State Mail Services


There are many small steps that can help your state division save money on mailings. From using presorted mail, interagency mail or postcards, to using 6x9 envelopes instead of flats, SMS can help you save costs for your division or agency.

You can always contact SMS before starting a big mailing to learn how you can save even more in shipping and mailing costs.

Click the links below to learn more about ways to use certain services to reduce your mailing costs.

Use Presort Service to Save Money

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. First Class Presort mail must have clear typed fonts on the envelope and weight restrictions apply. Please contact SMS for an evaluation of your mailing needs.

Use the Proper Envelope Size to Save Postage Costs

  • A standard # 10 envelope holds about four sheets of paper that are tri-folded.
  • A 6 x 9 envelope holds about four sheets of paper folded in half. To qualify as a letter a mail piece must be a minimum of 3 ½ inches high x 5 inches long and .007 inches thick and no larger than 6 1/8 inches high x 11 ½ inches long and ¼ inches thick.

A flat is a mail piece larger than 6 1/8 inches high x 11 ½ inches long and ¼ inches thick but smaller than 12 inches high x 15 inches long and ¾ inches thick.

Convert Flats into Letter-Sized Folded Mail

By converting flats into letter-size mail, you can take advantage of a lower postal rate. By understanding what constitutes a letter vs. what constitutes a flat, you can take steps to create mail pieces that are easier for the post office to process, such as:

  • Design mail pieces to meet letter-size dimensional requirements.
  • Convert flat mail to letter-size mail (up to and including 3.5 ounces) with a single fold.
  • Repackage parcels as flats.

Create Mail That's Machine Ready

If first class mail letters are designed in such a way that they're difficult to process, they'll be assessed a "nonmachinable surcharge" by the USPS, which adds 20 cents to each piece. By knowing the guidelines, you can design mail pieces to meet letter-size dimensional requirements and avoid nonmachinable characteristics.

When you have an unusual mail piece, take a moment to determine whether it meets machinable requirements. If not, think through what you can do differently to meet the letter requirements. Consider training those who are designing your mail pieces and marketing promotions on these guidelines below:

What is Nonmachinable?

A letter-size piece is considered nonmachinable if it has one or more of the following characteristics:

  • Weighs more than 3.5 ounces
  • Has an aspect ratio (length divided by height) of less than 1.3 or more than 2.5
  • Measures more than 4.25 inches high or 6 inches long and has a thickness of less than 0.007 inches (0.009 inches for commercial letters.)
  • Is rigid or contains odd-shaped contents
  • Is polybagged, polywrapped or enclosed in any non-paper material
  • Includes clasps, strings, buttons, or similar closure devices
  • Is a self-mailer with a folded edge perpendicular to the address and is not folded and secured (e.g., tabbed)
  • Contains items such as pens, pencils, keys or coins that cause the thickness of the mail piece to be uneven.

Put More into Each Mailing

With no increase in the cost for each additional ounce, you can offset rising costs by putting more into each mailing. You can still send each additional ounce of first class mail at the same low cost, including letters, flats and parcels.

Watch the Letter Weight

Avoid more costly flat-rate pricing by keeping your letter -size mail size mail pieces to 3.5 ounces or less. As the USPS works to better align their rates with actual processing costs, they will charge flat-size prices (or even parcel prices) for letter-size mail size mail pieces that exceed 3.5 ounces in weight.

By carefully managing the makeup of your mail pieces, you can maximize impact while keeping your mail piece weight in letter-size range.

Design mail pieces to meet letter-size dimensions. Use your weight wisely.

To qualify as "letter-size", your mailing doesn't have to fit into a standard #10 envelope but it does have to comply with USPS standards for letter standards for letter-size mail. You have a lot of flexibility to create mailings that can stand out can stand out while staying within "letter size letter size" specifications.

Prioritize your messaging

If you're still over the weight limit, take a good look at your mail piece contents.

Consider duplex or two sided printing

Duplex or two-sided printing can enable you to reduce mail piece weight and reduce paper costs. It's environmentally friendly and commonly used in today's cost-conscious world.

Properly Use Meter Cards

Meter cards are used to make sure each agency gets charged correctly for the postage they actually use. Only one card is needed for each bundle of mail. Handwritten, typed, and international each need international each need separate meter cards. By using Meter Cards your department or agency documents what postage it uses. This information is used to properly invoice your monthly charges.

You can find metered mail cards online and print them with barcodes, or you can print a blank metered mail card.

Use Postcards

Postcards are highly targeted mailings that can keep you top-of-mind with your audience at lower costs. The cost to send postcards is about 36 percent less expensive than costs to send a letter.

Augment your communication plan with postcards

Postcards are easy to produce and can be personalized for each customer. To qualify for postcard rates, however, your mail piece for postcard rates, your mail piece must conform to USPS requirements.

Creating and mailing postcards is easy, if you have the right tools

Use postcard addressing. With the right system, you can print addresses on each card and avoid the less professional look of a label. You can also print personalized messages, so you can make each piece even more relevant or automatically create a barcode to help speed delivery and lower postage costs.

Consider postage printing. If you are printing postcards, you may want to consider getting a USPS permit, so you can pre-print your indicia directly onto your card. Otherwise, you can easily run your postcards through your postage meter stage meter – just be sure to set the postage amount to the lower rate.

Use Inter-agency Mail for State Agencies in Richmond

Inter-agency mail saves you money on postage. There's no need for your agency to spend money to send something down the street or in Richmond unless you have to. You can send it free via SMS inter-agency mail. Inter-agency mail is a free delivery service provided by SMS to state agency offices located in the Richmond metropolitan area. Please visit the mail-stop listing for all the sites SMS visits.

Inter-agency mail is processed throughout the day. Mail picked up in the morning will be delivered to the addressee in the afternoon. Mail picked up in the afternoon, or if the stop is not serviced in the afternoon, will be delivered the next morning.