High-speed mail handling equipment can process 10 pieces of mail per second. And despite overall declines in mail volume, certain mail types, including booklets and folded self-mailers, continue getting sent en masse. Folded self-mailers, or FSM, are letter-size mail pieces that don’t come bound or inside an envelope. They’re usually folded in half or in thirds, and include flyers, brochures, newsletters, and the like.

The problem? Self-mailers don’t behave like enveloped pieces when they pass through handling machines. This leads to damaged mail, decreased throughput, and higher operating costs.

So when 2013 rolls around, the USPS will be ready with a few resolutions. Regulations for the sizing, paper, and closure of folded self-mailers are about to change.

In fall 2009, the USPS began a study of around 250 different FSM designs, evaluating more than 250,000 pieces of mail. The postal service wants to promote creative mailings, not limit them. So one major goal of the study was to discover which combinations of mailing features could withstand the mail processors—and which fell short.

Results of the study were published in the Federal Register in 2011, and will take effect January 5, 2013. Pieces that don’t match the new specs will be considered “non-machinable,” and will cost much more to mail than regulation-compliant ones.

While transition is always tough, I have to give kudos to the USPS for these well-considered changes. In the past, there have been some gray areas when it comes to FSM guidelines, and this new set of rules clears those up. This should limit delays in mail processing, meaning your materials will reach readers faster and more efficiently than ever before.

That’s a resolution I can get on board with. Next month, we’ll talk specifics of the new rules, like what paper basis weights, closure methods, and perforation styles will be allowed. (And if this sounds like total gibberish, don’t worry—we’ll make sure your mailings are USPS-compliant by the time we ring in the New Year.)

Want to know more about these changes? Contact Oregon, and we’ll give you the inside scoop.