New Postal Regulations

Kathy Allie
Production Manager
Premier Collegiate Communications

Two new mailing requirements recently instituted by the United State Postal Service have the potential for dramatically increasing postage expenses. First, the postal service has tightened address placement requirements for flatsized pieces. For most Admissions offices, these include viewbooks as well as other types of catalogs and brochures.

As can be seen from the diagram below, the post office has its own unique definition of the top of a mail piece as the “shortest edge”. New addressing standards require that the recipient’s name and address be in the top half in one of the three directions shown (it cannot be upside down). The font used for the name and address must be at least 8-point. The USPS prefers that all capital letters be used, but it is not a requirement. The postage or postal indicia and the return address must be aligned in the same direction on either side of the address. Postage must be to the right and return address to the left in the same direction as the address in the top half of the piece.

In determining the top of an envelope, the position of the sealed flap does not matter. However, for a bound piece that is mailed stand alone, such as a viewbook, the top has an additional definition. For bound or folded pieces, the spine or final fold must be to the right of the “top”, or shortest edge. This is depicted by the shaded area in the diagram above.

Failure to meet these address placement standards mandates that no discount can be given by the USPS for postage, including the loss of non-profit postage. In other words, all flat-sized mail that does not adhere to these placement standards must be mailed first class. This increased postage expense can be costly. For example, a stand-alone viewbook that Premier mails for one of our clients costs $0.41 if mailed non-profit and $1.51 if mailed first class – nearly four times the postage cost!

As Spring approaches, most of you will be re-printing viewbooks, envelopes, and other mail items. You MUST ensure that these reprints meet the new USPS address placement standards. In most cases, this should involve only minimal re-design of your mail pieces. We made our clients aware of these pending changes over a year ago so that they are already in compliance. However, we have since taken on new clients that stocked up last year with a two or three year’s supply of certain items. We have been able to successfully petition the local postmasters in our several company locations to “grandfather” the old incorrect materials for a certain period of time. We were allowed to do this as the USPS knew that we were proactive in implementing these changes, but there is no guarantee that you will be afforded the same leniency by your post office.

The second new requirement recently implemented by the post office regards address correction. New guidelines require that all mailing lists for items that receive a postal discount be move update verified within 95 days prior to the mailing. There are several methods by which this can be accomplished to the post office’s satisfaction. They include verifying your lists against the National Change of Address (NCOA) database, the use of “FASTforward” technology, or the USPS’s ACS Service. Whether or not you prepare your mail on-campus or use a mailing service, you should make sure that this move update correction is being performed on your lists.