1) Understand the limitations of your mailing list(s).
Make sure your mailing list is set up correctly. For example, if you are doing a variable mailing, make sure you have a field with the preferred salutation.
If you are merging multiple lists confirm whether the fields are identical? If they are not identical, specify how to merge the records.
If you want duplicate records removed, how do you want to check for duplicates? By name, by address or by both?
2) Determine how you want your mail handled, which will determine the postage rate.
All mailings of more than 200 pieces can be automated which enhances deliverability and reduces postage. The most common options are first-class, presort first class, presort standard and not-for-profit. (Presort first class requires a minimum of 500 pieces.) The respective postage rates can be found on our web site.
In most cases we recommend that qualified organizations use the not-for-profit rate if time permits. Just because an organization is a 501 C3 does not automatically give it not-for-profit mailing privileges. You must apply for the privilege at the Post Office.
You can use either a live stamp or an indicia for each of the four rates mentioned.
3) Submit your mailing panel for approval.
The Post Office has design requirements for mailing panels to optimize automation. If you submit a PDF for approval we can confirm whether the design meets specification.
4) Understand how the size of the mail piece affects the postage rate.
The most common designations for mail pieces are post card, letter and flat. The specific requirements for each are listed on our web site. In the simplest terms, the maximum size for a post card for first class postage is 6 x 4.25. However, a post card can measure up to 6.125 x 11.5 and still qualify for the not-for-profit letter rate. Additional restrictions include:
- Aspect ratio (length divided by height) must be between 1.3 and 2.5 for automation. If it is not, a non-machinable surcharge is added to each piece.
- A surcharge applies to square or unusually shaped pieces.
- The minimum thickness is .007 inches, or if the piece is more than 4.25 high or more than 6 inches long, the minimum thickness is .009 inches.
5) Automate your response device.
If your mail piece includes a courtesy response device (sender pays postage) or a business reply envelope or card (you pay postage) it should be printed with Post Office approved art work that includes the FIM and bar code. Printing Partners can provide that for you.