USPS Implementing New Automated Package Verification System

July 18th, 2017 Comments off

The USPS is implementing a new system that will change how shortpaid or overpaid mail is charged and handled. Previously, shortpaid pieces used to go through a cumbersome process by which they’d be returned to the sender, treated as dead mail if they had no return address, or delivered to the addressee with a postage due notice.

New Automation Package Verification System to Start August 1

Automation will be changing all of that. Now, postage discrepancies will be detected by a new USPS program called Automated Package Verification (APV). APV will ensure that mail processed through USPS sorting facilities will be fully verified and checked for any errors.  Your mailpiece’s weight, dimensions, package type, and entry ZIP code will all be reviewed by this new state-of-the-art system.

Benefits of APV for Stamps.com Customers

There are a number of benefits to being a Stamps.com customer, such as not having to wait in line at the Post Office, access to useful features such as Hidden Postage, and the ability to send shipment notification emails. The new APV program will align with the efficient processes you already enjoy with our PC Postage product.

Make this new streamlined process work for you. If you’re one of the many Stamps.com customers who sell online, you won’t have to worry about having your customers pay postage due and suffer the embarrassment of poor ecommerce reviews and delayed deliveries. Postage adjustments will be made to your Stamps.com postage balance automatically, ensuring a smoother delivery process for you and your recipients, and a better overall customer experience. If you have overpaid a shipment, you may receive a credit to your postage balance to make up for the extra amount.

Shipping Tips to Avoid Postage Adjustments

Prior to the full USPS release of the APV program, Stamps.com may send courtesy notices to provide examples of your mailpieces that have been detected by the USPS as being shortpaid. These notices offer a great opportunity to make any corrections going forward before APV is fully rolled out!

  • Remember that Large Envelopes/Flats must always be bendable and have an even surface with no protuberances (flaps) or content shifting. A Large Envelope/Flat must have:
  1. Height: a minimum height of 6-1/8″ and a maximum height of 12″
  2.  Length: a minimum length of 11-1/2″ and a maximum length of 15″
  3. Thickness: a minimum thickness is ¼” and the maximum thickness is ¾”.
  • Remember to attach Priority Mail Flat Rate postage only to the appropriate Flat Rate packaging (e.g. Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelope rates to Flat Rate Priority Envelopes). Flat Rate packaging is not interchangeable. A Medium Flat Rate Box should not be used with Large Flat Rate postage. Also, do not affix non-Flat Rate Postage to Flat Rate packaging. For further tips, please see: http://blog.stamps.com/2017/04/28/priority-mail-flat-rate-best-practices/
  • Take the guesswork out of package weights. The Stamps.com Online Store offers a variety of digital scales that meet various mailing and shipping needs.
  • Remember that fractional ounces are always rounded up to the next ounce. For example, if your mailpiece’s weight is 3.2 ounces, enter the weight as 4 ounces in the Stamps.com software.
  • If you’re sending non-Flat Rate mail, you will be asked to enter dimensions for your packages for certain Priority Mail zones. Make sure to measure your mailpiece accurately. For further tips, please see: http://blog.stamps.com/2017/03/30/how-to-measure-irregularly-shaped-items/

 

Categories: USPS News Tags:

How to Ship Cremated Remains

June 16th, 2017 Comments off

There may be different reasons why you would need to ship cremated remains: you’re a relative entrusted with transporting or distributing the remains of a loved one; you need to ensure that a pet cremation urn is safely sent back home; or you’re in the death care business and your funeral home needs to transport cremated remains frequently. Whatever the reason may be, Stamps.com can help you make the process as painless as possible.

The first thing to know is that you can only use the USPS to ship cremated remains. Courier services like FedEx and UPS do not allow this. Therefore, you can use your powerful Stamps.com platform to ship cremated remains.

Preparing your package

The USPS allows for shipping cremated remains by Priority Mail Express service only.  Keep in mind that there are packaging requirements—USPS requires that the inner container be stable, shock-proof, and sift-proof (i.e. sealed against leakage during transit). Since the USPS requires full return and delivery addresses be included on the outside of the package, we recommend using the Stamps.com Shipping Label feature to meet this guideline and also receive free tracking. Under our “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 the 4 1/4″ x 6 3/4″ shipping labels (SDC-1200).

Identifying your package

Remember also to declare the Special Contents when you print your Shipping Label. After selecting the Priority Mail Express mail class and entering all of the appropriate criteria (addresses, weight, etc.), click on the “Select” button next to “Add’l Options.” Click on “Special Contents” and select “Cremated Remains.”

For peace of mind and to ensure respectful handling, we also highly recommend using the additional marking provided by Label 139, a postal label indicating “Cremated Remains,” which can be ordered for free here: https://store.usps.com/store/browse/productDetailSingleSku.jsp?productId=P_LABEL139

International Mailing

For international mail, you may only use Priority Mail Express International to ship cremated remains.  Cremated remains must also be shipped in a funeral urn. Remember to double-check whether the country to which you are mailing allows this type of shipment. Some countries, such as Belgium, Ireland, Kyrgyzstan, Portugal and the United Kingdom do not allow entry of cremated remains. Some countries also do not support Priority Mail Express International. We recommend researching this prior to mailing by accessing the Individual Country Listings here: https://pe.usps.com/text/imm/immctry.htm

Remember to fully and clearly identify the contents on your customs form. Stamps.com makes the process easy and efficient by combining postage and the Customs Declaration Forms into the same documentation/international shipping label. In the Customs Information window, under “Type of Contents,” select “Other” and type in a detailed description under “More Info.” In the itemized package content details, please also enter a detailed description to remain compliant with USPS guidelines.

Since you are using Priority Mail Express, you can schedule a free pickup to avoid going to the Post Office.  Learn how to schedule a pickup here: http://blog.stamps.com/2017/04/21/usps-package-pickups-and-drop-offs/

Categories: Shipping Tags:

What is Air Mail?

June 9th, 2017 Comments off

Sometimes your boxes and shipments will soar 39,000 feet in the air. From the time the USPS first experimented with mail flight in 1911 to the present day, letters and parcels have been carried through the air to ensure speedy delivery for your recipients. What constitutes “air mail”? What scenarios cause the USPS to send something by air instead of by surface transportation?

Generally, Priority Mail, Priority Mail Express and First-Class Mail pieces will be shipped by air.  However, these mail classes may also be shipped by ground depending on the originating and destination points—for example, if a destination is within driving distance. Postal trucks on the highway generally transport pieces that have to be shipped 500 miles away or less. For longer distances, your mail may be transported by freight railroad.

Sometimes your mailpiece may travel by a combination of air and ground. The USPS will always strive to get a mailpiece to your recipients by the fastest way possible. Parcel Select and Media Mail, which receive special discounted rates, will generally ship by surface transportation.

How does the USPS ship mailpieces by air? Rather than maintaining an expensive fleet of postal planes, your mail will generally “hitch a ride” on the airplane of a private carrier. The USPS negotiates contracts with commercial carriers to transport its mail, something it began to do in 1925. Airlines such as United Airlines and TWA (which became part of American Airlines in 2001) actually began as transporters of air mail. USPS mail is carried on both passenger and cargo planes. FedEx also provides air transportation for USPS domestic First-Class Mail, Priority Mail and Priority Express Mail, as well as some international mail.

Shipping with Stamps.com

It’s always important to remain compliant with current USPS statutes and regulations. Remember that certain hazardous items (such as aerosol cans, spray paint, rubbing alcohol or paint) cannot be shipped by air. For international mail, always fully and clearly identify the contents on your customs form. Items will also need to meet USPS packaging and marking requirements. Please also keep in mind that an individual pilot may decide to refuse mailpieces that present a potential danger to the aircraft. Refused pieces may also include unidentifiable items or shipments of live animals whose safety is threatened by temperature conditions in the air.

A detailed guide on shipping via USPS air transportation can be found here: https://pe.usps.com/text/pub52/pub52c7_001.htm

You can combine the speed of a jumbo jet with the convenience of requesting a free USPS pickup by using the powerful Stamps.com platform! The free USPS pickup 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 of the software to start the process.  Mailpieces with non-qualifying mail classes (such as First Class Mail) can be picked up as long as your pickup request includes at least one qualifying class.

Categories: Shipping Tags:

Managing your Mail This Summer

June 2nd, 2017 Comments off

Summer’s coming, and you’re checking off a long list of tasks that need to be performed before you can relax on the beach. You’ve booked your tickets, compiled your summer reading list, and made sure you have all of the supplies and clothes you need. What’s left?

Don’t let your mail accumulate while you’re away! If you plan to be gone for a few days or more, you should request that the USPS temporarily hold your mail. Submitting a Hold Mail request is easy and can be done online here: https://holdmail.usps.com/holdmail/

If you’re a planner, you can submit a Hold Mail request up to 30 days in advance. If you’re a procrastinator, you’re still OK: you can submit a request a day in advance to have the USPS hold your mail. You can specify whether you want your carrier to deliver your accumulated mail on a specific day or you can pick up your mail at the Post Office by bringing in a photo ID. Just a heads-up: any accumulated mail that doesn’t fit in your mailbox would have to be picked up at your Post Office (the carrier will leave a notice in your box if this is the case).

In addition to holding your mail for you, the USPS will also help you transition back to your normal, non-vacation routine—regular mail delivery resumes on the next postal business day after you collect your accumulated mail.

Updating your address with Stamps.com

If you plan on shipping gifts or conducting business while on vacation, remember also to update your Postal Meter Address within the Stamps.com software so that your rates remain accurate for your new zip code.

To update your Postal Meter 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 “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.

Summer NetStamps

Stamps.com will help you get into that summertime spirit with its fun Summer NetStamps designs!  All of the symbols of the summer are here: Flip Flops NetStamps Labels, Barbecue NetStamps Labels, Citrus NetStamps Labels, and Summer Flower NetStamps Labels. Easily view and order Summer NetStamps here.

Categories: Letter Mailing Tags:

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:

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