USPS Discontinues Service for First-Class Mail International Flats - Jan 21, 2018 | Overview

USPS Discontinues Service for First-Class Mail International Large Envelope/Flats with Merchandise.


Overview of Changes to First-Class Mail International Flats

Starting January 21, 2018, First-Class Mail International Service for Flats containing merchandise will no longer be available directly from the USPS. This means that no merchandise (goods) can be mailed using the First-Class Mail International service.

Parcels containing merchandise may be sent by other USPS services, including: Priority Mail Express International service, Priority Mail International service, First-Class Package International Service. Commercial mailers may also use IPA packages (small packets) and ISAL packages (small packets).

IMPORTANT: ShippingEasy subscribers have one more option for mailing lightweight merchandise. See the next section to learn more.

Examples of Documents and Merchandise

This table illustrates what items are considered documents versus those classified as merchandise.

Documents Merchandise
OK to use First-Class Mail Int'l Flats Must use other services
  • Advertisements
  • Audit and business records
  • Circulars
  • Money orders, checks, and similar items that cannot be negotiated or converted into cash without forgery.
  • Pamphlets
  • Personal correspondence
  • Written instruments not intended to be resold
  • All sold items and products
  • Artwork
  • Books
  • Collector or antique document items
  • Commercial photographs, blueprints and engineering drawings
  • Digital media. Include CDs, DVDs, flash drives, video and cassette tapes, and other digital and electronic storage media (regardless of whether they are blank or contain stored information)
  • Film and negatives
  • Periodicals
  • Player piano rolls
  • Printed educational or test material
  • Printed music
  • Separation negatives
  • X-rays

Keep in mind that merchandise and sold goods are dutiable. Such items must be must be shipped using a customs forms. In addition, the recipient could pay a duty or tax to receive the product.

For complete details of this service change, see the USPS Postal Bulletin.

Important News for ShippingEasy Subscribers Using Flats

ShippingEasy will continue to offer First-Class Mail International service for Large Envelopes/Flats, thanks to our valued carrier partnerships.

When a First-Class Mail International Flat label is purchased for a parcel containing merchandise, it will be routed to a USPS shipping consolidator sorting facility first. The consolidator will sort, document, and forward your package on to your customer, via USPS. You can expect the same delivery times as for USPS First-Class International Mail Flats.

The label itself will be a domestic label without customs information. It will be addressed to the domestic Postal Processing Facility, as well as the international recipient address. ShippingEasy will see that all the required information is printed automatically. You'll notice that no Customs Forms print. These will be sent electronically instead. In addition, the shipment only requires one tracking number, with both domestic and international events linked to it.

While this new service will cost more than First-Class Mail International, you can expect to see a cost savings up to 65% over First-Class Package International Service, depending on weight and country group.

If you prefer not to use the consolidator service, be sure to use a different carrier service. Select either of these instead:

  • USPS First-Class Package International Service
  • USPS Priority Mail International

Selecting the First-Class Mail International Flats Service for Merchandise

On the READY TO SHIP page, you'll see two entries for the Large Envelope/Flat from the Packaging menu:

  • If mailing Merchandise: select Large Envelope/Flat - Merchandise. The label will be automatically generated for the USPS consolidator service.
  • If mailing Documents: select Large Envelope/Flat - Documents. Also review the "Customs Information" section. The Package Content Type must specify Documents or Letters in order to be able to purchase a label with this packaging. Then the label will be automatically generated for USPS First-Class Mail International Flat service.


Learn more about selecting a Large Envelope/Flat to ship internationally in our step-by-step guide.

Summary of Changes for ShippingEasy Subscribers

  1. Merchandise can be sent using First-Class Mail International Flats thanks to our valued carrier partnerships.
  2. Within ShippingEasy, select the Large Envelope/Flat - Merchandise package type.
  3. The shipping label will:
    • Be a domestic label.
    • Be addressed to a Postal Processing Facility.
    • Include the international recipient address.
    • Include an international tracking number.
      NOTE: tracking service does not continue after leaving U.S. Learn more.
    • Have customs forms sent electronically.
  4. This service will increase in price, but will remain by far the most affordable way to send your products internationally using large envelopes and flats.

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