Stamps.com Blog

Stamps.com Blog

Get the latest information on the mailing and shipping industry.

USPS Delivers to Every Address, Every Business in the U.S.

April 14th, 2017 Comments off

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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!

Categories: USPS News Tags:

USPS Announces Informed Delivery Program

April 7th, 2017 Comments off

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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.

Categories: Letter Mailing Tags:

How to Measure Irregularly Shaped Items

March 30th, 2017 Comments off

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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

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

Categories: Shipping Tags:

How to Mail Unconventional Items with No Packaging

March 23rd, 2017 Comments off

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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!

Categories: Shipping Tags:

What’s the ZIP Plus-Four for?

March 17th, 2017 Comments off

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You may have noticed the extra appendage of numbers added to a ZIP code called the plus-four, ZIP + 4, or add-on code. What is it for? The USPS considers the five-digit ZIP plus those additional four digits to be the most complete kind of delivery code. Introduced in 1983, the plus-four is a helpful ally in the ongoing drive for even more efficient delivery and sorting.

What do the numbers mean? 

What is the breakdown of the plus-four and what do the numbers mean? The first two numbers of the plus-four identify the larger area known as the sector. The last two identify the segment. Segment and sector are actually terms that identify very specific geographical areas that pinpoint more than just a numbered house on a street. As explained at this USPS source, “the final four digits identify geographic units such as a side of a street between intersections, both sides of a street between intersections, a building, a floor or group of floors in a building, a firm within a building, a span of boxes on a rural route, or a group of Post Office boxes to which a single USPS employee makes delivery.” It can also identify an individual high-volume receiver of mail.

The plus-fours and Stamps.com

The good news is that the guesswork is gone when it comes to using Stamps.com. Our software can help the USPS expedite the sorting and routing of the mail, ensuring that your recipient is not waiting for too long for your shipment. The Stamps.com software will apply the plus-four automatically for you as part of the Address Matching System (AMS) cleansing process. 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 checked against the AMS.

You can modify your AMS settings within the software. You can do this by going to File and then Preferences in the main menu on the top of the software. Then, click on the Address tab. Here you can move the AMS slider. Setting it to “High” will always add the plus-four to your delivery address. The levels of “Medium” and “Low” will generate alerts for you when the plus-four cannot be verified. The plus-four is important!

Categories: Letter Mailing Tags:

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