State Mail Services


Below you will find some of the most frequently asked questions about State Mail Services and processing mail. You also can use the SMS Mail Services Guide as a resource for information about state mail. Contact SMS if you have additional questions.

Questions about SMS Mail Processing or Billing


Inter-agency mail, domestic mail, mail requiring special services, and bulk mail must all be bundled separately. Place a metered mail card with correct mail stop code on all mail bundles expect inter-agency mail.

All outgoing mail, with the exception of bulk mail, will be processed by SMS and picked up by the USPS on the same day it is picked-up from you. Any mail serviced by our facility must arrive before 3:30 pm for guaranteed same day processing. Bulk mail will be processed within two business days of receipt.

SMS will process all mail and packages in our possession each day, but USPS and UPS may not guarantee delivery if it is received late in the day. Contact SMS to verify the cut off time for the destination where you're sending the mail.

Virginia has a mandatory contract with UPS for shipment of packages. If your agency uses SMS metering services, you may complete a SMS UPS Shipping Form and attach to a package for SMS to pick up the next time we visit your office. Attach the form with one strip of tape to enable SMS to remove during processing.

All mail and packages submitted to SMS for processing must have a completed Metered Mail Card or SMS UPS Shipping Form. Your agency will receive a monthly invoice for the total postage used along with a report showing all transactions for the month with subtotals by budget or cost code. The budget or cost code you place on the Metered Mail Card is where the postage charges will be billed.


Questions about SMS Special Services


There are numerous regulations for designing mail pieces, and there are different types of mail pieces. Design standards differ based on the size and type of mail. Contact SMS early in your planning stages to ensure you meet all postal regulations to save postage costs.

Business reply envelopes and cards must be designed to conform to USPS regulations. Contact SMS for help with the design and format.

SMS can seal letter size envelopes if the flaps are open and nested into each other. You must seal larger envelopes before pickup by SMS.

Yes, but it is not advisable. Metered mail must be mailed on the date that appears in the meter imprint. If you do not complete the job or meter too many envelopes, you have a supply of envelopes that have an old date on them and cannot be used.

Place the Metered Mail Card vertically on front of the first mail piece and bundle together with a rubber band or paper clip.

You only need one metered mail card for each bundle of mail. You must create a different bundle for each budget or cost code. If you are mailing a box or package that cannot be bundled, attach a metered mail card to each box or package or a SMS UPS shipping form with one strip of tape to enable SMS to remove it during processing.

You must attach a completed metered mail card or SMS UPS shipping form to all mail and packages submitted to SMS for processing. These forms are used to determine shipping costs for your agency. SMS will send your agency a monthly invoice for the total postage used along with a report indicating all transactions for the month with subtotals by budget or cost code. The budget or cost code you place on the metered mail card is where the postage charges will be billed.


Questions about USPS Mail Classes


When mail is presorted, a postal barcode is applied to the mail piece. It is mixed with other agencies' mail to meet USPS minimum volume requirements and sorted in zip code order. This qualifies the mail piece for reduced postage.

There are several differences including contents, postage costs and preparation, and speed of delivery. Personalized items (such as statements of account, bills, etc.) cannot be mailed as presorted standard. They must go as first class mail. Presorted standard is used for mailing generic items (newsletters, notices, etc.). Postage for presorted standard is less than first class but must meet certain sortation requirements established by the USPS. Most first class mail will be delivered in 1 to 2 days within Virginia. Presorted standard usually takes 7 to 10 days for delivery within Virginia.

200 pieces or 50 pounds of mail is the minimum requirement for a bulk mailing. Refer to the SMS Mail Services Guide for complete bulk mail requirements and instructions.

A permit indicia is a printed designation on a mail piece (in lieu of actual postage) to pay for the postage under a specific permit number. The common indicia must include the class of mail, the permit number being used, the city and state the permit was issued in, and the phrase "U.S. POSTAGE PAID."

No. To enter a mailing using a permit, the mailing must consist of at least 200 identical pieces. USPS forms must be filled out with the mailer's name, permit number, date, number of pieces, cost per piece and total postage to be charged to the account of the permit number. The mailing must be presented to the Business Mail Entry Unit at the Post Office issuing the permit number.


General Questions about USPS

To qualify as a letter, a mail piece must be a minimum of 3 ½ inches in height x 5 inches long and .007 inches thick, but not larger than 6 1/8 inches high x 11 1/2 inches long and 1/4 inches thick. A flat is a mail piece larger than 6 1/8 inches in height x 11 ½ inches long and 1/4 inches thick but smaller than 12 inches in height x 15 inches long and 3/4 inches thick.

International mail weighing less than one pound does not require a customs form. International mail weighing between one pound and four pounds requires the green and white USPS Form 2976. International mail weighing over four pounds requires the larger white USPS Form 2976-A. Please fill out the forms completely and attach to your package.