What’s an Indicia?
If you’ve ever done any sort of bulk business mailing, you’ve probably been asked for or asked if you wanted an indicia. If you’re new to direct mail you’re probably wondering what the heck is an indicia? An indicia (also known as a permit imprint) is a small marking similar in size and shape of a stamp and includes such information as a permit number, post office drop location, and service type. The placement of an indicia on a mail piece must be similar to that of a stamp as well – located in the upper right corner and to the right of the address. The indicia is usually created during the graphic design phase of the outer envelope layout – and because it’s added before the envelope is created it saves time and money by not having an additional fee for metering or applying stamps.
There are many different variations of an indicia – with different verbiage and varying placement of required information. The most common types of indicia formats include first class mail, standard mail, and nonprofit standard mail. Examples of these can be seen below:
Other formats include Parcel Post, Bound Printed Matter, Media Mail, and Library Mail.
Using an indicia does require a permit number, which acts as an account number where postage funds are withdrawn from when the mailing goes to the post office. Funds to pay the total postage must be deposited prior to submitting a mailing. If you’re using a mail service provider, they should have a permit number that you can use. You can obtain your own permit by submitting Form 3615 and the application fee to the post office where your mailings will be submitted. It is important to note that once you obtain a permit number that you are only authorized to use your permit at the post office for which you applied through.
- Other higher minimum quantities may apply, depending on the price claimed.
- An occasional First-Class Mail mailing may contain fewer than 200 pieces if from a mailer whose total daily mailings are not much more than 200 pieces but who, to cooperate with the Post Office, presents a part of that mail early in the day.
- A mailing may contain fewer than 200 pieces if it is the completion of a large mailing extending over 2 or more consecutive days and the mailer includes an explanation on the accompanying postage statement.
- Single-piece price mailings submitted under the terms of an approved manifest mailing system agreement with a minimum volume reduction provision.
- Bound Printed Matter non-presorted, non-discounted mailings.
Each piece included in the mailing must bear the same indicia, stating that postage has been paid. An indicia most commonly will be printed directly on the mail piece but can also be printed on labels permanently affixed to the mail piece, on a mail piece wrapper, or envelope.
The USPS has begun testing a new concept for indicias – the Picture Permit Imprint Indicia. This indicia will allow mailers to include a picture within the indicia. This new concept provides immediate recognition of a logo, product, or promotion on the outside of the mail piece. The idea behind this innovation is that the image will double the piece’s visual impact to the recipient. While the new picture permit imprint indicia is not yet available to all mailers – a sample of a beta test from Chrysler Automotive Group can be seen here.
There are many different options for applying postage to your mail piece – an indicia being the most frequently used for large business mailings. Next time you’re designing an envelope for a mail campaign consider the benefits of using an indicia!