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/

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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.

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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.
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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.

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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.

 

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