2024 USPS Rate and Service Changes

April 11th, 2024 Comments off

Welcome to our United States Postal Service Updates blog, your guide to the changing postal scene. Here, we’ll share the latest news and rate updates from the USPS. Dive in as we break down the 2024 updates. 

January 2024 Service Changes

Stamps.com has been informed of the recent USPS announcement which recommends postage rates increase for select First-Class Mail services on July 14, 2024. We will alert you of these and any other changes as new details become available. At this time, our current postage stamp rate remains at 64 cents.

New Mailing Technology Requirements from USPS

The United States Postal Service (USPS) is implementing a new technology standard called Intelligent Mail Indicia (IMI) to modernize its mailing system.

What is IMI and why is it required?

IMI replaces the older technology and provides the USPS with more detailed and real-time data on your mailings. This translates to a smoother and more efficient mailing experience for everyone. Upgrading offers several benefits:

  • Reduced costs: Eliminates the need to guesstimate postage, preventing overspending and returns.
  • Improved cash flow: Detailed transaction data makes it easier to track refunds and reimbursements.
  • Always up-to-date: Your system automatically receives the latest postage rates and service information.
  • Enhanced security: Robust security features protect your data.
  • Increased efficiency: IMI streamlines mail processing for the USPS, potentially leading to faster deliveries.

What does this mean for you?

The good news is, you don’t need to take any action. Stamps is already working diligently behind the scenes to ensure our technology is fully compliant with IMI by December 2024.  As an approved USPS partner, we’ll make sure your mailing operation continues to run smoothly without interruption.

January 2024 Service Changes

Effective January 21st, the USPS is rolling out changes to its shipping rates, which will impact various services and package categories. Stamps remains committed to delivering top-notch service to its customers and is happy to announce that, through our partnership with USPS, customers can now enjoy enhanced discounts on Priority Mail® and Ground Advantage Rates™ compared to Commercial Plus rates.

Here’s an overview of the modifications and how they might impact your shipping and mailing strategies.

Ground Advantage™

  • Ground Advantage™ under 1 pound: Up to 6.6% off
  • Ground Advantage™ over 1 pound: Up to 25.1% off
  • Ground Advantage™ Cubic: Up to 21.2% off

As a reminder, Ground Advantage™ was introduced in July of 2023. This service combines USPS Retail Ground, USPS Parcel Select Ground, and USPS First Class Package Services. The January 21st changes will apply to all weights, zones, and cubic dimensions over 12 ounces using Ground Advantage™.

Priority Mail®

  • Priority Mail 6-10 pounds: Up to 12% off
  • Priority Mail Flat Rate: Up to 2.5% off
  • Priority Mail Cubic: Up to 15.8% off

So where will you see the biggest changes? The short answer: it depends. Exact rates will vary depending on the package details and how far it’s traveling. As always, we recommend comparing rates and services to find the best option for your business. 

Mailing Services

The cost of sending a 1 oz. First Class Mail letter will increase from 66 cents to 68 cents. However, if you use Stamps.com, the Metered Mail rate for the same letter will only go up from 63 cents to 64 cents, saving you $0.04 compared to the retail rate.

USPS Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) Label Changes

While the primary focus of this rate adjustment is on shipping rates, it’s crucial to be aware of unrelated changes to HAZMAT labels. Starting January 21st, USPS is enhancing safety measures for handling dangerous goods shipments. The HAZMAT labels will now feature an oversized letter “H” in the corner, the addition of 2D barcodes, and the inclusion of the word “HAZMAT” after “USPS TRACKING #.” Shippers need not take any specific action other than selecting hazardous goods under special services when printing a label when a shipment contains hazardous materials. For more information check out our HAZMAT updates blogs.

Insurance Rate Updates

In addition to the rate adjustments, Stamps.com users should be aware of an increase in their insurance rates. However, depending on your service plan, you could enjoy discounts ranging from 10% to 40% compared to USPS insurance rates.

Enhance Your Efficiency

Despite these changes, Stamps.com continues to offer substantial savings on shipping costs, with discounts of up to 89%* through its partnership with USPS and other carriers. We aim to streamline your shipping and mailing operations, providing discounted rates for a smooth sending process.

As the shipping landscape evolves, staying informed about rate changes and adjusting your strategy accordingly can contribute to a more efficient and cost-effective shipping experience. Keep these insights in mind as you navigate the 2024 USPS shipping rate adjustments. For more information check out our help center article.

*Rates are limited to shipping from the continental U.S. only. These rates and discounts exclude shipment origins from Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Alaska. Rates and any applicable discounts are subject to change at any time without notice.

Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) Codes for International Shipping

June 22nd, 2016 Comments off

HTS BlogYou may have spotted a box called “HS Tariff” in the Stamps.com International Shipping Label’s Customs Information section. What is it and what is it used for?

The Harmonized System, or HS, Tariff code is used to classify physical goods and traded products for export to another country. In the Stamps.com software, you have the option of entering a six-digit HS Tariff, a value developed and maintained by the World Customs Organization (WCO).

Why would you need this code? The codes are used by countries’ customs services to assess product quotas and correctly levy tariffs. This is not necessarily a bad thing: your commodity may qualify for a preferential tariff under a Free Trade Agreement.

Getting Your HS Tariff Code
So where would you get an HS Tariff code? To locate a specific code, please visit: http://hts.usitc.gov/

The Harmonized Tariff Schedule allows you to classify a specific product or product type with a numbered code. It will also provide information on the Tariff Rate of Duty.

Are you an exporter of table-tennis equipment? In the Tariff Schedule search engine, type in “table-tennis.” Reviewing the results, you’ll see HS Tariff code 9506, which is for “articles and equipment for general physical exercise, gymnastics, athletics, other sports (including table-tennis).” What if you’re an exporter of extracts, essences and concentrates of coffee, tea, or roasted chicory? Then your HS Tariff code is “2101.”

The goal is to pick the most specific tariff code for your item. For example, knives with silver handles would have the Tariff Code of 7114.11.10. Tricycles, scooters, and pedal cars would be 9503.00.00.  Perfumed bath salts would be 3307.30.

Using HS Tariff Codes in Stamps.com
To use an HS Tariff code, please select “Commercial Sample” as the Content Type in the Customs Form. You’ll notice some codes are longer than six characters, the maximum limit for the HS Tariff code in the Stamps.com software. Don’t worry: because the HS Tariff classification protocol is used by almost the entire international community, participating countries can add more digits to classify items with more specific detail. However, the first six digits are the same across all participating countries. Because of this, only the first six are used on Stamps.com Customs Forms.

The Customs Form will also ask for a “Country of Origin.” This refers to the origin of the product, not the origin of the mailpiece as a whole. This is required for the sake of security and to prevent any illicit or fraudulent activity, or anything that violates existing export laws.

Once you enter the Itemized Package Content Details, Value, Weight, Country of Origin, and add each line item by clicking on the “Add Item” button, you will be asked to acknowledge the USPS Privacy Act Statement and Restrictions and Prohibitions. Review that, and click OK.

Your form is now ready to print. The HS Tariff Number will appear in a box on the left of your International Shipping Label/Customs Form.

How To Send Packages To Cuba With Stamps.com

June 1st, 2016 Comments off

Blog_Shipping_Packages_To_CubaSometimes historical forces will affect what and where you’ll be able to mail.  In 1963, mail service was cancelled between the U.S. and Cuba, and mail was sent indirectly through countries such as Mexico and Canada.

However, direct mail service has been restored officially by the USPS as of March 16, 2016, thanks to the recent restoration of diplomatic relations between these former Cold War foes.  This lifting of the ban means that you can now send to Cuba First-Class Mail International® items, First-Class Package International Service® items, and Priority Mail International® Flat Rate Envelopes and Small Flat Rate Priced Boxes.

Printing postage with Stamps.com
You can print postage for these approved mail classes and types to Cuba easily using the Stamps.com program. If you need to send a First-Class Mail International letter or postcard, you can use our NetStamps feature and print postage using an Original NetStamps sheet.

To print International Mail with NetStamps, please follow the steps below:

1. Log in to your software and click on “Stamps.”
2. Under “Postage Details,” select “I want to specify the value for each stamp” by clicking on the white circle.
3. If you are unsure about the postage rate for your mailpiece, click on the icon bearing the image of a globe and the word “Int’l.” to access USPS’ International Mail 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 and click “Check Rates.”  You will be given a list of available mail classes and rates for the country you have selected.

For First-Class Mail International Large Envelopes/Flats, First-Class Package International Service, Priority Mail International Flat Rate Envelopes and Priority Mail International Small Flat Rate Priced Boxes, you can click on the International tab in the Main Navigation Bar in your software.

Remember that package contents must be declared for U.S. Customs.  Stamps.com has made this process easy by combining shipping labels and U.S. Customs Declaration Forms into a single-sheet label.  You can use our Plain Paper option or a self-adhesive label like our SDC-1200.

Mailing restrictions
If you’re a business, don’t miss out on the opportunity to be part of the new commercial partnerships that will result from the Cuban Thaw.  An easing of trade and travel rules means potential new markets.   We recommend staying abreast of postal regulations on shipments to Cuba, which are maintained by the USPS here: http://pe.usps.gov/text/imm/ce_017.htm.

Understanding Package Weight Limits for International Shipping

May 18th, 2016 Comments off

UnderstandingInternationalWeightLimits

You have a Priority Mail International® Small Flat Rate Priced Box ready to be shipped to the country of Antigua and Barbuda. It weighs 5 pounds, but you’re not seeing an option for Small Flat Rate Priced Boxes in the Stamps.com drop-down mailpiece menu. What’s going on? The answer: the maximum weight for a Priority Mail International Small Flat Rate Priced Box is 4 pounds, so your mailpiece weighs too much for this flat rate box.

When preparing international shipments, it’s important to remember that there are weight limits depending on which mail class and packaging you’re using.

For example, the maximum weight for a Priority Mail Express International® Flat Rate Envelope or Small Flat Rate Priced Box is 4 pounds, and 20 pounds for Medium and Large Flat Rate Priced Boxes.

First-Class Mail International® Letters are capped at 3.5 ounces while First-Class Mail International Large Envelopes/Flats, these cannot exceed 4 pounds.

Variations by Country: Availability of Services 
An important aspect to shipping internationally is knowing that services vary by country.

For example, if you’re using Priority Mail International to mail something to Bolivia, Cuba, the Falkland Islands or Ascension Island, you would only be able to use Priority Mail International Flat Rate Envelopes and Small Flat Rate Priced Boxes.

Want to ship using Priority Mail Express International Service? Do your homework, as this service is not available for more than 20 countries and dependencies, including Afghanistan, Iran, Greenland, Tuvalu, East Timor (Timor-Leste), and Suriname.

Variations by Country: Weight Limits for Non-Flat-Rate Mailpieces
The absolute maximum weight of all international packages is 70 pounds, but not all countries will accept this maximum weight. For example, 33 pounds is the maximum weight for a package going Priority Mail Express International to Taiwan, but it is 69 pounds for Nepal. Knowing that varying thresholds exist is an important step towards becoming a successful global shipper, and will help you determine what kinds of products you can ship to certain overseas markets.

These thresholds can also vary by mail class for the same country. For example, Bulgaria’s weight limit for Priority Mail Express International packages is 66 pounds, but 70 pounds for Priority Mail International packages.

Looking for a complete chart? You can find one here: http://pe.usps.com/text/imm/immpg.htm or look at individual country listings at: http://pe.usps.com/text/imm/ab_001.htm.

[Infographic] Complete Guide to USPS International Shipping

October 14th, 2015 Comments off

Stamps.com recently released a Complete Guide to USPS International Shipping infographic, that includes tips for international shipping, shipping carrier cost comparisons, eBay’s top categories for international sales and much more!

Below is the complete infographic. Learn how to ship your USPS packages to international customers and expand your business globally by tapping into the growing demand for American-made products.  Download your FREE copy of the Complete Guide to USPS International Shipping eBook here!

Can’t see the Complete Guide to USPS International Shipping infographic? View it here (use your browser zoom to enlarge).

complete-guide-usps-international-shipping

Want to learn more about expanding your business and selling to customers across the globe? Download the FREE eBook, Complete Guide to USPS International Shipping.

 

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