USPS: Customer Markings on Envelope Not 'Personal'

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The U.S. Postal Service issued a customer support ruling this month clarifying that certain customer markings on the outside of advertising matter do not constitute personal information under the rules of the USPS Domestic Mail Manual.

As a result, such matter can be mailed at Standard rates as opposed to First-Class rates.

The ruling was designed to assist customers making decisions concerning what may mail as Standard and what must mail as First Class when personal information is included in the mail piece.

According to the ruling, a credit card solicitation came into question when it was noted that the outside envelope contained the words "Personal -- Do Not Throw Away." A review of the mailing revealed that the statement was preprinted on all outgoing envelopes used for this specific credit card promotion. The issue raised was whether such a statement is considered "personal information."

The USPS ruled that matter containing personal information specific to the addressee is subject to First-Class or Express Mail rates. Phrases such as "Personal -- Do Not Throw Away" or "Important -- Open Immediately" appearing on the envelopes are not considered personal information.

As a result, "in this instance, there was no personal information in the mail piece, and the mailing was determined to be eligible to be sent at the Standard Mail rates," according to the ruling.

The USPS also provided a "decision tree" to aid in evaluating whether matter containing "personal information" may be eligible as Standard mail or is required to be sent as First-Class mail.

Melissa Campanelli covers postal issues for DM To keep up with the latest postal news subscribe to our free e-mail newsletter DM News Daily by visiting

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