In a word, NO. However, you still must be approved by the United States Postal Service (USPS) before you can legally operate one. Keep reading to learn more.
In the United States, federal law prohibits the sale of postage meters; they can only be leased from certain vendors or manufacturers approved by the USPS. Customers also have to enter into a legally binding agreement with the USPS for authorization to use the meters.
This means that the customer accepts responsibility for the meter's control and use and agrees to abide by all the rules and regulations stipulated by the USPS.
One such regulation is that a postage meter must be inspected periodically by the supplier. If the inspection is not performed within a certain time, then the machine will cease to function.
Who are the Authorized Postage Meter Vendors in the US?
There are five suppliers in the US, namely:
Each manufacturer sets its own servicing and leasing fees, but the postage rates are controlled by the USPS.
New rates have been in effect since January 2014.
Mail Authorized for use in a Postage Meter
A postage meter may be used for all types of mail with the exception of periodicals.
However, for bulk mailings, you need to apply for a permit and there is also an annual fee of $200 which allows you to mail bulk mailings from a single Post Office for a period of one year. This fee is in addition to application and postage fees.
Metered mail can generally only be deposited in certain locations designated by the postmaster of the licensing Post Office. This is the Post Office displayed in the postage stamp.
There are, however, some exceptions though to this rule. For example, single piece first class mail can be dropped into any collection box.
Other exceptions are shown on the USPS website under the 'Basic Standards for All Mailing Services' section.
How is Payment for Postage Made?
Payment can be made by a variety of methods through the meter provider or through the USPS Postage Now program which allows you to pay electronically using methods such as Federal Wire, ACH Credit and Debit.
How Do I Go About Renting a Meter and What Do They Cost?
There are lots of different postage meters available from the five vendors and leasing fees vary accordingly, therefore it is necessary to calculate your exact needs.
Some vendors, eager to get your business, may offer a free (or reduced rate) trial period.
For example, Pitney Bowes are currently offering a 60 day free trial on their DM100 meter.