To do everything right, you should know the rules. This also relates to sending special and business mail, utilities, and other critical offline communications.
Such mail pieces often include confidential information or personalized messages and, therefore, require ultimate accuracy. That’s why USPS offers a range of extra services, including postal service insurance, that allow you to better manage and secure mail delivery. Once you clarify how to use them, you will be able to send mail items more effectively and avoid unexpected losses.
If you don’t want to get into the nuts and bolts of business mail but need to send it, consider mailing automation. Such tools support mail delivery tracking and many other features that simplify direct mail fulfillment.
More about different mailing options and the key mail delivery terms & conditions in our article on:
- General mail delivery terms and conditions: classes of mail and postal service insurance
- Rules for sending business mail, special delivery, financial, and utility communications
- Automation as an alternative to traditional mail delivery
General Mail Delivery Terms and Conditions: Classes of Mail and Postal Service Insurance
The United States Postal Service (USPS) is the main body regulating postal services in the US. Regardless of whether you choose to organize mail delivery on your own or entrust everything to a third-party provider, it’s useful to know the terms offered by USPS. This will enable you to compare the rates and calculate the ROI of different mailing options. Here are the main rules to consider:
Classes of mail delivery
|Type||Application||Speed||Low cost||Free forwarding|
|Priority Mail Express||The fastest mail delivery option that can be used for anything mailable, merchandise, and letters||Yes||No||Yes|
|Priority Mail||Handwritten or typewritten materials, bills, invoices, statements of account, credit cards, personal and business mail, all sealed or otherwise closed correspondence||Yes||Some options||Yes|
|First-Class Mail||The same types of mail as in Priority Mail services. The key difference is that First-Class Mail allows only light parcels, up to 13 ounces. If the mail piece is heavier, it will be classified as Priority Mail |
Minimum quantity: 500 pieces
|USPS Marketing Mail||Less than 16 ounces for flyers, advertising catalogs, newsletters, small parcels, and other marketing materials|
Minimum quantity: 200 pieces or 50 pounds
|Periodicals||Newspapers and magazines delivered to a specific list of subscribers||Yes||Yes (for in-country)||60 days|
|Package Services/USPS Retail Ground||Bound Printed Matter (advertising, promotional, editorial, or directory materials), Library Mail (available for qualifying institutions like universities), and Media Mail (play scripts, books, printed music, etc.)||No||Yes||No|
For additional information about different types of mail services, visit the official USPS website.
Postal service insurance
If you worry about the damaged or missing contents of your business mail, postal service insurance is a great extra. Although some of the listed mail classes already include postal service insurance, you can order additional insurance if necessary. Below are the main terms to note:
- Postal service insurance covers up to $5,000 losses resulting from merchandise that is lost, damaged, or missing contents. If the insured mail belongs to the Registered Mail class, the liability limit increases to $50,000.
- Postal service insurance doesn’t guarantee the time of mailing delivery and doesn’t provide expedited delivery.
- If the mail item is lost or damaged, and you want to use your postal service insurance, you must file a claim no later than 60 days from the mailing date. After this period, the indemnity claim will be considered invalid.
- Priority Mail Express, Priority Mail, Global Express Guaranteed, and Priority Mail Express International shipments are already provided with a certain amount of additional insurance.
- If the postal service insurance that exceeds $500, PS Form 3813-P is required.
- If the postal service insurance is less than $500, PS Form 3813 is required.
Rules of Sending Business Mail, Special Delivery, Financial, and Utility Communications
The purpose of mail delivery also impacts the terms and conditions you should take into account. Depending on the industry, mail could be critical for staying regulatory compliant, building transparent customer relationships, or supporting business continuity. We’ve collected the main cases when mail extra services make a difference.
Small and large businesses use direct mail for two primary reasons – advertising and communication with B2C and B2B customers. If you choose to fully handle business mail on your own, you may use custom mailing lists to target specific customers or select one of the USPS programs like Every Door Direct Mail. In case you want to step up, use automated marketing and business mail. Such a solution allows you to connect mail communications with online interactions, launch trigger-based delivery, and make business mail more personalized. To be effective, business mail must be flexible and agile.
This mail category is mainly about extra quick delivery and registered mail. You can also pay for a certificate of mailing, signature confirmation, or premium tracking to get additional services. Special delivery can be used both by business owners and individuals to speed up the mailing process and get a mailing receipt upon the shipment. You should rely on special delivery to mail official documents or other urgent communications.
Bills, invoices, adverse action notices are by far the most strictly regulated type of mail. Although the US mailing system allows financial institutions to deliver financial notifications and marketing materials, most of them use supplementary tools to organize mailing. With financial business mail, you will need to take care of document rendering, data validation, advanced tracking capabilities, and regulatory compliance. Since the USPS doesn’t cover all of these services, financial mail delivery and printing automation is the preferred option.
Just like financial mail, utility communications must meet the norms of federal and regional legislation. Besides, such direct mail is cyclical and time-sensitive. This means that utility companies must always reach recipients within strict deadlines, minimize returns, and keep track of all mailing. Therefore, the management of utility communications also requires the use of third-party software.
Automation as an Alternative to Traditional Mail Delivery
The choice is up to you. You can either take a traditional path and organize business mail delivery manually or use automation to avoid mailing chores. If you deliver business mail occasionally, a USPS post office will cover your needs. Yet if the mail volume is significant, you want to personalize mail delivery, or to make it more efficient, automation tools are essential.
Inkit’s mail automation saves you from the need to puzzle out numerous mail delivery terms and conditions. After a quick setup, the tool will automatically handle mail printing and delivery at the most favorable rates. Apart from the purely financial gains, Inkit provides plenty of other benefits:
- Dashboard with mail tracking functionality and valuable information on all offline communications delivered to a specific customer
- Data validation and verification that enriches customer contact information based on business email addresses and other details
- Integration with third-party tools for omnichannel communications
- Trigger-based business mail delivery. For example, when a customer who used to purchase online ignores communications sent through email services, this can serve as a trigger to target them through mail
- PDF Renderer that automatically generates and stores PDF documents for business mail, financial communications, or utilities to ensure regulatory compliance and enhance record-keeping.
Have questions about Inkit’s mail automation? Let’s get in touch.