Policies, Procedures, and Forms Updates


POM Revision: Stamp and Stationary Subjects Eligibility

Effective January 17, 2008, section 212.2 of the Postal Operations Manual is revised to reflect expanded criteria used to determine the eligibility of subjects for commemoration on all U.S. stamps and stationery.

Postal Operations Manual (POM)

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2 Philately 21 Philatelic Policies and Procedures

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212 Stamp and Stationery Subjects

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212.2 Criteria for Eligibility

[Revise 212.2 to read as follows:]

The U.S. Postal Service and the members of the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee (CSAC) have set certain basic criteria used in determining the eligibility of subjects for commemoration on all U.S. stamps and stationery. These criteria first were formulated about the time of Postal Reorganization in the early 1970s and have been refined and expanded gradually since then.

The 12 major criteria now guiding subject selection are the following:

a. Criterion 1. It is a general policy that U.S. postage stamps and stationery primarily will feature American or American-related subjects.

b. Criterion 2. No living person shall be honored by portrayal on U.S. postage.

c. Criterion 3. Commemorative stamps or postal stationery items honoring individuals usually will be issued on, or in conjunction with, significant anniversaries of their birth, but no postal item will be issued sooner than 5 years after the individual’s death. The Committee will not accept or consider proposals for a subject until at least 3 years after his/her death. The only exception to the 5-year rule is the issuance of stamps honoring deceased U.S. presidents. They may be honored with a memorial stamp on the first birth anniversary following death.

d. Criterion 4. Events of historical significance shall be considered for commemoration only on anniversaries in multiples of 50 years.

e. Criterion 5. Only events, persons, and themes of widespread national appeal and significance will be considered for commemoration. Events, persons or themes of local or regional significance may be recognized by a philatelic or special pictorial postmark, which may be arranged through the local postmaster.

f. Criterion 6. Stamps or stationery items shall not be issued to honor fraternal, political, sectarian, or service/charitable organizations. Stamps or stationery shall not be issued to promote or advertise commercial enterprises or products. Commercial products or enterprises might be used to illustrate more general concepts related to American culture.

g. Criterion 7. Stamps or stationery items shall not be issued to honor cities, towns, municipalities, counties, primary or secondary schools, hospitals, libraries, or similar institutions. Due to the limitations placed on annual postal programs and the vast number of such locales, organizations, and institutions in existence, it would be difficult to single out any one for commemoration.

h. Criterion 8. Requests for observance of statehood anniversaries will be considered for commemorative postage stamps only at intervals of 50 years from the date of the state’s first entry into the Union. Requests for observance of other state-related or regional anniversaries will be considered only as subjects for postal stationery and again only at intervals of 50 years from the date of the event.

i. Criterion 9. Stamps or stationery items shall not be issued to honor religious institutions or individuals whose principal achievements are associated with religious undertakings or beliefs.

j. Criterion 10. Semipostal stamps are designed to raise funds for causes determined to be in the national public interest and appropriate. Semipostal stamps are sold for a price above their postage value. The differential between the sales price and the postage value of semipostal stamps consists of an amount (less a deduction for the Postal Service’s reasonable costs) to be given to other executive agencies in furtherance of specified causes. The Postal Service issues semipostal stamps in accordance with the Stamp Out Breast Cancer Act and the Semipostal Authorization Act.

k. Criterion 11. Requests for commemoration of universities and other institutions of higher education shall be considered only for stamped cards and only in connection with the 200th anniversaries of their founding.

l. Criterion 12. No stamp shall be considered for issuance if one treating the same subject has been issued in the past 50 years. The only exceptions to this rule are traditional themes such as national symbols and holidays.

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We will incorporate these revisions into the next printed version of the POM and also into the online update, available on the Postal Service™ PolicyNet Web site:

(The direct URL for the Postal Service PolicyNet Web site is http://blue.usps.gov/cpim.)

It is also available on the Postal Service Internet: