Government Relations

Reminder: Franked (Congressional) Mail, Postage Payment, and Detention of Mail Guidelines

This article serves as a reminder regarding Franked Mail, also referenced as Congressional Mail. There have been recent reports of the improper identification and handling of Franked Mail in the mailstream, including returning it for postage or requiring postage due to customers. The following is a reminder of how to identify and process Franked Mail.

Official Mail (Franked)

Franked Mail, also referenced as Congressional Mail, is defined as Official Mail sent without postage prepayment, which can be used only by members and members-elect of Congress, the Vice President, and other authorized individuals. Franked Mail is identified by the facsimile signature of the member of Congress (or authorized user as defined in Domestic Mail Manual (DMM) 703.6.1) in the upper right corner of the envelope or franked label, followed by “M.C.” standing for member of Congress, or “U.S.S.” for U.S. Senate.

Franked Mail Envelopes and Labels

Franked Mail consists of franked envelopes, or flats and packages with official franking labels preprinted with “franking” elements in the upper right hand corner, which are easily read. It is inappropriate to use a franked envelope as a label for the purpose of mailing another item. A franking label is required for items larger than a flat sized envelope. See below for an example of a Franked Mail envelope and Franked Mail label.

Sample - Franked Mail Envelope

Sample - Franked Mail Envelope

Sample - Franked Mail Label

Sample - Franked Mail Label

Types of Franked Mailings

Mailings under the franking privilege include both single piece mailings sent by First-Class Mail® and mass mailings. Mass mailings may be sent as First-Class Mail or Standard Mail®. Process and handle all Franked Mail according to the class of mail and special service indicated on the outside of the mailpiece. Franked Standard Mailings consist of newsletters, meeting notices, and other printed matter. The mailpieces may bear individual names and addresses or alternative address formats as outlined in DMM 602.3. While individual pieces are processed as Standard Mail, the overall mailing may be sent Priority Mail Open and Distribute™.

Most House franked mass mailings are sent by Members of Congress from Washington, DC. However, House franked mass mailings may also be inducted at local Post Offices™ outside of Washington, DC. Members, or vendors on their behalf, must submit a PS Form 3615, Mailing Permit Application and Customer Profile, to the entry Post Office when the first franked mass mailing is entered at that location. The Senate requires all Senate frank mass mailings originate from Washington, DC and no Senate frank mass mailings shall originate from state offices.

Postage Payment

Franked Mail must not be returned for postage or delivered to the recipient as “postage due”. Postage for Franked Mail is paid in aggregate by the U.S. Treasury to the Postal Service. Franked Mail, therefore, must not be returned for collection of postage, nor should the recipient be charged postage due in order to receive the item. Franked Mail sent from Washington, DC, is counted by the House of Representatives and the Senate, and reported to the Washington, DC Post Office and Postal Service Headquarters. Procedures for accounting for franked mailings entered outside Washington, DC, are found in the Postal Operations Manual (POM) 491.5.

Detention of Mail

Franked Mail should not to be detained. In 2009, in response to an incident where a franked mailing was improperly detained, the Postal Service revised POM 491.523 to provide specific guidelines on how to process Franked Mail. It is important that these guidelines are followed to ensure there are no delays when handling Franked (Congressional) Mail. With the exception of mail security (see Administrative Support Manual 274), Franked Mail must be dispatched and delivered as addressed. If there are indications of possible abuse of the franking privilege, this must be reported to the Pricing and Classification Service Center (PCSC) who will refer the matter to the Postal Inspection Service for investigation and to Headquarters Government Relations for coordination with the appropriate congressional agency. PCSC contact information can be found at DMM 608.8.4.1.