Tomorrow, the U.S. Postal Service will be releasing the First-Class forever stamp (Liberty Bell, Tom Engeman - thanks kimmco). The sales pitch is "buy them now -- use them forever". Supposedly, never again will you be scrounging around trying to figure out whether that (ancient) 39 cent stamp of yours is going to work, or if you will be needing some "bonus" stamps. Did I say 39 cents? The forever stamp is 41 cents... for 1 oz.
But hold your ponies, before you go hording forever stamps for your wedding invitiations, the keyword here is "shape". The other new motto is "shaping a more efficient future in mail". According to the rate sheet, "letter-rate pieces that meet one or more of the nonmachinable characteristics in DMM 101.1.2 are subject to the nonmachineable surcharge (see 133.1.10)." Here are the rules:
- Dimensional Standards for Letters
Letter-size mail is:
- Not less than 5 inches long, 3-1/2 inches high, and 0.007-inch thick.
- Not more than 11-1/2 inches long, or more than 6-1/8 inches high, or more than 1/4-inch thick.
- Not more than 3.5 ounces."
- Rectangular, with four square corners and parallel opposite sides. Letter-size, card-type mail pieces made of cardstock may have finshed corners that do not exceed a radius of 0.125 inch (1/8 inch).
- Nonmachineable Criteria
A letter-size piece is nonmachinable (see 6.4) if it has one or more of the following characteristics (see 601.1.4 to determine the length, height, top, and bottom of a mailpiece):
- Has an aspect ratio (length divided by height) of less than 1.3 or more than 2.5.
- Is polybagged, polywrapped, or enclosed in any plastic material.
- Has clasps, strings, buttons, or similar closure devices.
- Contains items such as pens, pencils, or loose keys or coins that cause the thickness of the mailpiece to be uneven (see 601.11.18, Odd-Shaped Items in Paper Envelopes).
- Is too rigid (does not bend easily when subjected to a transport belt tension of 40 pounds around an 11-inch diameter turn).
- For pieces more than 4-1/4 inches high or 6 inches long, the thickness is less than 0.009 inch.
- Has a delivery address parallel to the shorter dimension of the mailpiece.
- Is a self-mailer with a folded edge perpendicular to the address if the piece is not folded and secured according to 184.108.40.206.
- Booklet-type pieces with the bound edge (spine) along the shorter dimension of the piece or at the top, unless prepared according to 201.3.13.
Watch out if you are planning on sending wedding invitations... that's +0.17 cents if you blow a nonmachineable spec (don't send square invites!). If you exceed the thickness, you are no longer looking at a "letter", you are looking at a flat.
One last jab. You can almost see where this is going. While the forever stamp will be "good for mailing your First-Class letters forever," I didn't get see any docs defining a First-Class letter OR what shape it is to eternity. Think about that!