Holiday Mailing Tips and Reminders

The holiday mailing season has arrived. For many cus­tomers visiting Post Offices to mail their holiday cards and packages, it may be the first time they are made aware of the May 14, 2007, changes such as First-Class Mail shape-based pricing, Priority Mail dimensional-weight pricing, and the international mail product redesign.

Here are some tips and reminders for you and our cus­tomers to help make this holiday mailing season a success.

Greeting Cards and Other First-Class Mail Items

Greeting cards are available in various shapes and weights and include the popular “musical” cards. Many of these cards weigh more than 1 ounce, and, if the card appears to be square, it could be subject to the $0.17 non­machinable surcharge in addition to the applicable letter-size First-Class Mail postage. Often, the envelopes for these cards are marked “extra postage required.” Due to their size, many musical greeting cards exceed letter-size standards and are classified and priced as large envelopes (flats).

In addition, note the following:

See DMM 101.1.2 for further information.

“Right-Size Shipping” Quick Packaging Tips

Proper packaging plays an important role in holiday shipping. First, choose a box that is suitable for the con­tents and weight of the item(s) being mailed and, when selecting boxes, always practice “right-size” shipping. Do not ship small, lightweight items in large boxes. For exam­ple, a pair of shoes packaged in a reinforced shoebox could cost a lot less to mail than if the shoes are packaged in a copy paper box — even though the contents may weigh the same. Practicing “right-size” shipping also helps customers avoid the additional costs of Priority Mail dimen­sional-weight or balloon-rate pricing. If reusing a box, cus­tomers must obliterate or thoroughly cover all previous labels and markings prior to mailing. Remind customers that many of our retail outlets offer ReadyPost packaging for purchase, and that complimentary Priority Mail and Express Mail packaging is also available in a variety of sizes at retail outlets, online at, and by phone at 800-222-1811. Complimentary Priority Mail pack­aging is sized so that it is never subject to dimensional-weight or minimum balloon-rate pricing. For outstanding value and convenience, customers may choose Priority Mail Flat-Rate Boxes, which are available in two sizes.

Next, when packaging items for mailing, be sure to include an appropriate amount of cushioning, based on the contents. Newspaper, Styrofoam “peanuts,” bubble wrap, or shredded paper are all ideal for protecting contents. Remove any batteries from toys and electronic devices, wrap each separately, and place next to the item inside the mailing container. Before sealing the package, place the return and delivery address inside the box to ensure that the item can be delivered (or returned) if the outside address label becomes damaged or detached from the box.


Always seal all openings and seams of boxes with a tape that is designed for shipping. Clear or brown packag­ing tape at least 2 inches wide, reinforced packing tape, or paper tape is preferred. Various commercial retail outlets (in addition to Post Offices) carry Post Office–approved packaging materials. Reminder: Priority Mail and Express Mail tape is for identification purposes only and is not intended to seal packages.

Addressing for Success

Proper addressing of mail is important to customers and the Postal Service. For customers, proper addressing helps to ensure that the best possible service is received. It pre­vents delays due to an incomplete or incorrect address. For the Postal Service, proper addressing helps ensure that mail reaches its destination within our service standards and reduces the operational costs associated with undeliverable-as-addressed (UAA) mail. Proper addressing is even more important during the holidays to ensure timely arrival of gifts and greetings at their destinations. Below are some addressing reminders for you and customers. Proper addressing information is also available online at; click on All Products & Services then on Addressing Your Mail.

Return Address

The mailpiece must contain the complete address of the sender, including the ZIP Code, in the upper left corner of the address side of the mailpiece. Only one return address may be used, and it must be located so that it does not affect either the clarity of the destination address or the application of service labels and notations (postmarks, etc.).

For international shipments, the sender’s name and address, including ZIP Code and country of origin, should be included on all mailpieces. For example:


Delivery Address

The delivery address should be typed or printed parallel to the longest side of the package using a pen or perma­nent marker so the address is legible from an arm’s length away. For international packages, the full first and last names of the sender and addressee must appear on the mailpiece. The complete delivery address must be typed or legibly written (with ink) in English — using all uppercase roman letters and Arabic numerals — and should appear lengthwise on only one side of the package. Except for Global Express Guaranteed® (GXG®), for which the address must be written completely in English, an address in a foreign language is permitted only if the names of the city, province, and country are also indicated in English. The last line of the address must include only the complete country name (no abbreviations) written in uppercase let­ters. Foreign postal codes (numeric and/or alpha), if used, should be placed on the line immediately above the country name. For example:


International Products

Since many customers mail international packages only during the holiday season, they may not be aware of the significant changes that were made to our international ser­vices this past May. The international product line now offers the same familiar and trusted brands as domestic Express Mail and Priority Mail services.

International products now offered at retail offices are First-Class Mail International, Priority Mail International, Express Mail International, and GXG. Economy (surface mail) products are no longer offered. Online mailing is eas­ier on the budget, too — with discounts for international postage (GXG, Express Mail International, and Priority Mail International) purchased using Click-N-Ship service at or through authorized postage vendors.

Customers purchasing postage online can qualify for the following postage discounts:

These discounts apply to postage only, not to any extra service fees, and are calculated when completing the online transaction. The online labels are combined with the appropriate customs forms to provide customers with the added convenience of preparing the appropriate form to ensure it is complete and accurate.

More good news about international shipping: Custom­ers may use the same packaging for their Express Mail International and Priority Mail International shipping that they use for domestic shipping. For example, all Express Mail packaging may be used for Express Mail International, including the flat-rate envelope; all Priority Mail packaging may be used for Priority Mail International, including the flat-rate envelope, flat-rate boxes, and all other Priority Mail packaging supplies and labels. GXG packaging continues to be provided for GXG shipments. Note: Use former domestic packaging until supplies are depleted. Although the packaging says “For Domestic Use Only,” it can be used for both domestic and international shipments.

Customs Forms

Customs forms are available to customers without charge through an online Customs Form Application at; click on International Mail & Packages in the blue sidebar, then on Customs Require­ments. Remind customers that it is important to affix the correct completed customs form to their packages prior to mailing and that customs forms requirements vary by the type of mail. Customers must provide a “detailed descrip­tion” of the contents (what is being mailed, the quantity, declared value, and weight) on the required customs forms. Even if the word “gifts” is checked on the form, a detailed content description and value must still be entered and declared. The online labels with postage payment also offer electronic signature. Customers should add telephone numbers of the sender and addressee as this information may be required to ensure delivery. The completed cus­toms form must be signed and dated.

Mailpieces with missing or incomplete customs forms may be returned to sender or otherwise delayed by the Postal Service or the foreign post. Retail employees are not to accept pieces with missing or incomplete customs forms for mailing. Always check for country-specific prohi­bitions, restrictions, and observations (see the IMM Inter­national Country Listings).

Reminder: PS Form 3813-P is no longer used for interna­tional shipments. The insurance receipt and customs form (PS Form 2976-A) have been combined. For further information, go to the Retail Operations Web site at and click on SOPs in the left navigation bar.

Following is a quick review of international products and customs forms requirements. Detailed information appears on the Rate Change Resources for Retail Operations Web site at

First-Class Mail International

First-Class Mail International provides a reliable and economical means of sending correspondence (letters and postcards), documents, and lightweight merchandise weighing up to 4 pounds. Insurance coverage is not available for First-Class Mail International items. Items weighing 16 ounces or more, and all potentially dutiable items regardless of their weight, require a customs form as follows:

Priority Mail International

Available to more than 190 countries, Priority Mail Inter­national service offers 6–10 average business-day delivery (may vary based on origin and destination) and the same flat-rate packaging options as domestic Priority Mail. There are two flat-rate box options (20-pound weight limit) — $23 for Canada and Mexico, and $37 for all other countries. Tracking is available for packages to some destinations in Canada, Europe, and Asia. Tracking is not available for the Priority Mail Flat-Rate Envelope at this time. For Priority Mail International, the tracking number (the customs form number or the online combined mailing label and customs form) has a 9-digit barcode that begins with the letter “C” and ends with the letters “US.” Limited indemnity coverage is provided at no extra charge for flat-rate boxes and variable-weight articles. Additional insurance may be pur­chased for a fee for flat-rate boxes and variable-weight arti­cles at the customer’s option. Maximum indemnity varies by individual country. When international insured service is purchased, it replaces the indemnity coverage included on ordinary Priority Mail International packages. With the exception of the flat-rate envelope, all Priority Mail Interna­tional packages must bear a completed PS Form 2976-A inserted into a pouch (PS Form 2976-E) and affixed to the exterior of the package. For Priority Mail Flat-Rate Enve­lopes:


Express Mail International

Express Mail International provides reliable, 3–5 average-business-day delivery to more than 190 countries with a money-back delivery guarantee to select destina­tions. Specific average-days-for-delivery information to major destinations is available to customers via the online postage rate calculator. Tracking is also available. For Express Mail International, the tracking number is the 9–digit barcode that begins with the letter “E” and ends with the letters “US.” Merchandise insurance up to $100 is provided at no additional cost. Additional insurance cover­age may be purchased at the customer’s option up to a maximum of $5,000 per shipment. Maximum indemnity, as well as customs form requirements, varies by individual country.

Reminder: The following items are prohibited in all Express Mail International shipments: coins; banknotes; currency notes, including paper money; securities of any kind payable to bearer; traveler’s checks; platinum, gold, silver; precious stones; jewelry, including watches; and other valuable articles.

Global Express Guaranteed

Global Express Guaranteed (GXG) is an expedited deliv­ery service offered through an alliance with FedEx Express that provides reliable, high-speed, date-certain service (13 business days) with money-back delivery guarantee to more than 190 countries. Average number of delivery days may vary based on origin and destination. Tracking is also avail­able. For GXG, the tracking number is a 10-digit barcode located on the bottom right of the sender’s copy. Insurance up to $100 per shipment is included. At the customer’s option, additional insurance may be purchased up to $2,499 or as limited by destination country, content, or value see Publication 141, Global Express Guaranteed Service Guide, at PS Form 6182, Commercial Invoice, may be required and serves as the customs form. Item 11FGG1, GXG Mailing Label, or the online GXG label must be used.

Mail Deposit Reminder: All mail weighing over 13 ounces bearing only postage stamps as postage must be presented to an employee at a retail service counter at a Post Office for mailing. These pieces may not be deposited in collections boxes or lobby drops.