Direct Mail: When a Self-Mailer is No Longer a Self-Mailer

Posted by Sam Ricco

Many of our clients love self-mailers and request them often.  They are a cost-effective, versatile and user-friendly direct mail option.  Whether you are designing a new self-mailer or re-printing one that you used in the past, it is important to note the considerable changes to the postal regulations that went into effect in January 2013.  The old rules were in place for quite some time so it would be easy to overlook the changes…but miss something and you can find yourself losing all of your automation discounts and paying a much higher postage rate.

So what are the new regulations? First, let’s start out by defining what a self-mailer is.  According to the Post Office:

“A folded self-mailer is formed of two or more panels created when a single or multiple unbound sheets of paper are folded together and sealed to form a letter-size mail piece.”

Here are the highlights of the major changes. 

  • Height – 3.5” to 6” (formerly 3.5” to 6.125”)

  • Length – 5” to 10.5” (formerly 5” to 11.5”)

Fold Style / Orientation
    • Final folds on the top of a self-mailer are no longer acceptable.

    • For self-mailers with more than two panels, the mailing address must be on a middle panel, with the final fold creating the non-address side

    • The illustration below shows the folding/orientation requirements for 3-6 panel self-mailers.   The address panel is on the right of each image.

    Self-mailer fold options

    • For oblong/vertical self-mailers the final fold is on the right side, or ‘leading edge’ – see illustration below under wafer seals.


    Wafer Seals: Two or three “non-perfed” wafer seals are now required.  Formerly, if the open end of the self-mailer was on the top you only needed one wafer seal.  Also, “perfed” wafer seals are no longer allowed.  Examples below show wafer sealing requirements for basic folded and oblong self-mailers.  


    wafer seal options


    Total Package Weight: The maximum weight for a standard class self-mailer is now “up to 3 ounces” – formerly it was up to 3.3 ounces.

    Paper Thickness / Weight:  Minimum weight of 70# text for mail pieces up to 1 ounce and 80# text for mail pieces over 1 ounce up to 3 ounces. 

    The above is just a short synopsis of the changes you'll need to keep in mind when using self-mailers in your direct mail campaign.  If you want more details on the regulations, or would like to speak with speak with me directly on how to improve the quality of your next direct mail campaign, here are two options:

    1. Click here to download the USPS Reference Guide.  If you have insomnia or need to look busy when you next visit your in-laws this USPS reference guide is the bible you’ll need to follow. 
    2. Give BKM Marketing a call and we can review your self-mailer to ensure it meets the latest USPS regulations.    You can contact Sam Ricco at or 781-741-8005, ext. 2.  We are always happy to help with any questions you may have.    

    Topics: Direct Mail Marketing