The US Postal Service has specific requirements about printed products that are mass mailed using pre-sorted, automated methods like First Class Presorted or Bulk Standard. Please use the guidelines below to assist you in creating postcards that will be accepted by a mailing house or the USPS for delivery and answer some common question regarding the mailing service process. Our downloadable templates for postcards include postal clear zones to help you.
4" X 6" - Standard
5" X 7" or larger - Standard
RED ZONE - No text/graphics greater than 7% grayscale.
The only text allowed in the addressing area is the recipient mailing address. Any graphics, text or images that enter this area may cause your postcard to be rejected from mailing by USPS. We are not responsible for any rejections based on the artwork supplied by customer.
You can use these on postcards or other printed products you would like to have mailed through our selected mailing house. If you are using your own mailing house, please consult with them about the proper indicia they require. We are not responsible for improper indicia usage. You can alter the locations and permit number on the indicia's we provide to accommodate your mailing house's specifications.
We recommend including a return address on the back of your postcards. Including a return address enables you to update your list after each mailing and helps branding and identification of your company. First class mail is returned free of charge. Bulk rate mail is not returned unless an ancillary service is printed on your card.
First Class versus Standard Bulk-Returns:
When you send out your postcards via First Class Mail, the USPS automatically forwards your mail to individuals or companies that have moved and submitted a Change of Address (COA). However, that forwarding is only good for 12 months. For the next 6 months, the Post Office will return the pieces to the sender and indicate the new address that they have on file. This allows you to update your list for future mailings.
After 18 months, returned cards will only say "Undeliverable As Addressed" with no new address indicated. However, if you have not included your Return Address, they won't know where to return your cards and they will be thrown away. The same holds true for cases where someone has moved and NOT submitted a COA to the Post Office. They can't notify you of the move without a Return Address, and you will continue to send out pieces that will simply be disposed of. That is a waste of money for postage & printing plus Mailing Services fees or your labor in preparing the mailing.
When mailing using Standard Bulk Rate you get significantly reduced postage rates, however mail is not forwarded or returned. Bulk Mail that cannot be delivered to the person at the mailing address on the card will be disposed of unless you provide specific instructions to the Post Office via an Ancillary Service Endorsement. An ASE is a phrase that tells the USPS how you want undeliverable pieces handled:
- RETURN SERVICE REQUESTED tells them to return the piece to you with updated address information.
- ADDRESS SERVICE REQUESTED means you want them to forward the piece to the new address they have on file and to separately send you a notice with the new address information.
For Bulk Mail, both of these services are provided at an additional fee on just the forwarded or returned pieces. FORWARDING SERVICE REQUESTED is an endorsement that will forward pieces at no charge but will not provide a separate new address notification back to you. For all ASE's, your Return Address must be on the card.
For more information on Ancillary Service Endorsements, go to the USPS website.
First Class versus Standard Bulk-Rates and Delivery Times:
First-Class Mail is your best choice for time-sensitive mail. It is generally delivered in 3-5 days nationally and 1-3 days in California and the Southwest. U.S. Bulk rate, also known as Standard Mail, offers lower postage rates but with a longer delivery time. You can expect delivery in 10-14 days nationally and 4-6 days in California and the Southwest U.S. Additionally, First Class delivery is consistent throughout the year while Bulk rate can take considerably longer at peak mailing periods such as the holidays.
Size requirements and mailing rates for postcards.
According to the USPS requirements, the smallest mail size is 3 1/2" x 5". The largest size for mailing at the Postcard rate is 4 1/4" x 6". The letter rate applies to any piece larger than 4 1/4" x 6" up to 6 1/8" x 11". For Bulk Mail, there is no Postcard rate so all of our postcard sizes use the Bulk Mail letter rate.
If you have any leftover (non-mailed) postcards with your postal indicia pre-printed, you cannot mail those directly without adding the proper postage. When you specify a quantity of postcards to be sent to our selected mailing house, you are only paying for the postage on those postcards. Any leftover postcards not sent through the mailing house have not had the postage paid for, so the post office will return these postcards or not deliver them if the proper postage is not applied via stamp or metering.
What is Bulk Mail?
The term "bulk mail" refers to larger quantities of mail prepared for mailing at reduced postage. In Business Mail 101, the term "bulk mail" means commercial First-Class Mail and advertising mail (called "USPS Marketing Mail" by the Postal Service). Commercial prices are available for other classes of mail, too. The Postal Service uses the terms "bulk" and "presorted" interchangeably.
Bulk prices are lower than "single-piece" prices. "Single-piece" means that you pay the full postage price; when you put a stamp on a letter, you're paying the single-piece postage. Many mailers pay single-piece postage even though they are doing large mailings. Why? Because they don't want to do any extra preparation work—they don't have the time, or it's just not cost effective for their business. Business Mail 101 will help you make smart choices about your own mail to determine if commercial prices are right for you.