Because USPS is a federally owned organization, they can have some pretty strict rules and regulations that seem redundant or confusing on the surface, such as ‘postmarking.’
Therefore, if you haven’t heard of postmarking before, you may be curious about what it means. If you’d like to find out, keep reading this article to see what I learned!
What Does Postmarked Mean At USPS In 2023?
Postmarks are imprints/stamps on letters that denote the date mail was received by the post office in 2023. Postmarks have multiple purposes, including canceling out postage so that it can’t be used again, showing the name of the post office that accepted the letter, and noting the date it was accepted so that your mail isn’t considered late/delinquent.
Postmarking is a critical part of the mailing process, so if you’d like to learn more about postmarking and what to do if you need your mail postmarked, keep reading for more facts!
What Does Postmarked Mean USPS?
Having your mail postmarked means that the post office that accepted your letter package either stamped it by hand or ran it through a machine that left an imprint on the packing material.
The imprint or stamp left on your mail shows the time and date it was received by the post office, as well as which post office it was received by.
Postmarks also include something called cancellation bars, which fall over the postage on the letter and are used to prevent it from being scraped off and reused again.
There are two different types of postmarks, standard postmarks and postage validated imprints.
Standard postmarks are created at USPS distribution facilities shortly before they’re delivered to their destination and are used mainly to cancel postage.
Postage validated imprints are also postmarks that are created by the post office clerk when the mail is received and include the date and time it was accepted. Generally, postage validated imprints are used for mail that is time-sensitive.
Only mail shipped using standard postage receives postmarks, whereas metered mail, precanceled stamps, and automated stamps purchased from self-service kiosks are not postmarked.
Standard postage is the only type that currently receives postmarks because the other above-mentioned types already have dates affixed to them and have postage that can’t be reused.
Why Does Mail Get Postmarked By USPS?
Mail is typically postmarked for one of three reasons, the first and most common reason being that the practice helps prevent the reuse of stamps.
By postmarking mail, the postage used gets cancellation bars placed through it, which ensures that even if the postage is taken off of the original envelope and applied to a new envelope, it will not scan as viable postage at the post office, which helps increase the USPS profits.
The second reason mail is postmarked is to help the post office adhere to delivery windows, as most precanceled or automated stamps already have a date printed on them, which helps provide postal workers with a guideline as to how quickly the mail needs to be shipped.
For example, Priority Mail has a delivery window of 2-3 days, so it would need to be shipped faster than Ground Retail mail, which has a delivery window of 5-7 days, and how fast it needs to be shipped can be figured out by looking at the postmarked date.
The third and final reason mail is postmarked is to lend credibility to time-sensitive mail such as bills or property tax payments.
For example, if you make a property tax payment by mail and the due date is the 18th, as long as the envelope is postmarked prior to the 18th, it will be considered an on-time payment regardless of whether it arrives at its destination on time.
Finally, postmarking can be useful for identifying the post office location that accepted the mail in case of a package getting lost, though this isn’t as common.
How Do You Get Your Mail Postmarked By USPS?
Most mail with first-class postage or standard retail postage will be automatically postmarked by the post office when a package/ letter is picked up and processed.
Therefore, if you’re looking to get a postmark in order to date a bill or property tax payment and/or you want a postmark just for peace of mind, you can request one at the post office.
In order to request a postmark for your envelope or package, visit your local post office, go up to the counter and let the clerk know that you’d like your package or envelope postmarked.
Most of the time, postal workers are happy to stamp your letter in front of you at the counter.
It’s important to note, however, that once your letter is postmarked at the counter, you can’t get it back and it must be mailed to maintain the integrity of the postmark.
Therefore, be sure you’re prepared to send your package when you visit the post office.
To know more about USPS, you can also see our posts on whether or not USPS stamps expire, what is certified mail in USPS, and how long does USPS priority mail express takes.
Postmarks are imprints left on letters/ packages that have standard/first-class postage, and denote the time and date a piece of mail was accepted.
As well, postmarks reveal the post office location that accepted the mail, while simultaneously canceling the postage so that it cannot be reused for other packages.