According to the United States Postal Service (USPS), bulk mail is “quantities of mail prepared for mailing at reduced postage rates.” To obtain bulk mail discount rates, mailers must register for a bulk mail account with the USPS and adhere to bulk mail guidelines (including use of unique indicia, labels, imprints, etc.), though no stamp is required.
Bulk mail marketing is the most common way to take advantage of the discounted postage, though in some cases it can be advantageous for personal use (i.e. wedding invitations). It is possible to get bulk mail rates on postcards and letters, though postcards are the most common and cost-efficient option.
The bulk mail qualifications for Standard Class are that your mail pieces must:
For the mailing regulations of different classes and letter sizes, see the USPS’ Business Mail 101. Additionally, if you will be using an Intelligent Mail Barcode on your mail piece, be sure to look over this Intelligent Mail Barcode fact sheet from the US Postal Service.
For most small businesses, it is vastly easier and more cost effective to simply have a service provider handle this for you. Most bulk mail marketing companies (including PostcardMania) include this in their services, and the good ones (again including PostcardMania!) pass the discounted postage savings on to you!
Bulk mail forms for non-profits and for-profit businesses can be found on the USPS website. If you are mailing Standard Class, you can find the forms you need (including the 3602-EZ form) here. For First Class or Priority Mail, your forms are here. Your business mail entry unit (BMEU) postal staff should be able to help you with paperwork as well. If you don’t want to go through the hassle of filling out your own forms, use a mail house like PostcardMania to do it for you.
The fact that it is bulk mail should not affect how quickly USPS delivers your mail. That is more dependent on the class of mail you choose to mail (e.g. first, priority, standard, etc.)
For more information about bulk mail, call PostcardMania at 1-800-628-1804. We help you clear things up… or handle it all for you!
Ah ha! Good question. There are three ways to pay for bulk mail postage: precanceled stamps, postage meter, and permit imprint. Here are the differences (and links for even more info):
Precanceled Stamps: You use these exactly like you would normal stamps (i.e. you manually stick one on every mail piece. What makes them different is that they are in a smaller denomination than regular stamps, to account for your discounts. If your actual postage comes out to be more than the precanceled stamp is worth, you simply pay the difference when you mail, without needing to affix additional stamps.
Postage Meter: A postage meter is a machine you can buy that enables you to print your postage right onto your mail piece without needing stamps. (Although you can also print the postage onto a label to be applied to the mail piece.) Depending on whether you need it to be able to fold, package, etc., in addition to calculating and affixing postage.
Permit Imprint: Permit imprints are the simplest form of postage payment for high-volume mailers. Basically, you set up an account with your post office and print the permit onto the mail piece where the stamp would go. Then, when you drop off your mailing at your business mail entry unit (BMEU) location, the postage is calculated and deducted from your account. Easy peasy.