The Latest USPS Regulations on Postage Meters
Postage meters have existed for over a century, but this technology is integral to many businesses today.
Using a postage meter is a quick and easy way to weigh and stamp all sorts of business mail. They’ll improve the efficiency of your mailroom in short order.
The United States Postal Service (USPS) places strict guidelines on how postage meters ought to be used. Adhering to USPS regulations ensures that your business mail can be delivered without issue. If you don’t comply, the usage of your postal meter may be revoked.
Read on to learn all about postage meter regulations.
Only Available for Lease
Some are surprised to learn that they won’t be able to purchase a postage meter. As of 2009, the USPS only allows the leasing of postage meters. Meters purchased prior to the policy change were deactivated.
The USPS has only approved five companies to lease postage meters. They include Data-Pac Mailing Systems, FP Mailing Solutions, Pitney Bowes, Hasler Inc., and Quadient.
Each company offers different services and charges different rates, so you’ll have to shop around to find a meter that makes sense for your budget. The company you lease from is responsible for installing and maintaining the meter, and you’re required to give them the authority to do so.
The reason you can’t just purchase a meter is that postage is considered a form of currency by the U.S. government.
Application and Licensing Fee
Before you can rent a postage meter and use it for commercial mail, you’ll have to apply for a license. You’ll need to obtain the application form, fill it out, and turn it in at your post office. The application is free.
If you’re approved for a commercial postage meter, you’ll need to pay a $200 per year licensing fee. This only covers the usage of your meter, so this fee is not applicable to other costs associated with postage.
Changing Indicia Standards
Postage meters imprint mail with a mark called an “Indicia.” It’s used in place of a stamp and contains all the necessary information regarding a piece of postage.
Indicia are always placed in the upper-right corner of an envelope. Your indicia will list the type of mail, the phrase “U.S. Postage Paid,” the city and state you’re permitted to send mail from, and your permit number.
Soon, the USPS postage meter regulations concerning indicia will change. The Information-Based Indicia Program (IBAP) was the original indicia used by digital postage meters, but, in 2020, the USPS decided to adopt the use of Intelligent Mail Indicia (IMI).
By 2024, businesses will need to upgrade their meters to one capable of producing an IMI. The soft deadline is set for June 30th, and the postal service is allowing for a 6-month grace period. By December 27th, all metered mail that doesn’t feature an IMI will be invalid.
Benefits of IMI
While the IBAP was an effective way of marking mail, technological upgrades have rendered it obsolete. IMI will be able to streamline the mailing process, offering benefits on many fronts.
The move to IMI ensures that every piece of postage that goes through a meter will have accurate postage. All you’ll have to do is select your desired class of mail, and the meter will automatically apply the IMI. This eliminates the need for manual entry.
IMI is endorsed by the Federal Information Processing organization. This means that all data exchanges are protected by federally-approved encryption.
IMI is compatible with automated systems used in modern post offices, so it will help post offices run more efficiently. Meters making use of IMI connect to USPS-monitored servers every 72 hours. This means that mail can be processed and sorted quicker, reducing the time it takes to send.
Mail Type Restrictions
Businesses can send a wide variety of mail with a postage meter. This includes priority mail, express mail, international mail, first class mail, and pre-sorted first class mail.
Most businesses send letters and envelopes as either first class mail or priority. They offer low rates and promise prompt delivery.
You can also send packages with the help of a postage meter, but the meter won’t print the postage information on the box. You’ll have to print the postage on a separate sheet and attach it to the package.
While consumer periodicals like magazines are less popular these days, you should be aware that you won’t be able to mail them with the help of a postage meter. These materials are subject to different postage rates that aren’t supported by digital postage meters.
Like periodicals, bulk mail is also subject to different postage rates. However, your postage meter can help with this kind of mail.
To send bulk mail, you’ll have to fill out an additional application. Once accepted, you’ll be able to use your meter to apply an estimated amount of postage to each piece of bulk mail.
Sending Metered Mail
The main benefit of using a postage meter machine is how efficient it makes your mailing process. Once your meter attaches the appropriate postage to a piece of mail, it can be placed in your mailbox or given to a postal worker.
Just be sure to send your mail on the date you stamp it. You’re only able to correct the date once, otherwise, you’ll have to print a new label.
However, if you’re sending bulk mail or pre-sorted first class mail, you’ll have to head down to the post office to ensure that it has the proper postage.
USPS Regulations on Postage Meters
Postage meters offer a convenient way to send business mail, but you’ll have to comply with various USPS regulations.
You’ll need to apply for a permit, pay a licensing fee, and rent a meter from one of the few companies authorized to lease them. If you’re renting a new postage meter, be sure it’s able to make an IMI indicia.
Ready to streamline your business’s mailing practices? Postage Mail Rental can help you choose the ideal postage meter for your mailing needs. Head to our website to view your options and get a quote today.