Everyone enjoys getting mail. Typically when you receive an envelope or package, the postage has been paid in full by the sender. Occasionally, the sender has not applied the correct amount of postage. Perhaps the letter or package is a few stamps short, or the sender neglected to affix a stamp at all. If this is the case, you may get a notification that additional postage is due in order to receive your mail. You as the addressee will be liable for paying the remaining postage if you wish to receive the envelope or parcel. You’ll know postage is due when you receive an official notification from the U.S. Postal Service. It doesn’t happen frequently, so it can be tricky to remember what you need to do in order to claim your mail.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
Make sure you bring valid ID and the amount of outstanding postage owing to the post office, along with the postage due notice. Remember that you are not obligated to pay the postage due and the post office can return the item to the sender.
In order to claim your mail, you’ll have to prove your identity. To save yourself time and repeat visits to the post office, bring along a valid photo ID, the postage due notice you received and the amount of outstanding postage you owe. If you are the sender of the mail and it is returned to you for insufficient postage, you can also visit the post office to pay the outstanding fees so your mail will be sent. Bring along the same items to expedite the process.
Know the Options
If you do not wish to pay the postage due on a particular letter or parcel, you are under no obligation to do so. You’ll need to notify the post office of your decision. The piece of mail will be returned to the sender as “postage due.” If the sender refuses to pay the postage due, or if the letter or package sent to you does not have a return address, the mail will be considered dead mail.
Consider Using Online Resources
In August of 2017, the Postal Service introduced Automated Package Verification (APV), a system that detects postage due on parcels with postage paid via PC Postage label providers like eBay, PayPay, Pitney Bowes, Stamps.com or Click-N-Ship label. This new system was designed to automate the postage due process and reduce the number of letters and packages that are marked postage due before leaving the post office. If the correct amount of postage has not been applied to a piece of mail, an invoice will be sent to customers via Click-N-Ship or the PC Postage provider.
Prevent Postage Due When You are the Sender
Keep correct postage in mind when you are mailing a letter or package so you don’t frustrate the person you are sending correspondence to. Envelopes and parcels should be properly weighed before being mailed. If you don’t have access to a scale, you can consider using the Postal Service's flat-rate shipping boxes and envelopes. That way you pay the same rate no matter the weight of the contents.
- With express mail next-day, second-day, military or same-day airport service mail, the sender will be contacted for the outstanding postage before the mail is dispatched.
- If you do not wish to pay the postage due, inform the post office of your decision, and it will send the mail back to the sender, postage due.
- If the sender refuses to pay the postage due, or there is no return address on the mail, the mail is considered dead mail.
Katie Mills Giorgio is a freelance writer and editor living in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She has been creating content for a variety of websites and publications for the past 15 years. You can learn more about her and her work at katiemillsgiorgio.com.