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Services and Procedures

Receiving Mail | Mail Forwarding | Preparation of Campus Mail |
Preparation of Outgoing Mail
| Reply Mail | Postage Due Mail | Mailing Permits

Receiving Mail

To receive mail at Brown, a complete mailing address should be used. Some components of your address will help the U.S. Post Office get your mail to Brown, while other segments will aid Brown's sorting process in the mailroom.

Address Format
The Mailroom refers to both department names and box numbers when sorting mail. Therefore, the use of a complete address is recommended.

Recipient's Name
Brown University
Box No.
Providence, RI *02912-box no.

(Bold - campus address)

* The University's unique zip code and "ZIP+4"

The University zip code 02912 belongs exclusively to Brown University and should not be used with an off-campus address. Members of the University community who reside near the campus should consult with the local post office on Meeting Street to obtain their residential zip code.

The U.S. Postal Service has implemented an automated mail processing program called "ZIP+4". This program gives the post office the ability to sort mail through computerized equipment by reading a zip code extended by four digits. The U.S. Postal Service has designated University mailbox numbers as the four-digit extension to Brown's zip code.

The departments assigned a mailbox designated with a letter should refer to the chart below for the four-digit add-on.

Chart of Letter Mailbox "ZIP+4"

Box A 02912-9101 Box N 02912-9114
Box B 02912-9102 Box O 02912-9115
Box C 02912-9103 Box P 02912-9116
Box D 02912-9104 Box Q 02912-9117
Box E 02912-9105 Box R 02912-9118
Box F 02912-9106 Box S 02912-9119
Box G 02912-9107 Box T 02912-9120
Box H 02912-9108 Box U 02912-9121
Box I 02912-9109 Box V 02912-9122
Box J 02912-9110 Box W 02912-9123
Box K 02912-9111 Box X 02912-9124
Box L 02912-9112 Box Y 02912-9125
Box M 02912-9113 Box Z 02912-9126

Directory Service

Mail received at the University which is insufficiently addressed for sorting will be processed through directory service. The directory service process requires a clerk to manually check University directories to determine the correct box number. This process is costly to operations and delays mail delivery. Mail not identified through this process is returned to sender stamped "Not At Brown".

Accountable Mail

The U.S. Postal Service requires a signature to release accountable mail (Registered, Certified, Insured, Express). Window Clerks, acting as agents, sign for all incoming accountable mail for the University. In turn, a signature is required, with a University ID, before the mail is released to the addressee or department. A "Notice of Accountable Mail" which lists the instructions for picking up the mail will be placed in the addressee's mailbox. A department representative can act as an agent to sign for all departmental accountable mail.

Departments are responsible to sign for and collect accountable mail for all staff members and graduate students who are no longer at the University. If the mail piece is to be forwarded or returned to sender, the department is responsible for all required postage charges.

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Mail Forwarding

Departments are responsible for forwarding mail. The forwarding address should be listed on the envelope such that it does not cover the original addressee's name. Above the forwarding address write, "Please Forward" , draw a vertical line through the original address.

Note: When forwarding accountable mail, consult the mailroom at ext. 3-2880 for proper procedures.

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Preparation of Campus Mail

To assure that mail is processed quickly, follow the guidelines outlined below.

Campus mail is correspondence circulated within the University mail system without postage. Requirements for campus mail preparations will vary, depending on the intended mail recipient.

Addressing and Envelope Use

A full address, which includes an individual and/or department name and box number, should be used. A return address should be used on all non-interdepartmental envelopes. All flaps must be sealed or tucked inside envelopes. Mail to undergraduate students should not be sent in interdepartmental envelopes.

Department to Department

Mail in this category is generally processed by mailroom staff. When mailings contain more than 100 pieces, departments should organize the mail in order by box number and bundle ten or more pieces for the same box number with a rubber band.

Department to Undergraduate Students

Daily correspondence to undergraduate students will be processed by mailroom staff. Mailings of 50 pieces or more should be in order by box number. Interdepartmental envelopes should not be used; enclosures are not permitted. Mail prepared on an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper should be folded in thirds; fold half-sheets of 8 1/2 x 11 in half.

Mass Mailings to Undergraduate Students

A mass mailing is defined as a mailing to any combination of students as an identifiable group, such as freshman or seniors, etc. Mass mailings are to be sorted/boxed by departmental personnel. Mail Services should be notified at least one day in advance of departmental sorting.

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Preparation of Outgoing Mail

When Mail Services applies postage to outgoing University business mail, the postage is 'charged back' to the department by use of a Metered Mail Card. The date, amount of postage, and the department account number are recorded on the mail card. The cards are used to create a postage transaction file, which is used to record the charges in the FRS (Financial Records System).

Mail Services maintains a U.S. Postal Service mailing permit. This permit provides another method of payment for postage on "mailings" processed outside the mailroom. For information and/or to insure compliance with postal regulations, notify Mail Services before using the mailing permit. See section H, Mailing Permits, (p. 15).

Metered Mail Card

Departments are responsible to provide a completed Metered Mail Card with all mail requiring postage. Only one card is necessary per bundle of mail. However, care should be taken to insure that the mail card is not separated from the bundle. When sending bulky envelopes or packages, attach mail card with a small piece of tape. Be sure the card is signed and the telephone extension listed.

After receiving a Mail Card order form, Mail Services will provide mail cards prepared with bar-coded department account numbers. All cards should be kept in a secure place. Mail Services will not be responsible for unauthorized use of mail cards.

Addressing Outgoing Mail

A full address as well as a full return address (employee name when appropriate, department name and box number) should always be used on outgoing mail. On foreign mail, all countries of destination must be written entirely in English in capital letters. More detailed addressing information can be found in Section IV, U.S. Postal Service: Service and Procedures (p. 23-24).

Envelope/Package Endorsement

Except for standard size domestic business envelopes, all mail, foreign mail in particular, must show on the address side of the envelope/package what class of mail is being used (Priority, Air Mail, Parcel Post, etc.).

Bundling Mail for Processing

When mail is brought to the mailroom, it should be bundled so that similar type and size envelopes are together. All addresses should be facing the same way with larger envelopes placed on the bottom of the bundle. Foreign mail should be separated from domestic mail. Number 10 business size envelopes can be sealed by the postage meter machine provided the envelope weighs one ounce or less and the flaps are nested and not in the sealed position when received for processing.

Mail Piece Design

When designing special mail pieces which will weigh 1 ounce or less, keep in mind that the U.S. Postal Service has guidelines for designing mail which can be successfully processed through computerized equipment. Mail pieces which are not in compliance with the guidelines may be subject to

  • a surcharge applied to each mail piece

  • slower delivery than properly designed mail

  • being returned as non-mailable material

The basic acceptable dimensions for mail pieces are provided below. There are other characteristics to consider when designing a mail piece, for further information consult the mailroom.

Dimensions for standard size mail pieces weighing 1 ounce or less.

Min (in.) Max (in.)
Height 3 1/2 6 1/8
Length 5 10 1/2
Min (in.) Max (in.)
Height 3 1/2 4 1/4
Length 5 6

Postcards exceeding the maximum dimensions requires letter rate postage.
Mail pieces smaller than the minimum dimensions are not acceptable for mailing.

Nonprofit Bulk Mailings

Nonprofit bulk mail is the most inexpensive method for mailing domestic non-first class material. Requirements for sending a nonprofit mailing are:

  • At least 200 identical pieces of non-first class material each weighing less than 16 oz.

  • Mailing is sorted/separated into specified zip code categories

  • Mailing is deposited at the Mail Acceptance Unit at the Providence Corliss Street U.S. Post Office

  • The appropriate U.S. Postal Service form must be completed and accompany the mailing when brought to the Mail Acceptance Unit

  • Nonprofit mailings must originate from Brown University

Due to operational constraints, Mail Services does not accept nonprofit mailings of more than 1,000 pieces for processing. Mailings that are processed by Mail Services must be received presorted to the specified zip code categories as required by the U.S. Postal Service.

Before mailing is sent to Mail Services for processing, the department should speak with the Mail Services' Supervisor for zip code sorting instructions.

You should also understand that, unlike other classes of outgoing mail, nonprofit bulk mailings received at Mail Services are not immediately processed. However, every effort is made to process such mailings within a five business day period, after which mailings are given a priority for processing.

Alternative Support for Sending Nonprofit Bulk Mailings

Alternative support for sending mailings exceeding 1,000 pieces is available at the Graphic Services Department. Additionally, Mail Services has and maintains a U.S. Postal Service mailing permit for general University use, which may also be used for sending mailings at the nonprofit bulk rates. Questions pertaining to the use of the permit should be directed to Mail Services' management.

Preparation for Sending Accountable Mail

When sending an accountable mail piece (registered, express, certified, insured) the sender is issued a receipt. In addition, the mail recipient is required to sign for the mail piece when delivery is made.

All outgoing accountable mail must be brought to the University Service Window (with a completed mail card). After postage and mailing forms are provided, the sender will present the mail piece to the U.S. Postal Clerk in Faunce House to obtain a receipt.

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Reply Mail

The reply mail system is used when a written reply is needed from correspondents. To encourage a response, preprinted envelopes or postcards are included with outgoing mail which are returned through the mail. There are three types of reply mail, Business Reply, Courtesy Reply and Metered Reply Mail. Your choice will depend on the size of your mailing, the expected number of responses and the cost of preparing the reply envelopes or postcards.

Business Reply Mail enables correspondents to mail a reply without having to pay postage. Postage is only charged on mail pieces that are returned, thereby reducing the postage cost to the reply recipient. Using Business Reply Mail requires all envelopes and postcards to be printed in compliance with standards set by the U.S. Postal Service. Consult Mail Services for detailed information on postage fees and printing requirements.

Postage on returned Business Reply Mail is charged to Mail Services' Business Reply Account. After the returned mail is processed and distributed, Mail Services will charge the postage to the receiving department.

Courtesy Reply Mail provides correspondents with envelopes or postcards but requires correspondents to apply postage before mailing the reply. Printing courtesy reply mail envelopes/postcards should include a complete department address and a "Zip+4" bar-code, which can be obtained by contacting Mail Services. Printed in the upper right hand corner should be the notation "Post Office will not deliver mail without postage".

Metered Reply Mail enables correspondents to mail a reply without having to pay postage. Since postage is applied to the envelopes/postcards before they are initially mailed the applied postage cannot be recovered from mail pieces not returned. Printing metered reply mail pieces should include a complete department address and a "ZIP+4" bar-code, which can be obtained by contacting Mail Services. Printed one space above the address should be the notation "No Postage Stamp Necessary Postage Has Been Prepaid By". Mail Services will apply metered postage upon request.

Note: Envelopes and postcards printed with "ZIP+4" bar-codes will be processed by the U.S. Postal Service faster than non bar-coded mail. Obtaining a bar-code could take a week, so plan accordingly.

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Postage Due Mail

Business Reply and Short Paid Mail requires postage before delivery can be made to the University. All such mail is processed through the Postage Due Mail system which is maintained by Mail Services. The required postage is charged to Mail Services' Postage Due account with the U.S. Postal Service. Mail is then distributed and postage is billed to the receiving departments through the FRS (Financial Records System).

Business Reply Mail

Business Reply Mail enables correspondents to return a written reply without having to pay postage. The reply recipient only pays postage on mail pieces that are returned. Using Business Reply Mail requires all envelopes and postcards to be printed in compliance with standards set by the U.S. Postal Service. Consult Mail Services for detailed information on postage fees and printing requirements.

Short Paid Mail

Mail in the short paid category is mail received at the University with insufficient postage. All such mail is accepted and processed at the mailroom.

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Mailing Permits

Mailing permits are used as an alternative to affixing stamps to envelopes or postcards as a means to pay postage. Using a permit is only permissible when sending a "mailing" and not intended for use when sending individual envelopes and postcards. Mailing permits are commonly used by print shops, such as Graphic Services, when they prepare mailings for their clientele.

How Mailing Permits Are Used

For an annual fee, the U.S. Postal Service issues mailing permits for the purpose of sending mailings. All permits have a particular number assigned, which must appear on all envelopes and postcards when used. Generally, holder of mailing permits have money on deposit with the U.S. Postal Service under the permit number. When a mailing is deposited at the post office for a particular permit number, the postage cost of that mailing is withdrawn from the permit account.

Mail Services maintains a U.S. Postal Service mailing permit for general University use. We do not, however, keep money on deposit to cover the postage cost when the permit is used.

Requirements for using our mailing permit are as follows:

  • Permit mailings must contain at least 200 identical pieces.

  • The proper indicia format must be used, including the permit number.

  • Mail Services should be notified by phone when its permit is used.

  • All permit mailings must be deposited at the Mail Acceptance Unit at the Providence Corliss Street U.S. Post Office.

  • The appropriate U.S. Postal Service mailing form must accompany the mailing.

  • The mailer must be prepared to pay the full cost of postage when the mailing is brought to the U.S. Post Office. Note - Mail Services is not responsible for any money paid in excess of the actual cost of postage, which the Post Office may deposit under the permit number.

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