DM News' Deliver: Glossary of USPS Terms

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Advertising Mail: A sales product or promotional message mailed directly to customers or prospective clients.

Area Distribution Center: A mail processing facility that receives and distributes mail destined for a range of specific ZIP codes.

Automation-Compatible Mail: Mail that meets postal specifications concerning design, size and machine readability so it can be scanned and processed by automated mail processing equipment. Discounts are offered to mailers who meet these requirements.

Barcode: A series of vertical bars and spaces that represent a numeric destination, such as a ZIP code or package identification code.

Bound Printed Matter: Material that weighs no more than 15 pounds and consists of permanently bound sheets. At least 90 percent of the sheets are printed with advertising, promotional, directory, editorial matter or a combination of these.

Bulk Mail Center: A highly mechanized mail processing facility that is part of the National Bulk Mail System. This facility distributes Standard mail and Periodicals in forms such as sacks and pallets. Bulk mail is generally rated for postage by weight and the number of pieces being mailed. Discounts are given based on the amount of preparation done by the mailer and where the mail is deposited.

Bundle: A group of addressed pieces assembled and secured together to make up a basic unit of bulk mail for processing purposes.

Classification: How the USPS groups mail by rate categories, according to content, weight, size and preparation standards.

Destination Entry: The process of transporting and depositing mail at postal facilities that serve the addresses on the mail pieces. The mailer receives additional discounts for destination entry mail.

Discount Rates: Reduced postage rates offered to mailers in exchange for higher standards of mail preparation, sorting and destination entry.

Flat: Flat-size mail exceeds at least one of the maximum dimensions for letter-size mail (11 1/2 inches long, 6 1/8 inches high, 1/4 inch thick) but does not exceed the maximum dimension of 15 inches long, 12 inches high, 3/4 inches thick. A flat may be unwrapped, sleeved, wrapped or enveloped.

Machinable: The ability to sort a mail piece by mail processing equipment.

Mail Class: The classification of domestic mail according to content.

Manifest Mailing System: A postage payment system that lets the USPS accept and verify the weight or rate of permit imprint mailings. Often used for non-identical weight pieces.

Media Mail: Consists of books, sheet music, printed educational charts, film, videocassettes, CD-ROMs or other computer-readable media.

Minimum Size Standard: The smallest dimensions allowable for all mailable matter. Except for keys and identification items, a mail piece less than 1/4 inch thick must be rectangular and meet the following minimum criteria: at least 5 inches long; at least 3 1/2 inches high; at least 0.007 inches thick.

Package Services: Bound Printed Matter, Library Mail, Parcel Post and Media Mail. There is no minimum weight limit for this class of mail.

Postage Statement: Documentation provided by a mailer to the USPS that reports the volume of mail being presented and the postage payable or affixed. The statement certifies that the mail meets the applicable eligibility and addressing standards for the rate claimed.

Presort: The process by which a mailer groups mail by ZIP code to qualify for discount rates.

Pricing and Classification Service Center: A postal service office that provides guidance to employees and customers on mail classification, postage rates and mail preparation.

Prohibited Matter: Any material that is illegal to mail because it can kill or injure an individual or damage other mail. This includes certain poisons or controlled substances and certain flammable or hazardous materials.

Sack: A container generally used to transport flat-size mail, parcels and loose-piece mail.

Sortation: The distribution or separation of mail by ZIP codes, range of ZIP codes or carrier route.

Standard Mail: Regular Standard mail, Nonprofit Standard mail, Enhanced Carrier Route Standard mail. Circulars, printed matter, pamphlets, catalogs, newsletters, direct mail and merchandise can be sent as Standard mail.

Tray: A container used by the USPS and mailers to hold letters and First-Class mail flats. It is a basic unit of mail quantity for purposes of preparing mail to qualify for discounted postage rates.

ZIP+4 Code: A nine-digit, numeric code that identifies the individual delivery station, sector and segment assigned with an address. It is an enhancement to ZIP code processing.

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