USPS | Glossary of Common USPS Terms

Glossary of Common USPS Terms

Image: A view shows U.S. postal service mail boxes at a post office in EncinitasI thought it would be a good idea to review a few of the terms commonly heard when working with either a presort service or directly with the USPS.  If you have other terms you would like addressed, please drop us a line!

Automation Compatible Mail – Mail that is prepared according to USPS standards so it can be scanned and processed by automated mail processing equipment such as a barcode sorter.  Postage discounts are available to mail that is automation compatible.

Bulk Mail – The term is generally used to describe commercial mail.  The term “bulk mail” refers to specific minimum quantities of mail that are prepared as a specific class of mail at reduced postage.  For instance, First Class Mail requires a minimum of 500 pieces for each mailing.  Standard Mail requires 200 pieces or 50 pounds for each mailing.  The term “bulk mail” is synonymous with commercial business, or advertising mail.

Business Mail Entry Unit (BMEU) – The area of a postal facility where mailers present bulk and permit mail for acceptance.  The BMEU includes dedicated platform space, office space and a staging area on the workroom floor.  Presort service providers will present their mail to the BMEU for processing.  At Strahm, the USPS picks up from our dock area since we have an on-site USPS Verifier and MERLIN for pre-approval.

Certified Mail – A service that provides the sender with a mailing receipt.  A delivery record is maintained by the USPS.  This type of mail must be sent at First Class or Priority Mail prices.  Certified Mail may be combined with return receipt service and restricted delivery service.  Extra service fees are in addition to postage.

Commingle – To integrate dissimilar mail into the same mailing.  Presort service providers such as Strahm Automation commingle customers’ mail and offer postage savings.

Delivery Confirmation – An extra service that provides the date and time of delivery or, if delivery was attempted but not successful, the date and time of the delivery attempt.  Delivery confirmation is available for Priority Mail, First Class Parcels, Standard Mail machinable or irregular parcels, Package Services and Parcel Select packages.  Please note that this service is not available for regular letter mail.  Extra services are in addition to postage.

Express Mail – A mail class that provides expedited delivery service.  This is the fastest mail service offered by the USPS.  Express Mail International Service is available between the United States and most other countries.

Flat-size Mail – A flexible rectangular mailpiece that exceeds one of the dimensions for letter-size mail ( 11 ½” long, 6 1/8” high, ¼” thick) but that does not exceed the maximum dimension for the mail processing category (15” long, 12” high, ¾” thick).  Flat-size mail may be unwrapped, sleeved, wrapped or enveloped.

Indicia – Imprinted designation on mail that denotes postage payment (permit imprint)

Letter-size Mail – A mail processing category of mailpieces, including cards, that do not exceed any of the dimensions for letter-size mail (11 ½” long, 6 1/8” high, ¼” thick).

Permit Imprint – Printed indicia instead of an adhesive postage stamp or meter stamp.  Shows postage prepayment by an authorized mailer.

Postage Meter – A device that can print one or more denominations of postage onto a mailpiece or meter tape.  It is available for lease only from authorized manufacturers.

Presort – The process by which a mailer prepares mail so that it is sorted to the finest extent required by the standards for the price claimed.  Generally, presort is performed sequentially, from the lowest (finest) level to the highest level, to those destinations specified by standard and is completed at each level before the next level is prepared.

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