U.S. Postal Service Classification

First Class Mail

All mailable matter may be sent as first-class mail up to, and including, 12 ounces. In addition, the following items must be mailed as first-class or express mail:

  • Matter wholly or partially in writing or typewriting.
  • Matter closed against postal inspection.
  • Matter having the character of actual personal correspondence.
  • Bills, grade reports, and statements of account.

Priority Mail

All first-class mail exceeding 12 ounces, but not exceeding 70 pounds, is considered priority mail. Delivery of other classes of mail weighing less than 12 ounces can be expedited by paying priority rates and sending as priority mail.

Periodicals (Formerly known as Second Class Mail)

Periodicals are generally prepared by printers and publishers and used for the distribution of class bulletins, magazines and newspapers.

Standard Mail (A) (Formerly known as Third Class Mail)

Standard Mail (A) is printed matter, merchandise, or other mailable material which weighs less than 16 ounces and not subject to first-class rates. Standard Mail (A) includes mechanically duplicated materials (i.e., copied or quick copied letters or announcements) as long as the material is not personalized and the signature is duplicated.

Standard Mail (A) (Non-Profit) or (Pre-sort Standard)

This class of mail generates a savings of approximately 15 cents per letter over first-class rates, but delivery time is longer on this type of mail. There are, however, a number of requirements which the sending department must meet before bulk mailings can qualify for this discount. These are:

  1. 200 or more identical pieces must be mailed at one time. 
    Different sizes, shapes, or even different folds are not permissible
    in the same mailing. All pieces must be identical for bulk mailing.

  2. Each article must have either the non-profit or presorted
    standard indicia in position where stamp would be.
    Rubber stamps are available through the campus bookstore.

  3. Only addresses in the United States can go Standard Mail (A) bulk; NO FOREIGN MAIL. A complete campus return address is required.

  4. Articles must be divided by city, area distribution center (ADC) or ZIP code as shown in item No. 5. Each bundle must be secured by heavy rubber bands both ways. Deviation from these sortings may delay mailing and any serious infraction will result in the Mobile Post Office returning the entire mailing.

    All standard mail (Bulk) must be sealed before presenting it for mailing.

    (a supply of labels will be furnished by the University Post 
    Office - appropriate label goes on top of each bundle, bottom left hand corner.)

    D DIRECT Ten or more, all for exact same five digit ZIP code number. Mail pieces weighing 10 oz. or more should not have more than 5 pieces per bundle.

    3 SCF Ten or more with same first three ZIP code numbers, last two numbers of ZIP code different, and towns different (like Semmes, Fairhope, etc.)

    A ADC Ten or more for same ADC, but not
    enough for a D or 3 package. A 3 page 
    listing of ADC is available from the
    USA Post Office.

    Where there are less than ten for any one unit, but not enough for a D, 3, or ADC package.
  6. Do not make bundles any larger than you can hold in one hand. Mailings should be brought or sent to the USA Post Office all facing one direction, in boxes or bags, showing on the top of each bundle the number of pieces in the bundle, with a note showing the exact total number of pieces in the mailing and the account number to be charged.

  7. Savings are available through bulk mailings when local delivery requirement is not expected within 5 delivery days, and longer for out of town. However, the U.S. Postal Service requirements for preparing mail are very specific and must be followed very closely. There are also new rules regarding advertising included in non-profit mail. Please check with us before deciding on the contents of your mailings. For this and any other assistance regarding postal services, please call the USA Post Office at (251) 414-8191. 

  8. If any department decides to use a local mailing service to prepare their mailings, please inform the mailing service to let us know before the mail is presented to the U.S. Postal Service. We need to know this in order to have the funds available on deposit with the U.S. Postal Service. We do not want your mail to be delayed because of lack of money available.

Standard Mail (B) (Formerly known as Fourth Class Mail)

Parcel Post - Standard Mail (B) parcel post matter, merchandise, or other mailable matter which weighs 16 ounces or more.

Library Rate - Library rate is the most economical Standard Mail (B) rate and is intended to serve libraries mailing books on loan. The rate, however, can be used by departments for certain other limited educational materials such as films, recording tapes and other prescribed audio-visual materials, scientific, instructional kits, and museum and herbarium materials.

Media Mail - (Book Rate) may be used for books or printed matter.

Specialized Mailing Features - Each of the following specialized U.S. Postal Service mailing features upgrades the service which a piece of mail receives. When these features are used, the additional costs will be charged to your departmental postal budget.

Certified Mail - Certified mail provides the sender with a receipt and record of delivery is kept at the addressee's post office. It is designed for items having no intrinsic value such as letters, files, records, etc., that are sent as first-class mail. No insurance coverage is provided. A return receipt to provide the sender proof of delivery may be obtained for an additional fee. This return receipt will be mailed back to you after your mail has been delivered.

Registered Mail - Registered mail offers the most secure protection against loss or damage of valuable mail. You receive a receipt indicating proof of mailing. Also, a receipt providing for proof of delivery can be requested at additional cost. The handling of the mail is closely controlled from the point of acceptance to delivery. This service is best for irreplaceable items having a high value. Parcels must have all seams taped, using paper tape. Scotch ®, masking and filament (clear) tapes are NOT acceptable on registered parcels.

Express Mail - Express mail service is the most expensive type of mailing offered by the U.S. Postal Service and should be used only in emergency situations. This type of mail service provides overnight delivery, a postage refund guarantee, insurance and a receipt showing proof of mailing. Since express mail service is not available in every city, we suggest that you contact the USA Post Office to find out if the addressee's area qualifies for this service. Departmental Express Mail MUST be in the campus post office by 3:00 p.m. to meet the dispatch requirements.

Insured Mail - This service provides payment for loss or damage to Standard Mail (A) and fourth-class mail or first-class or priority mail containing Standard (A) or fourth-class matter. The maximum liability for insured mail is $5,000. A return receipt may be requested to show written evidence of delivery, for articles insured over $50. Items requiring insurance exceeding $5,000 must be sent as registered mail.

Business Reply Mail - Departments can provide their correspondents with return reply cards or envelopes which the correspondents can return without paying postage. A requisition for printing of business reply mail must be forwarded to the Office of Publication Services well in advance of the mailing date. The Office of Publication Services will imprint envelopes or cards with the appropriate permit and other U.S. Postal Service requirements. Business reply mail should always be used for large return mailings for which the department expects replies, such as questionnaires. The important advantage to departments is that they pay postage only on the replies which are returned.

Delivery Confirmation - This service provides a tracking number for parcels and priority mail.