Wildcat Statue

Postal Regulations Policy

Postal Regulations Policy

This policy contains information relating to Mail regulations.

All faculty and staff

Northern Michigan University
Mailer’s Guide To Postal Regulations

INITIATED: March 25, 2003

APPROVED: April 10, 1987



Since the U.S Postal Rates are continually changing, only general information is provided herein regarding these rates. The Mail Services Department will advice University departments, by memo, as these rates change.



First-class mail is usually handwritten or typed correspondence. It includes postal cards sold by the post office, and post cards manufactured privately. However, any item that is mailable can be mailed at the first-class rate.


Some items must be mailed at the first-class rates. These include:

  1. Bills and letters of account
  2. Matter partially in writing or typewriting. This includes identical copies that may be prepared by a mechanical typewriter and carbon copies. However, this restriction does not include multiple copies produced by computer.
  3. Autograph albums containing writing
  4. Printed forms filled out in writing
  5. Canceled or un canceled checks
  6. Receipts and orders
  7. Invoices (except when sent with merchandise mailed at the third- or fourth-class rates)
  8. Personal or other correspondence
  9. Any mail sealed against postal inspection


Second-class mail consists of newspapers and other periodical publications which meet the mailability conditions stated below.

For second-class mail purposes, a periodical publication is defined as follows:

  1. A periodical is a publication which is publishes at a stated frequency with the intent to continue publication indefinitely. The primary Distribution of each issue must be made before that of each succeeding Issue. The primary purpose of a periodical must be the transmission of Information. A periodical may consist of original or reprinted articles on a single topic or variety of topics, listings, photographs, illustrations, graphs, a combination of advertising and nonadvertising matter, comic strips, legal notices, editorial materials, cartoons, or other subject matter. A periodical must also exhibit continuity from issue to issue. Continuity may be evidenced by serialization of articles or by successive issues carrying the same style, format, theme, or subject matter.
  2. The following particular types of publications are also considered to be periodical publications:
    1. Any catalog or other course listing, including mail announcements of legal texts which are part of post-bar admission education, issued by an institution of higher education or by a nonprofit organization engaged in continuing legal education.
    2. Any looseleaf page or report (including any index, instruction for filing, table or sectional identifier which is an integral part of such report) which is designed as part of a looseleaf policy.
    3. Any transportation guide containing transportation schedules, fares, and related information.
  3. Material which has been, or is intended to be, distributed primarily as a book cannot be converted into an issue of a periodical by merely placing a periodical’s name upon it, placing it within a periodical’s cover, or using similar superficial methods.

Regular Issuance

Each second-class publication must be issued at a regular frequency of at least four times per year. The mailer must determine the number of issues to be publishes each year and adopt a statement of frequency that will show at what regular statements of frequency are:

  1. Daily
  2. Semiweekly (twice a week)
  3. Weekly
  4. Biweekly (every two weeks)
  5. Monthly
  6. Quarterly
  7. Four times a year in January, February, October, & November
  8. Weekly during the school year
  9. Monthly except during July & August

Application for Second-Class Permit

In order for a University department to obtain a second-class permit, a special application must be made to the U.S. Postal Service. Any department interested should contact the Mail Services Department regarding this application, cost, and whether or not they qualify for such a permit.


Third-class mail can consist of any mailable matter that is under 16 ounces not required to be mailed at the first-class rates. Kinds of Third-Class Rates

There are three kinds of third-class rates:

  1. Bulk Rate - third-class mail which must be presented in quantities of at least 200 pieces or at least 50 pounds. This is the least expensive third-class rate.
  2. Single Piece Rates - for third-class mail that does not qualify as bulk mail, or where the mailer has not paid a bulk fee.
  3. Rate for Keys and Identification Devices


Only first-class mail is closed against postal inspection. Sealing of third-class mail will not prevent postal inspection.



Fourth-class mail can consist of any mailable matter (including mailable live animals) weighing up to 70 pounds and not required to be mailed at the first-class rates. The minimum weight is 16 ounces, except for Special Fourth-Class and Library rates which may weigh less than 16 ounces.

Kinds of Fourth-Class Rates

  1. Parcel Post Single Piece Zone Rate - Fourth-class mail weighing one pound to 70 pounds is charged by weigh and the zone to which the parcels are sent. There is a 14 cent per piece rate reduction on all Intra-BMC parcels (parcels mailed to addresses within your local BMC area). There is a 50 cent surcharge on all nonmachineable parcels mailed to BMCs outside your local BMC area (Inter-BMC parcels).
  2. Parcel Post Bulk Zone Rates - Currently, there is no rate concession for bulk parcel post mailings.
  3. Bound Printed Matter Bulk Rate (Bulk Catalog Rate) - Bound printed matter weighing one to ten pounds and presented in quantities of 30 or more pieces. Postage is charged by the number of pieces, the total weight and the zone to which is mailed.
  4. Bound Printed Matter (Single Piece Rate) - Bound printed matter weighing 1-10 pounds when you have fewer than 300 pieces. Postage is charged on each piece according to weight and zone.
  5. Special Rate - For books, films, catalogs for films, records, and other educational or cultural matter. Postage is charged by the weight of each piece. This rate is much lower than the parcel post rate.
  6. Special Rate, Presorted Mail -
    Level A: for mailing of 500 or more pieces of Special Rate mail properly prepared and presorted to five digit and three digit ZIP Code destinations.
    Level B: for mailings of 500 or more pieces. Pieces must be sackable, weigh the same and receive the same services (e.g., if one pieces is insured, all pieces must be insured). You can also mail nonsackable pieces (outsides) at the presort Level B if you obtain permission from your local Postmaster.
  7. Library Rate - For books, films, educational or cultural matter mailed to or from educational institutions, museums, libraries, herbaria and so forth. This is the lowest fourth-class rate.



Parcel Post mail can consist of any mailable matter that weighs at least one pound. Some examples of parcel post are:

  1. Merchandise
  2. Printed Matter
  3. Certain Live Animals
  4. Plants
  5. Insects

Weight and Size Limitations

  1. If you mail fourth-class parcels to first-class offices (usually cities or towns in the continental United States), the parcel cannot weigh more than 40 pounds, or be more than 84 inches in length and girth combined. (Note: There is an exception for Alaska and Hawaii).
  2. If your parcel is going to a second-class office (usually a rural area), or to Alaska or Hawaii, your parcel can weigh up to 70 pounds and be 100 inches in length and girth combined.
  3. When the contents of parcels consist of baby poultry, nursery stock, agricultural products, books, Braille, or other appliances for the blind, the parcel may weigh up to 70 pounds and measure 100 inches in length and girth combined. These parcels can be mailed at any post office.
  4. How to measure parcels - measure the longest side (length). Measure distance around the parcel at its thickest part (girth). Add both measurements.



The chief advantages of parcel post lie in the variety of materials that can be sent and in the rates, which are much lower than Priority or Express Mail rates.


Parcel post mail is usually handled after first- and second-class mail. However, if special services are paid (such as Special Delivery), you may speed the handling of your parcel packages.

Cost Factors

Since parcel post mail is often sent out after first- and second-class mail, you have to decide whether the mailing time or the cost of the mailing is more important. For example, if parcels must be received by a certain date, Priority or Express Mail might be to your advantage. If time is not all important, parcel post is certainly less expensive.



The purpose of the registered mail system is to provide added protection for valuable and important mail. Postal insurance may be purchased at the time of registration to provide indemnity in case of loss or damage.

  1. Added protection until delivered - registered mail is sorted in special rooms in the post office. It is dispatched in locked pouches. When a postal employee receives a pouch of registered mail, he must sign a receipt for it. Thus, a hand-to-hand record of the mail is kept. These precautions make registered mail quite safe.
  2. Evidence of mailing - when you register your mail, you will receive a receipt as evidence of mailing. The addressee will sign a Postal Service Form as evidence of delivery.
  3. Indemnity in case of loss or damage - Postal insurance may be purchased, at the option of the mailer, to cover articles valued at the time of mailing up to $25,000. To obtain postal insurance, the full value of the article must be declared at the time of mailing and the appropriate fee which includes postal insurance must be paid.
  4. If you use commercial insurance containing a deductible amount, postal insurance may be purchased for the amount of the deductible up to the first $25,000 of value on the article at the time of mailing. To do this, you must declare the full value of the article at the time of mailing, and the amount of deductible requiring postal insurance.



Certified mail service provides a receipt to the sender and a record of delivery at the office of address. No record is kept at the Post Office at which mailed. Certified mail is handled and dispatched as ordinary mail. No insurance coverage is provided. Return receipts and restricted delivery may be used with certified mail, provided the applicable fees are paid.

Class of Mail To Which Certified Mail Is Applicable

Any mailable matter of no intrinsic value on which postage at the first-class rate has been paid will be accepted as certified mail. (Articles which involve a cost of duplication if lost or destroyed will be accepted). Certified mail may be addressed for delivery only in the United States, its territories and possessions: in the Canal Zone; through Armed Forces APO’s and FPO’s, and through the United Nations, New York Post Office.



Special delivery mail is given preferential handling to the extent practicable in dispatch and transportation, according to specially scheduled delivery routes. Payment of special delivery fee does not insure safety of delivery or provide for the payment of indemnity. Money or other valuables sent special delivery should be sent registered mail also. Insured, certified and C.O.D. m ail may be sent special delivery.


If your mail arrives too late to be included in a carrier’s schedule, it may have to wait until the next scheduled special delivery service begins. Consequently, special delivery may actually, at times, slow down delivery.

Prepayment of FeeM

The special delivery fee may be paid by special delivery stamps, ordinary postage stamps, or meter stamps. This special delivery fee is in addition to regular postage.


The words Special Delivery must be shown prominently on the address side of the article, preferably below the postage.

Note: If you pay the Special Delivery fee, you do not have to pay the surcharge on nonmachineable parcels.



Interdepartmental mail should be kept separate from other types of mail when it is being sent to the Mail Room. If more than one piece of interdepartmental mail is being sent, bind the envelopes together. This will ease the Mail Room’s handling of this type of mail. Materials sent through interdepartmental mail should be for the purpose of the University business only and not personal use.


To send materials through interdepartmental mail, the department does the following:

  1. Puts the mail to be sent in an interdepartmental mailing envelope.
  2. Addresses the envelope with the name of the individual and the department.
  3. Deposits the envelope either in the outgoing mail tray, which the Mail Services will pick up and deliver to each department daily, or brings the envelope to the Mail Department.


To mail a letter or package to a destination outside of the University, the Department:

  1. Prepares the envelope or package with the proper address and zip code.
  2. Mail Services picks up envelopes and packages with prepunched tabulating card.


The University Mail Service will provide all departments and activities with mark sense prepunched tabulating cards which show department name and account number to be charged for postage costs. When depositing mail for delivery by U.S. Postal Service, please complete information on the back of the card. Include the card with mail requiring postage, bound with a rubber band or cord in order to retain departmental identity.

The University Mail Service will keep the interdepartmental material segregated from outgoing mail.

Intercampus mail handling costs will not be included in the charge.

The Mail Service will process mail by department. The departmental charge will be recorded on the mark sense card from the meter reading shown on the mailing machine.

The Mailroom will retain mailing cards for date processing at month end. The Accounting Department will be provided a listing of accumulated postage costs which will be charged to each department during the month. Monthly costs will be cut off on the 25 of each month except in June when costs will be accumulated from May 26 through June 30.

Proper Procedure for Completing the Mail Postage Card:

  1. Official name of department.
  2. Date mail card is prepared.
  3. Number of pieces of mail.
  4. Individual authorized to sign.
  5. For UPS, indicate address of individual to receive package or any other special instructions should be indicated


Distribution of United Parcel Service Charges

All United States shipments originate or terminate at Central Receiving or Mail Services. When mailing a UPS package, a postage cost make sense card must accompany the package. Charges will be included in the month end listing of accumulated postage costs.

Campus pick up, delivery and normal packaging will not be charged, but actual cost of any special containers, etc., will be added to United Parcel Service rates in effect at the time of shipment.

Weight and Size Limits

  1. Maximum weight per package - 50 pounds.
  2. Maximum weight of all packages from one shipper to one consignee in one day is 100 pounds.
  3. Maximum size per package - 108 inches in length and girth combined.
  4. Minimum charge for a package measuring 84" in length and girth combined will be equal to charge for a package weighing 25 pounds.
  5. Insurance
    1. The first $100 in insurance is free.
    2. $0.25 per $100 after the first $100.
  6. Blue Label* air service to all States, partial state areas - Alaska, Hawaii, Pennsylvania
  7. Daily pick up and delivery at Northern Michigan University’s Central Receiving and Mail Services.
  8. Rates determined by zone and weight.

    *UPS Express Service

Packaging UPS - Package With Care

We both have the same objective - getting your package safely to its destination. You can help us achieve our mutual goal by learning to “package with care” each shipment you send through the UPS delivery system. While there are other good packaging techniques, we believe the simple method outlined here is a safe and good easy way to pack most articles.

  1. Use a Corrugated Carton
    You can readily obtain a corrugated carton from a nearby supermarket or variety store. Choose one in good, rigid condition, with all flaps intact, that is large enough to allow room for adequate cushioning material. Remove old labels or other addresses from the carton.
  2. Protect it Inside
    Most shipping damages occur because of inadequate protection inside the carton. Shocks received on the outside of the carton are allowed to pass through the contents. But you don’t have to be an engineer to pack your carton securely. Anyone can create adequate cushioning out of common household materials. One of the best methods is to use brown grocery bags, crumpled newspaper is the next best choice.

    It is very simple. First, pack several inches of cushioning material in the bottom of the carton, then wrap each item to be shipped separately and place it in the center of the carton. Now layer cushioning material firmly around, over and between the items. Use enough cushioning material so that the contents cannot move easily in transit. Several inches all the way around should do it, but remember, the further you keep fragile articles away from the corner and sides of the carton the less chance there is of damage.
  3. Close it Securely
    Proper closure of your package is as important as adequate cushioning. If the carton pops open in transit, that great cushioning job of your could go to waste. To close the carton securely, use a strong tape, 2" or more in width, such as the types described below:
    1. Reinforced, pressure sensitive tape - sticks without water on any clean surface.
    2. Water activated tape - is moistened and immediately applied to the package. Use the kind with fiber reinforcements, if available.


      Be certain that all flaps are fully and securely sealed.
  4. Use Proper Labeling
    To insure proper delivery keep these important points in mind when addressing your package.
    • Always include the zip code of the receiver with the complete street address.
    • With P.O. Box and rural route addresses, provide the telephone number, if known.
    • Place the address label on the top of the carton. Never place the label on a seam or closure or on top of sealing tape.
    • Remove or cross out any old address or labels on carton.
    • Always include Northern Michigan University’s return address including zip code and full street address.
    • For added protection place a duplicate label inside the carton.




General Information

The size specifications for insertions into No. 10 envelopes are:

  • Maximum size: 3-7/8" x 8-3/4" folded
  • Minimum size: 3" x 6"

If a different size envelope is used, contact the Mail Room for size specifications.


The following regulations apply to third class bulk mailing:

  1. All pieces must be identical as to size, weight, and number or enclosures as well as content
  2. Number of pieces in mailing must be at least 200.
  3. Mailing pieces must bear an NMU return address.
  4. All pieces must be separately addressed to different persons or box holders.
  5. The address of each piece must include a ZIP code.
  6. Mailings can be sent within the United States only.
  7. Envelopes must be kept in zip code order by all five digits in preparation for sorting (example: 48001, 48002, 48156, 48240, 49931, etc.)
  8. Must have 10 or more pieces per bundle. If thin enough, up to 50 pieces or more.
  9. Must be bound tightly by length and width with string.
  10. A postage cost card must accompany each mailing.

Labeling With Dots

Red Dots-D

All mail with the same five-digit ZIP code are bundled together. Remember there must be ten pieces in a bundle.

Yellow Dots

All mail going to one city with mixed zips. Many large cities like Detroit, Chicago, and New York have different zip codes.

Green Dots

All mail with the first three numbers of the zip code alike.

Orange Dots

Mailings going to mixed cities in the same state. Example: Alpena, Marquette, and Lansing are mixed cities, but all in Michigan. Can be used with all states.

If after doing all the preceding steps there are still pieces not in any of the other categories, or perhaps not enough to make a bundle, put them together with string and a slip of paper labeling them as mixed states.



Date Approved:4-10-1987
Last Revision:4-10-1987
Last Reviewed:4-10-1987
Approved By:President
Oversight Unit:PURCHASING