Customer Support Ruling
United States Postage Stamps
This CSR discusses the use of postage stamps with advertising stickers in an advertising campaign.
An inquiry was made as to whether it is possible to obtain a permit to conduct an advertising campaign involving United States postage stamps. In the course of this campaign, postage stamps would be attached to advertising stickers and resold to individuals who would use the combined stickers and postage stamps to mail their personal and business letters.
The Postal Service does not issue permits for the use of decorative seals or stickers on mail matter. Indeed, the Postal Service does not encourage the use of decorative seals or stickers on the address side of mail; and mail acceptance personnel may from time to time reject envelopes bearing stickers which are located where they could impair mail processing functions, or which imitate postage stamps by having such characteristics as words, numerals, or markings which might indicate a postage value or a postal service.
The Criminal Division of the United States Department of Justice has advised that the use of postage stamps in the manner referred to above would constitute a violation of 18 U.S.C. 475. That statue provides, in pertinent part, that "Whoever...attaches to any...obligation ...of the United States any business or professional card, notice, or advertisement, or any notice or advertisement, whatever, shall be fined not more than $500". The Justice Department has further advised that it would not, as a general proposition, be disposed to forego prosecution of those who violate section 475. Inquiries regarding the enforcement of section 475 and other provisions contained in chapter 25 of title 18 should be directed to the Office of Chief Counsel, United States Secret Service, Department of the Treasury, 1800 G Street NW, Washington, DC 20223.
Anita J. Bizzotto
Headquarters, US Postal Service
Washington, DC 20260-3436