US Postal Service® Bulk Mail Requirements

Learn the ins and outs of USPS® presort requirements

Marketing Mail® is enjoying a renaissance—and for good reason. No form of digital communication beats the response rates of mail by post. The trick is making it and your other business mailings cost effective. That’s where bulk mail rates enter the picture. But before you can realize those high-volume savings, you first must meet all the US Postal Service® bulk mail requirements.

Not sure how many pieces of mail qualifies for bulk rates or how to apply for a USPS bulk mail permit? Here’s the latest on USPS bulk mail and presort requirements.

From bulk mail to presorted savings

Bulk mail is a term used by the USPS to define quantities of mail sufficient to earn a bulk discount. It costs the USPS less money to process and deliver bulk mail when it’s presorted by ZIP Code™ and they pass those savings on to mailers who do the work of presorting for them.

USPS presort requirements include:

  • Meeting minimum pieces required to qualify for bulk mail
  • Applying for a USPS bulk mail permit and paying associated fees
  • Ensuring accuracy of delivery addresses and ZIP Codes
  • Weighing each piece and applying appropriate barcodes and postage
  • Presorting mail pieces by ZIP Code, size and type
  • Delivering presorted mail to the Post Office that issued your permit

Minimums for bulk mail

Before you mail in bulk, you need to meet the minimums for whichever type of mail you want to send:

  • 50 pieces for Parcel Post®
  • 200 pieces for Marketing Mail® (formerly Standard Mail)
  • 300 pieces for Presorted Bound Printed Matter
  • 500 pieces for Presorted First-Class Mail®
  • 500 pieces for Presorted Library Mail®
  • 500 pieces for Presorted Media Mail® (formerly Special Standard Mail)

Even if your business meets the minimums for bulk mail, it may not meet the minimum needed per ZIP Code to earn the deepest presort discounts. It’s one reason why both high-volume and smaller-volume mailers can benefit from presort services. A presort service provider pools together or “commingles” all its client’s mailings to achieve the best possible discounts for all.

USPS bulk mail permits and fees

Every do-it-yourself presort mail journey begins with applying for a USPS-issued bulk mail permit available from your local Post Office.

After your application is accepted, the USPS gives you a permit number and assigns you a Mailer ID. You’ll need your permit number for each bulk mailing you send, and your 9-digit Mailer ID for preparing your Intelligent Mail barcodes® (IMb), if used.

The current price of a USPS bulk mail permit is $245.00 annually. If you’re using Imprint Stamps (indicia) versus a postage meter or Precanceled Stamps you’ll also need to pay a Permit Imprint fee.

USPS presort preparation

This is where presorting and preparing your bulk mail for delivery gets more complicated. You’ll want to refer to the USPS Mail Preparation Guidelines for the myriad details involved, but we can provide a quick overview here.

  1. Sort your mail into specific mail trays or mail sacks (provided by the USPS at no cost). Sorting is done by both ZIP Code (3 and 5 digit) and mail type.
  2. Fill out a postage statement either manually or online and apply barcoded labels to each mailing container.
  3. Deliver to the Post Office that you received your USPS bulk mail permit from.

Keeping pace with these details and ever-evolving USPS regulations is one of the reasons many businesses turn to a presort service for their bulk mailing needs.

The benefits of presort services

Presort services are a great strategy for earning USPS discounts without sacrificing the time or resources needed to do it yourself.

You get bulk mail prices without bulk mail volumes
Presort service providers commingle your mail with multiple client mailings, ensuring everyone meets the volumes needed to qualify for the deepest postal discounts available.

You don’t need to sweat the details
Starting your own presorting operation requires equipment, supplies, labor and space – and you still have to bring the mail to the post office. A good presorting service handles everything for you beginning with picking up your mail and then ensuring it meets all USPS requirements.

Let Pitney Bowes handle your presorting needs

As the largest USPS® workshare partner, we have unrivaled experience in postal regulations, compliance, procedures and technology. We’re here to handle the complexities of presort for you.