Get the latest information on the mailing and shipping industry.
Get the latest information on the mailing and shipping industry.
You may have seen warning notices posted on mailboxes that discuss the 13-ounce rule. Normally, if your mailpiece weighs over 13 ounces, you would not be able to drop it off in a mailbox, lobby mail slot, or blue collection box due to security policies.
However, the good news is that this rule does not apply to PC Postage users like Stamps.com customers. The security policies are met when you use Stamps.com. Being a Stamps.com customer means that you save time and have access to multiple drop-off options!
Scheduling free USPS pickups
With Stamps.com, it’s easy to schedule a free USPS pickup through your software. We recommend scheduling a pickup request in order to alert the Post Office and so the carrier can make appropriate preparations. The service is available for Priority Express Mail, Priority Mail, Priority Express Mail International, Priority Mail International and Global Express Guaranteed. Have a package at another mail class? Not to worry: as long as your pickup request includes at least one qualifying class, the mailpieces with non-qualifying mail classes will be picked up as well.
To schedule a USPS pickup, follow these steps in Stamps.com:
If you need acceptance scans of your packages, we recommend using the Shipment Confirmation Acceptance Notice (SCAN) form feature. The SCAN form is designed to record package acceptance events in the USPS tracking database. The carrier just needs to scan a single barcode on the SCAN form to activate an acceptance event for all of the packages associated with the form. Just print a SCAN form after all of your shipping labels for the day have been printed. Then, schedule a free USPS pickup and make the powerful Stamps.com software work for you!
Dropping your packages off
If your packages have domestic shipping labels, you can drop them off at USPS collection locations without waiting in line. If the packages fit, you may drop them off at blue collection mailboxes and Post Office mail drop slots. Some Post Offices may also have a designated spot on the counter for prepaid packages. If you have a large number of packages, you may be asked to bring them to a rear loading dock. Remember that each Post Office is different and may vary in terms of volume and staffing.
Two large candy canes flank the entrance of the North Pole Post Office on Santa Claus Lane, in Alaska’s interior. A mule train carrying mail for the USPS can be spotted in the village of Supai, Arizona, which lies within a branch of the Grand Canyon. Mail boats on the Rogue River bring letters and freight to Agness, Oregon. The list of more than 30,000 Post Office names is an eloquent reminder of how extensive the range of the USPS really is: Caribou, Maine; Culebra, Puerto Rico; CPU Dededo, Guam. The USPS even has a Post Office in Antarctica at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, which has its own special postmarks and hand-stamps. Since the mail to the South Pole Station is transported on C-130 Hercules military cargo planes, the mail would be addressed as an FPO (Fleet Post Office), with domestic rates. A little history: the Little America base-camp on the Ross Ice Shelf was the site of the first Post Office on Antarctica, established in 1933.
The USPS represents an important force in uniting us across vast distances and disparate landscapes—and it receives no tax dollars with which to fund its extensive operations.
Making USPS and Stamps.com work for you
The 155 million addresses to which the USPS delivers are at your fingertips with Stamps.com! Stamps.com’s powerful Electronic Address Book allows you to save both domestic and international addresses. You can save Alaskan and Hawaiian addresses into the Stamps.com Electronic Address Book without having to worry about higher rates or extra charges for these locations.
You can also advantage of USPS’s delivery network for locations such as Puerto Rico or Guam. U.S. Territories are considered domestic mail, so you can avoid exorbitant rates for non-contiguous locations, and if you need a customs form, Stamps.com takes the guesswork out of this process. The Stamps.com software will automatically alert you or convert the label into the appropriate Shipping Label/Customs Form when you enter a territorial address. If you’re a seller, your customer base can include buyers in the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands! The reach of the USPS extends even to independent countries. The Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Palau, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands use USPS domestic mail service.
What’s more, the Stamps.com software will check these addresses against the Address Matching System (AMS). After you enter an address in the delivery address box, and click on Print Sample or Print Postage, Stamps.com will first have your address cleansed and verified.
APO/FPO/DPO addresses and PO Boxes
The USPS closely collaborates with UPS and FedEx, but it is also offers unique support that sets it apart from private carriers. USPS is the only shipping service that delivers to APO/FPO/DPO addresses and PO Boxes. This means that you can send your mailpieces to a buyer who receives all of their mail at a PO Box. We proudly support Military Mail, and with Stamps.com, you can send mail to Army Post Offices (APO), Fleet Post Offices (FPO), and Diplomatic Post Offices (DPO). Like mailpieces going to Hawaii and Puerto Rico, the USPS delivers Military Mail for the same domestic prices as they would for mailpieces going to California or New York. Make the extensive USPS network work for you!
What if you could receive a digital image of a letter before it even arrives at your doorstep? Informed Delivery, a pilot program offered by the USPS, makes that possible! Just imagine: if you’re on the road, at work or in the middle of a vacation, you can see black-and-white images of the exterior and address side of incoming envelopes. That puts you ahead of the game and allows you to stay on top of what’s about to arrive at your door. What’s more, the service is free and can be accessed via your phone, tablet or computer.
How does it work?
Go here to determine if you live in an eligible ZIP code and delivery point. If you are, you’ll be prompted to sign into your personal USPS.com account profile to sign up. You’ll be able to receive an email (the maximum is 10 envelopes) that shows images of your incoming mail each morning. Notifications are sent on mailing days only, so they won’t be sent on postal holidays. The images are stored for seven days. At this time, Informed Delivery only provides images of incoming envelope-shaped mail. However, there are plans to offer this service in the future for other mailpieces, such as packages.
Making Informed Delivery work for you
Just imagine how powerful the combination of using both Stamps.com and Informed Delivery could be! Stamps.com makes it easy to print envelopes at home and transforms your home office into a powerful mailing center for outbound mail. Now, if you qualify for the Informed Delivery program, your advance knowledge of incoming mail will keep you organized, efficient, and on top of your business or household correspondence!
Use Stamps.com to print directly to envelopes
Remember that Stamps.com’s Envelopes section allows you to print directly to envelopes. Mail printed under this option is considered metered mail and always includes a date. In order to print PC Postage directly onto an envelope, you can log into your software and click on the Envelopes option on the left side of your screen. In the “Mailpiece” drop-down menu, select “Letters.” Your “Print Details” to the right of this menu will display the available envelope types. Select the envelope type you would like to use.
You’ve probably already realized that not every mailpiece is going to be a perfect cube or rectangle. Sometimes an item you need to send is going to have an irregular shape: a fishing pole, a tire, a hatbox. How do you measure irregularly shaped items so that you remain compliant with USPS regulations and add the correct amount of postage to every shipment? We can help!
You’ll probably run across the term of measurement known as girth. Critically, the total size of the package is the length plus the girth. Calculating the length and width of a package seems straightforward enough, but what about calculating its girth?
Girth is the distance around the thickest part of a parcel. For example, if you’re mailing a guitar case, this would be the measurement around the part of the box that contains the body of the guitar. Depending on the shape of your package, this will be calculated differently. Check out these illustrative examples here: http://pe.usps.com/text/dmm100/tips-measure-packages.htm
When calculating the girth of a square or rectangular package, use this method:
Girth = (2 x Height) + (2 x Width)
To calculate the girth of a triangular package, use this method:
Girth = Sum of the 3 sides of the triangular package
For tubes, the girth is the circumference of the tube (π x diameter). In this case, pi or “π” is 3.14. The diameter is the “circle,” the distance across the flat, circular side of the tube. Yikes! You didn’t think you’d have to worry about circumferences and diameters ever since you took geometry in high school. Not to worry—you can also measure a tube’s girth with measuring tape.
Length, Width and Height
Length is the longest side of the parcel–if you have a fishing pole to send, this would be the length of the rod.
Width is the second longest side of the parcel—if you’re sending a shoe box, the side of the box that faces the heel seat or heel base.
Height is the “standing” side of the parcel—if you’re measuring a tire, lay it flat on the ground. You can use a ruler to measure the tire’s height from the ground.
Check out this USPS resource regarding Physical Standards for Commercial Parcels: http://pe.usps.gov/cpim/ftp/manuals/qsg300/Q201e.pdf
Total Size Limits
When using the Stamps.com software, you may spot some size limit warnings in the mail class descriptions. A mailing rule to live by: every USPS mail class will have different limits in terms of total size. For international mail, the limitations regarding total size will vary by country and by class. Before printing your postage, we recommend verifying the limits for your country of destination here: http://pe.usps.com/text/imm/ab_001.htm
You may also want to keep in mind certain USPS surcharges (dimensional weight, balloon and oversized package surcharges) may apply to your package. Check out our helpful support article on this topic here: https://stamps.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/169/kw/Girth/session/L3RpbWUvMTQ5MDYyODk5NC9zaWQvX3V4eE9CZW4%3D
Can you attach postage to a rose and send it with no packaging? How about a feather duster? Or a golf club? The answer is: the USPS would strongly recommend boxing or at least wrapping all of these items to prevent denting or scratching during transit. Regulations regarding certain items do apply, such as perishable Items—learn more here http://pe.usps.com/text/pub52/pub52c5_toc.htm.
USPS – Does every item need to be placed in a box to be shipped?
To test the limits of what one can mail with the USPS with no packaging, the Improbable Research Team (they’re the team who hold the Ig Nobel Prize Ceremonies) once conducted an experiment involving unwieldy, potentially suspicious, and disgusting items.
Almost two-thirds (64 percent) of the items were delivered successfully, as they had the correct amount of postage attached to them. However, for many of these items, USPS clerks did recommend wrapping them. An unboxed football arrived successfully after six days in transit. Strange items, such as a deer tibia, a large wheel of cheese, and a dead fish, did arrive but had to be picked up at the mail station. An attempt to mail a helium balloon failed at the originating Post Office, perhaps unsurprisingly.
Want to mail a coconut? The Post-a-Nut Program offered by the Hoolehua Post Office on the island of Molokaʻi in Hawaii allows you to mail a coconut to any location in the world. Just pay for the postage and the Hoolehua staff will provide you with a free coconut, art supplies with which to decorate your unique mailpiece, and an agricultural inspection stamp.
Using Stamps.com to mail unconventional items
If you need to mail a brick, a ship’s wheel, a Frisbee, an orange, or a pillow, we can help! As a fun gift, many people choose to paint flat stones and mail them with the correct amount of postage.
With Stamps.com, you can print stamps at various denominations with our flexible and handy NetStamps feature.
Need a shipping label with tracking? As a Stamps.com customer, you’ll receive the discounted online postage (Commercial Base) rate, so you’ll save money when you print postage with us! With Stamps.com, you can send First-Class Package Service with barcoded shipping labels as long as your package does not exceed 15.99 ounces (the maximum weight at the Post Office is 13 ounces if you pay retail prices). If you do decide to box your item up, we also allow you to easily order free USPS supplies like boxes and envelopes from the Stamps.com Store. Have fun!
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