Going Postal: Revised Folded Self-Mailer Standards

The USPS just released their final ruling on Folded Self Mailer changes which will go into effect January 5, 2013.  They recommend adopting the new standards ASAP, but you have a year to actually make the changes.  Mail that does not comply will pay non-machinable rates.

New Self-Mailer Rules

Beginning January 5, 2013, folded self-mailers (FSMs) that do not meet the requirements listed below will be assessed postage as follows:

• First-Class Mail® and Standard Mail® customers will pay nonmachinable prices
• Periodicals mailers will pay nonbarcoded prices.
• A folded self-mailer is formed of panels that are created when one or more unbound sheets of paper are folded together and sealed to make a letter-size mailpiece. (Sheets that are bound by one or more staples are not considered folded self-mailers). 
• The maximum height for all automation and machinable FSMs is 6 inches and the maximum length is 10 1/2 inches, with a maximum thickness of 1/4 inch. The maximum weight of three ounces is applicable to all mailpieces prepared without envelopes. 
• The final fold must be at the bottom for all designs except oblong style pieces. For oblong-style FSMs, the final fold is on the leading edge. Tabs cannot be placed on the bottom open edge of an oblong-style FSM. 
• A minimum of two tabs will be required to seal all FSMs when tabs are used as the sealing method. Tabs used as seals may not have perforations. Glue may be used as an alternate sealing method when applied according to the standards for FSMs.

See the entire notice at http://www.gpo.gov 

In-Home Delivery Dates

In the past, the Postal Service offered bulk mailers an opportunity to designate the date they wanted mail delivered based on an In-Home Delivery Window, which was also printed on the mailpiece.  This could result in received mail being staged in order to best hit this window.

However, the Postal Accountability Enhancement Act of 2006 requires that the Postal Service self-report delivery performance against published Service Standards.  Holding mail for any reason would negatively impact on the delivery performance reported by the Postal Service.

Therefore, processing mail based on in-home dates has been discontinued.  Instead, mail will be processed based on these criteria:  Mail Entry Location, Critical Entry Time, and Applicable Standar


Exceptions and additional things to keep in mind are: 

  • Tabs cannot be placed on the bottom open edge of an oblong-style FSM.
  • The final fold must be at the bottom for all designs except oblong style pieces. For oblong-style FSMs the final fold is on the leading edge.
  • A minimum of two tabs will be required to seal all FSMs when tabs are used as the sealing method. Tabs used as seals may not have perforations. Glue may be used as an alternate sealing
  • Increase the allowed panel count to 12 for FSM's constructed of non-newsprint
  • Increase the allowed panel count to 24 for quarter-fold FSM's
  • Expanded that materials for tabs to include non-paper, but perforations are still not allowed
  • Added the option to seal using glue on lead and trail edges (instead of tabs at the top) if the final fold is on the bottom
  • lowered the cut-tie ratio to 1-1 for perforations
  • It is recommended, not required to print address information in a mid-to-left position because testing revealed higher rates of cosmetic damage to the lead edge of uncoated paper.   This damage often exceeded 1/2" in lenght and impeded the ability of letter sorting machines to read the address information.

There are many other changes specific to pieces with perforations, die cuts, enclosures, quarter fold, and flaps.

As "quick" reference guide can be found here:
https://ribbs.usps.gov/fsm/documents/tech_guides/FSMReference.pdf

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