Presorted First Class Rates and Requirements

Scott HochbergScott Hochberg

Presorted First Class mail saves postage without some of the disadvantages of typical "bulk mail" service, which USPS calls Marketing Mail. Presorted First Class postage rates are higher than Marketing Mail, but less than regular First Class retail rates.

Postage Saver software makes postal bulk mailing easy Here's what this page covers:
red dotHow many pieces do I need?
red dotWhat are the size and weight limits?
red dotHow much will I save?
red dotHow much are permits?
red dotWhat do I need to get started?

Here's when you would use Presorted First Class instead of Marketing Mail:
Presorted First Class rates are available for domestic mail only (including military addresses, Puerto Rice and U.S. possessions). There are no Presorted First Class rates for international mail.

Learn about other
bulk mail categories:
Marketing Mail
Periodical Class
Bound Printer Matter
Bulk Rate Parcels

Postage Saver software makes postal bulk mailing easy

How many pieces in each zip code do I need for Presorted First Class?

For Presorted First Class, you need at least 500 pieces in your entire mailing.

There is no minimum per zip code. And, there are no monthly or yearly minimums.

What are the size and weight limits for Presorted First Class?

The weight limit for Presorted First Class depends on the size of the mail piece. The longer side of each piece must be no more than 15 inches long. The shorter side must be no more than 12 inches long. The piece can be no more than 3/4" thick.

Pieces that are larger, or that aren't flexible enough to go through postal sorting equipment, may be able to be sent using First Class Package Service, which is a very economical service for parcels under one pound. Here's more about saving money on bulk parcels.

How much will I save by using Presorted First Class?

How much will I save?
Good to know:

Make sure you know whether your mail piece is a postcard, letter, a flat, or a parcel. That is determined by the size of the piece, not by what it contains.

For example, a 9 x 12 envelope containing a letter is considered a "flat" because of its size, while a 5 x 8 card is considered a "letter", even though most of us would call it a postcard. For full information on the categories, see Letters vs. Flats.
The postage rate for Presorted First Class depends on the size and weight of the mail piece. For barcoded pieces, the rate also depends on how many pieces you have going to a particular zip code or area.

For a barcoded mailing, there's a pretty good chance that you'll pay different postage rates on different pieces in the same mailing, depending on where the pieces are going.

Unlike for Marketing Mail, nonprofits do not get lower postage rates for Presorted First Class. Also, Presorted First Class does not offer "entry discounts" for sending your mailing from a major sorting center. But Presorted First Class, unlike any other mail class, does offer lower rates for postcards that are no larger than 4¼" x 6".

For a normal letter, you'll typically pay 39.6¢ - 46¢ using Presorted First Class. For a postcard, you'll pay 26.6¢ - 29.3¢. That's a savings compared to the usual 55¢ stamp for a letter, or 36¢ postcard price.

You can use our Presorted First Class postage rate calculator to find the rates available for your mailing.

Presorted First Class Postage Rate Calculator

Rates updated for USPS changes effective January 24, 2021.

Make the following selections to find the rates available for your Presorted First Class mailing:

Select Mail Size:
postcard - up to 4¼" x 6"
letter - up to 6⅛" x 11½" x ¼", whether in an envelope or not.
flat - up to 12" x 15" x ¾", whether in an envelope or not.
 Flats must be able to bend. If your piece is not flexible, or is larger than a flat in any dimension, it is a parcel. For parcels postage rates, please see our bulk parcels guide.

Enter Weight in Ounces:  
 Weight must be 3.5 ounces or less for letters, or 13 ounces or less for flats.
 Weight is not used for postcards.

For letters, does something like an unusual shape make this mailing
yes  no
 See here for explanation.

If you already have the list you want to mail to, we recommend you download a free trial copy of our Postage Saver bulk mail software, and run your list through it. It will figure out the exact postage you'd pay for mailing that specific list, and let you try various options.
Postage Saver Low-Cost Software for Postal Bulk Mail

How much do Presorted First Class permits cost, and how do I get one?

Good to know:

Bulk Mail Indicia
If you buy a "permit imprint authorization", you can print an "indicia" box like this on your mail instead of putting a stamp on each piece. That saves a lot of work.

Here's what goes in an indicia box.
Before you can mail using Presorted First Class, you need to have a permit. Your permit must be issued by USPS. A vendor cannot issue a mailing permit.

There are two fees that apply to a new permit for Presorted First Class.

Annual mailing fee: The annual fee for a Presorted First Class permit is $245.

However, USPS will waive this fee if all of your Presorted First Class mailings are "full-service" mailings. That means you print "full-service" barcodes on all of 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. (Learn about barcoding.)

If you are requesting a new Presorted First Class permit, and ask for the annual mailing fee to be waived, you should not be charged the fee. But if the fee is waived, and then you bring in a mailing that is not full-service barcoded, you'll immediately be charged the fee, and must pay it before your mailing can be accepted.

If you already have a Presorted First Class permit, and have paid the annual mailing fee in the past, you must continue to pay the fee until you complete an entire year where all of your Presorted First Class mailings are full-service barcoded mailings

Permit Imprint Authorization fee: This lets you print a "postage paid" box (called a "permit imprint" or an "indicia") on your mail, instead of putting a stamp or meter imprint on each piece. You'll have an account at the post office where you have your permit, and USPS will charge your account for the postage for each Presorted First Class mailing. You can deposit funds for your mailings online, by mail or in person.

The one-time fee for a permit imprint authorization is $245. This fee is not waived by using full-service barcoding. If you will use stamps on your bulk mail, you do not need to purchase a permit imprint authorization.

Here's what goes in the "postage paid" box. 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. You are only charged for the pieces you actually mail, not for the number of postage paid boxes printed.

How to apply: You can apply online for a Presorted First Class permit and for a permit imprint authorization. But, the online system does NOT allow waiving the annual mailing fee!

If you want the annual mailing fee to be waived, because you will only be using the permit for full-service barcoded mailings as explained above, you must apply for your permit in person, using USPS form 3615.

Where to apply: It's best that you apply for your permit at the post office where you expect to take your mail. You'll probably want to take your mail to the closest post office that accepts bulk mail, just for convenience. If you apply online, you will still need to designate the post office where your permit will be issued.

In suburban and rural areas, many post offices accept bulk mail. But in urban areas, bulk mail is generally accepted only at a major facility, and sometimes a few smaller post offices.

To find out whether bulk mail is accepted at a specific post office, find it using the post office locator on, and look at the services it offers. To find all of the post offices in your area that accept bulk mail, call the USPS District Business Mail Entry office for your area, which you can find using this USPS locator screen.
Postage Saver for Parcels makes shipping bulk parcels easy

What software and other supplies do I need to prepare Presorted First Class?

To prepare your mail, you'll need software, USPS mailing containers, and rubber bands.

USPS "Pave-certified" bulk mailing software: To qualify for Presorted First Class rates, your mail must be sorted and placed in mailing containers according to very detailed USPS rules. 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 change each month according to projected mail loads and changes in routings.

You'll also need to print paperwork for submitting your mailing and special barcoded tags to label each mailing container.

The easiest way to do all of this is to use software designed to prepare bulk mail. USPS doesn't require any particular software, but does certify software for accuracy through their "PAVE" certification program.

Our Postage $aver Pro and Postage $aver Lite software is PAVE-certified at the gold level, meaning they've passed the highest level of testing. It's inexpensive and easy to use, and you won't have to become an expert in the mailing rules to prepare your mail correctly.

Mailing containers: You'll need to sort your mail into specific mail trays or mail tubs before you can mail it at Presorted First Class rates. Your bulk mailing software will determine exactly what you need for each mailing.

The containers are provided by the USPS at no charge. You can pick them up at the post office where you are mailing your bulk mail. Here are the kinds of trays or sacks that you will need:
* You can usually use MM trays, instead of EMM 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.

Make sure to pick up the cardboard sleeves that go around the trays to close them, or the covers for the tubs. For trays and tubs that are going beyond the area handled by your nearest sorting center, you should strap the sleeves or covers in place. You can buy a strapping kit from Staples, Quill, Uline or similar commercial office supply companies. It's probably a lifetime supply, unless you're doing a lot of out-of-area mailing.

Size 64 rubber bands: You'll need them to bundle your mail. You can buy a bag at your favorite office supply store.
Glad that's done!
Congratulations! You're now ready to move on to actually preparing your mailing.