USPS First Class: The What and How Manual for WooCommerce

USPS First Class

This article covers USPS First Class Mail and USPS First Class Mail International, the list of features and processes in order to carry out these shipments. This article will also brief you on the ability to ship First Class Mail and First Class Mail Priority with WooCommerce by using the WooCommerce Multi-Carrier Shipping plugin and StorePep.com

USPS First Class Mail

USPS First Class

USPS First Class Mail is probably the most economical and popular service for postcards, large envelopes, letters and documents and small packages weighing up to 0.99 lbs

First Class Mail prices are based on size, shape, and weight. It will support Non-Machinable Envelopes and Larger Envelopes.

First Class Mail is categorized into Retail and Commercial, these rates are calculated based on a few criteria and only once the shipment has been packed to meet the specified requirements can it be shipped using First Class Mail. 

The Fees and Shipping requirements for First Class Mail Retail are:

  • Determine the single piece weight
    • In order to find out the single piece weight of a shipment comprising of non-identical weight pieces, each item is to be weighed individually. If the shipment is of identical-weight then a sample group of roughly 10 pieces should be weighed together and the total to be divided by the number of pieces.
  • Description of Service
    • USPS First Class Mail Retail service will receive swift handling and transportation. USPS does not provide an On-time delivery guarantee with First Class Mail Retail services or delivery within a specific time.
  • Inspection of Contents
    • All shipments with First Class Mail Retail will be sealed and are not permitted to undergo a postal inspection.
  • Forwarding and Return Service
    • All First Class Mail Retail Shipments will include the forwarding service to an alternate address for up to a year and in the event where a shipment is not delivered, the shipment will be returned to the original shipper.

The General Standards to be met for the contents of a First Class Mail Retail are

Personal Information

  • All mail pieces that contain personal information that is specific to the consignee will have to be shipped using First-Class Mail Retail.

Handwritten and Typewritten Material

  • Mail pieces that have been handwritten should be mailed using the First Class Mail Retail.

Matter Marked Postcard or Double Postcard

  • All mail with the words “Postcard” or “Double Postcard” written on them has to be sent out as First-Class Mail. 

The Fees and Shipping requirements for First Class Mail Commercial are:

All First-Class Mail letters that are presented, must:

  • Weigh 0.21 lbs or less.
  • Be part of a single mailing of at least 500 pieces of Presorted First-Class Mail.
  • Have a delivery address that includes the appropriate Zip code and should meet the address quality standards.

Move Update Standard

  • Here, the mailer’s address has to be periodically matched with the customer-filed change of address orders that are maintained by the USPS.

ZIP Code Accuracy

  • All zip codes that are entered have to be accurate and you must ensure that the 5 digit zip code mentioned on the shipment should match the delivery address information.
  • For the purposes of this standard, address means a specific address associated with a specific 5-digit ZIP Code.
Basic Address Standards for Barcodes
  • In order for the shipment to qualify for automation prices, all addresses must be complete to allow matching to the current USPS ZIP+4 address when used with the current CASS-certified address matching software.
  • All standardized address elements are not required.
  • Any barcode that appears on a mailpiece claimed at an automation price must be the correct barcode for the corresponding delivery address on the piece.

Address Elements

Addresses must include the correct street number, pre-directional (directions mentioned before the street name), street name, suffix, and post-directional (directions mentioned after the street name) that are input to obtain a match with the current USPS ZIP+4 Product.

Firm Name

  • All addresses must include firm names when necessary. This is done to obtain a match with the highest level of the Zip+4 within the USPS Zip+4 product. If the firm name is not one assigned a unique ZIP+4 in the USPS ZIP+4 Product and the apartment/suite number is included in the address, the ZIP+4 for the range in which the apartment/suite number appears must be used in that address. If the firm name does not correspond to a firm name that has a unique ZIP+4 assigned in the USPS ZIP+4 Product and the apartment/suite number is not included in the address, the ZIP+4 for the building must be used.

Secondary Designator

  • If a secondary address designator (e.g., an apartment number) is shown in the address, the mailpiece must show the appropriate ZIP+4 representing the range for that secondary address as contained in the current USPS ZIP+4 Product. If a secondary address designator is required to obtain an exact match with the finest level of ZIP+4 in the USPS ZIP+4 Product but the information is not available, the alternative ZIP+4 code or ZIP+4 or delivery point barcode for the building must be used.

Rural and Highway Contract Routes

  • If a rural route or highway contract route box number is included in the address, the mailpiece must show the appropriate ZIP+4 representing the range for that box number as contained in the current USPS ZIP+4 Product. If a rural route or highway contract route box number is required to obtain a match with the finest level of ZIP+4 but is not available, the alternative ZIP+4 or ZIP+4 or delivery point barcode for the rural route or highway contract route must be used. If used, the rural route or highway contract route box number must be placed on the line immediately above the city/state/ZIP Code line.

P.O. Box

  • A Post Office box address must contain a Post Office box number that can be exactly matched with the USPS ZIP+4 Product in effect.

Eligibility Standards for Card Price First-Class Mail

Card Price

  • A card may be a single or double (reply) stamped card or a single or double postcard. Stamped cards are available from USPS with postage imprinted on them. Postcards are commercially available or privately printed mailing cards. To be eligible for a card price, a card and each half of a double card must meet the physical standards and the applicable eligibility and preparation standards for the price claimed. Ineligible cards are subject to letter-size prices. Cards may be prepared and mailed at the First-Class Mail single-piece card price, Presorted card price, or automation card prices.

Cards and Letters

  • Pieces claimed at First-Class Mail card prices and pieces claimed at First-Class Mail letter prices are each subject to a separate minimum volume criteria whether prepared as separate or combined mailings. Either way, card-size, and letter-size pieces may be presented at the same time and reported on the same postage statement.

Some of the features of USPS First Class Mail are

  • Lowest pricing available for mail shipments up to 0.81 lbs.
  • A speedy delivery where shipments reach their destination within 1 to 3 business days.
  • Packages containing merchandise will receive up to $5000 as insurance for loss or damage
  • First Class Mail can be combined with other extra services to enable delivery confirmation.
  • Commercial priced letters and cards will receive up to an additional 0.21 lbs free.

List of Extra Services for First Class Mail

Insurance
Available
Registered Mail
Available
USPS Tracking
Included
(packages only)
Signature Confirmation
Available
(packages only)
Certificate of Mailing
Available
Certified Mail
Available
Hold for Pickup
Not Available
Return Receipt
Available
Return Receipt for Merchandise
Not  Available
COD
Available
Special Handling
Available
Adult Signature required
Available
Adult Signature Restricted Delivery
Available

Size and Weight Restrictions of First Class Mail

Mail Item Type
Width
Length
Weight
Postcard
Maximum 4.5 inches
Maximum 6 inches
up to 0.06 lbs
Letters
6.12 inches Max
11.5 inches Max
up to 0.21 lbs
Large Flat Envelopes
Maximum 12 inches
Maximum 15 inches
up to 0.81 lbs
Small Packages
18 inches Max
22 inches Max
up to 0.99 lbs

Restrictions

As the First Class Mail has its own features, it also has a couple of restrictions in place, set by the USPS. These restrictions are:

  • The maximum weight for First-Class Mail letters is 0.21 lbs; for large First-Class Mail envelopes and parcels, the maximum weight is 0.21 lbs.
  • All postcards and envelopes (or flats) must be rectangular, otherwise, an additional charge may apply. Additional size restrictions apply depending on the type of mailpiece you’re sending.
  • There are specific regulations and standards for mailing restricted, prohibited, and hazardous materials, including cigarettes and smokeless tobacco.

Prohibited Domestic Items

  • Airbags
  • Ammunition
  • Explosives
  • Gasoline
  • Marijuana (medical or otherwise)

 USPS First Class Mail International

USPS First Class

USPS First Class Mail International is an affordable cross country service for sending letters, postcards, and Envelope flats to Canada and over 190 countries.

Some of the features of USPS First Class Mail are

  • The most affordable international service from USPS
  • Service permits the shipping of postcards, letters, and large envelopes
  • You can ship Flats up to 4 lb using this service
  • Delivery charges vary based on the destination address.

The Fees and Shipping requirements for First Class Mail International are:

International regions have been divided into groups, below are 4 sets of groups that have rates set on the destination the shipment is being sent to. These are:

  • Group 1 (Canada) – Prices start at $16.39 and up
  • Group 2 (Mexico) – Prices start at $20.43 and up
  • Groups 3–5 (countries such as Australia, Germany, Great Britain, etc.) – Prices start at $22.33 and up
  • Groups 6–9 (countries such as Taiwan, Brazil, Venezuela, etc.) – Prices start at $23.28 and up

Physical Standards — Letters

Weight Limit
  • Letters being sent via First-Class Mail International will have a maximum weight restriction of 0.21 lbs. If a letter exceeds the pre-defined 0.21 lbs then USPS will charge the First Class Mail International Flat price.
Dimensions
  • All letters must meet the standardized dimensions set by USPS, the letter must also be rectangular in shape. The dimensions are as follows:
    • Not less than 5-1/2 inches long or 3-1/2 inches high or 0.007-inch thick.
    • Not more than 11-1/2 inches long or 6-1/8 inches high or 1/4-inch thick.
Note: For the purpose of determining the mailability or machinability of a letter-sized piece, the length is the dimension parallel to the delivery address as read, and the height is the dimension perpendicular to the length.
Color
  • Letters should not have bright colors on it as it will interfere with the reading of the address and a postmark must be used. Only light-colored envelopes are permitted.
Quality
  • The material used for packaging and for the envelope should be made from a strong material to withstand normal handling. Glossy paper and paper with designs are not accepted.
Window Envelopes
  • Utilize Address windows for letter-size envelopes only under the following conditions:
    • The address window must be parallel with the length of the envelope and must be in the lower portion of the address side.
    • Nothing but the name, address, and any key number used by the mailer may appear through the address window. 
    • The return address should appear in the upper-left corner. If there is no return address and the delivery address does not show through the window, the piece is handled as undeliverable mail.
    • The address disclosed through the window must be on white paper or paper of a very light color.
    • When used for Registered Mail, window envelopes must conform to the conditions in DMM 503
    • All window envelopes for international mail must include a transparent material covering the window opening — i.e., open-panel envelopes are not acceptable.

Physical Standards — Cards

Postcard Dimensions
  • Each postcard claimed at a card price must be rectangular and must meet the following dimensions:
    • Not less than 3-1/2 inches high or 5-1/2 inches long or 0.007 inches thick.
    • Not more than 4-1/4 inches high or 6 inches long or 0.016 inches thick.
Note: Un-enclosed cards exceeding the size limits for postcards are mailable at the First-Class Mail International letter price if they do not exceed 4-3/4 inches high or 9-1/4 inches long.
Color
  • Cards need to be light-colored so they do not interfere with the reading of the address and a postmark must be used. Brilliant colored cards are not authorized.
Quality
  • Cards must be strong enough to withstand normal handling. Highly glazed card stock or card stock with a design that affects readability or processing is not acceptable.
Additional Standards
  • To claim the card price, postcards must meet the following conditions:
    • Postcards must not include a wrapper or envelope and should consist only of a single card. 
    • Privately manufactured postcards, except picture postcards, must bear the heading “Postcard.”
Acceptable Attachments
  • The following attachments may be applied to a postcard as noted, provided the attachment is made of paper or other thin material and adheres completely to the card:
    • To the left half or the back side of the card: clippings of any kind, illustrations or photographs, or labels other than address labels.
    • Only to the back side of the card: stamps likely to be confused with postage stamps.
    • Only to the address side of the card for addressing purposes: address labels.
Unacceptable Attachments

The following attachments to a card are not acceptable:

  • An attachment that is not made of paper.
  • An attachment that does not totally adhere to the card surface.
  • An attachment that is an encumbrance to postal processing.
Folded (Double) Cards
  • Mail Folded (double) cards in envelopes at the First-Class Mail International letter price.

Physical Standards — Large Envelopes (Flats)

Weight Limit
  • The weight limit for a First-Class Mail International large envelope (flat) is 4 pounds.
Dimensions and Characteristics
  • Large envelopes (flats) must meet the following dimensions and characteristics:
    • More than 11-1/2 inches long or 6-1/8 inches high or 1/4-inch thick.
    • Not more than 15 inches long or 12 inches high or 3/4-inch thick.
    • Must be Flexible
    • The shape has to be rectangular
    • Uniformly thick

Note: The length of a large envelope is the longest dimension. The height is the dimension perpendicular to the length. A First-Class Mail International large envelope that does not meet the standards is not eligible for the large envelope size price and is charged the applicable USPS First-Class Package International Service (small packet) price.

Color
  • Large envelopes need to be light-colored so as not to interfere with the reading of the address and a postmark must be used. Brilliant colored envelopes are not authorized.
Quality
  • Flats must be constructed to be strong enough to withstand normal handling. Highly glazed paper or paper with a design that affects readability or processing is not acceptable.
Uniform Thickness
  • Large envelopes (flats) must be uniformly thick so that any bumps, protrusions, or other irregularities do not cause more than 1/4-inch variance in thickness. When determining the variance in thickness, exclude the outside edges of a mailpiece (1 inch from each edge) when the contents do not extend into those edges. Also, exclude the selvage of any poly-wrap covering from this determination. Mailers must secure nonpaper contents to prevent shifting of more than 2 inches within the mailpiece if shifting would cause the piece to be nonuniform in thickness or would result in the contents bursting out of the mailpiece.
Minimum Flexibility
  • Large envelopes (flats) must be flexible. Boxes with or without hinges, gaps, or breaks that allow the piece to bend are not considered large envelopes (flats). Tight envelopes or wrappers that are filled with one or more boxes are not considered large envelopes (flats). Customers have the option to perform the tests on their own mailpieces. When a Postal Service employee observes a customer demonstrating that a flat-size piece is flexible according to these standards, the employee does not need to perform the test.

Customs Form

Customs forms are important documents that are required for International shipments. This customs form includes 
  • Details of the shipper and recipient
  • Details of the shipment (weight and package value)

The Customs form can be found here

USPS First Class
Sample Customs form

Restrictions

All postcards, envelopes, and flats must be rectangular when shipped with First Class Mail International. Letters and flats must contain only documents and no goods.

Additional size restrictions apply depending on the type of mail you’re sending. Mail has to be a maximum of 4 lbs when shipped. There are restrictions for mailing restricted, prohibited, and hazardous materials, including cigarettes and smokeless tobacco.

Prohibited International Items

  • Aerosols
  • Air Bags
  • Alcoholic Beverages
  • Ammunition
  • Cigarettes
  • Dry Ice
  • Explosives
  • Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
  • Gasoline
  • Marijuana (medical or otherwise)
  • Nail Polish
  • Perfumes (containing alcohol)
  • Poison

USPS First Class Mail and First Class Mail International with WooCommerce

While WooCommerce does not provide USPS Shipping services stand-alone, you’re able to generate and display rates for USPS services upon using the WooCommerce Multi-Carrier plugin. The plugin supports USPS, Stamps.com, DHL, FedEx, and UPS. Here, we’ll cover the rate calculation and how to display shipping rates using the plugin in WooCommerce.

In order to receive rates for USPS shipments, you will have to follow the below steps:

USPS First Class
Setting up the Rule table
  • Now that the Rule Table has been configured, you can head over to the store and begin purchasing items. 
  • Add an item to the cart and enter the destination address, here in this example we’ve set California as the Serviceable area. (shown below)
USPS First Class
Rate Calculation
  • Since both the services are targetting California, both services will reflect in the shipping calculator.
  • Upon confirming the order, the shipper will be able to view the service selected in the Admin panel of the website (shown below)
USPS First Class
Admin panel displaying the selected service

Generating Shipping Labels and Shipment Tracking for WooCommerce using StorePep.com

With StorePep.com users are able to generate and print shipping labels and track their shipments using the authentic USPS Tracking number. 

*While configuring the USPS credentials in StorePep.com you will have to make sure the USPS credentials used have e-VS (Electronic Verification System) pre-enabled and only then proceed with the set-up. In order to Enable e-VS for USPS, you will have to refer to the following link

In order to generate labels and receive the tracking information, you will have to follow the below mentioned steps:

  • Begin by Integrating your WooCommerce store with StorePep.com
  • Once the integration has been completed, you will have to set-up the carrier for your store (in this case USPS) by navigating to StorePep > Account Setup > Carriers > Add (shown below)
USPS First Class
Adding a Carrier
  • When you select ‘Add Carrier‘ the list of available carriers will appear and select USPS from that list.
USPS First Class
Adding the Carrier (USPS)
  • Now complete the account details with the relevant USPS credentials in order to receive real-time rates in your store. (shown below)
USPS First Class
Configuring the e-VS USPS account
  • Click on ADD, toward the top right corner to save the settings.
  • Once done, you can proceed to add items to your cart and allow the system to calculate the rates based on the destination address. (shown below)
USPS First Class
Rate Calculation
  • Process the order and proceed to StorePep.com, navigate to Orders > All Orders select the relevant Order Id and click on More Actions > Generate Labels to generate shipping labels (shown below)
USPS First Class
Label Generation
  • Now that this has been completed, proceed to Label Batch (in the left panel) and select the respective Order ID. Toward the right-hand side of the Order Id click on the Print option to print the shipping label for the order. 
USPS First Class
Label Generation
  • The Shipping Label will be generated and can be printed directly from the browser. A sample First Class Mail shipping label from StorePep.com (shown below)
USPS First Class
Sample Shipping Label
  • Now that this has been done, you are also able to Track the shipments using the USPS Tracking number that is generated when the labels are printed. This is possible by navigating to Label Batch and clicking on the order id as shown below
USPS First Class
Tracking information

Conclusion…

This article covers the two services provided by USPS, namely, First Class Mail and First Class Mail International. The article also covers the features and restrictions of shipping with USPS First Class Mail and First Class Mail International and also the ability to ship through WooCommerce by utilizing the Shipping plugin (WooCommerce Multi-Carrier Shipping plugin) and StorePep.com

If there are any queries pertaining to the topic USPS First Class Mail with WooCommerce, please feel free to comment below or if needed, raise a ticket and our Support Team will get back to you.

 

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