Bulk mail is a way to save money on postage by doing things that the US Postal Service (USPS) would usually do, like sorting the mail for them, and adding barcodes. USPS passes some of their savings along to you, by charging you lower postage prices.

Postage Saver Low-Cost Software for Postal Bulk Mail This page explains how to get set up to do bulk mailing. If you already have your mailing permit and software, you can move ahead to our "Preparing your bulk mailing" page to learn the next steps.

The most common type of bulk mail is called "Standard Class" (formerly "3rd Class").

Most advertising mail, newsletters, etc. are sent using Standard Class. Standard Class offers low postage rates for commercial mailers, and even lower rates for approved nonprofit mailers.

There are also several other types of bulk mail, used for specific purposes. Here's a chart showing the most common types of bulk mail:

Mailing Class:

Standard
Class
Presorted
First
Class
Periodical
Class
Bound
Printed
Matter


typical uses
advertising,
newsletters,
solicitations

bills,
statements
subscription
magazines &
newspapers
heavier
catalogs &
booklets

minimum pcs.
per mailing
200 pcs.
or 15 lbs.

500 pcs.
no
minimum

300 pcs.

max. weight/pc.*
under 1 lb.
13 oz.
4.4 lbs.
15 lbs.

personalized
info allowed?
limited,
see here

yes

no

no

typical savings off
retail First Class

35% - 55%

4% - 20%

26% - 87%

40% - 50%

extra discount
off for nonprofits

40% - 60%

none

up to 5%

none

detailed rate info
see here
see here
coming soon
see here

international mail?
no
no
no
no


* Lower weight limits apply for some smaller-sized pieces, or for pieces priced at lower barcoded rates.

This chart does not apply to parcels. For information on bulk parcel shipments, please see here.


How much will I save using bulk mail to send my postcards?
Why do you show "typical savings" instead of just the price?

How much will I save? To see the postage prices for your specific mailing, use our pricing calculators:

Standard Class

Presorted First Class

Parcels
Unfortunately, bulk mail postage pricing is not simple. There's not just one postage price even for all pieces of a certain size. In any bulk mailing, you'll probably pay different postage prices for different groups of pieces. It's like when there are different fares for different people flying on the same airplane.

Bulk mail postage pricing depends on the size and weight of your mail, but also depends on things like whether you take your mail to your neighborhood post office or take it to the major mail distribution center for your area (which can earn you a lower rate).

Bulk mail pricing also depends on how "concentrated" your addresses are. For example, if you have 150 letters going to the same 5-digit zip code, you get a better price than if they are going to different zip codes all over the country. Or, for Periodical Class mail, you get the lowest prices for mail going to addresses within your county, and pay more for pieces going to different counties.

There are also start-up costs that cut into your savings at the beginning, plus some costs for verifying your mailing lists. We'll cover those further down on this page.

We have pricing calculators for Standard Class, for Presorted First Class and for parcels that will help you figure out what postage prices would apply to your particular mailing. If you already have the addresses list that you're mailing to, you can download a free demo of our Postage $aver software and run your list to get the exact cost.

What is the minimum number of pieces for bulk mail for each zip code or each area?

There are no minimums for particular zip codes or areas. The total number of pieces in your entire mailing just needs to meet the minimum for the mailing class you are using (as shown above), regardless of where they are going, as long as it's all going to addresses within the United States (which can include military addresses, Puerto Rico and U.S. possessions). There are also no monthly or yearly quantity requirements.

What permits do I need to get started with bulk mail, and what are the fees?


Bulk Mail Indicia
If you buy a permit imprint authorization, you can print a box like this (called an "indicia") on your mail instead of putting a stamp on each piece. That saves a lot of work! For details on what goes in the box, click here.
Bulk Mailing Permits - Before you can get bulk mail discounts, you need to have a permit for the type of bulk mail you are sending. Here's the USPS application forms you need, and the costs:

Mailing Class:

Standard
Class
Presorted
First
Class
Periodical
Class
Bound
Printed
Matter

Permit Application:

Permit Fee:
$215
annual fee
$215
annual fee
$685
one-time fee
$215
annual fee**

Fee waived for
full-service?*

yes

yes

no

yes


*Full-service fee waiver - The annual fees for some classes are waived if you add "full-service" barcodes to all your bulk mail and submit mailing documentation to USPS electronically rather than on paper. That sounds like a great deal, and sometimes it is, but there are costs involved in barcoding and electronic submission, so sometimes it's cheaper to pay the annual fee. (more on that here) If you get the waiver, and then bring in a mailing that is not barcoded, you'll be hit for the fee right then, before your mailing can go out.

**For Bound Printed Matter only, the annual fee is only charged if you use "Destination Entry" postage rates. We will explain this on our upcoming page on Bound Printed Matter, but for now, feel free to ask us about this if you're interested in using this mailing class.

It's important that you apply for your permit at the post office where you expect to take your mail. Otherwise, you'll have a hassle each time you take in a mailing, because the post office where you permit is issued is where they keep track of how much money you have in your postage account. You'd normally want to take your mail to your closest post office, just for convenience. But if you're within a reasonable distance of the "Sectional Center Facility" (main sorting center) for your region, you'll get better postage prices for any mail addressed within that region if you take it to the sectional facility.

Sectional Center Facilities (SCFs) are in major metro areas, so if you're in one, ask USPS where the SCF bulk mail entry unit is for your area. If it's not too much hassle to get there, and you have a substantial amount of mail going to addresses in the SCF's region, you should apply for your permit there rather than at your neighborhood post office. (In some cities, the SCF is now the only post office that accepts bulk mail.) We can tell which SCF serves your area if you tell us your local zip code.

Permit Imprint Authorization - This lets you print a "postage paid" box (called an "indicia") on your mail, instead of putting a stamp or meter imprint on each piece. You'll have a deposit account at the post office where you have your permit, and USPS will charge your account for each piece that you mail when you bring your mailing in.

There's a one-time $215 application fee, but no additional annual fee. A permit imprint is required for Bound Printed Matter, optional (but well worth it) for Standard Class and Presorted First Class. Permit imprints are not used for Periodical Class. One fee covers all your mail, regardless of class. There's no separate application for permit imprint authorization. It's part of your mailing permit application.

For details on what goes in the "postage paid" box, click here. You don't need any special software for it. Just include it as part of the design of the mail piece, just like the return address.

Nonprofit Authorization - Certain types of nonprofit organizations pay much lower postage rates for Standard Class mail, and can also save on Periodical Class mail. Just having an IRS letter is not enough to claim these rates. Your organization must also be authorized by USPS. There is no fee to apply for authorization. Use form 3624 to apply for Standard Class nonprofit authorization. For Periodical Class, you can apply for nonprofit authorization on your mailing permit application.

What software and other supplies do I need to prepare bulk mail?


PAVE-certified sorting software, like Postage $aver, is not the same as CASS software. You generally always need sorting software to prepare bulk mail, unless your mailing is going to just one or two zip codes.

CASS software is only needed if you are barcoding, which is optional for bulk mailing. CASS software is very expensive, so for most smaller mailers it's a lot cheaper to let a list processing service do their CASS processing for them if they need it. We explain this here.
Glad that's done!
USPS "Pave-certified" bulk mailing software. - As you'll learn on the page on preparing your mailing, you need to sort your mail and place it in specific trays or sacks before USPS will accept it for bulk mail pricing. And it's not just sorting by zip code - various zips must be combined with others, depending on quantity, where you're mailing from and to, the size of the mailpiece, etc... It's literally a book full of sorting rules, and the details actually change each month, according to projected mail loads in different areas.

So, unless you're doing a mailing that just covers just one or two zip codes, you'll need software to sort your addresses into the required zip combinations to meet USPS requirements and get the best discounts. The software needs to also print your paperwork, print the special tags that go on each tray or sack, and tell you how to put the mailing together.

Software that does all that can be certified for accuracy by USPS through their "PAVE certification" program. Our Postage $aver Pro and Postage $aver Lite products are PAVE-certified at the gold level, meaning they've passed the highest level of testing. We, of course, recommend you buy our software, but if you don't, you really should buy one of the PAVE-certified products to help you with this.

Mail trays or mail sacks (depending on the size of your mail). These are provided by the USPS at no charge. You can pick up a bunch when you go to apply for your permit. Here are the trays or sacks that you need:

Mailing Class:

Standard
Class
Presorted
First
Class
Periodical
Class
Bound
Printed
Matter

"letter"-sized pcs.
& postcards under
4 ⅝" x 10"*
1- & 2-foot
"MM"
trays
1- & 2-foot
"MM"
trays
1- & 2-foot
"MM"
trays


n/a

larger "letter"-sized
pcs. up to
6 ⅛" x 11 ½"
2-foot
"EMM"
trays
2-foot
"EMM"
trays
2-foot
"EMM"
trays


n/a

larger "flats"-sized
pieces

sacks
tubs, aka
"flats trays"

sacks

sacks

parcels
sacks
sacks
sacks
sacks


*You can usually use MM trays for pieces as tall as 5 ½" (half of a normal letter-sized sheet) by letting them lean down a bit in the tray. MM trays are smaller and easier to handle than EMM trays.

If you are using trays, make sure to pick up the cardboard sleeves that go around the trays to close them (or covers, for flats trays). For trays that are going beyond the area handled by your nearest bulk mail center, you are supposed to also strap the sleeves or covers in place. You can buy a strapping kit here. It's probably a lifetime supply, unless you're doing a lot of out of area mailing.

Size 64 rubber bands! - No, not to aim at your business partner, who told you bulk mailing would be fun. You need them to bundle your mail, as explained on the page on preparing your mailing. Years ago, USPS used to give these out free, but now you can just pick some up at your favorite office supply store.

OK, now breathe, exhale, and when you're ready,
move on to our page on actually preparing your mailing.



Postage Saver Low-Cost Postal Bulk Mail Software

Smart Parcel Mailer