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Physical Requirements for Self-Mailers

Kurt Ruppel

Yesterday Mike Dietz showcased some popular self-mailer formats and key concepts to consider when creating your designs. But there’s another critical component to self-mailers – USPS regulations regarding the placement of tabs or glue to close them. Improperly sealed self-mailers can result in the mailpiece being damaged or destroyed during processing. In addition, self-mailers not meeting tabbing/closure requirements are not eligible for automation discounts. Since neither of these are desired outcomes, let’s review the physical requirements that went into effect in January which are crucial to abide by.

First, you need to understand the Postal Service classifies self-mailers as Standard, Oblong or Quarter-fold.

Standard means all folds are parallel to the address (horizontal along bottom of the piece) while Oblong refers to all folds being perpendicular to the address (vertical along the right of the address). Quarter-folds entail a combination of horizontal and vertical folds. If you use a format with flaps, the flap must be on the non-address side of the piece.

There are also size and paper weight restrictions. The maximum size is 6” x 10.5”, which is smaller than enveloped letters. The minimum paper weight is 70# (piece weight up to 1 ounce) or 80# (piece weight over 1 ounce).

How you close the self-mailer is important as well. Here is a breakdown of the requirements for tabs and glue closures:

Sealing methods – Tabs

Tabs cannot be perforated. The number of tabs required is determined by the weight of the mailpiece, design elements and paper weight. (See below for tab size requirements.)

Standard (≤ 3 oz.) and quarter-fold (≤ 1 oz.)

  • Two tabs on the top edge within 1” from leading and trailing edges
  • Two tabs on leading and trailing edges within 1” from the top

Quarter-fold (> 1 oz.)

  • Quarter-fold self-mailers must be sealed with tabs
  • Three tabs, two on the leading edge and one on the trailing edge. The tabs on the leading edge should be within 1” of the top and 0.5” of the bottom and within 1” of top on the trailing edge


  • Two tabs, one in the center of the top edge and one in the center of the trailing edge (preferred)
  • Two tabs on the trailing edge within 1” of top and bottom
  • Tabs cannot be placed on the bottom edge of an oblong piece

Sealing methods – Glue

Glue must be positioned within 0.25” of the open edges and be placed opposite the final fold or on both the leading and trailing edges when the final fold is on the bottom. Glue spots or elongated glue lines should be distributed evenly along the sealed edge(s) and can be applied by one of the following methods:

Folded self-mailers weighing up to 1 oz.
Continuous glue lines 0.125” (1/8”) wide
Three or four glue spots at least 0.375 (3/8”) in diameter
Three or four elongated glue lines

Folded self-mailers weighing more than 1 oz.
Continuous glue lines 0.125” (1/8”) wide
Three or four elongated glue lines at least 1” long and 0.125” wide or 0.5” long and 0.25” wide

Quarter-fold self-mailers must be sealed with tabs, not glue.

If your head isn’t spinning yet, there are additional specifications to consider if you’re using designs that involve a special die-cut, pull-open strips, pop-out panes, attachments or tear-off strips.  As Mike mentioned in his video, if you have any questions about these details please be sure to consult a Postal Service representative or ask your production partner.  Please feel free to contact me if you would like more details on the physical requirements of self-mailers

link https://www.iwco.com/blog/2013/09/12/self-mailer-requirements/
Kurt Ruppel


Kurt Ruppel

Kurt Ruppel is Director Postal Policy and Marketing Communications. He educates clients on postal regulations and rates, helps ensure mail packages meet spec, and develops postal strategies that achieve in-home delivery targets at the best possible postage rates. Kurt has brought the “all of us know more than any of us” business philosophy to IWCO Direct for more than 30 years (oy!). He is a three-time IWCO Direct President’s Award winner, Chairman of the EMA Board of Directors, graduate of Utah State University, gardening enthusiast, and Ohio State Buckeye Football fan.

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