Reply Mail Specifications

Use the following specifications from the U.S. Postal Service when designing reply mail. See Tech Note 36: Reply Mail Specification – Cummings for detailed information about file set-up.

Avoiding Sorting Errors
Although preparing reply mail properly can benefit you and the Postal Service, errors can negate those benefits. For example, printing the wrong barcode on a reply piece can direct your mail to the wrong post office. A wrong barcode delays delivery of your mail and adds extra processing steps for the Postal Service.

Even though barcodes representing different delivery points can look nearly identical, the correct barcode is essential. The barcode used for regular mail delivery is different from the barcode used for BRM.

It’s also easy to confuse different FIM patterns. So before you format and print reply mail, be sure that the barcode and FIM are correct for that use.

It is also important that you position the barcode and FIM properly on reply pieces if automated processing is to succeed. If part of the barcode lies outside the read area, the barcode might not be scanned accurately. In such cases, your mail is rejected by the BCS and must be sorted by hand or by slower machines. Use Notice 67, Automation Template, for correct positioning.

Mailpiece design analysts (MDAs) are assigned to business mail entry units (BMEUs) throughout the country to help you design your reply mail. To make sure that your piece achieves the best quality, provide samples of your BRM or CRM pieces to an MDA early in the design process, allowing time for changes before printing.

Obtaining BRM Permits
This publication guides you in designing reply mail. For information on other standards and application procedures (such as obtaining permits and submitting samples), contact your local post office.

Using Other Reply Services
This publication acquaints you with other services, including QBRM, MRM, and International Business Reply Service (IBRS). No matter which type of reply mail you use, you benefit from faster and easier returns of orders, inquiries, and payments.


Complete Delivery Address
You must use a complete delivery address on your BRM pieces. This address includes the name of the BRM permit holder, delivery address, city, state, and ZIP Code (see Exhibit 6-6). For letter-size pieces, all delivery address lines must appear within the MLOCR read area (see Exhibits 3-1 and 6-6).

The Postal Service assigns a unique ZIP+4 code specific to BRM. A unique fourdigit add-on to denote BRM may not be used with a unique (firm) five-digit ZIP Code not specifically assigned to BRM. The address on BRM must be that of the permit holder or of a representative of the permit holder authorized to use the BRM permit number. Contact your local post office for specific procedures about this process.

Exhibit 6-6
Complete Delivery Address Placement
(not drawn to scale)



Exhibit 6-8 summarizes the specifications for BRM elements and dimensions.

Exhibit 6-8
Reply Mail Specifications
(not drawn to scale)



Meeting Size Standards
Physical Characteristics
For automated processing, your BRM pieces must be rectangular, have straight edges, and be within the dimensions shown in Exhibit 6-9.


1. These are the maximum dimensions for card-rate eligibility.

2. BRM letter pieces should not be less than 0.009 inch thick if they are more than 4-1/4 inches high or 6 inches long or both. (The dimension that parallels the lines of the delivery address is the length. The top and bottom of the mailpiece also parallel the delivery address lines.)

3. The minimum thickness is 0.009 inch if the length is more than 6 inches or the height is more than 4-1/4 inches.

Nonmailable Pieces
All pieces not meeting the minimum size standards in Exhibit 6-9 are nonmailable.

Nonmachinable Surcharge
Letter-rate BRM that weighs 1 ounce or less is nonmachinable and subject to the nonmachinable surcharge if it has any of the criteria under “Nonmachinable Characteristics” beginning on page 12. In addition, any such pieces are not eligible for the QBRM discount.


Exhibit 7-1
CRM Design Format
(not drawn to scale)


Click here to read Tech Note 35