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Reliance & USPS Partnership

Reliance Worldwide has fostered a strategic alliance with the United States Postal Services (USPS).

Bringing direct access to a wide range of USPS direct entry, post and parcel services with ‘local look’ services for direct business mail and eCommerce products throughout the USA.

Reliance Worldwide Logistics Solutions mission is to reward all our loyal customers with savings and exceptional customer service.

Discounts on Postage

The USPS Postal System is an automated process. In order to qualify for discounts on postage a mailpiece must be automation compatible. This means the mailpiece must meet the United States Postal Service (USPS) guidelines for physical characteristics and address quality elements.

Processing techniques

This guide provides the basic knowledge needed by those responsible for creating mail or influencing the mailing process. Mail comes in and out from virtually every department in an organization and it is challenging to keep everyone updated on the latest processing techniques and requirements. Mail typically comprises up to 80% of a company’s contact with customers and prospects, thus it is vital that the process works right the first time and every time.

What’s in it for you?

In addition to productivity gains and cost reductions, a significant benefit derived from standardizing your mailing process is improved service to your bill paying customers. High quality documents, streamlined for automation, can be delivered 1-3 days faster at a much lower cost. This translates into faster customer service, prompt payments, and improved cash flow; all of which provide competitive advantages, higher profits, and fewer lost business opportunities.

The United States Postal Service utilizes high speed Multiline Optical Character Reader (MLOCR) machines to process mail, and the entire success of the system depends on getting an Intelligent Mail barcode onto each letter. The Intelligent Mail barcode is a graphical, machine-readable representation of the address, as well as other tracking information. When a letter has been barcoded, it can travel all the way to the addressee’s mailbox before being touched by another human hand, avoiding a lot of manual labour and potential for human error.

Letters that are not barcoded by the sender get a barcode from an MLOCR if the address is clearly printed and placed in a “readable” position on the envelope. Non-barcoded letters must be processed manually, slowing the delivery time and increasing costs.

Letters processed on the automation equipment used by the USPS speed past the MLOCR’s camera at up to 36,000 pieces per hour or 9 letters per second. During the 1/9 of a second, the MLOCR does the following:

• Takes a picture of the address

• Sends the picture of the address to the MLOCR’s computer

• Converts the image of the characters seen on the letter into data

• Searches the computer directory to validate the city, state and ZIP Code from a list of 120,000,000 addresses

• Prepares the 31-digit Intelligent Mail barcode with the correct tracking and delivery point information.

Where should the address be placed on the envelope?

The MLOCR will “look” for the address in the lower 2/3 of the mailpiece. The bottom address line should be at least 5/8 of an inch from the bottom of the envelope. The left and right edge of the envelope should have 1/2 inch of space from both edges. This frames the area called the MLOCR READ AREA which must contain only the address of the recipient to ensure proper reading of the address.

Are there any common problems with addresses to be aware of?

Yes! In this guide, we have addressed some of the most common problems with mail creation. These issues are easily solved by educating individuals on the solutions to correct these problems, and perhaps more importantly by educating them on how to avoid them from happening.

The MLOCR reads “BACKWARDS.” You and I write an address from the upper left corner to the right, from the top line to the bottom line.  The MLOCR reads backwards, from bottom-to-top and right-to-left. From this you can see that correct positioning, font selection, and print quality are essential to the mailing process.

Resources available when developing a mailpiece?

Reliance will be happy to help you, based on us having a direct relationship with the USPS.

Addressing Accuracy

Correct addressing affects efficient delivery of your mail. The ZIP + 4 Code helps direct your mail. Use the correct Acronyms & Abbreviations list for a complete address. You can also use tools provided by the USPS to address further questions.

  • All capital letters
  • Font should not overlap or touch
  • Minimum 10 pt font
  • No abbreviation to city
  • No punctuation
  • Address printed on white background

Avoid these type of examples

OCR Read Area

Allow 1/8” clearance left and right and 1/25” above and below between the barcode and any other printing. Entire address block must be within 4” of top and at least 1/2” from right or left side. Entire address block (and barcode) must be at least 5/8” from bottom. For window envelopes, the address must have 1/8” clearance around the address block and not shift out of the window area.


Automation rate discounts for letter- size mail require a qualifying delivery point barcode. In addition, the mailpiece itself must meet the physical requirements

for automated letter sortation. This applies equally to all letter-size mailpieces, regardless of class.

Letter-size mail which is more than 4 1/4 inches high or more than 6 inches long (card size maximums) must be at least 0.007 inch thick.


Qualifying postcards must meet all the basic size and construction requirements for card rates as outlined on page three. Pieces formed from a single piece of cardstock that exceeds the postcard-size maximum dimensions of 4 1⁄4 inches by 6 inches may qualify for letter-size automation rates.

Pieces exceeding either the height or length maximums for postcards must be at least 0.007 inch thick to continue to qualify for letter-size (not card) automation rates.

Giving us your postcards with a CASS Certified address block barcode already printed on them is a way to prevent issues that can arise with the processing of postcards.


USPS automation discounts apply to flat-size mailpieces that are barcoded by the mailer. Presort Services processes First-Class flats for automation discounts. Automation rate discounts for flat-size mail allow for either a ZIP+4 Code or a delivery point barcode.

In addition, the mailpiece itself must meet the physical requirements for automated flat sortation. This applies equally to all flat-size mailpieces, regardless of class.

• Delivery address must be more prominent than the return address
• Recommended 10 or 12 point font-size. Avoid script, bold and narrow fonts • Some fonts that read very well: Arial, Courier, Helvetica and Tahoma
• Address left justified, not centered
• Delivery address to right and below return address
• At least 1/8” clear zone around entire delivery address

Imagine your flat is divided into 9 equal parts. Place the delivery address in a different section than the return address.

Automation compatible mail should not be prepared using glossy stock for the envelopes or glossy card stock for postcards. If you have any questions about mailpiece design, please contact us. This will help to ensure that your mailpieces avoid any unnecessary USPS surcharges.

All mail must bear a delivery address. Except for simplified addresses, a complete delivery address contains non-address information, attention line, recipient line, delivery address line and city, state and ZIP (ZIP+4) Code from top to bottom. The Postal Service and the mailing industry have jointly developed standardized formats for addresses. These formats enhance the processing and delivery of mail and reduce Undeliverable-As-Addressed (UAA) mail. This provides for mutual cost savings through improved efficiency.


1. NON-ADDRESS DATA > XX 6548987498-XC
5. CITY, STATE, ZIP CODE > OMAHA NE 68127-1189


1. NON-ADDRESS DATA > XX 6548987498-XC
5. DELIVERY ADDRESS > PO BOX 500 (mail will be delivered here) 6. CITY, STATE, ZIP CODE > OMAHA, NE 68127-1189


Window envelopes must have 1/8” clearance between the address and any window edge even with maximum insert shift.

Rejection or miscoding to the incorrect address (even the return address) can occur when information slips out of view of the window

Envelopes and other mailpieces securely sealed on all four edges provide the best assurance for successful automated processing.
However, an open or folded mailpiece also qualifies for automation rates when it has been properly designed and tabbed or sealed.

Folded self-mailers and booklets must be tabbed to prevent the open edges from fanning out and jamming during high speed
processing. The standards for these types of mailpieces are generally set by the basis weight of the paper stock and the location of the folded or bound edge.

  • Fold on bottom is preferred
  • Tabbing, tape or glue strip recommended for any letter-size mail; required if claiming automation
  • The same addressing requirements for letters also apply to self-mailers
  • Consult your Reliance account handler, if you have questions or see USPS Commercial Letters

IMb Example

The Intelligent Mail barcode is what is known as a fourstate barcode. The states refer to the four different positions a bar can hold – a full bar, an ascender, a descender, or a tracker.

Additionally, the Intelligent Mail barcode is composed of sixty-five bars which are capable of encoding thirty-one digits of data. The thirty-one digits include the following:

Address Block Placement

An address block barcode requires certain clearances relative to any printing and the edges of the window or address label. This allows the barcode sorter to successfully locate the barcode. Please see example below:

Ready to save money on your mail?