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New Postal Regulations
On July 1, 1996, the US Postal Service implemented the largest change in business mail regulations in the past two decades. The changes effect 89% of the mail that is delivered by the Post Office. Though the single piece rate remains at 37 cents, every other aspect of business mail has changed.

Business mail not conforming to the new standards will be rejected by the Post Office starting July 1, 1996.

New Rules Overview
Overall, these new rules under Classification Reform include:

Two new classes of mail: Periodicals replaces Second-Class and Standard Mail replaces Third- and Fourth-Class. New postage rates for presorted business mail. Deeper discounts given for barcoded mail and less discounts for non-barcoded mail. Completely new procedures for preparing Bulk Mail. New postal forms to submit with the mailing. First-Class Mail will require Change of Address updates every 6 months (effective 10/1/96). New 1-foot trays now can be used along with current 2-foot trays. PAVE certified software encouraged but NOT required. Standardized documentation is required. No grace period. The USPS will reject mailings prepared under the old rules starting July 1, 1996.

For barcoded mail, rule changes include:

The lowest rate for barcoded mail drops from $.166 to $.155 per piece. Mailings must be 100% barcoded (vs. only 85% barcoded).
New 150 piece minimum requirement for 3-digit & 5-digit trays.
Packaging and rubber-band of mail eliminated for barcoded mailings.
All barcoded mail must be CASS-certified every six months instead of annually. Barcoded tray labels will be required by January 1, 1997.

For non-barcoded mail, rule changes include:

Lowest rate for non-barcoded mail rises from $.188 to $.191 per piece. 5 Digit ZIP Codes must be "verified" once a year.
Packaging and rubber-banding of mail still required.
Notion of "Upgradable Letters" that are automation compatible which receive the same rates as other non-barcoded mail may be delivered faster.

Why...
The USPS cites the following reasons for Classification Reform:

Reduces length and complexity of regulations.

Easier training for USPS employees & mailers.
Postage rates are more in line with processing costs (so they can keep the single pieces rate at 32 cents longer).
Separates less efficient (non-barcoded) mail from efficient (barcoded) mail
Encourages mailers to create mail which costs less to process (barcoded). Improves overall address quality.

So...the USPS can be more competitive in today's environment.
Benefits
Greater postage discounts given for barcoded mail.
Reduce complexity of regulations.
Easier mail acceptance at Post Office.
Easier decisions on what type of Bulk Mail sort to use.
Reduced preparation costs for some mailers.
Lower overhead costs for larger mailers.
Less diverse entry and postage verification requirements.
Longer rate stability.
Better and faster service.
Lower long-term costs due to better address quality.
Costs
Less postage discounts given for non-barcoded mail.
Higher barriers to entry for barcoded mail.
100% barcode requirements for barcoded rates.
CASS certification required every 6 months.
Change of Address updates every 6 months for First-Class Mail.
ZIP Code Updating for Non-barcoded Mail
Starting October 1, 1996, you must use a USPS-approved method to verify and correct all of the five-digit ZIP Codes within the last year of your mailing for both First-Class and Standard Non-barcoded Bulk Mail. You will be required to certify that this standard has been met when you drop off your mailing. Once verified and corrected, an address can be used for any mailing within a year. At the time of this writing, this policy was not well defined. Please contact your local Postal Business Center or contact the USPS at 1-800-THE-USPS for more current details.

You may also want to visit the USPS's amazing web site at www.usps.com for complete postal rates and much more.

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