Mail Classification Reform

In order to take advantage of postage discounts under the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Mail Classification Reform, certain requirements regarding address quality are in place for business mail entered at bar-coded presort rates. Address quality refers to the correct address for the specific person or firm to whom the mail is addressed. The USPS requirement states, "...addresses appearing on all pieces claimed at the automation (bar-coded) and presort rates must be updated within six (6) months before the mailing date by a USPS approved tool." There is a simple method for meeting this requirement. It is the use of the RETURN SERVICE REQUESTED endorsement. Mailing Services meter equipment prints this endorsement on pre-sorted letter mail at the same time postage is placed on your department's outgoing U.S. mail. When this endorsement is used on your first-class letter mail and the addressee no longer receives mail at that address, the person's new address or reason for non-delivery is placed on the mail and it is returned to you at no charge. When the mail is returned, you must then correct your address records. This not only meets the new requirement, but it also enables you to keep your addresses current. There may be advantages to use ADDRESS SERVICE REQUESTED for some mailings. For a complete selection of endorsements and USPS actions, contact Mailing Services at 575-5649.

Other than the endorsement requirement, there are other guidelines of which you should be aware when preparing first-class letter mail.

  • Handwritten addresses cannot be "read" for bar-coding and, therefore, will not qualify for postage discounts. Envelopes bearing handwritten addresses should be kept separate from typewritten and computer generated addresses. It is recommended that envelopes NOT be hand addressed.
  • The surface containing the address - whether an envelope, card, label, or insert - should be light enough in color to reflect a sufficient amount of light for the address to be recognized properly by bar-coding equipment. For the greatest contrast, it is recommended that the address be printed in black on a white background for the maximum reflectance and print contrast ratio.
  • Address format and placement will remain the same. See ADDRESSING U.S. MAIL below.
  • Some address fonts (type styles) may not be compatible with the equipment (OCR/optical character readers) used to "read" an address for bar-coding. If this occurs, Mailing Services will provide you with additional information including a list of OCR readable type styles.

The above information relates only to first-class letter mail. If you are interested in receiving comprehensive information regarding Addressing for Automation, please contact our office @ 575-5649 and request a copy. Mail Classification Reform not only changed mail regulations regarding automated (bar-coded) mail, but most terminology relating to classes of mail changed with only one exception: First-Class mail category remains as First-Class Mail.