Posts Tagged Indicia

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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USPS | Picture Permit Promotion

Picture Permit Promotion

August 1 – September 30, 2013

0612_PicturePermit_storyAdd value to your mailpiece in a creative way using the new Picture Permit Imprint Indicia.  Incorporate a company logo, brand image or trademark to the area where a stamp, meter imprint of permit imprint would appear.

Boosting your brand recognition, logos, products and promotions could improve the overall effectiveness of your mailing.

Picture Permit mail is available for presorted First Class mail and Standard letters. Full Service Intelligent Mail barcode is a requirement.

There is an extra fee per piece – for First Class letters and cards the additional fee is $0.01, for Standard letters the fee is $0.02 per piece.

The USPS will begin a promotion of Picture Permit mail beginning August 1, 2013 and running through September 30, 2013.  Registration for the promotion begins June 1.

This promotion will eliminate the per piece fees for both First Class and Standard letters and cards.  There is a 4 step application process which must be approved by the USPS Program Office prior to promotion registration.

Picture Permit Requirements:

  • Logos, brand images or trademarks
  • Color images only
  • Mailpiece must include Intelligent Mail barcode
  • Application, design approval and sampling prior to mailing


  • Boost mailpiece visibility, value and potential open rate
  • Increase brand awareness
  • Promote company products and services

How would you use Picture Permit Imprint Indicia to benefit your company? We would love to hear your ideas and successes!

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Benefits Of Using An Indicia!

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.

  1.  Other higher minimum quantities may apply, depending on the price claimed.
  2.  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.
  3. 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.
  4. Single-piece price mailings submitted under the terms of an approved manifest mailing system agreement with a minimum volume reduction provision.
  5. 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!

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