Standard Mail

The new Standard Mail prices encourage mail that is compatible with our operations and drop shipped closer to its destination. As in First-Class Mail, Standard Mail pricing has greater recognition of shape and reduced reliance on weight.


For automation letters, we maintain the 150-piece mini­mum per sortation level for automation letters. Sort levels are optional for 5-digit/scheme, and required for 3-digit/scheme, AADC, and mixed-AADC levels. Automation letter mailers also have the option to prepare origin/entry 3-digit/scheme trays. The Enhanced Carrier Route (ECR) automa­tion basic letters preparation and prices have been elimi­nated.

To help reduce the number of “air trays” (partially filled overflow trays) and the overall cost of handling mail in letter trays, a reduced-overflow tray option for automation letters will be offered. In addition, to encourage more trays filled to capacity, the definition of a “full letter tray” has been changed to be one in which the pieces fill the length of the tray between 85 and 100 percent.

Simplified letter mail preparation for machinable letters now requires mailers to sort only to AADC and mixed–AADC levels. Mailers have the option to prepare ori­gin/entry 3-digit trays as well.

The nonmachinable surcharge has been replaced with a separate price structure for nonmachinable letters weigh­ing up to 3.3 ounces. Required nonmachinable letter sort levels are 5-digit, 3-digit, ADC, and mixed ADC, for which there are separate prices. Mailers have the option to pre­pare origin/entry 3-digit trays. Nonmachinable letters over 3.3 ounces are charged the Not Flat-Machinable (NFM) rates or, if barcoded and meeting other requirements, an automation flat-size rate.

ECR letters weighing up to 3 ounces that are delivery-point barcoded and automation compatible are sorted in full trays according to new preparation standards. Mailers sort and bundle ECR letters that are not barcoded, not automation compatible, or that weigh over 3 ounces (up to 3.5 ounces), according to current preparation standards. Mailers will sort and bundle mailings that contain pieces both over and under 3 ounces according to current prepa­ration standards.

We have eliminated DDU entry rates for all ECR letter-size pieces. Destination sectional center facility (DSCF) entry rates are allowed for destination delivery unit (DDU) entry of some ECR letters, including letters with simplified addresses and locally entered mailings of 2,500 pieces or less. ECR letters paid for at the basic letter rate must meet address matching and coding standards and must be delivery-point barcoded and automation compatible.


To better align mail preparation with our processing capabilities and to maximize access to lower prices for mailers, changes in many mail preparation standards, including nonautomation flats, are being implemented. Changes have been made to flat-size mailing standards to ensure that the prices for flats and parcels better cover their costs and ensure those pieces eligible for flat-size prices can be processed on automated flat sorting machines (AFSM 100s) and handled efficiently at delivery.

The physical standards for automation flats retain most of the criteria for the AFSM 100 pieces, with new standards for flexibility that exclude boxes and box-like pieces. A rectangular-shape requirement and a uniform-thickness standard for all flats have been added. The new uniform- thickness standard allows up to a 1/4-inch variation in thickness. These changes ensure that pieces paid for at automation flats prices can be processed in automated operations and delivered as flats. The deflection standard has been lessened, and bound or folded pieces will be allowed to be tested differently than enveloped pieces. We will increase the maximum size for ECR flats so that the same maximum size (15 inches long, 12 inches high, 3/4-inch thick) applies to all flats, regardless of the price paid.

A 5-inch by 6-inch minimum for automation flats has been set because smaller pieces cannot be efficiently processed and present handling problems at delivery. However, these smaller pieces may qualify for letter prices or nonautomation flats prices, depending on mailpiece characteristics.

To be consistent with the processing capabilities of the AFSM 100, the length of a flat (e.g., envelope, full-length wrapper, or full-length sleeve) will continue to be the longest dimension, but for bound or folded pieces (publications) claimed at automation prices, the edge perpendicular to the bound or folded edge may not exceed 12 inches. The deflection test for automation-rate flats with bound or folded edges has been revised to allow testing by placing the bound or final fold edge perpendicular to the edge of a flat surface. This method better accommodates pieces when the bound edge is the shorter dimension.

The new standards further stipulate that rigid pieces do not qualify for flat prices. Rigid pieces are not easily pro­cessed on our AFSM 100s — often resulting in manual pro­cessing or processing on less-efficient flats equipment — and are not generally handled as flats by carriers at deliv­ery. In addition, rigid pieces will not be processed and delivered efficiently in the future flats sequencing environment.

The new flexibility test is a simple, effective, and efficient way to test flats presented at acceptance locations to determine whether such pieces can be processed on AFSM 100s and handled as flats by carriers. To alleviate concerns about USPS® employees administering the test inconsistently, mailers are allowed to perform this test on their own pieces, with an employee observing and vali­dating the test. The characteristics of mailpieces evolve over time. Therefore, we will continually test pieces that fall outside of the flexibility standards, as necessary, and reevaluate our standards to accommodate new processing and delivery capabilities.

Pieces must be tested first with the longest side parallel to the edge of a surface. If the piece can pass this test and does not contain a rigid insert, further testing is unneces­sary. If it contains a rigid insert, it must be tested with the shortest side parallel to the edge of a surface as well. The DMM and related publications provide illustrations for the flexibility test and the deflection test.

The uniform-thickness standard will be applied to all flat-size mail, but a 1/4-inch variation in thickness will be allowed.

Specifically, flat-size mailpieces must be uniformly thick so that any bumps, protrusions, or other irregularities do not cause more than 1/4-inch variance in thickness. We exclude the outside edges of a mailpiece (1 inch from the edge) when determining variance in thickness. Mailers must secure nonpaper contents to prevent shifting of more than 2 inches within the mailpiece.

The exclusion of pieces over 3/4-inch thick from auto­mation flats is consistent with processing capabilities on our AFSM 100s and our automatic inductions systems. Many pieces that are thicker than 3/4 inch and currently qualify for Standard Mail automation flats rates are boxes or rigid pieces. Few Standard Mail pieces that are flexible printed material are both over 3/4 inch and under 16 ounces (the maximum weight for Standard Mail items).

Nonautomation flats will not be required to meet all automation standards. Pieces that meet the general size and physical characteristics for all flats in DMM 301.1.0 but are too flimsy, are not barcoded, or use polywrap that is not approved will be eligible for nonautomation flats rates. Small pieces (for example, pieces 4 inches high by 4 inches long) that are over 1/4-inch thick also are eligible for non­automation flats rates.

Not Flat-Machinable Pieces

NFM pieces are rigid, parcel-like pieces and large pieces (more than 15 inches long or more than 3/4-inch thick) that currently qualify for automation flats rates based solely on the UFSM 1000 criteria. However, these pieces are rarely processed on the UFSM 1000 or other flats sort­ing equipment, and are seldom delivered as flats — they are usually processed either manually or in the parcel mail­stream. Therefore, the current prices of these pieces are not adequate to cover their processing and delivery costs. The NFM subcategory gives mailers the option to mail qualifying pieces at the lower, NFM prices, rather than at parcel prices. The standards allow mailers to choose on the basis of prices, preparation, and postage payment how to mail qualifying pieces under the categories of Standard Mail service.

The preparation and labeling standards for NFMs will direct these pieces to the processing facilities that can effi­ciently handle them, based on actual operations and mail flows. The preparation and destination-entry options for NFMs weighing 6 ounces or more mirror those of machin­able parcels because they are both efficiently processed at bulk mail centers (BMCs). The preparation and destination-entry options for NFMs weighing less than 6 ounces mirror those of irregular parcels, which are efficiently processed at area distribution centers (ADCs).

Bundling will not be allowed for NFMs placed in sacks, and 5-digit bundles of five or more NFMs will be allowed when the mail is prepared on pallets. A DDU entry rate is being offered for NFMs sorted to 5-digit destinations when drop shipped directly to the DDU. There is no minimum number of pieces for NFMs drop shipped to DDUs.

Barcodes facilitate processing, and NFMs weighing less than 6 ounces each must bear either a 5-digit UCC/EAN Code 128 or a POSTNET barcode. NFMs weighing 6 ounces or more must bear a 5-digit UCC/EAN Code 128 barcode. Unless prepared in 5-digit/scheme containers, a 5-cent surcharge applies to all NFMs that are not bar­coded. Also, each NFM piece must bear the marking “Not Flat-Machinable” or “NFM,” either in the optional endorse­ment line or by placing the marking immediately to the left of or below the postage area. Unlike with irregular and machinable parcels, except for Electronic Option Delivery Confirmation, there are no other extra services available with NFMs.

Mailers have been given time to adjust their mailpiece design, software programming, or production processes to avoid NFM or parcel prices if they choose to make a change. They have been encouraged to redesign their packaging to avoid rigid or box-like mailpieces, and we have consulted with many mailers who intended to design pieces that could be mailable at flats prices. As a result, many mailers have modified their mailpieces to meet the standards for automation flats.


The residual shape surcharge (RSS) for Standard Mail parcels has been eliminated, and a 3-cent machinable bar­code discount will no longer be offered. Instead, all parcel prices include a requirement for barcodes. On irregular par­cels (regardless of weight), mailers can apply either a 5–digit UCC/EAN Code 128 or a POSTNET barcode. On machinable parcels, mailers must use a 5-digit UCC/EAN Code 128 barcode. Unless prepared in 5-digit/scheme containers, parcels that are not barcoded are charged a 5–cent surcharge.

The bundling requirement for all irregular parcels except ECR parcels has been removed. The required minimum quantity of irregular parcels in sacks has been reduced to 10 pounds of parcels per sack.

New standards in DMM 401.1.0 allow certain size pieces weighing at least 3.5 ounces to be mailed as machinable parcels. This change allows mailers to prepare a wider range of machinable parcels separately or together with other machinable parcels. Electronic option Delivery Confirmation™, bulk insurance, and Return Receipt for merchandise services remain available with the irregular and machinable parcels.

A DDU entry rate for parcels sorted to 5-digit/scheme destinations will be allowed when drop shipped directly to the DDU. There is no minimum for parcels drop shipped to a DDU.

Mailers are encouraged to commingle irregular parcels, machinable parcels, NFMs, and Package Services parcels into 5-digit/scheme containers. Mailers may combine NFMs weighing less than 6 ounces each with irregular par­cels (regardless of weight) in 3-digit, ADC, and mixed-ADC containers. Combining NFMs weighing 6 ounces or more with machinable parcels in BMC/ASF and mixed BMC con­tainers will also be allowed. In addition, mailers may com­bine (any) Standard Mail parcels, NFMs, machinable Parcel Select®, and Bound Printed Matter parcels when pre­pared in 3-digit containers to certain ZIP Codes™ and entered at designated sectional center facilities (SCFs).

Customized MarketMail

Prices for Customized MarketMail® (CMM®) equal the 5-digit nonentry rate for NFMs. Mailers are still required to drop ship CMM pieces to DDUs.

Detached Address Labels

Detached Address Labels (DALs) allow a saturation mailer to place the address and postage on a separate card, rather than on the piece itself. For Standard Mail ECR pieces, the new prices include a 1.5-cent surcharge if DALs are used.


The minimum weight for flats prepared in bundles and placed directly on most pallets is 250 pounds. However, there is no minimum weight for pallets entered at a DDU. Also, BMC, ADC, and SCF pallets entered at the corre­sponding destination facility may contain a minimum of 100 pounds of mail (bundles) or 12 linear feet of trays on pallets.