Higher postage rates take effect today

New postage rates go into effect today including a 2-cent increase in the price of a first-class mail stamp.

Also taking effect today is simplification of international mailing options, and a new approach to pricing the U.S. Postal Service hopes will reshape the future of mail.

While the most visible rate change will be the increase of first-class mail stamps to 41 cents, the new “shape-based” pricing system will have a larger overall impact for business mailers and consumers who mail packages.

The new pricing system takes into consideration the shape and size of mail, not just the weight, reflecting the fact that the costs for processing and transporting letters, large envelopes and packages differ.

“The objective of ‘shape-based’ pricing is to ensure that the prices of our products and services cover the costs that we incur to provide them,” said Postal Service spokesperson Duke Gonzales, according to a press release. “This may be the most radical change to our rate structure that we’ve ever undertaken.”

Shaped-based pricing creates a flexible rate system giving mailers the opportunity to obtain lower rates if they find ways to configure their mail into shapes that reduce processing costs for the Postal Service. The efforts may translate to savings for postal customers officials hope.

An example of the cost savings would be, first-class mail, large envelope contents folded and placed in a letter-sized envelope. The cost would be reduced by as much as 39 cents per piece. If the contents of a First-Class Mail package are laid out to fit into a large envelope, customers can save 33 cents per piece.

The Postal Service is also reducing the additional ounce rate today. As mail pieces become heavier, the new additional ounce price declines. For a two-ounce letter, the new prices will actually be lower — 58 cents — than the current price of 63 cents.

The Postal Service offers these “shape-based” shipping tips:

• Don’t ship small, lightweight items in large boxes. Practice “right-sized” shipping.

• Use standard Postal Service shipping products in order to avoid shape-based surcharges.

• The best value will continue to be flat-rate packaging; ship as much as you can fit into a flat-rate envelope for only $4.60 and a flat-rate box for only $8.95.

Customers also can save money on future mailings by buying Forever Stamps, currently for sale at the new 41-cent first-class mail letter price.

The value of these stamps will always be the same as the 1-ounce letter price in effect and can be used for any future 1-ounce letter rate without adding extra postage.

Post Offices nationwide are already selling the Forever Stamp as well as 1- and 2-cent stamps for customers who still have a supply of 39-cent stamps.

In addition to the new domestic rates, international mail changes take effect today. USPS has simplified its eight main international products into four: Express Mail International, Priority Mail International, First-Class Mail International and Global Express Guaranteed (not available in Hawai‘i).

New packaging will allow mailers to use the same Priority Mail and Express Mail packaging for shipping both within the United States and to other countries.

For details of the International Mail changes, go to: www.usps.com/prices/prices_int.htm

More information about the new rates can be found at www.usps.com/prices

The Breast Cancer Research semipostal stamp also goes on sale today at the new 55-cent price.

Since 1998, the Postal Service has raised more than $53 million for breast cancer research through the sale of this semipostal stamp.

Here are some of the new rates and fees:

Selected rates

• First-Class Letter (1 oz.): 41¢

• First-Class Letter (2 oz.): 58¢

• Postcard: 26¢

• Priority Mail (1 lb.): $4.60

• Priority Mail Flat-Rate Box: $8.95

• Express Mail: 1/2 lb, $16.25; 1 lb, $19.50; 2 lb, $21.40

Fees and services

• Certified Mail: $2.65

• Delivery Confirmation (Priority): 65¢

• Delivery Confirmation (First Class Parcels): 75¢

• Return Receipt (Original Signature): $2.15

• Return Receipt (Electronic): 85¢

• Money Orders (up to $500): $1.05

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