Periodical Class Bulk Mail Rates and Requirements

Scott HochbergScott Hochberg



Periodical Class bulk mail is used for mailing newspapers, magazines and other regularly-scheduled publications, such as college course catalogs, bus schedules, and legal reporting services. Periodical Class used to be called Second Class Mail.

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 dotWhat are the postage rates?

red dotHow much are permits?

red dotHow do I apply for nonprofit or other special rates?

red dotWhat do I need to get started?

To qualify for Periodical Class rates, a publication must be: A product catalog is not eligible for Periodical Class, but would usually qualify for Marketing Mail or Bound Printed Matter bulk mail rates.

Periodical Class mailers must keep accurate records for each issue published, including the number of copies printed, how the copies were distributed, and lists of subscribers and/or requesters.

Periodical Class rates are available for domestic mail only (including military addresses, Puerto Rice and U.S. possessions). There are no Periodical Class rates for international mail.
Learn about other
bulk mail categories:
Marketing Mail
Presorted First Class
Bound Printer Matter
Bulk Rate Parcels

Postage Saver software makes Periodical mailing easy

How many pieces in each zip code do I need for Periodical Class rates?

For Periodical Class, there is no minimum per mailing, nor are there any minimums per zip code, as long as your publication meets the qualifications listed above. And, there are no monthly or yearly minimums.

What are the size and weight limits for Periodical Class rates?

The weight limit for a piece of mail sent at Periodical Class rates is 70.4 ounces (4.4 pounds). To qualify for barcoding discounts, each piece can weigh no more than 20 ounces.

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. Nonbarcoded pieces can be up to 1¼" thick. Barcoded pieces can be no more than ¾" thick.

What are the postage rates for Periodical Class bulk mail?

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.
Periodical Class postage is the most complicated of all USPS rates to calculate. The only way to really know what a particular mailing might cost is to run the circulation list through software like Postage $aver. But our postage calculator below will at least give you an idea of the pricing.

The postage rate for Periodical Class bulk mail depends on the size and weight of the mail piece, the distance it travels, how much of the publication is advertising, and whether the recipient is in the same county as the sender. There are also discounts for taking your mailing to a major sorting facility.

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

Nonprofits get additional discounts off of the commercial Periodical Class rates, and there are also discounts for publications for classroom use and for certain publications related to agriculture.

After calculating the postage for each piece, there are also charges for each "bundle" of mail, and for each tray or sack. For mailings that are large enough to require pallets, there is a charge for each pallet.

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

Periodical Class Bulk Mail Postage Rate Calculator


Rates updated for latest USPS changes effective August 29, 2021.

Make the following selections to find the rates available for your Periodical Class mailing. Sorry to ask so many questions, but the postage calculation for Periodical Class is really complicated.

Publication is:
commercial    nonprofit
classroom    science of agriculture

Percentage of the publication that is advertising (0-100):  

Select Mail Size:
letter - up to 6⅛" x 11½" x ¼", whether in an envelope or not.
flat - up to 12" x 15" x 1¼", whether in an envelope or not.

For flats, is the publication mailed in a box, or otherwise not flexible, or more than ¾" thick?
yes  no 

Enter Weight in Ounces:  
 Weight must be 20 ounces or less for barcoded pieces,
 or 70.4 ounces (4.4 pounds) or less for nonbarcoded pieces.

How many total pieces are there in the mailing?
fewer than 10,000
10,000 or more

How many pieces are addressed to locations in the same county as the county where they will be mailed?
half, or fewer than half, of the entire mailing
more than half of the entire mailing

How many pieces are addressed to locations in a different county from the county where they will be mailed?
fewer than 5000
5000 or more

... told you these rates are complicated.

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
Track your First Class Mail FREE!

How much do bulk mail permits cost, and how do I get one?

Before you can mail using Periodical Class rates, you need to have a permit. Your permit must be issued by USPS. A vendor cannot issue a bulk mailing permit.

The one-time fee for a Periodical Class permit is $805.

Periodical Class mail does not require any form of postage (indicia, stamps, or meter strip) to be attached or printed on the piece. So there is no Permit Imprint Authorization required, and no separate Permit Imprint Authorization fee.

How to apply: You must apply for your permit in person, using USPS form 3500.

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. Even 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 others. To find out whether bulk mail is accepted at a specific post office, find it using the post office locator on USPS.com, and look at the services it offers. To find out 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.

If you're not far from the USPS sorting center ("Sectional Center Facility", or "SCF") for your area, and much of your mail is going to addresses processed by that sorting center, you'll get better postage rates by sending your mail from the sorting center. You can find the SCF for your area and see your possible savings by using the rate calculator above. If you are going to be mailing from the sorting center, you will want to get your permit at that center rather than at your neighborhood post office.
Postage Saver for Parcels makes shipping bulk parcels easy

How do I apply to use nonprofit, science of agriculture, or classroom postage rates?

Many kinds of nonprofit organizations are eligible for low nonprofit rates when using Periodical Class. There are also special rates for state departments of agriculture and for publications for classroom use. To use these rates, you must first be approved by USPS.

You can request approval for these rates on your application for a Periodical Class permit.

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

To prepare your mail, you'll need software, USPS mailing containers, and, sometimes, a certain size of rubber bands.

USPS "Pave-certified" bulk mailing software: To qualify for Periodical 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 actually change each month, according to projected mail loads in different areas.

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 are 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 learn all the USPS sorting rules to prepare your mail correctly.

Mailing containers: You'll need to sort your mail into specific mail trays or mail sacks before you can mail it at Periodical 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 trays or sacks that you will need:
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 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.