USPS Updates Standards for Shipping Firearms

September 1st, 2016 Comments off

SDC Firearms Blog PostThe United States Postal Service recently revised their rules regarding “Hazardous, Restricted, and Perishable Mail.” While most changes were done in order to correct erroneous references and provide greater clarity to existing language, anyone shipping firearms should know that the following language has been added:

“All regulated firearms must be mailed using a USPS product or Extra Service that provides tracking and signature capture at delivery.”

Also worth noting is a change to the requirements for mailing rifles and shotguns (Section 432.3), which now states that these items must include “Signature Confirmation service or insured mail service (for more than $500) requiring a signature at delivery.” That insured mail service amount is up from $200.

While these changes to the firearm requirements are fairly minor, this update serves as a good opportunity to remind shippers about USPS content restrictions.

Here are some resources we think you’ll find helpful:

– USPS to Limit Shipping of Hoverboards—This blog post explains restrictions for shipping “hoverboards,” also known as motorized balance boards. The USPS implemented restrictions due to safety concerns and the risk of fire caused by the lithium batteries used to power hoverboards.

– While on the subject of batteries, this blog post details USPS standards for mailing lithium batteries.

– USPS International Restrictions by Country—Anyone who wants to ship to customers outside of the U.S. will want to take a look.

– Keep up with all USPS News on the Stamps.com blog.

USPS Announces Changes to Certain Rates and Services

August 24th, 2016 Comments off

279384_Postage-Rate-change_blogIf you haven’t already done so, mark your calendar for August 28, 2016, which is when the United States Postal Service® is implementing a handful of changes.  If you have questions, we have answers.

First-Class Mail Parcel Retail Rates Are Rising

What’s changing?

The Retail (Post Office) rate for First-Class Mail® Parcel packages weighing 1-3 ounces is increasing from $2.45 to $2.62.

Note:  Commercial Base rates are not changing and will continue to start at $2.60 for First-Class Mail® Parcel packages.

What’s the new rate going to be for Stamps.com customers?

With this price change, Stamps.com customers will pay the Commercial Base rate of $2.60 for packages weighing 1-3 ounces.  This online price is 2 cents cheaper than the retail rate of $2.62.

USPS changed First-Class Package Service rates back in January, creating a unique situation at the time where the Retail rate for First-Class Package Service ($2.45) was actually lower than the Commercial Base (discounted online) pricing ($2.60) for packages weighing 1-3 ounces.  Stamps.com automatically gave customers the lower Retail rate ($2.45) when this happened.

What do I need to do to get the updated rates?

There’s no action needed for Stamps.com customers.  We will automatically update all USPS rates inside the software and the Stamps.com Online web-based version.  You will see the new rates automatically.

Other changes starting August 28:

Priority Mail Express International service to Cuba will be available for Flat Rate Envelopes up to 4 pounds and parcels up to 22 pounds. Currently, Cuba receives First-Class Mail International®, First-Class Package International Service® and Priority Mail International® items from the Postal Service.  Learn how to use Stamps.com to ship to Cuba.

Priority Mail International Flat Rate Envelopes and Small Flat Rate Priced Boxes will move to the air parcel stream with access to tracking and insurance. Priority Mail International Flat Rate Envelopes and Small Flat Rate Boxes, which will still be limited to a maximum weight of 4 pounds, will now also be required to carry a PS Form 2976-A Customs Form.

USPS Changes Customs Form Acceptance

July 14th, 2016 Comments off

Blog_USPS Changes Customs Form AcceptanceUnless you’re dropping a shipment off at the Post Office retail counter, customs declaration forms (AKA customs forms) for packages being sent internationally through USPS must now be completed and submitted online. In other words, no more filling out these forms by hand without making a trip to the Post Office.

According to a recent letter to its customers, USPS has discontinued preprinted, hardcopy customs declaration forms PS Form 2976 (one-page form), PS Form 2976-A (multi-page form) and PS Form 2976-B (Priority Mail Express International form). After June 3, 2016, the Postal Service will return improperly presented items to the sender for proper entry and acceptance.

What does this mean for Stamps.com customers?
Since Stamps.com software auto-completes integrated customs forms and electronically submits customs data to USPS, this means our customers aren’t impacted by this change. Customers can continue to use our software to print their customs forms and include the appropriate forms with international shipments.

Anyone not using a PC Postage provider like Stamps.com or USPS Click-N-Ship has a couple different options during the transition, according to USPS:

– Visit the Post Office—as previously mentioned, customers can visit their local Post Office retail counter to complete the replacement PS Form 2976-R hardcopy form. The customer must give the completed form to a retail associate to complete the transaction.

– Go online—Create an electronic customs form by visiting https://www.usps.com/customsforms and entering the appropriate information. You can then print the form and apply it to your package with your postage. You can then use your current method to induct your packages into the mailstream.

The plastic pouches used to enclose and attach the customs form to the package are still available online – order these envelopes and other USPS supplies for free at the Stamps.com Store!

Media Mail: Summary of April 2016 USPS Rate Decrease

April 21st, 2016 Comments off

What is Media Mail?
Media Mail is a cost-effective way to send media materials through the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). You can send books, videotapes, DVDs, CDs, printed music and other sound recordings through Media Mail as long as they weigh less than 70 pounds.

What is the Estimated Delivery Time for Media Mail?
It can take between 2 to 10 days for your Media Mail package to be delivered to its destination.

Changes to Media Mail in 2016
On Sunday, April 10, 2016, the USPS implemented a postage rate decrease, as a result of which it will now cost less to ship a Media Mail package.  Prior to the change, it would cost $2.72 to ship a 1 lb. Media Mail package which will now only cost $2.61.  The table below lists the decrease in Media Mail rates for packages weighing up to 25 lbs.

266057_Image for Media Mail Blog Post

Save with Media Mail
If delivery on your shipment is not time sensitive, Media Mail can help save you a lot!  If you’re a Stamps.com customer sending a 1-pound package, it will cost $5.75 and up with Priority Mail (using the Stamps.com discount) and only $2.61 with Media Mail.  Using Media Mail in this situation will save you around 53% in postage costs.

USPS Announces Postage Rate Decrease – Starts April 10, 2016

April 1st, 2016 Comments off

262456_Postage-Rate-Decrease_blogFor the second time in 2016, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) will be changing its rates on April 10th, 2016.  The good news is that this time rates are decreasing for USPS Mailing Services products. 

What Are The Changes?
Here is a summary of the April 2016 postage rate updates:

– First Class Mail Letters (1 oz.) rates will decrease from $0.49 to $0.47 when purchased at the Post Office. Each additional ounce will cost $0.21.

– The discounted “Metered Mail” category for First Class Mail Letters (1 oz.), which includes online postage providers and postage meters, will decrease from $0.485 to $0.465. Each additional ounce will cost $0.21.

– First Class Mail Flats (1 oz.) will decrease from $0.98 to $0.94. Each additional ounce will cost $0.21.

– Postcard rates will decrease from $0.35 to $0.34.

letters and postcards

– First Class Mail – Parcels available at the Post Office will also see a decrease and rates will start at $2.45 (previously $2.54) for a 1 oz. package.

first class mail parcels

Important:  While the Commercial Base rate for First Class Package Service for mailpieces weighing between 1 and 3 ounces is $2.60, Stamps.com has incorporated the lower Post Office pricing into its program!  So, instead of paying $2.60 for a 1 ounce package, Stamps.com customers will only need to pay $2.45.  To get this discount, Stamps.com customers must download Version 13.3.

– Media Mail rates will start at $2.61 instead of $2.72 for a 1 lb. package.

media mail

Why Are USPS Rates Decreasing? 
The 4.3% exigent surcharge that was granted to the USPS by the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) in January 2014 is being lifted.  This temporary postage rate increase was granted to help the USPS recoup the losses it encountered during the recession.  Since these losses are estimated to have been recouped by April, the USPS is implementing a postage rate decrease. 

No Action Needed For Stamps.com Customers
Stamps.com will automatically update all USPS rates inside the software and web-based version (Stamps.com Online) on Sunday, April 10, 2016.  If you are a Stamps.com customer, no additional actions are needed and you will see the new reduced USPS rates automatically.

Special Note:  If you want the discounted metered mail rate of $0.465 for First Class Mail Letters (1 oz.) and lower $2.45 Post Office rate for First Class Mail – Parcels weighing 1-3 ounces, make sure to upgrade to Stamps.com Version 13.3.

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