Nonprofit Standard Mail (Bulk Mailings)

Services & Rates Manual

Bulk Mailing Form

Bulk Mailings (Standard Mail A)

Large quantities of mail may be sent at considerable nonprofit savings if the contents and preparation meet USPS standards. This mail must be prepared following specific guidelines for expedited delivery and postage discounts.


Basic preparation requirements:

  • Each mailing must contain no less than 200 identical pieces or 50 pounds.
  • Contents must be the same in each mail piece. No personalization other than name and address can be placed on any piece.
  • Bulk mailings must be properly prepared and presented to a Postal Unit equipped to process Standard Mail 
  • The USPS will recycle undeliverable bulk mail.
  • The USPS can open bulk mailing pieces for content inspection.
  • Pieces must fall within the size limitations for post card, letter, or flat mail requirements. The weight of any one piece of mail cannot exceed 15.99 ounces.
  • All mail pieces must be rectangular in shape. The address must be placed with the longer side across the horizontal side of the mail piece.
  • A special indicia must identify the permit holder for all mailings. If stamps are preferred, use of a pre-canceled stamp is available. These must be purchased with Rice’s permit number. Rolls may be purchased in quantities of 500 or 3,000. Details can be provided by Delivery Services.
  • Hand-addressed mail should be sent as first-class mail to assure expedient delivery. It will not qualify for discounted nonprofit rates.
  • Bulk mailings can not contain bills, statements, or personal messages.
  • Standard Mail A bulk mailings are for domestic mail only.

Addressing requirements for all bulk mailings include:

  • Addresses must be standardized according to the USPS regulations to identify the street, apartment or suite, city/state/zip code to 9 digits. Addresses should be printed on the mail piece using automated printing processes that include address standardization and barcoding in one process. A file containing addresses can be provided to all approved vendors.
  • The return address must appear in the upper left-hand corner of the address side of the mail piece. It must contain the name of Rice University and the department name and mail stop. The required return address is P O Box 1892, Houston, TX 77251-1892.
  • Standard zip codes to 9 digits must appear on the address. Barcoding is required to an 11-digit extension. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO APPLY BARCODING USING WORD PROCESSING TECHNIQUES ON PERSONAL COMPUTERS. The mail house that  you selected for your mailing will verify your addresses against the USPS move update list, apply the addresses and the barcode.
  • Specialty artwork on the address side of the mail piece is required to be reviewed by the Delivery Services Manager. No artwork can be placed on the lower right-hand side of the mail piece because of address and barcoding requirements. The remainder of the address side of the mail piece can contain a wide range of artwork, including intense colors.
  • Self-mailers cannot be printed onto copy paper weight (20 lb) stock. A minimum weight is 30 lb paper, and heavier is preferred. The paper must be stiff enough to avoid wrinkling when placed into the automated sorting equipment used by the USPS.
  • The use of labels is discouraged for numerous reasons, specifically related to the above issues and including appropriate placement on the mail piece. Addresses should be printed directly onto the mail piece by the selected vendor.
  • Self-mailers must not be printed on intensely colored stock. Most pastel colors will be acceptable. To determine if the paper is too dark, place a sheet on a copier and duplicate it at normal intensity. If the copy comes out dark, it is too deep in color for mailing purposes. Contact Delivery Services if in doubt.
  • Self-mailers containing a fold must be folded in such a manner that the fold is below the address area and the open end is above the stamp/postage indicia area. All folded mailers must be tabbed according to USPS requirements.

Approved Outsourcing Vendors

All Standard Mail A (bulk mailings) are processed by outside vendors. Attempting to do any part of the preparation in the department often violates the USPS requirements for postage discounts. Contact the Delivery Services Manager before attempting to prepare your own mailing.

All companies preparing the university's bulk mailings must be approved by Delivery Services before a mailing permit will be issued. Violation of the approval process will create serious delays with your mailings being handled through the USPS system.

Several vendors are pre-approved for use by all departments. Contact Delivery Services for approved vendor listings.

Permit Usage:  The university maintains only one permit for bulk mailings.  A Bulk Mail Request Form  form is required to access postage and to provide detailed instructions to your vendor. Delivery Services should receive this form at least three days prior to the mailing date. The USPS is instructed to refuse use of the Rice permit 7549 unless it is appropriately prepared and signed.