Parcel Changes for 2012
The United States Postal Service® (USPS®) made a number of changes to the way that parcels will be handled in 2012. Some changes involve classification or preparation changes, others involve price changes, and some a combination of all three.
Elimination of NFM's
Effective with the price change on January 22, 2012, the current mailing category of Not Flat Machineables (NFM's) is eliminated. This category was temporarily put in place by the USPS to accommodate pieces that, technically, fall into the flat mail processing category based on dimensions, but are not able to be processed on automated sorting equipment. These pieces will now qualify as either Standard Marketing Parcels (a new category) or Parcel Select®.
Standard Mail Parcels
Standard Mail Parcels will now be separated into two groups: Marketing Parcels and parcels that will become Parcel Select Lightweight™ parcels. Nonprofit Standard Mail parcels will have separate standards for Nonprofit Marketing Parcels and other Nonprofit parcels. The new Marketing Parcel category is, according to Postal Bulletin 22327, "defined as containing information and/or product samples whose purpose is to encourage recipients to purchase a product or service, make a contribution, support a cause, form a belief or opinion, take an action, or provide information to recipients." These parcels are required to bear an alternative addressing format, e.g. "Occupant", exceptional addressing, or simplified addressing when allowed for saturation mail. These parcels must also be prepared in carrier route or presort separations. Maximum size for Marketing Parcels is 12 inches x 9 inches x 2 inches. Detached Address Labels (DAL's) are permitted with Marketing Parcels and are added to the weight of the parcel to determine postage, but there is no separate DAL fee.
The USPS is changing the dimension criteria for all machineable parcels to better align with their current mail processing equipment capability. The current maximum dimensions of 34 inches x 17 inches x 17 inches will be modified to 27 inches x 17 inches x 17 inches. The maximum weight of machineable parcels will also be reduced from the current 35 pounds to 25 pounds for all parcels except those mailed as Parcel Select or Parcel Return Service.
Discontinued barcode discount
The USPS will discontinue the 3-cent barcode discount for all Bound Printed Matter (BPM), Media Mail®, and Library Mail parcels, effective January 22, 2012. The barcode discount for BPM flats will remain in place, however.
Free Delivery Confirmation
Also effective with the January 22, 2012 price changes is free Delivery Confirmation service for First-Class Mail and First-Class Package Service, and all Parcel Select using the electronic label option. Delivery Confirmation has been free in the past for Priority Mail. For Standard Mail and Package Services Mail, this Delivery Confirmation is 19 cents per piece; with higher rates for the Retail categories. Keep in mind that while the USPS provides the Delivery Confirmation data for free on these mail categories, this delivery data is in its raw form and not very user-friendly. Mailers need to have a process in place to translate this raw data into useable information, or use a third-party service to perform that function.
Specific details of the new regulations can be found in the December 29, 2011 Postal Bulletin.
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