The phrase “No Postage Necessary if Mailed in the United States” on an envelope indicates the sender has used “business reply mail,” or BRM – a service of the United States Postal Service (USPS). BRM makes responding to a mailing more convenient because the return postage is paid by the organization initiating the correspondence. The organization pays postage at a lower rate only on the pieces respondents mail back. In addition to basic and high-volume BRM, the USPS offers basic and high-volume qualified BRM on pieces eligible for automated sorting.

Obtain a Permit

BRM users must have a permit by which they guarantee to pay a per-piece fee plus first-class postage on every BRM item returned. The only qualification to obtain a permit is submitting a completed “Mailing Permit Application and Customer Profile” form 3615 to your local post office. Requests for a qualified BRM permit also require application form 6805. An annual $160 permit fee is applied to all BRM options. The USPS also charges a $500 advance deposit for high-volume BRM and qualified BRM services. The USPS deducts any postage incurred from this deposit.

Be Aware of Size and Weight Limits

A mailing must meet USPS dimensional requirements. Acceptable postcards are 3.5 to 4.25 inches tall by 5 to 6 inches wide and between 0.007 to 0.016 inch thick. Letter-size card, booklet and envelope dimensions must fall between 3.5 to 6-1/8-inches high by 5 to 11.5 inches long. USPS Physical Standards for Letters and Cards mandates these pieces be rectangular with a maximum 0.25 inch thickness. BRM pieces weighing more than the standard 1 ounce will cost more based on permit type and mail classification (e.g., letter, parcel or postcard).

Adhere to Design Limits

Failure to adhere to address, bar code and zip code specifications on a BRM piece can prove costly, as the postal service will charge a higher rate when a mail piece cannot be processed through its automated system. The USPS has a list of elements each BRM piece must contain, each with its own specifications. For instance, the “No Postage Necessary If Mailed in the United States” imprint must appear on the upper-right corner and not extend farther than 1.75 inches from the right edge. The USPS must approve all qualified BRM pieces and recommends permit holders seek sample approval from a mail-piece design analyst via the USPS website for all mailings due to the complexity of format compliance.

Note Other Limitations

A BRM permit does not limit the number of pieces that can be returned to a U.S. post office or postal facility in any U.S. possession, territory or oversees military station. However, BRM mail sent to foreign countries must use the International Business Reply Service, for which different rates and design specifications apply. Section 1.6 of the BRM section in the USPS domestic mail manual states that use of business reply mail must follow the intent of the permit holder. The USPS treats any item using a BRM card or envelope as a label as waste.