailing at automation letter prices, must have a barcode clear zone unless the piece bears an Intelligent Mail barcode with a delivery point routing code (see 204.1.2) in the address block. The barcode clear zone and all printing and material in the clear zone must meet the reflectance standards in 204.1.3. The barcode clear zone is a rectangular area in the lower right corner of the address side of cards and letter-size pieces defined by these boundaries:
- Left: 4-3/4 inches from the right edge of the piece.
- Right: right edge of the piece.
- Top: 5/8 inch from the bottom edge of the piece.
- Bottom: bottom edge of the piece.
Each automation price letter and each letter claimed at Enhanced Carrier Route automation saturation or high density letter prices must bear an Intelligent Mail barcode with a correct delivery point routing code. A nonautomation letter may bear an Intelligent Mail barcode under 204.1.0. Mailers must print the barcode either in the address block or in the barcode clear zone as provided in 5.1.3 and 5.1.4, except for pieces that weigh more than 3.5 ounces which must include the Intelligent Mail barcode with the correct delivery point routing code in the address block. See 5.3 when placing barcodes in the address block.
If an Intelligent Mail barcode with the correct delivery point routing code is printed directly on the mailpiece in the lower right corner, the entire barcode must be within the barcode read area defined by these limits:
- Horizontally, the leftmost bar must be between 3-1/2 inches and 4-1/4 inches from the right edge of the piece.
- Vertically, the barcode must be within the area between 3/16 inch and 1/2 inch, both measured from the bottom edge of the piece.
An automation letter or a letter claimed at Enhanced Carrier Route saturation or high density automation letter prices may not bear a 5-digit or ZIP+4 Intelligent Mail barcode in the lower right corner (barcode clear zone). The piece may bear an additional Intelligent Mail barcode in the address block only if a qualifying Intelligent Mail barcode with a delivery point routing code appears in the lower right corner.
For Business Reply Mail under 505.1.0, a ZIP+4 Intelligent Mail barcode may appear in the address block when printed directly on the mailpiece, printed on an insert that appears through a window, or on an address label affixed directly to the piece; or it may appear in the lower right corner either printed directly on the mailpiece or on an insert that appears through a window.
On any flat-size piece claimed at automation prices, the piece must bear an Intelligent Mail barcode with a delivery point routing code. The barcode may be anywhere on the address side as long as it is at least 1/8 inch from any edge of the piece. The portion of the surface of the piece on which the Intelligent Mail barcode is printed must meet the barcode dimensions and spacing requirements in 204.1.0. Intelligent Mail barcodes are subject to standards in 188.8.131.52. An additional Intelligent Mail barcode may also appear in the address block of an automation flat, when the qualifying Intelligent Mail barcode is not in the address block. Other non-USPS barcodes may appear on the address side of a flat if the barcode format is not discernable to automated postal flat-sorting equipment.
In automation mailings only, the numbers corresponding to the delivery point routing code may appear in the delivery address. If read from left to right: a correct numeric equivalent consists of five digits, a hyphen, and six digits.
When the barcode is included as part of the address block:
- The barcode must be placed in one of these positions:
- Above the address line containing the recipient’s name.
- Below the city, state, and ZIP Code line.
- Above or below the keyline information.
- Above or below the optional endorsement line.
- The printing of the barcode is prohibited anywhere between the address line containing the recipient’s name and the city, state, and ZIP Code line.
- The minimum clearance between the Intelligent Mail barcode and any information line above or below it within the address block must be at least 0.028 inch. The separation between the barcode and top line or bottom line of the address block must not exceed 0.625 (5/8) inch. The clearance between the leftmost and rightmost bars and any adjacent printing must be at least 0.125 (1/8) inch.
- If a window envelope is used, the clearance between the leftmost and rightmost bars and any printing or window edge must be at least 0.125 (1/8) inch. The clearance between the Intelligent Mail barcode and the top and bottom window edges must be at least 0.028 inch. These clearances must be maintained during the insert’s range of movement in the envelope. Address block windows on heavy letter mail must be covered. Covers for address block windows are subject to 5.7.
- If an address label is used, a clear space of at least 0.125 (1/8) inch must be left between the barcode and the left and right edges of the address label. The clearance between the Intelligent Mail barcode and the top and bottom edges of the address label must be at least 0.028 inch.
- The rightmost bar must be at least 1/2 inch from the right edge of the mailpiece, and the leftmost bar must be less than 10-1/2 inches from the right edge of the mailpiece and at least 1/2 inch from the left edge of the mailpiece; the top of each bar must be less than 4 inches from the bottom edge of the mailpiece; and the bottom line of the address block, including the barcode, must be at least 5/8 inch from the bottom of the mailpiece.
If the barcode is printed on an insert to appear through a barcode window in the lower right corner of an envelope:
- The envelope and window must meet the physical standards in 5.6 and 5.7.
- The entire barcode must be within the barcode clear zone (but need not be completely within the barcode read area).
- When the 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. In addition, a clear space must be maintained that is at least 0.125 (1/8) inch between the barcode and the left and right edges of the window, at least 0.1875 (3/16) inch between the barcode and the bottom edge of the mailpiece, and at least 0.028 inch between the barcode and the top edge of the window.
The edges of the barcode window must meet these criteria:
- Left: at least 4-3/4 inches from the right edge of the envelope.
- Right: at least 1/4 inch from the right edge of the envelope.
- Top: at least 5/8 inch from the bottom of the envelope.
- Bottom: form part of the bottom edge of the envelope.
A barcode window must extend fully to the bottom edge of the envelope, must be of wraparound construction, and must be covered subject to 5.7.
The window cover must be of a nontinted clear or transparent material (e.g., cellophane or polystyrene) that permits the barcode and its background, as viewed through the window material, to meet the reflectance standards in 204.1.4. The edges of the window cover must be securely glued to the envelope.
The address and barcode (see 204.2.0) must be placed squarely onto the largest surface area of the parcel, except when its shape and contents requires specific orientation for stability during processing; then the address and barcode(s) must be placed on the top. The address and barcode label(s) must not overlap any side of the parcel or other label. The barcode should be placed immediately adjacent to the delivery address and at least 1 inch from the edge of the parcel. The delivery address and barcode may be printed on an attachment or enclosure in a window envelope affixed to the parcel, subject to the reflectance standards in 184.108.40.206. The barcode may be placed on a separate label or in an alternate location on the address label, subject to the clearance standards in 6.2. Barcodes that are not placed immediately adjacent to the delivery address must not encroach the return address, postage, applicable markings, endorsements, and extra service labels. Intelligent Mail package barcodes (see 204.2.0) may be used in lieu of GS1-128 routing barcodes, following the same placement standards.
The barcode must be located as specified in 6.1. No printing may appear in an area 1/8 inch above and below the barcode. A minimum clear (quiet) zone equal to 10 times the average measured narrow element (bars or space) width must be maintained to the left and right of the barcode.
Intelligent Mail barcodes (IMb) do not meet barcode eligibility requirements for parcels and do not qualify for any barcode-related prices for parcels, but one barcode may be included only in the address block on a parcel, except on eVS parcels. An Intelligent Mail barcode in the address block must be placed according to 5.3.
RPNs are not assessed a fee when used, and must meet all of the following standards:
- RPNs may be attached to letter- and flat-size commercial First-Class Mail, USPS Marketing Mail, and Periodicals mailpieces.
- For letter-size mailpieces, attach a single RPN to the address side of the mailpiece as specified in Exhibit 7.1b.
Exhibit 7.1b Placing RPNs on Letters
- For flat-size mailpieces, a single RPN may be attached to either the address side or nonaddress side of the mailpiece and attached in the locations described and shown in Exhibit 7.3g1 and Exhibit 7.3g2.
- RPNs are included as an integral part of the mailpiece for weight and postage price computation purposes.
- The written and graphic characteristics of the notes are considered when determining eligibility of mailpieces mailed at the USPS Marketing Mail and Nonprofit USPS Marketing Mail prices.
- Attach the RPNs to all pieces in the mailing, except as provided for non-identical manifested mail.
Each mailpiece must:
- Not be in a plastic wrapper (e.g., polybag, polywrap, or shrinkwrap).
- Be letter-size (including cards) or flat-size.
- Measure 3 inches by 3 inches, plus or minus 1/8 inch for either dimension.
- Not contain phosphorescent or red fluorescent colorants.
- Be adhered with a minimum of 3/4 inch (with a tolerance of 1/16 inch) adhesive strip across the top portion on the reverse side of the note.
- Not be placed in a manner that interferes with the delivery address, price markings, or postage and must not display a specific address or ZIP Code. References to general landmarks are permissible.
- Not be manually affixed.
- On letter-size mailpieces:
- Position the RPN parallel with the length of the mailpiece.
- Affix RPNs with labeling equipment to ensure adequate adhesion; do not affix RPNs manually.
- Place the RPN to the left of the delivery address, no closer than 3/8 inch from the left edge of the delivery address.
- Place the RPN at least 1/2 inch (with a tolerance of 1/8 inch) from the bottom and left edges of the mailpiece.
- On flat-size mailpieces:
- If the RPN is placed on the address side of the mailpiece, position the RPN according to Exhibit 7.3g1.
Exhibit 7.3g1 Placing RPNs on Flats—Address Side
- If the RPN is placed on the nonaddressed side of the mailpiece, position the RPN according to Exhibit 7.3g2.
Exhibit 7.3g2 Placing RPNs on Flats—Nonaddress Side
Letter-size mailpieces with RPNs claiming automation prices must meet the standards in 7.1 through 7.3, 201.3.0, and the following additional standards:
- Each mailpiece must be rectangular and have a surface smoothness of 195 Shefield Units or smoother.
- Enveloped mailpieces. Each mailpiece prepared in an envelope must be constructed from paperstock having a basis weight of 20 pounds or greater. Window envelopes must have a closed panel made of polystyrene or glassine. Each enveloped mailpiece is limited to the following dimensions:
- For height, no less than 4-1/8 inches and no more than 6 inches high.
- For length, no less than 8 inches and no more than 9-1/2 inches long.
- For thickness, no less than 0.02 inch and no more than 0.125 inch thick.
- Oversize cards. Each mailpiece prepared as an oversize card is limited to the following dimensions:
- For height, no less than 4-1/2 inches and no more than 6 inches high.
- For length, no less than 8-1/2 inches and no more than 9 inches long.
- For thickness, no less than 0.009 inch thick (cards 5-3/4 inches or more in height must be no less than 0.012 inch thick.)
Flat-size mailpieces with RPNs claiming automation prices must meet the standards in 1.0 through 3.0 and 201.6.0.
Mailers must comply as follows:
- RPNs must be obtained from an approved RPN vendor (see www.usps.com for a listing of approved vendors). Prospective vendors can obtain USPS standards and test procedures from USPS Engineering (see 608.8.0 for address). Testing must be performed by a certified independent laboratory.
- Mailers must present evidence at the time of mailing to show that their RPNs have been supplied by an approved vendor. The vendor name on the reverse side of the note will be sufficient as evidence; in lieu of the vendor name printed on the notes, an invoice from the approved vendor for purchase of the RPNs will constitute such evidence.
- As part of each mailing, mailers must include two pieces addressed to the manager, USPS Engineering Letter Technology, Attn: RPN Sample (see 608.8.0 for address).
The facing identification mark (FIM) serves to orient and separate certain types of First-Class Mail during the facing-canceling process. Mailers must use the appropriate FIM as follows:
- All letter-size business reply mail (BRM) under 505.1.0.
- All letter-size permit reply mail (PRM) under 505.2.0.
- Letter-size meter reply mail (MRM) under 505.2.5 or courtesy reply mail (CRM) as provided under 505.2.6.
- Letter-size mail with IBI printed with nonfluorescent ink directly onto the envelope by an IBI meter or a PC postage system must use FIM D.
- Return materials sent under 703.8.0..
- Share Mail cards and letter-size pieces mailed under 604.5.5.
- A FIM must not be used on other types of mail, except that a FIM may be used on a letter-size envelope with a permit imprint indicia when that envelope is designed for use as a reusable mailpiece under 601.6.0. A FIM used for this purpose must be the appropriate FIM for the postage payment method on the returned envelope (see 8.2).
The FIM pattern is a nine-bit binary code represented by vertical bars (with corresponding space element). A printed bar is considered binary 1; a nonprinted bar (placeholder), binary 0. The required FIM pattern as shown in Exhibit 8.2.0 below depends on the type of mail and the presence of an Intelligent Mail barcode as follows:
- FIM A is used for CRM and MRM with a preprinted barcode. (FIM A binary code is 110010011.)
- FIM B is used for BRM without a preprinted BRM ZIP+4 barcode. (FIM B binary code is 101101101.)
- FIM C is used for BRM with a preprinted BRM ZIP+4 barcode and for PRM with a preprinted delivery-point barcode. (FIM C binary code is 110101011.)
- FIM D is used for letter-size First-Class Mail with IBI printed with nonfluorescent ink directly on the envelope. (FIM D binary code is 111010111.)
- FIM E is used for postcard-size and letter-size First-Class Mail with customized services. (FIM E binary code is 101000101.)
Exhibit 8.2.0 FIM Patterns
(Patterns not drawn to scale)
The FIM must meet these specifications:
- A FIM clear zone to the upper right of the address side of the mailpiece must be maintained and must contain no printing other than the FIM. Exhibit 8.3.0 shows the FIM position and the FIM clear zone as defined by these boundaries:
- Left: 3 inches from the right edge of the piece.
- Right: 1-3/4 inches from the right edge of the piece.
- Top: top edge of the piece.
- Bottom: 5/8 inch from the top edge of the piece.
- The FIM bars must be 5/8 inch (±1/8 inch) high and 1/32 inch (±0.008 inch) wide and positioned as follows:
- The right edge of the rightmost bar of the FIM must be 2 inches (±1/8 inch) from the right edge of the piece.
- The tops of the FIM bars must be no lower than 1/8 inch from the top edge of the piece. The tops of the bars may extend over the top edge of the piece to the back (flap) of the piece if at least a 1/2-inch bar height is maintained on the address side.
- The bottoms of the FIM bars must touch the bottom boundary of the FIM clear zone or be no more than 1/8 inch above or below this boundary.
Exhibit 8.3.0 Position of FIM
Extraneous ink must not cause a FIM bar to exceed the specifications in 8.3. The combined effects of positional skew (slant of the entire FIM) and rotational skew (slant of the individual FIM bars) must be limited to ±5 degrees from the perpendicular edge of the printed FIM to the top edge of the mailpiece. Mail required to bear a FIM is considered nonmailable when the FIM has insufficient ink coverage, improper measurement, or ink in the space between the bars or when the FIM is enlarged or reduced. Camera-ready positives of FIMs, which must not be enlarged or reduced, are available at no charge from the USPS.
There must be at least a 30% print reflectance difference between the ink used for printing the FIM and the background material on which the FIM is printed in the red and green portions of the optical spectrum when measured with a USPS or USPS-licensed envelope reflectance meter.