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Post Office Return Mail Wording Explained

One of the constant features of most direct mail or bulk mail projects is the postal endorsement on the envelope. This service has been offered by the post office for many years and is very useful in keeping mailing lists up to date which is valuable to direct mailers.

There are four main services provided by the Post Office to help mailers correct bad addresses and forward the mail to the correct address. Each has its own description or “endorsement”. (Note: unlike your typical self-serving political endorsement, these are actually sincere and do what they say). They are as follows:

Address Service Requested – For the first 12 months after the address has changed, the Post Office will forward the envelope to the customer AND send a notice of the correct address to the mailer for a small charge. For months 13 through 18, the mailer will receive the envelope back with the correct address noted at no charge. For anything after month 18 after the address changed, the mailer will receive the envelope back with a notice of non-delivery but no indication of new address.

Forwarding Service Requested - This service is very similar to Address Service Requested. In fact, it is identical for months 13 through 18 and beyond. The difference is that in months 1 through 12, the post office will forward the envelope to customer but NOT send a notice of the correct address to the mailer. There are no charges for any of these services.

Change Service Requested - The Post Office will not forward or return the envelope but will send the mailer an electronic notification (e mail) of the correct address for a small, per-piece fee. In order to receive this service, the mailer must register separately as an Address Correction Service customer. This same service applied for all months after the address change.

Return Service Requested - Under this endorsement, the envelope or mail piece will be returned either with a new address or simply a notice of non-delivery. There is no charge for this service and no time limit.

In my experience, the first two endorsements are the most popular and commonly used.

There are several areas on the envelope or mail piece where these endorsements can be printed which is shown on the diagram above. There needs to be 1/4" of clear space around the endorsement. This applies wherever it is positioned on the envelope.

The current charges for these services where applicable along with any modifications that may have occurred since I wrote this can be obtained by contacting a representative of the business office from your local or regional Post Office. In my dealings, I have found these folks to be unfailingly helpful.

Please contact me or comment if there's anything else that Elite Envelope can help you with. Good luck and may all your addresses be correct!

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