Postal Regulations: Love Them or Hate Them, but Know Them

Mention the Domestic Mail Manual to a group of mailers and they’ll soon be sharing stories about it. This 1,900-page document contains all the standards governing domestic mail services and is used by postal employees and mailers as a reference for understanding the standards for pricing and mail preparation.

The DMM is not a static document. It is continuously updated with newly approved USPS programs and Customer Support Rulings that interpret, clarify and apply the meaning of the standards in the DMM to specific mailing situations.

Understanding and correctly applying the standards in the DMM to individual customer mailings is the core service that mailers provide to their customers. Mailers must first master the basics—the standards for class of mail (Express, Priority, First Class, standard, periodicals, package services) and the features, service levels, postage rates, content, physical characteristics and presort requirements for each.

The USPS modifies the DMM for a variety of reasons: to promote more efficient mail processing and, thereby, meet or exceed delivery standards; to launch new revenue producing products; to raise prices; to meet mandates from Congress and others; to respond to competitive pressures and emerging trends; to clarify application of standards to specific mailing situations and to define new programs.

Mailers Must Stay Current

It is the responsibility of mailers to stay informed about changes to the DMM and to apply those changes to the benefit of their customers. Because changes to the DMM occur so often, mailers who fail to stay informed will not only miss opportunities to introduce new USPS programs to customers, but may actually harm customers by incurring additional or higher postage costs.

There are several ways for mailers to stay current with changes to the DMM. The USPS provides online resources and mailed publications, including:

  • Postal Explorer (http://pe.usps.com): information for business mailers that includes a search engine and viewable publications.
  • DMM Advisory: email notification of changes to DMM.To subscribe, send an email to dmmadvisory@usps.com and indicate "subscribe" in the subject line.

Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) is an example of a new program launched by the USPS that required changes to the DMM to implement it. EDDM is designed for businesses whose target audience is in a defined geographic area (a carrier route or routes or a ZIP code). In January 2011 the USPS changed the DMM to allow use of simplified address format in city routes by any business. This change allows mailers to use carrier route counts instead of individual names and addresses on a mail piece, eliminating the need for a mailing list. EDDM also requires that the mail piece be a flat which means it can be entered at the destination post office and claim the saturation postage rate of 14.2 cents per piece.

By staying current on changes to the DMM, mailers can promote new USPS programs to their customers and ensure that customer mailings always comply with up-to-date standards for claiming the maximum postage discount.

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