New Self-Mailer postal regulations changed on January 5, 2013

Come on! What good is another set of changes? Well, the USPS says this will reduce damage to your mail (and stop their sorting equipment from jamming). So, here is what you need to know.

First, the definition of a self-mailer: It’s a folded piece that is letter-sized, isn’t mailed in an envelope and doesn’t have a binding. If it has staples in the fold, it is a defined as a booklet, not a self-mailer, and booklets aren’t affected by these changes.

Now, the new regulations document is long and complicated. But, the majority of you only need to know the following:

  1. Final folds on the top will no longer be allowed.
  2. Self-mailers that now only need one tab on the top will need two.
  3. Quarter-fold self-mailers will need to be at least 70# book (=28# bond).
  4. No tabs will be allowed on the bottom. Tri-fold and quarter-fold flyers and newsletters will need two tabs next year, not just one.
  5. The final folded panel creates the non-address side of the mail piece by folding from bottom to top, or lead to trail edge, as shown in the following illustrations.For tri-folded self-mailers, the mailing address must be on the middle panel, with the final fold creating the non-address side. 

    What the post office calls oblong self-mailers must have the final fold on the right side, or ‘leading edge’. Two options for tabbing are shown.

There are other changes as well. We’ve summarized most of them in the following chart. Be sure to forward this post to your designer and printer.

And please, when you finish your self-mailer designs, email a PDF of it to us to check for compliance with USPS regulations prior to printing. We’ll make sure you don’t run afoul of the USPS!

Summary of Main Self-Mailer Changes: Effective Date January 5, 2013

Top and bottom are defined as when looking at the address panel; leading edge is to the right, trailing edge is to the left.


Current New: Effective January 5, 2013
1 tab on top allowed when final fold is on the bottom. 2 tabs required on top when final fold is on the bottom (or 1 on leading and 1 on trailing edge) if bi-fold, tri-fold, or quarter-fold under one ounce.
Maximum size: 6-1/8” x 11-1/2” Maximum size: 6” x 10-1/2” *
Sheets that are bound by one staple not considered a booklet for tabbing purposes. Sheets that are bound by one staple are considered a booklet for tabbing purposes.
If final fold is at the top, piece can be sealed with two tabs on the bottom. Final fold no longer allowed at the top.
Remittance envelopes can be inserted anywhere in a quarter-fold self-mailer. Remittance envelopes must be inserted in the first fold of a quarter-fold self-mailer.
1 sheet folded self-mailer: paper basis weight of at least 70# book (=28# bond)Multiple sheet folded self-mailers: paper basis weight of at least 60# book (=24# bond), except for newsprint. 1 or more sheets, final fold on bottom:
≤ 1 oz: 70# book and 2-1 in. tabs top or sides
>1 oz: 80# book and 2-1 ½ in tabs top or sides
1 or more sheets, quarter folded:
≤ 1 oz: 70# book and 2-1 in. tabs top or sides
>1 oz: 80# book and 3- 1 ½ in. tabs sides
Newsprint, minimum 55# book:
≤ 1 oz: 2 tabs top or sides
>1 oz: 3 tabs sides
Tabs were allowed on the bottom in certain cases, e.g., final fold on the leading edge or to hold in an enclosure. No tabs allowed on the bottom. Must use glue dot to hold in an insert if the bottom is open.


*Letter and postcard maximum sizes stay at 6-1/8’ x 11-1/2”

Some less common self-mailer designs are too complex to cover in a short table. So, if your design is different than the ones in the table, contact us to discuss it. Or, if you’re brave, here’s the Postal Services Folded Self Mailer Reference that covers all the changes.



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