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Get the latest information on the mailing and shipping industry.

USPS Rules for Mailing Knives

April 13th, 2018 Comments off

Whether you need a good chef’s knife to carve up large cuts of beef, or a paring knife to core a tomato, knives come in handy for a variety of uses. They represent an important consumer product, but can you mail knives and other sharp instruments through the USPS? The short answer is that it depends on the type of knife.

Switchblade knives

Switchblade knives are severely restricted with the USPS. They are defined by the USPS as knives having “a blade that opens automatically by hand pressure applied to a button or other device in the handle, or by operation of inertia, gravity, or both.” Only supply and procurement officers are allowed to purchase and mail switchblade knives. If you’re a dealer or manufacturer of switchblade knives, you would still only be able to mail switchblade knives to procurement officers representing civic, county, state and federal governments. Mailpieces with switchblade knives should not be identified as such on the outside of the parcel.

Pocket and kitchen knives 

What if you’re sending a pocket knife to a manufacturer for repair? Or mailing a sushi knife to a friend? These knives are mailable. However, keep in mind that mailable knives must be cushioned and secured within the packaging. This would prevent any sharp edges from poking through the packaging. Make sure that there is no content shifting. Inner packaging is recommended, and if possible, sheathing the blade in question. Use plenty of cushioning material. This also goes for sharp-edged implements like ice picks, hatchets, stilettos and saws.

The best rule to go by when mailing knives and sharp instruments is to avoid mailing hazardous items that could cause injury to postal workers: loose knives; badly packaged, sharp objects; and automatic, ballistic, and auto-open blades.

International mail 

When mailing internationally, keep in mind that some countries, such as Denmark, Uganda, Japan and the United Kingdom, explicitly prohibit certain types of knives.  Learn more about USPS international listings.

As always, stay sharp and keep informed! For more information on domestic USPS regulations regarding mailing knives, please see:

https://pe.usps.com/text/pub52/pub52c4_013.htm

Categories: Shipping Tags:

Shipping to Military Bases – Military Mail FAQ

April 2nd, 2018 Comments off

Care packages and letters are some of the best ways to send your loved ones a slice of home when they are deployed abroad. At Stamps.com we often receive questions from customers looking to send packages to military destination so we compiled a list of the 10 most frequently asked questions about Military Mail:

How do I format a military address?

Like a domestic address, a military address lets postal clerks know where to send your mail piece, so the address must follow a specific format. This special address must include:

  1. The full name of the addressee. Mail sent without a full name will not be delivered
  2. The unit or Post Office box number
  3. A three letter code associated with the type of location. APO is used for Army and Air Force installations. FPO is used for ships and Navy installations. DPO is associated with U.S. embassies overseas.
  4. The “state” of the addressee. Rather than an actual state or province in a foreign country, the “state” for a military address should be:
  • AA for Armed Forces Americas
  • AE for Armed Forces Europe, Armed Forces Middle East and Armed Forces Africa
  • AP for Armed Forces Pacific
  1. The 5-digit zip code for the military unit. All military zip codes will start with a 0 or 9.

Example:

CPT John Doe

Unit 45013 Box 2666

USAG J

APO AP 96338

 

What is my best option for shipping to a military base?

Due to security restrictions, the USPS is the only carrier that can deliver mail and packages to APO/FPO/DPO locations. While carriers such as FedEx and UPS offer delivery to countries where military personnel may be stationed, packages from these private carriers cannot be delivered directly to a military base.

Should I include a country in the military address?

No! One of the most common mistakes when sending military mail is including a country in the address. Typically, including a country in the address will result in a delayed or rejected mailing.

Is Military Mail considered international mail?

No. In 1959 the Department of Defense and the Post Office Department agreed that the USPS would be required to provide continual mail service to military personnel and their families worldwide. Because of this agreement military addresses (APO/FPO/DPO) are not considered international addresses by the USPS, even though they may reside in foreign countries.

How much does it cost to send a letter to APO/FPO/DPO addresses?

When sending a letter to military addresses, you are only required to provide domestic postage. The current cost to send a domestic First Class Mail letter is $0.50 at the Post Office or $0.47 for Stamps.com customers.

How is Military Mail processed?

Letters and packages addressed to military personnel are first sent to Miami, New York City or San Francisco before being shipped to their international destinations. Once the letter or package arrives in its destination country, it is handed over to a Military Postal Service representative who transports it to the Military Post Office, from where it is distributed to the service member’s unit for delivery to the recipient.

Do I need to fill out a customs form when shipping to a U.S. military base abroad?

Since the recipient country may have restrictions on what can be imported, mailpieces addressed to a military destination must include a properly completed PS Form 2976 or PS Form 2976-A.

What is the estimated delivery time for Military Mail?

The transit time for sending mail and packages to military addresses varies by destination and mail class. See the table below for delivery time estimates:

Can I ship electronics to military destinations?

Many electronics are prohibited from being shipped to military destinations. A good rule of thumb is anything that sends a radio, satellite or phone signal is prohibited for being shipped to military bases. Prohibited items include mobile phones, cordless phones, GPS hardware and software, and FM transmitters.

 

How should I package shipments to Military destinations?

Be sure to package shipments securely enough to withstand up to six weeks of transit. Consider the destination of the package and extreme temperatures or conditions the packages may need to endure. If your package contains fragile contents add adequate cushion.   If any portion of the box looks like it is sagging or can be easily depressed, add packing material on the inside.

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How Stamps.com Can Help you Send a Birthday Card, or Even a Birthday Cake

March 23rd, 2018 Comments off

Birthdays are cause for celebration, but they can be also stressful if you’re the kind of person who never wants to forget a special event.  How can you make Stamps.com work for you when it comes to celebrating someone’s special day?

Mailing cakes

Mailing a birthday cake sounds risky, but if you really want to make someone’s day, you can follow some guidelines that will help you pull this off.  Most cake-sellers would recommend mailing a cake that contains fondant icing to ensure it keeps its shape during transit. Keeping the cake cool is also important, so some recommended tips include freezing the cake prior to mailing, lining the cake with gel packs, and placing the cake within a Styrofoam cooler with plenty of dry ice. Keep the cake snug and secure by using a box that prevents a lot of movement, and cushioning the cake with packing peanuts.  In your Stamps.com program, we recommend selecting Priority Mail Express as your mail class.

Mailing birthday cards

Don’t want to send a cake? No worries! Sometimes all you need is a birthday card to remind someone that you’re thinking about them. If you want to send a card or letter, you can print postage on various envelope sizes, including sizes #9, #11, and #12, and the NCR Greeting Card Envelope (8 3/4” x 5 3/4”).  Have a funny birthday card with a strange shape? You can also use our Custom Layout Designer to create custom envelopes and postcards of non-standard sizes.  In the Stamps.com software, click on “Envelopes” in the left navigation bar and look for the envelope icon next to the “Printing On” drop-down list. For an extra-special touch, send the card with a Custom NetStamp! This product allows you to put your own image on a sheet of NetStamps labels. Once you design and order your sheet, we’ll send you a sheet with your image. You can then run the sheet through your printer and decide what kind of letter or postcard postage you need with our Stamps.com program.

Mailing gifts

If you want to mail a gift like a shirt, mug or book, you can use Stamps.com’s powerful platform to select the mail class that will fit your needs. Under our “Packages” section, you can easily print a trackable label on plain paper or on one of our self-adhesive labels. You can create a barcoded shipping label for USPS Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes and receive the discounted Commercial Base rate. If you want to use your own box, just select “Package/Thick Envelope” as your mailpiece and print out a barcoded shipping label. Make that birthday special!

Categories: Letter Mailing, Shipping Tags:

How to Ship Water and Other Liquids with the USPS

March 13th, 2018 Comments off

Maintaining a steady flow of shipments and mailings is a key component for any business.  If your business is water, or if you’re mailing a shipment of water as a one-time transaction, then it’s important to remain compliant with USPS guidelines.

The important thing to remember is that you are allowed to mail non-flammable, non-corrosive, non-explosive, non-odoriferous and non-hazardous liquids with the USPS. This includes shipments of water and other types of qualifying liquids. In addition, non-hazardous creams and pastes are considered by the USPS to be liquids and can also be mailed.

Packaging water

There are specific packaging guidelines to keep in mind. Protect your packages against breakage and leakage. Whether you’re sending mountain spring water, or water enhanced by magnesium and electrolytes, make sure that you seal the liquid inside a waterproof container.

Some people prefer to drink water from a glass bottle instead of a plastic one due to health, taste-related or environmental concerns. If you’re sending a glass bottle via the USPS, we recommend placing it within an inner container that is sealed and waterproof. Then, place your inner container within outer packaging with plenty of cushioning material.

What about liquids like paints? Yes, these can be mailed, but there is an important caveat: do not mail paint cans with friction-top closures without placing them first within strong outer packaging.

For all mailpieces containing liquids, make sure you also clearly indicate as such on the outside of the package. You can write “LIQUID” or “LIQUIDS” with a marker.

Learn more about USPS guidelines for shipping liquids.

Using Stamps.com to ship water 

If you need to quench your customers’ desire for tracking information, we recommend using the Stamps.com Shipping Label feature. Barcoded shipping labels printed via Stamps.com have built-in, free tracking. Under the “Packages” section of the Stamps.com software, you can select one of our “Shipping Label” options. You can easily print a trackable label on plain paper or on one of our self-adhesive labels, such as the 4 1/4″ x 6 3/4″ shipping labels.

Don’t dampen your customers’ expectations. You can also use our Shipment Notification feature to email tracking information to your recipients. You can also order free USPS packaging by logging into your software and clicking on “Online Store,” which appears beneath “Buy Supplies.”

Categories: Shipping Tags:

Shipping Bees with USPS and Stamps.com

February 16th, 2018 Comments off

If you’re running an apiary or beekeeping business, you’re probably selling products such as honey, beeswax, or bee pollen. Bee operations also make revenue by selling actual live bees. But can you mail bees through the USPS? Yes, but there are some guidelines to keep in mind.

Types of bees

First, some basic science. A hive consists of three types of bees:

  • the female queen bee
  • female worker/attendant bees
  • male drones

Only queen honeybees and female worker/attendant honeybees can be mailed via the USPS. Whole colonies cannot be shipped. If you’re sending a starter hive of live bees, keep in mind that the type of bee you’re sending will determine the mail class you can use. When mailing bees with Stamps.com, you should always print a shipping label with embedded barcode tracking.  In the Stamps.com software, under the “Packages” section, you can select one of our “Shipping Label” options. You can easily print a trackable label on plain paper or on one of our self-adhesive labels, such as these 4 1/4″ x 6 3/4″ shipping labels. As a Stamps.com customer, you’ll receive the discounted PC Postage (Commercial Base) rate, so you’ll save money when you print postage with us!

Queen Honeybees and Worker Bees

Queen honeybees can travel in style and be shipped by the faster air mail methods. Female worker/attendant honeybees can only be shipped via surface-based mail methods. Generally, Priority MailPriority Mail Express and First-Class Mail pieces will generally be shipped by air. The queen doesn’t have to fly alone, though, and in accordance with USPS regulations, she can be joined by up to eight female attendant/worker honeybees.

When going by surface mail methods, your shipment will need special care, and if you’re shipping queen honeybees or female worker/attendant honeybees via ground transportation, you would need to add the Special Handling fee. The good news is that you can do this easily in Stamps.com! In the software, click on “Add’l Options” and hit “Select…”  Click on “Special Contents” and select the Content Type of “Live Animal (with Fee).”

Packaging

When shipping bees, it’s obviously important to spend some time ensuring your package is safe for both the bees and for the postal workers. The mailpiece should be constructed in such a way as to provide adequate air and ventilation—a  temperature range of 40° to 100° F is recommended—and secure enough to prevent any bees from escaping. A third consideration is strength, as you need to avoid having your box getting crushed during transit. There are a number of solutions, including using screened wooden rectangular boxes or reinforced bee shipping boxes. For mailpieces sent by surface transportation, you must mark your box on the address side with the following descriptors: “Live Bees” and “Surface Only/Surface Mail Only.”  Plainly mark “Live Queen Bees” on the address side for mailpieces sent with queen honeybees.

International Mailing

Before mailing bees abroad, we strongly recommend checking individual country listings for restrictions.  Bees may be prohibited entirely, or stringent importation rules may apply. For example, when mailing bees to Argentina, you would need to have the Argentine Consul countersign a health certificate. If you’re sending live bees to Sweden, they must be sent directly to the Department of Bee Research of the University of Agricultural Sciences at its campus in Uppsala, Sweden. Learn more about international shipping restrictions by country.

For more information on USPS regulations regarding mailing bees, please see:

https://pe.usps.com/text/pub52/pub52c5_008.htm

For the United States Department of Agriculture’s regulations, please see:

https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/planthealth/import-information/permits/regulated-organism-and-soil-permits/sa_bees/ct_bee_transit

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