USPS Warns What Envelopes You Should Avoid

by Amy Myers
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Right now, the trend for weddings, baby showers and other celebrations is hyper-personalization, but according to the USPS, this might not be the best idea for envelopes.

The DIY phase is alive and well in the wedding and baby industries. Couples and families are coming up with creative ways to represent their love for each other and their little ones by implementing eye-catching details into their invitations, save-the-dates and thank-you cards. But apparently, these extra elements might prevent the USPS from being able to deliver the well-made mail to its recipients.

According to the Post Service, the best envelopes to use are the plain ones.

“Don’t use patterns, prominent flecks or shiny-coated paper for your envelopes,” the USPS warned, per BestLife. “Some types of paper interfere with the machines that read addresses.”

This is especially true if you plan on sending your mail overseas or to a military base. Likely, if your envelope is too flashy, you’ll wind up with a Return to Sender label a couple of days later.

That’s not to say your envelopes have to be white. If you’re planning on sending a Valentine’s Day card, chances are a pink envelope won’t trick the touchy, automated mail-processing systems at the USPS. But you should avoid any dark colors. Not only will this make blue or black ink hard to read, but the machines also don’t like white ink too well.

According to the agency, the technology that they use to scan the mail doesn’t “leave much room for error.”

That seems like an understatement.

Of course, that also means that you should double-check “you’ve addressed your mailpieces correctly will help ensure they arrive where they’re supposed to.”

USPS Also Advises Against These Common Mistakes

Envelope styles aren’t the only aspect that could prevent your mail from reaching the recipient. There are actually quite a few other small mistakes that can muck up the automated mail-processors. These include applying address labels at a slant, using uncommon punctuation and writing below the ZIP Code line.

“Automated mail-processing machines read addresses on mailpieces from the bottom up and will look first for a city, state and ZIP Code,” the USPS said.

Finally, when it comes to mail, size definitely matters. For the standard forever-stamp price, envelopes can be no larger than a maximum of 11 and a half inches long, six and one-eighths inches high and one-fourth of an inch thick. Otherwise, you might need to add some more postage.

“If your envelope can’t fit through USPS mail processing machines, or is rigid, lumpy or has clasps, string, or buttons, it’s ‘nonmachinable’ and you’ll have to pay $0.30 more to send it,” the USPS stated. “You’ll also have to pay more if your envelopes are square or vertical.”

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