What are USPS non-machinable surcharges?

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This article describes service requirements determined by the United States Postal Service (USPS).

The USPS is a separate organization from ShippingEasy.
For more information about USPS services, visit your local Post Office or go to

The USPS non-machinable surcharge is applied to letters and envelopes when they can’t be automatically processed. Essentially, you are charged for the use of certain machines to assist with the sorting and separating. Being larger than the machine is able to sort into the appropriate pile means your package will be bumped up to the next class of letter or package, which often costs more money.

If you are sending an odd shaped package (too large or with variable shapes) you’ll want to use the proper postage so you don’t get charged additional fees.

USPS Machinable Criteria

Some of the main criteria you want to watch out for are:

  • The aspect ratio (length divided by height) must be at correct.
  • The package must be kept in the proper shipping container (often boxes, letters, or envelopes)
  • The package shouldn’t have any pieces dangling off it such as rope, clasps, or locks.
  • The package typically must be of uniform size (Flat rate boxes are great examples of this. Learn more.)
  • The delivery address must be put in it’s appropriate place.

By avoiding these points, you save the USPS time which in return can save yourself money! Learn how ShippingEasy helps you save even more money on USPS rates.

Ask yourself:

  • Is the package a strange shape?
  • Does this package have improper postage or shipping address in a hard to see location?
  • Is the package in an odd container?
  • Can anything on my package get caught or tangled on other things?

If you can answer “Yes” to any of those you may have a non-machinable package that will incur an additional fee.

Look up USPS' specific guidelines for commercial letters, flats, and parcels.

NOTE: As of January 2019, USPS non-machinable surcharges are as follows

  • First-Class Mail International envelopes: $0.21
  • First-Class Mail envelope: $0.15


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Related articles: 

Package Sizes and Dimensions: Measuring Packages
Packing Tips: Most Common Packing Mistakes
Shipping Tips: Improve Efficiency


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  • Avatar
    Paul Kavanagh

    How do you have a page titled: "What are USPS non-machinable surcharges?" then not list the surcharges?????


  • Avatar
    Jacen P. [ShippingEasy]

    Hello Paul and thank you for posting to our Support Center.

    This is a great question and we appreciate your feedback.
    As of January 22nd, 2017, USPS non-machinable surcharges for First Class envelopes is $0.21. We have updated this article to reflect that information for future shippers and provided a link below to the USPS price list that includes non-machinable surcharges.
    If you are shipping a non-First Class envelope that you think may be non-machinable, we recommend contacting your local US Post Office for the current and most accurate surcharge rates. These rates can vary depending on the type of item you are shipping and also your package's destination.

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