Stamps.com Blog

Stamps.com Blog

Get the latest information on the mailing and shipping industry.

How to Mail an International Letter or Postcard

May 26th, 2017 Comments off

Sometimes you don’t need to send a large shipment overseas, but simply want to send a postcard to a relative in Sweden or a letter to a friend in South Africa. Stamps.com makes it easy!

You may already be familiar with our Original NetStamps product. The great thing is that they can be used for both domestic mail and international mail! Keep in mind that Custom (Photo) and Themed NetStamps can only be used for domestic mail. If you need Original NetStamps, you can order them easily from our Online Store at different quantities.

To print postage for international postcards or letters:

  1. Please log in to your Stamps.com software and click on “Stamps.”
  2. Under “Postage Details,” please select “I want to specify the value for each stamp.”
  3. No guesswork is needed: if you need the current international letter or postcard rate, please click on the icon bearing the image of a globe and the word “Intl.” to access our International Rate Calculator. Select the country, territory, or dependency to which you would like to send mail. Select the mailpiece type and enter the weight of your mailpiece. If your mailpiece is less than a pound, enter zero for its weight.
  4. Click on “Check Rates.” You will be given a list of available mail classes and rates for the country you have selected. You would not generally need a customs form for international letters or postcards; you would only need one if your mailpiece is 16 ounces or greater or has a declared value of $400 or higher.
  5. Click on the “Use This Rate” button.

Once you click on “Use This Rate,” you will be taken back to the NetStamps page. Now all you have to do is type in the serial number under “Print Details.” You’ll find the serial number on your actual Original NetStamps sheet. You can print a full sheet of international stamps by making sure that the “Print All” box is checked. You can also print just one by selecting the Print Quantity. Click “Print Postage” when your sheet is ready to be printed.

That’s it! Now all you have to do is affix your stamp to a postcard or letter. NetStamps do not include an address, so make sure you write the complete international address clearly on your mailpiece. No need to wait in line at the Post Office—you can drop your mailpiece off at a USPS blue collection mailbox or in a Post Office mail drop slot.

Categories: International Shipping Tags:

Receiving Mail at a Brand-New Address

May 19th, 2017 Comments off

A brand-new housing development is going up. Houses have sprung up in once-vacant lots. A line of trees has been planted along unused avenues. Parks and playgrounds have been created. Water, phone, gas, and electric services have been installed. You’re almost ready to move in. Wondering how you will get your mail?

Even before construction is completed, postal representatives have already met with builders, developers or construction site managers. For example, the USPS has veto power over a new street name proposed by developers. A new name has to facilitate access for the USPS, as well as for public services such as police and fire. A new “Sunshine Avenue” may cause confusion and misdeliveries for the USPS if a Sunshine Avenue already exists in the same city.

Postal representatives meet with developers and review site plans. Important issues under consideration include:

  • How far is the new neighborhood from older, well-developed areas?
  • How close is the nearest Post Office?
  • How big are the lot sizes?
  • How close are the lots to the roads?

The postal representatives’ goal is to provide mailing services that comply with USPS standards and regulations. And before mail can even be picked up and delivered, the USPS needs to understand the entire infrastructure that goes into the essential functioning of a new neighborhood, including street signs, house numbers, completed walkways, and finalized rights-of-way and turnouts.

Developers are tasked with installing USPS-approved mail receptacles or door slots. Based on the local characteristics of a new development, the USPS has sole discretion in determining which delivery method is the most appropriate for the new subdivision:

  • door-to-door delivery
  • curbside delivery
  • sidewalk delivery
  • central delivery (i.e. delivery to a cluster box unit or outdoor parcel locker)

After the dust of construction settles, the USPS begins serving the new community, with the goal of providing consistent, timely and safe service.

Updating your address with Stamps.com

Have you moved in and set up your laptop? Great! If you have a Stamps.com account, you can easily update your mailing addresses.

The Postal Meter Address is the address registered with the USPS and is used for determining your postage rates.

To update it:

  1. Log in to the Stamps.com software and click on “My Account” on the left side of the screen.
  2. Go to “PC Postage Account” and select “Postal Meter Address.”
  3. Edit your address and click “Save” to finalize the change.
  4. Just a heads-up: you will also need to update your information in both the Meter Contact Information section (under “PC Postage Account”) and under the My Profile section (under “My Information”).

To change your Shipping Address:

  1. Log in to the Stamps.com software and click on “My Account” on the left side of the screen.
  2. Go to “PC Postage Account” and select “Shipping Addresses.”
  3. Edit an existing address or add a new one, and click “Save” to finalize the change.

To change your Billing Address:

  1. Log in to the Stamps.com software and click on “My Account” on the left hand of the screen.
  2. Go to “PC Postage Account” and select “Default Payment Methods.”
  3. Edit this address, and click “Save” to finalize the change.
Categories: Shipping Tags:

Dogs and USPS Pickups

May 12th, 2017 Comments off

There’s nothing better than coming home to your beloved Beagle or Golden Retriever. Dogs are great friends and companions, and can help reduce stress and anxiety. With Stamps.com, you can avoid lines at the Post Office and spend more time with your canine companion!

Free Pickups

One of the great features integrated with the Stamps.com platform is the ability to request free USPS pickups. The service is available for Priority Express Mail, Priority Mail, Priority Express Mail International, Priority Mail International and Global Express Guaranteed. In the Stamps.com software, click “USPS Pickup” from the “View History” menu on the left navigation bar to start the process.

As long as your pickup request includes at least one qualifying class, mailpieces with non-qualifying mail classes can be picked up as well. You can enter any special instructions for your carrier and also specify the package location, such as Front Door, Back Door, or Knock on Door/Ring Bell.

To ensure that the process of USPS package pickups goes smoothly, be sure to have your packages ready for the carrier. It’s also important to ensure that there is safe and unobstructed access to the packages so that the carrier can complete the service for you.

Pet Pointers  

Whether or not you’re requesting free USPS pickups, there are things you can do to keep pets and humans safe and happy when a postal carrier visits your home or office. The USPS has deployed various public service campaigns and educational initiatives to provide safety tips for dog owners—learn more here.

A couple helpful tips include:

  • If you need to open your front door in order to accept mail or packages from a postal carrier, place your dog in another room and close that door before opening your front door.
  • Restrain your dog with a leash in order to maintain a safe distance from the postal carrier.
  • Do not allow your children to take items from a postal carrier in the presence of your family dog, who may think it’s an aggressive gesture when the postal carrier hands something to the child.

Pet Postage

Did you know you can put a pic of your favorite pup on postage with our Custom NetStamps product?  After you upload a photo via our easy-to-use postage creator tool, you can order Custom NetStamps in various quantities!  With your Custom NetStamps, you can add postage amounts to your sheets, either one at a time or on a full sheet.

Categories: Shipping Tags:

Sealing Envelopes and Packages

May 5th, 2017 Comments off

CRSDC-503-sealing-envelopes_blog

You may not give much thought to the act of sealing up an envelope or package, but that doesn’t mean it’s a trivial step in the mailing or shipping process. We’ve created this FAQ to answer all the questions you may have about sealing shipments before handing them over to the USPS.

What’s the right way to seal a box?

According to USPS, you should tape the opening of your box and reinforce all seams with tape that is 2 inches wide.

What kind of material should I use to seal a box?

You’ve got a few options—USPS says you should use clear or brown packaging tape, reinforced packing tape, or paper tape.

Packaging tape—plastic, pressure-sensitive tape is easy to use, readily available, and versatile. It easily adheres to multiple surfaces, so can use it to seal boxes as well as poly mailers.

Reinforced packing tape—this tape contains fibers that make it stronger and a good option for heavier shipments.

Paper tape—also known as kraft tape, uses a water-activated tape dispenser (water is what helps bond the tape to the boxes). Paper tape sticks to cardboard but doesn’t adhere to poly mailers or other non-paper surfaces.

Is there anything I can’t use to seal a box?

You should refrain from using twine, cord or string—these materials can get caught in the mail processing equipment. You should also avoid using masking or cellophane tape, as they’re not strong enough for this purpose.

Can I use extra tape to reinforce an overly full USPS envelope or box?

When sealing Priority Mail® or Priority Mail Express® Flat Rate boxes and envelopes, the container flaps must be able to close within their normal folds, according to this USPS publication. You can use tape on the flaps and seams to reinforce the envelope or box, but you cannot reconstruct the packaging in any way.

How much tape is TOO much tape?

When using a Flat Rate Envelope or Flat Rate Box, using tape as a reinforcement on the seams and flaps is OK in order to keep the item from breaking open during transit. Encasing a box or envelope is NOT OK. No matter what packaging you use to ship, using too much tape can cost you in more ways than one—first, you’re using up your supplies faster than necessary, plus the extra weight from excessive tape could push you up to a higher weight category.

Can I use tape to affix a shipping label?

Anyone shipping with a PC Postage label (we’re talking about you, Stamps.com customers!) can use extra tape to properly attach a printed label to an envelope or box. However, you should avoid covering the barcodes on a USPS label, as the tape creates a glare that can make it hard for barcode scanners, thus messing up your tracking. Sick of taping labels to packages? Visit the Stamps.com Store to order adhesive labels.

 

Categories: Shipping Tags:

Priority Mail Flat Rate Best Practices

April 28th, 2017 Comments off

CRSDC-497_prioritymail_blog

Compliance with USPS rules and regulations is an important aspect of being a successful seller and shipper. One rule to definitely keep in mind is that Priority Mail Flat Rate® Boxes must be used with Priority Mail Flat Rate postage. For example, if you have a Medium Flat Rate Box handy, remember that only a shipping label for a Medium Flat Rate Box can be affixed to it! You cannot apply Small Flat Rate Box pricing onto a Medium Flat Rate Box. You cannot apply Flat Rate Envelope pricing to a Legal Flat Rate Envelope, which has a separate pricing structure and is a separate and distinct mailpiece.

The box or envelope you use indicates to the USPS what service you are using. As always, if you are using a barcoded shipping label with Stamps.com, you will receive the discounted Commercial Base rate.

To summarize:

  • Priority Mail Flat Rate prices can only be used with USPS-produced Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes and Envelopes. The pricing category (Envelope, Legal, Padded, Small, Medium, Large) must match the Priority Mail Flat Rate mailpiece.
  • Priority Mail Express Flat Rate prices can only be used with USPS-produced Priority Mail Express Flat Rate Envelopes. The pricing category (Envelope, Legal, Padded) must match the Priority Mail Express Flat Rate mailpiece.
  • As stated by USPS, “Priority Mail Express packaging provided by the USPS must be used only for Priority Mail Express. Regardless of how the packaging is reconfigured or how markings may be obliterated, any material mailed in USPS-provided Priority Mail Express packaging is charged the appropriate Priority Mail Express price.”

A second caveat: Do not use non-Flat Rate postage on Flat Rate pieces

The opposite is also true. For example, if you use a Priority Mail Flat Rate Box or Envelope, you would not be able to apply a non-Priority Mail Flat Rate label to it. A good rule of thumb: not all Priority Mail is the same, and keep in mind that in addition to Priority Mail Flat Rate pricing there  are also Priority Mail zone/weight-based rates. Tyvek envelopes like the Priority Mail Tyvek Envelope are not Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelopes and do not have their own flat rate mailpiece category in the Stamps.com software—you would select “Large Envelope/Flat” as your mailpiece.

Why is this important?

You definitely want to avoid a scenario in which your recipient or customer has to pay to make up the difference between a Flat Rate service and the postage that was affixed on the mailpiece, or a surcharge that represents the difference between a zone/weight-based rate and the price of a Flat Rate mailpiece.

Avoid postage-due markups! When the USPS receives a shortpaid mailpiece with Commercial Base pricing, it is obligated to charge the difference between the Commercial Base price and the full retail price of that item.

Affixing the wrong postage to a mailpiece may also generate negative seller reviews or cause delays in shipment, as the local Post Office may hold the piece until the surcharge is paid. The good news is that Stamps.com is here to help prevent those pitfalls by making it easy to restock your USPS shipping supplies. To order free USPS packaging, log into your software and click on “Online Store,” which appears beneath “Buy Supplies.”  Click on the “Free USPS Supplies” tab and order the right box or envelope for your mailing needs today!

 

Categories: Shipping Tags:

Call us toll-free at 1-888-434-0055, Monday - Friday, 6 AM - 6 PM Pacific Time.