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Ultimate Guide: USPS Tabbing Regulations

 

A folded self mailer has many components and can be tricky to keep up to date with the USPS's regulations. This usps_regulationsguide will break down all the specifics for tabbing requirements to help you better understand what is acceptable for the mailstream.

Let's get started!

A self-mailer is created with two or more panels that use one or more unbound sheets of paper that are folded together and sealed to make a letter-sized mailpiece.

Below we will walk you through some self-mailer basics and then get into the nitty gritty of USPS regulations for tabbing.

 

Self-Mailer Basics

Now let's break down the basic attributes of a self-mailer. 

  • Height: minimum of 3.5 inches and maximum of 6 inches. 
  • Length: minimum of 5 inches and maximum of 10.5
  • Thickness: minimum of .007 inches and maximum of 1/4 inches
    • Note: a minimum of .009 is okay if the height goes over 4-1/4 inches or if the length is greater than 6 inches.
  • Maximum Weight: 3 ounces

 

Self-Mailer Panels

Every self-mailer is made up of panels (when a sheet of paper is folded). In order to get the total number of panels you count each two-sided section created by the folds to get one panel, and don't forget to include the front and back.

  • There is a maximum amount of 12 panels, but there are certain exceptions (visit section 3.14.3 of the Postal Explorer.)
  • The outside panels (produced by the fold) must be equal or almost equal in size. 
  • The non-address side or back of the mailer is the last folded panel of the mailpiece. The back panels open edge must be at the top or within 1 inch of the top or around the edge of the mailpiece. 
  • The last folded edge has to be positioned at the bottom of the self-mailer unless it is an oblong piece. Oblong pieces are covered below. 
  • Any pockets or inside the self-mailer are not considered a panel. 

 

Self-Mailer Flaps

Some self-mailers have flaps. Flaps are created when the last panel is folded over and attached to the unaddressed side of the piece.  Below are some basic standards and requirements for flaps. 

  • Must be at least 1 - 1/2 inches when measured from the top of the mailpeice. 
  • The flaps folded edge has to be inline with the top of the mailpiece and finish one inch or more above the bottom edge. However, there are exceptions (visit section 3.14.3 f of the Postal Explorer)
  • All flaps must be secured by tabs or glue spots/lines.
  • If there are any die-cut shapes they should be secured with tabs or glue spots/lines. 

 

Below are the USPS tabbing regulations and general sealing standards for self-mailers. 

 

Basic FSM (Bi-Fold/Tri-Fold)

Bi-Fold: folded once making up two panels.

Tri-Fold: folded twice making up three panels. 

When using tabs on basic folded self-mailers the following applies:

  • Mailing pieces Up to 1oz require 2 tabs at 1” dia.
  • Mailing pieces Over 1oz require 2 tabs at 1-1/2” dia.
  • Tabs can be positioned in 2 places, see images below.

 

usps-regulations

 

 

Oblong Folded FSM (Basic oblong)

Oblong: the paper is folded once and forms two recatngular panels with one elongated area and parallel opposite sides. 

When using tabs on oblong folded self-mailers the following applies:

  • Mailing pieces Up to 1oz require 2 tabs at 1” dia.
  • Mailing pieces Over 1oz require 2 tabs at 1-1/2” dia.
  • The final folded edge has to be the leading right edge.
  • See images below for tab positioning.

 

usps-regulations

 

Quarter Fold FSM (Basic quarter fold and newsprint)

Quarter fold: folded twice with each fold at a right angle to the prior fold. This is one sheet of paper quarter-folded that creates four panels. This can also be referred to as a right angle fold mailpiece. 

When using tabs on quarter fold self-mailers the following applies:

  • Mailing pieces Up to 1oz require 2 tabs at 1” dia. (see fig a)
  • Mailing pieces Over 1oz require 3 tabs at 1-1/2” dia. (see fig b)
  • Newsprint requires 3 tabs at 1-1/2” dia. (see fig c)
  • See images below for tab positioning

 

usps-regulations

 

General Sealing Requirements

Any folded self-mailer must follow the USPS's regualtions and must be sealed with glue or tabs. Below is a break down of the tabbing and gluing requirements and specifics. 

Tabs 

  • Tabs can be made of paper, translucent paper, vinyl, or plastic.
  • The amount of tabs needed and the size depend on the weight and design of the mailpiece. 
  • Bi-fold and tri-fold: weigh up to 3 oz requires two nonperforated tabs on the top edge of the piece within 1 inch of the edges. 
  • Quarter-fold: weigh up to 3 oz requires 3 nonperforated tabs, one on leading and one one trailing edge within 1 inch of the top edges. The 3rd tab must be on the lower leading edge and 1/2 inch away from the bottom.  
  • Oblong pieces: with weight up to 3 oz, one tab is placed in the center of the top edge and one in center of the trailing edge. OR both tabs may be placed on trailing edge with within 1 inch of top and bottom edges.
    • Note: tabs cannot be put on the bottom of these mailpieces. 

Glue

  • All glue has to be positioned within 1/4 inch of the open edges and opposite the final fold. OR on the leading and trailing edges when the final fold is on the bottom.
  • Glue can be applied in 5 ways, and only one way is necessary.
    • A continuous line that's at least 1/8 inch wide. 
    • 3-4 spots of glue that are at least 3/8 inch in diameter
    • 3-4 elongated lines of glue 
    • Both glue spots and elongated glue lines can be placed evenly along sealed edges
    • Quarter fold mailers have to be sealed with tabs.
See the illustrations below for varies types of tabbing and sealing specifications
 

usps-regulations

 

 

So there you have it, the ultimate guide to USPS tabbing regulations. Reading through these regualtions can make someone's head spin. If you have any questions, please give us a call and one of our direct mail experts will help you with your proejct. We are always here to help you!

 

Additional notes, resources, and links to help guide you

  • Folded self-mailers, (except quarter-fold mail pieces) as described in 3.14.3e1 through 3.14.3e3:
    • Up to 1 ounce: 70 pound paper sealed with a continuous glue line, three glue spots; or elongated glue lines under 3.14.4b; or two 1-inch tabs under 3.14.4a1 and 3.14.4a3.
    • Over 1 ounce: 80 pound paper sealed with a continuous glue line, four glue spots; or four elongated glue lines under 3.14.4b; or two 1-1/2 inch tabs under 3.14.4a1 and 3.14.4a3.
  • Quarter fold self-mailers as described in 3.14.3e4:
    • Up to 1 ounce: 70 pound paper sealed with two 1-inch tabs.
    • Over 1 ounce: 80 pound paper sealed with three 1-1/2inch tabs.
  • Newsprint:
    • 55 pound minimum paper required. Seal pieces one ounce or less with two 1-1/2 inch tabs and those weighing over one ounce with three 1-1/2 inch tabs.

Links and Resources

http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-12-01/html/2011-30879.htm

http://pe.usps.com/text/dmm300/201.htm

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