In-House Mailing

If you are a do-it-yourselfer, or your company/organization wants to do mailing in-house, or are looking to get into the mailing service supplier business, then we'll try and provide you the basics you need to know to learn more. If you've deciding to do your bulk mailings in-house or are getting into the mailing business, you may find that you need mailing equipment or software to realize the best discounts. In this case we recommend that you contact one of our professional vendor service provider members who will listen to you, analyze your needs, and supply you with the best options for your mailing needs. The information we have provided here is high level information for you to understand the basics. When doing your own mailings it is your responsibility to ensure your mailings are prepared in compliance with the mailing statndards of the Domestic Mail Manual (DMM), before preparing a mailing you need to consult the DMM for the specific preparation requirements.

The basic steps to mail at commercial prices, you need to do are:

  • Get a mailing permit (permission to mail) and pay an annual mailing fee.
  • Pay postage using one of several very convenient methods: precanceled stamps, postage meter, or permit imprint.
  • Make smart choices about the size, shape, and weight of your mailpiece.
  • Ensure that your mailing information is accurate.
  • Presort the mailpieces (separate or sort your mail by ZIP Codes).
  • Take your mail to the Post Office of your mailing permit. 

Apply for a Permit

Your mailing permit is permission to use a certain postage payment method for bulk and commercial mailings, so you'll need to pick a payment method first. There are no permit fees for precanceled stamps or a postage meter, but there is a one-time fee for using a permit imprint. This one-time application fee pays for setting up your permit imprint account.  You need to hold a permit and pay an annual mailing fee at every Post Office™ you use to enter and pay for commercial mail.

How is a new Bulk Mail Permit obtained?

A permit is required to obtain a volume based discounted prices on mailings. You must apply for a permit at the Post Office or Business Mail Entry Unit in the city from which you are mailing. To set up an account or for answers to more detailed questions, contact the Bulk Mailing office of your local Post Office facility.

What does the term "Bulk Mail Acceptance" refer to?

Bulk Mail Acceptance is the term used to define Postal Units designated for business customers to drop off bulk mailings.

What are the minimums for Bulk Mailing?

The required minimum per mailing is:

  • 50 pieces for Parcel Post®
  • 200 pieces (or 50 lbs) for Standard Mail
  • 300 pieces for Presorted or Bound Printed Matter
  • 500 pieces for Presorted Library Mail
  • 500 pieces for Presorted Media Mail® (formerly Special Standard Mail)  
  • 500 pieces for Presorted First-Class Mail  

How do I obtain a mailing list for my Bulk Mailing?

There are three sources for mailing lists:

  • Internal sources, (also called a house list) where you create a list using your current or previous customers who are using or have used your product or service.
  • External sources, names that come from outside your company obtained from sources including motor vehicle registrations, government records, telephone directories, etc.
  • List exchanges sources obtained via swaps between noncompeting companies. For example, a firm that makes car restraints for infants might benefit by mailing to people who recently subscribed to a parenting magazine and vice versa.

Most First Class mailings are performed by companies using a house list. For marketing mailings you can obtain lists from a list broker, a specialist in providing lists. List brokers can give you a variety of lists to choose from, many of which enable highly sophisticated targeting. List brokers can also provide you with advice and guidance.

NOTE: Addresses used in mailings receiving commercial prices have specific rules regarding the currency and maintenance (Move Update) of the addresses that if not properly followed can result in significant penalties to a mailer. Make sure you consult the Domestic Mail Manual for a complete understanding of these requirements.

Obtain Supplies

The Postal Service™ provides many of the mail sorting and preparation supplies you will need for free. Most of these supplies can be obtained at your local business mail entry unit (BMEU), or Post Office you present your business mail. Some of the basic supplies you will need are; mail trays/tubs/sacks, tray sleeves or lids, tray/sack labels, labeling lists, and postage statements. 

Presort Your Mail

Presorting your mail basically consists of grouping the mail pieces by delivery ZIP Code™ order or carrier route numbers. There are both optional and required sorting requirements depending on the class of mail you are using. Usually the USPS requires you to sort to finest depth of sort based on delivery destinations. There are also minimum piece volume requirements necessary to qualify for the discounts based on the mail class as well. All of the pieces going to the same 5 digit ZIP Code™ destination get grouped into the same bundle or tray, then all pieces for a 3 digit ZIP Code™ destination, then an area destination and finally a "mixed” area destination. You will need to reference the DMM to obtain the sorting and preparations requirements for your specific class and shape of mail.

Containerize and Prepare Mailing Documentation

As you sort your mail pieces you must then containerize or secure the mail in a manner to withstand postal transport and mail processing. Presorted letter size mail pieces are required to be placed in USPS letter trays, labeled to the correct destination and sleeved and strapped. Flat size mailings may be placed into USPS mail tubs (First Class mail) or must be bundled and secured and placed in mail sacks or directly on pallets. You will need to reference the DMM to obtain the sorting and preparations requirements for your specific class and shape of mail.

Next you will need to prepare the mailing support documentation required by the Postal Service in which to verify, accept, and charge the postage for your mailing. This documentation basically consists of:

  • presort documentation that provides a complete tally of the presort prices you are claiming by price level and the total postage discounts being claimed,
  • a completed and signed mailing statement identifying the total postage to be charged.

The mailing statement documents the pieces in your mailing and their postage prices, and certifies that your address list is up-to-date. There are different mailing statements based on the class of mail you're mailing and postage payment method you use. You can obtain these online at Postal Explorer or from local business mail entry unit (BMEU), or Post Office you present your business mail. 

Drop Your Mailing Off

All commercial priced mailings must be presented for "acceptance” at your local business mail entry unit (BMEU), or at the Post Office from where you mailing permit is issued. You should always call ahead of time to ensure that your permit is in good standing e.g. fees are paid, account has funds or not in a negative balance status. All postage is due payment the Postal Service when tendering the mailing to them so make sure you have postage in your account or have funds to deposit at the time of mailing. Be prepared for a clerk to verify the proper preparation of the mailing and compliance with the mailing standards—and have a way to pay any additional postage or fees if you need to.

The information we have provided here is basic high level information so you can understand the basics. Before deciding to actually doing your mailings you should consult the DMM for all of the specific requirements.

Business Mail 101!

The Postal Service provides an online feature, Business Mail 101 for beginning or infrequent mailers that will help you harness the power of mail for your business or organization. This web site will walk you through all of the key decision points in making a mailing. Not sure if bulk mail is right for you then learn more...  

Terms You Should Know

DMM; Domestic Mail Manual – The complete manual of all of the Postal mailing standards and eligibility requirements for using domestic mail and mailing at bulk discounted prices

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. Not all presort levels are applicable to all mailings.

Presorted Mail – A form of mail preparation, required to bypass certain postal operations, in which the mailer groups pieces in a mailing by ZIP Code or by carrier route or carrier walk sequence (or other USPS–recommended separation).

Presorted Prices – Prices which are lower than single-piece prices. In exchange for this lower postage price, mailers must sort their mail into containers based on the ZIP Code destinations on the mail. Also called, commercial prices, bulk mail prices, postage discounts, discount postage rates.

Automation-Compatible Mail – earns larger discounts than mail that is presorted, but not barcoded. The amount of the discount depends on the "depth of the sort.” Automation mail can be sorted to any one of five levels, the Mixed Area Distribution Center ("MADC”), Area Distribution Center ("ADC”), 3-digit, or 5-digit. The further down the mail processing and delivery stream mail can be entered before it must be worked by the Postal Service or "the deeper the depth of sort,” the larger the discount as the costs avoided by the Postal Service increase as the depth of sort increases and mail goes further downstream before the Postal Service must work it. 

NAPM for Your Business

The NAPM is a nonprofit trade association of firms concerned with postal worksharing programs, especially discounts for presorted, automated mail. We offer our members a variety of services that benefit their businesses that subsequently benefits yours. Our services include but are not limited to: Advocacy, Information and Education, Industry Networking, and Solutions & Support. Please go to our About NAPM section to see how we are a great business decision you can make regarding your business mailing needs.