Mailing Postcards - Permit Help

I’m trying to mail out postcards, but I am having very little luck finding a mail house that wants to mail out a couple of carrier routes a week. A couple of quotes that I have gotten are ridicoulous, it would actually be cheaper to go buy postcard stamps and mail them out myself.

I noticed that some of you Nick, Jorrk(sp?), and posiible more have obtained your own mailing permits.

Can you tell me:
Cost of the permit.
How do I get the permit.
Any special requirements on the postcard, ie bar code space, etc…
Cost to mail pieces with the permit.

Our printer has a permit. They charge no fee for the permit use if I print with them. I just pay the postage. I can do mailings by zip code with works fine in my area. If I cover all three zip codes in my area (delivery and post office box) it is about 12,000 pieces. With the life of a mailer being about three weeks those numbers work fine. I could ask them to drop the three zip codes separatly for no extra charge if the numbers were bigger and the rush was a problem but it is not.

i just checked last week at my local post office the total fees were 175.00 for permit and 175…00 for bulk mail number 350.00 total to pay post office that would bring the price per card down to 19cents im going to try post cards first with stamps on trial run because we only have 800 addresses in our zip and another 600 in two zips around me if i get good enough response will spend the money on bulk mailing. im not sure if i worded it correctly on the two things you need from post office to do bulk mailing but i kinda lost intrest to what she was saying after 350.00 that is the new dollar amount gues it used to be 300.00

Effective Bulk mailing is about consistency and, more importantly, knowing the rules. Once you know the rules and get comfortable with doing it all, it is worth time and money to do it for repeated mailings of several hundred pieces. For a one or two time deal, just do 1st class mail and save $$ and hassle. Hang on tight . . . .

We pay our local postmaster $175 a year for renewing the annual mailing fee. That’s all for that . . . price may have gone up slightly with the new system. The first time we got it set up was the double cost, but that doesn’t keep going.

From USPS website:
There is a $175.00 fee to apply for a permit to mail with permit imprint. This one-time only fee pays for setting up your permit imprint account. The permit imprint application fee is due when you turn in your application for a permit imprint.

You must hold a mailing permit and pay an annual mailing fee at every Post Office where you want to enter and pay for your mail.

After that, you gotta get familiar with Form 3602 R1 from the USPS. First page is pretty simple with information to fill in. THEN parts A through S tell you all the charges for what you are mailing. Since we always send “saturation”, we use Part H - Enhanced Carrier Routes. Saturation means sending a piece to every address and/or PO box in the carrier route indicated. You get three choices for costs of saturation pieces less than 3.3 ounces in weight each

DSCF Destination Sectional Center Facility 13.5 cents each
DBMC Destination Bulk Mail Center 14.4 cents
None Any other entry into the postal system 17.7 cents

Sectional facilities serve several sates, and our is in Chattanooga, TN . … not a good choice. Bulk Mail Centers are mechanized to serve large areas in a state, and ours is somewhere in Atlanta an hour+ away. Saving $60 on a mailing isn’t worth the time and drive to get to Atlanta. So, we drop at our DDU (Drop at Destination Unit) or local post office for the high price.

Galen, you have a Sectional Center somewhere in Houston, it appears. So, you could save some good $$$ finding out where that is and dropping it there (like 4.2 cents each).

Find bulk mail centers here:


Thank you for the help!!

Check with your printer. They may already have the permits and know all the local options and rules. Ours does. As I posted above, they provide the mailing services free with the printing as a value added service on saturation mailings to whole zipcodes. It basically entails them dropping the mailing at the post office under their permit. I end up paying about 14 cents per piece.

I wish my printer had a mailing permit but unfortunately, no. The cheapest rate I have found for mail and print is around 35 cents for a full color piece, 4" x 6".

Yeah, you gotta find an alternative. With printing costs of 4.4 cents each for 4x6 card 4/4 (that includes shipping) and 17.7 cents for highest mailing costs, I can get to 22.1 cents per each card printed, shipped and mailed to customers. That does not include cost of annual renewal of mailing fees.

Over 2000 cards, that could save $257.95 cents. That’s almost the cost of the intial setup right there. But, you have to sort and count the little guys yourself into route counts. If you include the “imprint” info into your card design, there is no stamp/label handling involved.


You may also want to check with your Chamber of Commerce. I’ve known several that carry the permit and allow chamber members to use their stamp and just pay for the rate.

It’s the cheapest way I’ve found so far.

Make sure you are comparing apples to apples. Full color, two sided printing and postage for 35 cents is not far off the mark. You can not get quality printing for 4 cents.

check the USPS website. They do “Netpost” which basically prints and mails what you upload. Black ink on white postcards for me was about $.29 per card. When you figure a postcard stamp is now $.26 (I think) and the printing would be at least $.03 a piece and figure I didn’t have to go to the printer, label and stamp the cards it was worth it. It did take about a week to get from my final approval and payment to the peoples homes. A bit long in my opinion.


If you plan on doing Saturation drops, make sure you take note of what types of carrier routes you will be sending to (i.e. City or Rural). If your drop area has Rural Routes (as I assume Nick’s is) you can just address it to “Neighbor” or “Postal Patron” or whatever else you’d like, along with the city and Zip. The destination post office will just drop one in every box in the route you’re hitting.

However, it isn’t quite as easy if your drop area has City Routes, as I would suspect is the case in Houston. These types of drops are ECRWSS (Enhanced Carrier Route - Walk Sequence Saturation.) In order to qualify for the Saturation rate on those, the mailers must be addressed (no generic “Neighbor” allowed) and barcoded with Zip+4 coding. That’s going to increase your printing, because the address must either be inkjetted or applied on a label. They essentially all become one-offs, eliminating the the cost effectiveness of a large Offset run.

On top of the addressing requirements, the mailers must be sorted in the order that the mail carrier walks the route. To do that, you’ll have to buy an occupant list from a database company (they come sorted in walk sequence order). That could cost you 2-10 cents per address, depending on how many you buy at a time. Your list must also be CASS certified within the past 3 months. So, you have to continually repurchase the occupant lists. This can also add labor time to printing, as the mailers must be kept in perfect order.

You’ve also noted that you only want to do a couple routes per week. That’s only about 1,000 addresses. On a print run of 2,000, my cost on 4/4 cards would be about 5 cents each. You can add another 3 cents to inkjet or label the address on for City Routes.

Printing: 8 cents
Mailing: 17.7 cents
Address Purchase: 2-5 cents (if only buying a couple thousand per week)

Total Cost: 27.7-30.7 cents each.

Now add in some labor and profit. I’d actually say 35 cents is a pretty good rate! was recommended by j_r0kk here on the Tank, and a couple others have reported favorably as well. I designed a card, uploaded, approved proof, and will get 5000 full color, two-sided glossy cards for $220.13 delivered to my door . . . 4.4 cents each. I’ll report back about the quality of the card when it arrives. I’ll also report on the full color glossy menus (brochures) that I have ordered from them (8.5 cents each delivered to me). I’ll pay either 17.7 or 14.4 cents to mail them saturation in my zip code.

Postage really is a balancing act of what value one puts to time and efforts. I have a little time and knowledge on my hands to process some of the steps of mailing, so I save some cash on the postage end. Others don’t have that same luxury, or have different requirements to meet (like the City Routes I’ve not run into before) that do not afford the same level of savings.

Again, before the postage changej two people here reported a 22 cent per piece total cost to get something printed and mailed by their print house. I suspect that has changed a bit due to postage increases and changes in the bulk mail procedures. I hope folks will report here on the Tank when they have successful mailing experiences and beneficial pricing. Since we live in different types of markets, you never know when someone will have the brilliant solution to a specific need.

It’s hard to imagine a mailing services provider not being interested in your business! Have you searched for “houston lettershop” when you are looking?

Here are two past TT threads that have lots of mailing information:


Just got my postcards from gotprint there great, I also got some from vista print and they were good to . Vista is faster at shipping

I interjected about the cost above, but kind of skipped the rest of your questions…

As noted, the permit is $175 annually and the indicia permit is a one-time fee of $175. The indicia permit will give you the ability to use the preprinted “US POSTAGE PAID, PERMIT #X” in lieu of a stamp. If you don’t get that, you’ll have to use special pre-canceled stamps. Those are used specifically for bulk mail. They’re 10 cents each and then you pay the difference between your postage due and the 10 cents already affixed with the stamp. It’s probably worth the $175 lifetime fee to use the permit imprint. The best part? You can only buy pre-canceled stamps in coils of 300 or 5,000 ($30 or $500). The coils of 300 come in “lick” stamps only!

You can get the permit at any post office. Some post offices are “Bulk Mail Entry Units” where you take it to a special counter and don’t have to wait in the retail line. Most post offices, however, will have you waiting in the retail line.

Your permit at one location will allow you to mail out of any post office in the country at the standard mail rates. That’s how you can get some better discounts… by driving your mail to the destination post office.

However, you must always pay for your standard mail at the office that holds your permit. They will verify it by weight and complete a “Plant Verified Drop Shipment” form which you will then take to the destination post office. Doing this is such a royal PITA that I just purchase permits at all of the zip codes that I mail to. I probably save the $150 in fuel costs by not having to bounce all over the place, not to mention the time spent in TWO post office lines for every drop!

Finally got a mail house that is willing to do small quantities at a time, even if it is 600 miles away.

Postage = 17.7 cents
Labeling of Addresses = 4 cents
Cost of list = $25
Shipping postcards to mail house = $20
Cost to print piece = 4 cents per piece

Total Cost = to approximately 26 cents per piece to mail and I do not have to deal with all the headaches.

Postage = 17.7 cents
Cost of List = $25
Cost to print piece = 4 cents per piece

Not having to deal with all the headaches = priceless


just spoke to mellissa data $10.00 per 1000 adresses on label makes things alot easier

Now THAT is a price I can get my head and @ss behind. 26 cents per each makes a good bit of sense given the time you save yourself. And it doesn’t break the bank.