Quick Guide: What is an Indicia?

You might not know what they are called, but you likely see indicias every time you open your mailbox. (That’s snail mail, not email!) Found on business mail, an indicia is that printed mark where a stamp would go.

Formally called a permit imprint indicia (pronounced “in-dee-sha”), an indicia is a convenient way to pay for postage on a high volume mailing job. Picture this: you’re printing and mailing 5,000 brochures for your company. Do you want to run all of those brochures through your office mail meter? What about affixing postage stamps to each piece by hand?! Printing an indicia onto the mail piece in the print shop is a much better way to manage your mailing jobs.

While it says “postage paid,” there is not actually postage paid until the piece passes through the post office. There, each piece is counted and the postage is debited from your advance deposit account with the U.S. Postal Service. It’s just like having a debit card with the Post Office. There is a permit application fee and an annual mailing fee, but if you do a lot of mailing it’s well worth the cost of setting up your account.

When we say each piece is counted, they aren’t literally counted one by one. One piece is weighed, and then the whole mailing job is weighed to see how many pieces there are. Because of this, every mail piece in your job must weigh the same amount.

How Do I Use an Indicia?

There are tons of rules around how to use an indicia. (Does the U.S. Post Office do anything simply? No, they do not.) Some of the rules include:

• You have to use your indicia at least once every 24 months to keep it active.

• You have to bring your mailing to the Post Office where the permit is held. (Meaning you can’t give your mail carrier 5,000 pieces with indicias and expect them to send them for you.)

• You can’t use an indicia for individual pieces of mail, only for large mailing jobs. If you have extra pieces with an indicia printed on them, don’t just drop them in the mail! They’ll get returned to you with postage due.

Lucky for you, Master Print is your print and mailing partner and will take care of following all of those rules! And one of the best rules about indicias is that you can use your print shop’s indicia. So if you only do large mailings once in a blue moon, you can use Master Print’s indicia and not worry about permit fees.