What are indicias and how do they work?

An Indicia or Mailing Permit Imprint is a convenient way to pay for postage when you send bulk mail. This means you don’t have to run the mail through a meter, or buy stamps and affix them to the mail pieces. Just about anyone can apply for a permit. The USPS has an application online you can download to apply. There is an annual fee you must pay to use the indicia.

The post office has specific rules for the types of mail it can be used on, what an indicia says, and where it is placed on the mail piece. We will look at these below.

Permit Imprints can be used on:

First-Class Mail®

Standard Mail®

Package Services

Insurance & Extra Services


Permit imprint indicia must read in the same direction as the delivery address on the mailpiece. The indicia must not encroach on reserved space (e.g., ACS participant code, delivery point barcode) if such a standard applies and can be placed in one of these four positions:

a. Upper right corner of the mailpiece.

b. Upper right corner of the address area.

c. To the right of the address on an address label.

d. To the right of the address on an insert appearing through a window envelope.

For more information on mailing panel specifications visit the mailing section (link) of our website.


In general Permit Imprint mailings must contain at least 200 pieces or 50 lbs.

The required minimum per mailing is:

  • 200 pieces (or 50 lbs) for First Class, Standard & Non-Profit Mail
  • 500 pieces for Presorted First-Class Mail

Permit & Annual Fee

The annual mailing fee allows you to mail bulk mailings from one Post Office™ for one year. This fee is separate from application fees and postage. You will need to contact your local post office for current fees.


Before you send your mailing you must give the USPS the money for postage. Once you have a permit the USPS sets up an account for you to place the money into. Once your mailing is mailed the postage money is withdrawn from that account.

Imprint Design Requirements

Please keep these requirements in mind when designing your Permit Imprint indicia.

Include the following:

Line 1: Rate Marking

Line 2: The words “US Postage Paid”

Line 3: City and state where permit is held

Line 4: The words “Permit No.” and your permit number

And don’t forget these requirements:

  • It must show your city, state, and permit number.
  • It may be only four or five lines long.
  • It must appear to the upper right of the delivery address.

The font used on your indicia must be 4point or larger. There is no requirement for the font, it must be readable so avoid script fonts.

Note: If you have questions about the content or placement of your permit imprint, contact your local mailpiece design analyst at your business mail entry unit.

Mailing Requirements

  • All mailpieces must weigh exactly the same.
  • You must do a mailing at least once every 2 years to keep your permit account active.
  • You can only use Permit Imprints with bulk mailings. Be sure not to hand out imprinted materials with ‘postage paid’ indicia, since they could be dropped in the mail and will come back to you with postage due.
  • Mailpieces must always be brought to the Post Office where you hold your permit and never dropped in a collection box or given to a carrier.
  • Do not draw by hand or type your Permit Imprint indicia.

Things to Consider

  • If you aren’t printing on your envelopes, you can print the Permit Imprint indicia onto a label.
  • You can print a large quantity of mailpieces with your Permit Imprint indicia in advance and mail small quantities as you need. You pay only for postage as it is used.

If you have any questions about indicias, give your salesperson a call.

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