A postage meter in your home office can save you money and trips to the post office, but its use is governed by strict rules. Guidelines must be followed to ensure you don't commit a postal crime.


A postage meter, also known as a postage evidencing system, is a machine that "a customer uses to print evidence that postage required for mailing has been paid," according to the U.S. Postal Service website.


The U.S. Postal Service rents or leases postage meters to businesses. The machines cannot be sold, resold or purchased.


The U.S. Postal Service states that the manufacturers of the postage meter "must conduct inspection of certain meters on a scheduled basis." The customer must comply with these inspections.


When you print a postage label, called an "indicium," you must print the exact amount based on the weight, class, shape and other criteria of the mail piece.


If you fail to deposit the mail piece by the date indicated on the postage label, you must correct the date. You can do this only once per mail piece. To correct a date, print a new label with the correct date. The label must show a postage value of zero.

If you have a letter-size piece, place the corrected label on the non-address side in the upper right corner or on the address side in the lower left corner. If you have a parcel or a flat-size piece, place the corrected label next to the original indicium, except when applied by an ink jet printer on bar-coded flats.

If you printed a label without enough postage, reprint the label for the remaining amount.