Mailing Terms

Aspect ratio – The dimension of a mail piece expressed as a ratio of length (the direction parallel to the address) divided by the height.  An example would be a postcard 5 1/2″ long by 3 1/2″ high was an aspect ration of 1.57.  An aspect ratio between 1.3 and 2.5 is required for automation discounts and to avoid non-standard surcharges.

Automation discount – A postage reduction for mailers who barcode their mail pieces and meet other requirements (such as paper weight, tabbing, proper folding, etc) for automated mailings.

Barcode – A series of 62 vertical bars and spaces that represent a zip +4 code, the last 2 digits of the primary street address number (or PO box, etc.) and a correction digit.  An IMB (Intelligent Mail Barcode) allows automated sortation of mail pieces.

Barcode clear zone – A rectangular area in the lower right part of the letter-size mail piece that is kept free of printing to allow space for a barcode to be applied and read by automated processing equipment.

BMEU – This stands for Bulk Mail Entry Unit.  This is the area of the Post Office where mailers present presorted and permitted mail for acceptance.  The Seattle BMEU is located near Boeing field off of the Boeing Access Road exit.

BRE – Business Reply Envelope.  This service allows mailers to receive mail back from customers and pay for the postage on those returned pieces.  These envelopes must be properly formatted and approved by the Post Office.

Carrier Route – this includes all addresses that a particular carrier delivers to.  Carrier routes include city routes, rural routes, PO Boxes and general delivery units.

Carrier Route Presorted Mail – this describes mail sorted down to the individual carrier and qualifies the mailer for very favorable postage rates.  Mail sorted to this level requires proper mail preparation to receive discounted postage rates.

CASS certification –  This processing assesses the accuracy of the mailing address and is required by the Post Office for discounted mailing rates.

CRE – Courtesy Reply Envelope.  This service allows mailers to provide and envelope to customers to expedite delivery of their responses.  The customer returning information to the mailer pays the postage.

Endorsement – A marking on the mail piece that indicates handling instructions or a desired service to be received from the Post Office.

First Class Mail – A class of mail that includes personal correspondence, bills, statements, etc.

Flat – Maximum weight of 13 ounces, shape rectangular unless greater than 1/4″ thick.  Minimum of more than 11 1/2″ long or more than 6 1/8″ high or more than 1/4″ thick.  Maximum of 15″ long, 12″ high and 3/4 inches thickness.  Length is parallel to the way the address is read.

Indicia – or imprint.  An imprint that describes the mail classification, city of origin, permit holder.  A permit indicia is printed in place of a live stamp or meter.

Letter size – mail pieces 3 1/2″ high minimum and 6 1/8″ high maximum and 5″ long minimum and 11 1/2″ long maximum with a minimum thickness of .007 and maximum thickness of 1/4″.

Machinable – Mail that can be processed on mechanized mail sorting equipment.

Metered mail – Any class of mail which has postage printed on it by a USPS approved postage meter.

Nonmachinable – A mail piece not able to be sorted on mail processing equipment because of size, shape, content or address legibility.  This type of mail must be processed manually and may be subject to nonmachinable surcharges.

Optical Character Reader – An automated mail sorting machine that scans address information and interprets it then applies the corresponding barcode information onto the piece.

Permit – much like having a checking account at the post office.  When you print a permit onto your mail pieces your mail is then delivered to a BMEU for acceptance.  Once accepted the postage due is deducted from your permit account to pay for the mailing expenses due.

Permit imprint or Permit indicia – a printed imprint on your mailing pieces, used instead of a postage stamp or metered postage that shows class of mail, postage prepayment, city of origin and permit number of the authorized mailer.  Permit mail requires all pieces in a mailing are uniform in size and weight.

Postage statement – documentation provided by the mailer to the Post Office that indicates the number of pieces being mailed, payment type (meter, permit imprint or precancelled stamps) and rates being claimed for the type of mail sortation.

Postcard – Not less than 3 1/2″ high, 5″ long and .007 thickness.  Not more than 4 1/4″ high, 6″ long and .016″ thick.  Rectangular in shape.

Presort – The process by which a mailer prepares mail for discounted postage rates.

Self mailer – A mail piece designed to enter the mailstream without the use of an envelope.

Service endorsement – A printed line on a mail piece that mailers use to indicate desired handling instructions to the post office for mail that is not properly addressed.

Standard Class mail – a class of mail weighing less than 16 ounces.  Types of standard class mail are:  circulars, printed matter, pamphlets, catalogs, newsletters and direct mail.  Standard class mail may be sent at presorted rates and at automation rates.

Walk Sequence – The order in which the carrier delivers their mail.  This order is required for most carrier route presorted mail.