While having a postage meter can save a business both time and money, there are very strict rules and regulations with regard to its usage, one of them being the length of time which the dated postage or shipping label is valid for, or in other words, how long before mail stamped by a postage meter has to be actually mailed.
Do Postage Stamps Expire?
Date Stamps: How Long are they Valid?
The moment when the mail has a postage label stamped on it is when the countdown begins. This is why the mailing person needs to be careful with dated postage labels, as a time delay could cost money.
The United States Postal Service (USPS) states that items must be mailed on the date that is on the postage label. Therefore, if an item of mail had a shipping label placed on it in the morning, it would have to be placed in a mailbox by midnight. If the mailbox has already had the last scheduled collection of that day, then according to USPS regulations, there are two options. Postage can be used which was date-stamped on the day the item was deposited in the mailbox or the date of when the next scheduled collection will be.
That can be a problem, since the post office might only be open until three or four in the afternoon, and pickups at local boxes typically aren’t any later than five or six o’clock. You do have some leeway, however. If that pickup time has already passed, you’re allowed a single date correction by printing a new postage label that has the correct date and zero postage printed next to the original dated label. If you miss the date a second time, you’ll need to print a new label, which means paying twice.
Planning Your Postage
A bit of advance planning goes a long way. That means paying attention to the USPS calendar and your local post office’s hours. If you anticipate problems with meeting the day’s delivery deadline, it may be helpful to wait on processing your mail (especially if it’s a larger batch) until you can be sure it can go out on time.
If your business is open on public holidays like Veterans Day, consider dating your mail for the next day rather than printing postage and then printing a correction. It’s also worth noting that if your post office has a separate business mail intake, its hours may be different than the location’s lobby hours.
If your business uses a postage meter, you’re already on your way to improving your workflow and saving a considerable amount of time and money. Just be sure to plan carefully so that you aren’t negating those savings by wasting money on duplicate postage.