The USPS has invested a small fortune in automated processing equipment to quickly sort Flat sized pieces mailed at Periodical, Presorted Standard or Non-Profit Rates.  In order to efficiently sort these pieces the USPS changes some rules regarding flat sized addressing in March 2009.  Flats mailed at first class rates are not affected by these requirements.

What Are The Address Requirements?

  • Mailers must address each piece using a minimum of 8-point type. Each character must be at least 0.080 inch high.
  • If the mailpiece bears an Intelligent Mail barcode mailers may use 6-point type in all capital letters. Each character must be at least 0.065 inch high.
  • Mailers must place the delivery address in the “top half” of the mailpiece.

Although this is the responsibility of the mailer, designers and printers should make certain the mailpiece has enough space in the top half of the piece for proper addressing.

How Do I Determine The Top Half Of The Mailpiece?

There are several options. For enveloped or polywrapped pieces, and all saturation Carrier Route pieces, the “top” of the mailpiece is either of the shorter edges. For pieces that are not enclosed in envelopes or polywrap, the “top” is the upper edge when the bound edge (or the final fold) is vertical and on the right side of the piece.  Once you choose a top edge, measure halfway down the piece, and that’s the top half. Your address (recipient lines, delivery address lines, and city/state/ZIP Code line) must be entirely within the top half. If you have a shorter mailpiece, the address can run into the bottom half if you place it within an inch of the top edge.

You can place the delivery address on the front or the back of the mailpiece, but it must be on the same side as the postage. The address may be parallel or perpendicular to the top edge, but not upside-down as read in relation to the top edge. A perpendicular address can face to the left or the right.

Examples of properly designed flats

Examples of Improperly Designed Flats

Here are two examples of pieces that can not be directly mailed at Periodicals, PRSRT STD or Non-Profit Rates.  In the first example the bound edge is on the right hand side, but the address is in the bottom half.  In the second example the bound edge is on the left hand side.  Although the address appears to be in the top half as you read it, the post office machine rotates the piece so the bound edge enters the sorting equipment first and this forces the address into the bottom half.  For both examples, you would have to reprint, mail at first class rates, or insert into an envelope.


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