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Mandatory US mail changes now taking effect

While Tech Talk was on hiatus, the US Postal Service adopted a new mail classification system--the first major change in more than 25 years--that will affect the way all of MIT's outgoing mail is handled.

Effective July 1, all mail is divided into three classifications: First Class (no change in name), Periodicals (formerly second class) and Standard (formerly third and fourth class). The system will combine mailers' efficiencies and USPS automation to move mail faster while holding down mailing costs.

The main purpose of US mail reclassification is to encourage senders to automate their mailings (which MIT Mail Services is doing at present), and also to maintain very up-to-date mailing lists.

To ease the transition, two major requirements are being introduced over the next six months. Effective October 1, five-digit ZIP codes must be verified at least annually. Beginning January 1, 1997, all mailing lists must be run through the National Change of Address Database to incorporate forwarding addresses or must carry an address correction request on each piece.

The MIT Mail Service is eager to help Institute mailers prepare for the changes, according to Penny Guyer, its manager. Two steps are in the works:

  • Purchasing software that will compare each office/department mailing database to the USPS Coding Accuracy database to verify the physical address and ZIP code.
  • Arranging with one of the USPS-approved software vendors to compare large MIT mailing lists to the National Change of Address Database.
  • Working with individual departments on design of envelopes and other mail pieces that will meet the new standards.

"We also have a 120-page manual issued by the USPS describing the new regulations (and that's the summary version), and Debbie Di Roberto and I are available for individual consulting," Ms. Guyer said. Call x3-6000 for more information, or fax proposed mail-piece designs to x2-1552.

Mailers can also help themselves prepare by using accepted address standards on all new entries to their mailing lists. A new-style address looks like this:

TREEVILLE CA 90028-8521

Lower-case letters and punctuation have been removed; individual and company names of addressees must appear above the street address and city/state lines. The delivery address, including the apartment number, appears on one line, and the city, state and ZIP code all appear on the bottom line. The two-letter state name abbreviation is used and the correct ZIP+4 code is given. For international addresses, the last line should be the destination country in English.

The MIT Mail Service has software available for checking and upgrading established mailing lists. Call x3-6000 for details.

If you are adding or changing only a few names in your mailing list, you can quickly check the address accuracy and get the ZIP+4 number from the World Wide Web at .

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on July 24, 1996.

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