Mail Services Guide

Mail Services Guide

Delivery and Pickup | Incoming Mail | Outgoing Mail | Outgoing Department Mail | Federal Mail to be Metered | Outgoing Personal Mail Preparation of Outgoing Mail | Sealing of Envelopes | Forwarding of Mail | Accountable Mail | Messenger Mail | Addressing of Messenger Mail | Change of Address

Non-Mailable Items | Non-Standard Mail | Sizes and Types of Envelopes | Letter Sizes | Sealing of Envelopes | Proper Addressing

International Mail | Express Mail | Insured Mail | Certified Mail | Registered Mail | Return Receipt | Business Reply Mail (BRM)Postage Due Mail | Standard Mail (Bulk Mail)Internal Mass Mail | Undeliverable Mail Policy | The Future | Mail Supplies Attachments

Mailroom Services

Delivery and Pickup

University Mail Services has scheduled times for pick up and delivery of USPS and Messenger Mail throughout the University community. If your out-going mail is not ready by the scheduled pick up time for your department, your staff must bring it to the UMS Mailroom by 4:00 pm for same day processing. Mail received at the Mailroom after the 4:00 pm deadline may be processed for next day delivery to the Post Office.

Incoming Mail

Incoming USPS mail from the Post Office arrives at the University Mail Services Mailroom at 7:50 am Monday through Friday, excluding USPS holidays. The mail is sorted and then delivered throughout the University according to daily scheduled times arranged by University Mail Services.

University Mail Services is responsible for the pick up and delivery of 1st, 2nd, 3rd class mail, parcel post and accountable U.S. mail to various University offices and departments. Applicable Zip Codes are as follows:

Academic Departments


Business Reply Mail Only


Caller Service


Health Sciences Center


Outgoing Mail

Outgoing Department Mail

Outgoing mail is picked up from University departments at the same time as the incoming mail is delivered unless other arrangements have been made.

Special Notice: Physical Standards for Flats, Letters and Cards, Section 201.3.8
3.8 Wraps and Closures

An automation-compatible mailpiece may NOT be polywrapped, polybagged, or shrinkwrapped; have clasps, strings, buttons, or similar closure devices; or have protrusions that might impede or damage the mail or mail processing equipment. It is for this reason that we are no longer able to send flat envelopes containing clasps (whether covered or not) through our presort vendor. Mail for the departments still using the envelopes with the clasp closures, strings, buttons, etc.,  as described above will go at the full postage rate and will not qualify for the discounted presort rates.

Departments need to separate International Mail, First Class Domestic Mail, Mail Requiring Special Attention, and Messenger Mail. The different categories of mail should be put in separate trays or should be bundled and marked accordingly.

All outgoing mail should have the department’s return address. We encourage the use of Messenger Mail envelopes to include correct department and box number in the appropriate area. Those departments that use envelopes should have the return address in the upper left-hand corner.

Federal Mail to be Metered

All postage to be metered is charged to the initiating department through the UVA Finance FDM Work Tag # Validator . Departments are responsible for ensuring that University Mail Services is provided with the correct department account number to be charged for all outgoing mail.  The FDM Work Tag bar code # (see University Mail Service website) must be used. Mail Services is not authorized to process outgoing mail without an account code. University departments will save $.02 on one oz. and two oz. letters by using University Mail Services.

Federal Mail that needs to be metered and sealed should be presented to University Mail Services with all FLAPS OUT (not down or tucked) in a stacked form, rubber banded together. Individual pieces and odd or bulky sized mail should be pre-sealed.

The use of staples to secure or seal a letter, flyer or package is not preferred by the Post Office and disallowed for mail applying for an automation discount. In place of staples, "tabs" are now used. A tab is a small separate paper/plastic piece with an adhesive side that folds over to secure the pages together. Envelopes, besides the conventional means of sealing, may be sealed using cellophane tape as long as the flap is adequately covered. Additionally, do not use tape to affix a stamp to an envelope because it is against postal regulations.

University Mail Services is authorized to meter mail for all University correspondence reflecting a University return address. Any mail lacking this address may not be metered.

Outgoing Personal Mail

You may deposit your personal stamped mail in your outgoing box. Personal mail will be picked up by the Postal Service at 5:15 pm every working day along with the University’s mail. Outgoing personal mail must be sealed and have the appropriate postage affixed. University Mail Services does not and cannot meter any personal mail.

Preparation of Outgoing Mail

Separate self – stamped mail and Messenger Mail from mail to be metered. All letters should be bundled neatly with rubber bands and should be facing the same way.

International Mail, to include Canada and Mexico, and mail requiring SPECIAL HANDLING such as "Certified and Insured" mail must be separated and marked with clear instructions.

Sealing of Envelopes

If you require UMS to seal envelopes for you, please ensure that they are bundled, facing the same way with their flaps open. Unsealed envelopes must be wrapped with a rubber band to keep their contents intact and to ensure smooth handling.

If you use "window envelopes", please ensure that the entire address shows through the window. Do not staple enclosures to window of envelope. If address does not properly fit the window, please use an envelope without a window.

Forwarding of Mail

University Mail Services does not forward your mail for you. Individuals are responsible to notify correspondents of their change of address. If you receive mail for individuals who are no longer with your department, cross out the UVA address completely and list the forwarding address under the words: "Please Forward". If you do not have a forwarding address, cross out the UVA. address and BARCODE completely and mark the envelope: Return to Sender, No Forwarding Address". Place these envelopes with your mail for pick up. If you receive unwanted mail, do not open it. Cross-out the UVA address completely along with the bar-coding at the bottom of the address and mark the envelope: Refused, Return to Sender".

Accountable Mail

Express Mail, Certified Mail, Insured Mail and Registered Mail comprise the accountable mail category. This mail is tracked and accounted for throughout the mail system. University Mail Services assumes responsibility for this mail when we receive it on your behalf and this responsibility is discharged only when the item is properly signed by the recipient or department designee. To ensure proof and record of receipt, we ask the recipient to print his/her name legibly, sign and date the "Accountable Mail Manifest".

USPS Postal carriers deliver Express Mail to the mailroom around 3:00 p.m. Every effort will be made to deliver this mail as it arrives on the next scheduled run for your department. Express Mail received by UMS after the scheduled run for your department has been made will be delivered to you on the same day only on availability of staff.

If your department is closed when the delivery is being made or if there is no one available at your department to sign for receipt of the mail, it will be returned to the mailroom and it will be delivered on the next scheduled run.

Messenger Mail

Messenger Mail is mail/correspondence sent out by UVA departments for delivery to addresses within the University System. All mail must be official University business. This mail can be a non-specific memo for general distribution or items addressed to a specific individual or position within the University. Specific addressee mail, if not in an envelope, should be folded and marked with the individual name or title and that person’s PO Box and department. We strongly encourage you to use Messenger Mail Envelopes for Messenger Mail. If you use stationary envelopes for Messenger Mail, please ensure that "MESSENGER MAIL" is printed prominently on the envelope. All personal correspondence to anyone within the University System requires appropriate U.S. postage.

The University Mail Services’ staff sorts over 60,000 pieces of mail per day. To expedite the process, letters are quickly scanned. [We sort mail by departments and not by a person’s name, building or room number.] Failure to list the department’s name may result in delay or misdirection of your mail. Envelopes lacking a department name are automatically put aside for letter research and will result in delivery delays. Do not abbreviate names of people and departments. Abbreviating may cause delays in sorting, besides leading to wrong deliveries. Properly addressed mail is usually delivered by the next business day.

Addressing of Messenger Mail

When addressing Messenger Mail or stationary, the one line format is preferred. We request you avoid three or more lines since such mail can be mistaken for mail requiring metering.

Change of Address

If a new member is added to your department or if a staff or faculty member changes departments or buildings, a change of address notice needs to be sent to the Mailroom in the form of a memo so that future mail may be delivered accordingly.

Employees and Students residing off-Grounds should not receive any incoming personal mail or packages (including UPS) at a University address.


General Mailing Instructions

Non-Mailable Items

Some items such as metal pieces, glass parts, product samples, chemicals, etc., may not be mailed. These items, besides jamming and/or damaging mailing machines, can cause serious injury to Mailroom employees. These articles may be returned to sender.

Non-Standard Mail

Envelopes and Post Cards of less than: 3 1/2" in height or 5" in length or .007 in thickness are considered non-standard and additional charges are levied towards their postage. For more information regarding standard sizes, please contact University Mail Services; we will be glad to provide you with more detailed information.

Sizes and Types of Envelopes

Please determine the proper size and strength of the envelope in accordance with the size of enclosure. Overly large envelopes fail to firmly hold their contents. The enclosures tend to move around and there is a risk of tearing the envelope and losing the contents. A snug fit keeps the enclosure firm in the envelope.

Overstuffing can cause an envelope to burst at the seams and may lead to loss of enclosures.

The size of the envelope should be selected to properly accommodate the contents. For the U.S. Postal System, the two main categories of envelopes are "letter size" and "flats". Flats are envelopes larger than the maximum letter size, but no larger than 12" high by 15" long and 3/4" thick.

Automation Discount Letter Size

To qualify for automated processing (postage savings for your department) by USPS:

Letter size mail must be rectangular. For a letter to be considered as standard size, the following dimensions must be met: Height: 3 1/2"min., 6 1/8" max. Length: 5" min., 11 1/2" max. Thickness .007"min. to 1/4"max. Contact University Mail Services for envelope template if not sure of sizing.

Be sealed or secured on all four edges so they can be fed through a machine.

Note: Maximum thickness for automated processing is 1/4". Mail that does not meet automated processing size may not qualify for discounted rates.

Sealing of Envelopes

The mailroom has provisions for automatic sealing of standard sized gummed envelopes. Please leave the envelope flaps open, nesting into each other and then secure the bundle of envelopes with a rubber band or ask for a letter tray for your envelopes. The contents of the envelope must fit to allow for a proper seal of the flap. If forwarded to the Mailroom in this manner, the envelopes bypass sorting and are directly moved to the sealing and metering machines.

Proper Addressing

The following address formats are recommended to ensure efficient handling and delivery by the U.S. Postal Service.

The complete mailing address should be located within the lower right half of the envelope whenever possible. Extraneous printing or markings should appear as far away from the address as possible. Sender’s address should appear in the upper left-hand corner and should be no lower than 1/3 of height of mailpiece from top.

The following suggestions will help make your mail user friendly to the Post Office and speed up delivery:

  • Type or machine-print complete address.
  • Ensure print is clear and sharp.
  • Use standard business fronts. Address characters should not touch or overlap.
  • Print addresses in 10 or 12 point type (14 is OK) in sans serif.
  • Black ink on a white background is best.
  • Maintain a uniform left margin.
  • Use uppercase letters.
  • Omit all punctuation.
  • Include floor, suite and apartment numbers.
  • Include name of city, state and zip code in that order on the same line.
  • Use standard two–letter state abbreviations.
  • For international mail, print the country's name in capital letters without any abbreviations.
  • If using window envelopes, ensure that the entire address is always visible.

Address labels if used on parcels, packages, letters or large envelopes must also be addressed accordingly to the above-recommended format. Labels must be applied parallel to the bottom edge of the envelope to be processed by the Post Office on automation equipment.


Other Mail Services

International Mail

In the absence of alternative instructions, all international mail from the University is sent through a commercial mail service. This mail bypasses the U.S. Postal Service and is flown directly to the foreign country of destination and placed into that country’s postal system. This service offers significant reduction in mailing costs over the USPS system and arrives faster. Departments will save 5% to 10% on their postage costs when using University Mail Services for international mail.

Priority Mail

All First class mail that weighs more than 11 ounces and not more than 70 pounds, and at the option of the mailer, any other mailable material weighing 13 ounces or less is considered Priority Mail.

Priority Mail can be sent to all fifty states and Puerto Rico. This service has a two-day delivery objective (not guaranteed) to large metropolitan areas within the United States.

Priority Mail envelopes and labels must be used when using this service. All University Mail Services locations can provide these supplies.

Express Mail

This is an extremely reliable and fast delivery service available from the U.S. Postal Service. This service is available for all major zones in the US and 84 countries.

Express mail is picked up from University Mail Services by the Postal Service at 2:15 pm for Next Day Guaranteed Delivery Service and 5:15 pm for two-day delivery. In order to meet the deadlines, express mail should be received no later than 1:00 pm for Next Day Service and 4:00 pm for two-day delivery service.

Express mail labels (which must accompany the shipment) and large express envelopes can be obtained in advance by calling any of the University Mail Services locations.

It is the responsibility of the sending department to complete the "ship to" and "from" address blocks located on the bottom portion of the express label. After completion, you may place in your department’s outbound mail or take it to one of the University Mail Services locations. The U.S. Post Office will send a copy of the express label back to the originating department. Be sure to remove the patch (Express Mail ID Number) from the back page. This is your means for tracking your mail.

Insured Mail

Insurance up to $500.00 can be obtained for materials that are sent within the United States, 1st class, 3rd class and parcel post. If you are sending items that are valued at more than $500.00, you should use registered mail; insurance is available up to $25,000.00.

Certified Mail

Certified mail should be used when proof of mailing is required. This service is available only when sending an item 1st class within the United States. Examples of use include sending legal papers, diplomas or materials that are deemed important but have no intrinsic value in and of themselves.

A return receipt indicating the date of delivery and signature can be requested for an additional fee. A receipt of the mailing, which is detached from the label and has the official postal postmark, is your record of the mailing and should be retained by the sender. Labels and Return Receipts can be obtained from University Mail Services locations.

Registered Mail

Registered mail service is available with or without postal insurance. Items without provable value do not require insurance. The registered mail system is designed to provide added protection for valuable mail. Postage insurance may be purchased to cover articles valued up to $25,000.00. Registered mail is the highest security mail the U.S. Postal Service offers. It incorporates a system of receipts to monitor registered articles from the point of acceptance to delivery. Return receipt and restricted delivery services are available for additional fees. Added security measures may, however, delay the delivery by 24 – 48 hours. Registered mail should be taken to the Contract Station or to the Post office for processing.

Return Receipt

A return receipt offers proof of delivery. This is an optional service and is available for insured, certified registered and domestic express mail shipments. The return receipt identifies the article number of the mailing, the person who signed the receipt for the letter and the date of delivery to the addressee. It is not necessary to use return receipts with all certified or registered mailings. Be sure to identify your department on the address portion of the return receipts so that we can route them back to you.


Business Reply Mail (BRM)

Helpful BMR Facts

  • Business reply mail is a service by which correctly formatted mail can be forwarded back to the original sender, free of cost to the party responding.
  • Various postal fees have been paid in order for the University to gain maximum discounts if the business reply envelope or postcard format is correctly prepared.
  • A correct format includes a valid nine digit ZIP, FIM markings and bar code reflecting the ZIP, as well as an acceptable address and placement of the address.
  • In order to verify that you are using a valid number as well as following the other requirements it is necessary that you review them with University Mail Services before presenting your order to the printer. Failure to follow these guidelines could result in penalty fees from the Post Office.
  • Allows a department to provide a preprinted First-Class Mail Envelope to recipients to encourage a response.
  • The department, not the recipient, pays the return postage.
  • The department is only charged for postage by USPS for pieces that the recipients actually mail back to the department.
  • BRM allows the department to save postage costs on large volumes of distributed reply pieces.
  • The permit holder for the University of Virginia is University Mail Services. All University departments as well as bonafide student or faculty organizations can use our permit # 98. All fees are assessed to the permit holder for actual mail received, and thereafter internally charged to the initiating department.
  • Business Reply Mail should be used for mailings over 500 pieces in a single mailing or over a year. For example, if you sent out 1,000 stamped envelopes and 500 are returned, you have paid postage on 1,000 pieces. Whereas, if you sent the mailing out as Business Reply Mail, you pay for only the pieces that are mailed back to the sender.
  • Business reply mail can significantly increase response rates for mailing campaigns, return of surveys and questionnaires, etc.
  • BRM envelopes must be designed and formatted to meet POSTAL regulations. Failure to do so could result in penalty fees. Refer to the template below for a correctly formatted BRM #10 envelope. Note that Post Cards and mail weighing 2 oz. or more and Flats have unique formats.

The University's BRM permit meets the requirements for Qualified Business Reply Mail (QBRM) and qualifies for a discount provided that:

  • The department follows the prescribed format for BRM.
  • The department uses the unique ZIP+4 code assigned by the Postal Service.
  • The department presents this unique ZIP+4 code by a barcode printed on the mail piece.
  • The unique ZIP Code for the University is 22907 with the following extensions:

1 oz. Letters


2 oz. Letters + Flats


Post Cards



Contact Printing & Copying Services for printing of BRM envelopes. They are familiar with the required format and the USPS requirements.

Contact University Mail Services at 924-6124 or 924-2048 with any questions.

Business Reply Mail Layout

business reply guidelines



Postage Due Mail

Postage due mail is handled and accepted by University Mail Services for all University departments and bonafide student and faculty organizations.

A University prepaid account is registered with the Post Office to facilitate charges for inbound mail that either lacks the proper amount of postage or mail that has been requested for return. When doing a large mailing (over 200 pieces), ensure your mailing list is current; otherwise postage has been paid for undeliverable mail and a postage fee has been paid for returned mail.


Standard Mail (Bulk Mail)

Helpful Facts about Standard or Bulk Mail

  • Discounted class of mail offering substantial savings (for example: 500 pieces of #10 envelopes weighing 1 oz. would cost $185 if mailing 1st class but would cost approximately $90 if mailing standard mail at the non-profit rate). See eligibility requirements listed below.
  • An effective means to reach a large audience at an affordable rate.
  • Standard mail describes a service that has no promised delivery standards but is usually delivered in a week or two within the continental United States and usually not more than 5 days within a radius of 500 hundred miles.
  • The University has a Permit No. 164 with the Post Office to prepare bulk mailings. This provides the University with the ability to process large mailings at a cost of about 1/3 that of 1st class mailing. University departments as well as bonafide student or faculty organizations can use the permit. You cannot use the bulk permit for international mailings.


  • Standard Mail is not sealed against postal inspection.
  • Must be of a non-personal nature.
  • USPS does not guarantee delivery within a specific time period.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Mailing must consist of 200 pieces or 50 pounds.
  • Pieces must not exceed 16 ounces.
  • Mailing pieces must be printed or duplicated.
  • Pieces must be of identical size, weight and content.
  • Must be SEALED — cannot use staples to seal.
  • Always use a UVA return address. "University of Virginia" MUST be on the top line of your return address by itself.

Correct Return Address for Non-Profit Mail:


  • Academic
    • University of Virginia
    • Department Name
    • Secondary Name (optional)
    • P.O. Box Number
    • Charlottesville, VA 22904-_____ (ZIP+4 code)
  • Medical Center
    • University of Virginia Health System
    • Department Name
    • Secondary Name (optional)
    • P.O. Box Number
    • Charlottesville, VA 22908-_____ (ZIP+4 code)
  • Must have indicia (permit number included) in the upper right hand corner of the envelope in place of postage, per example:


Non-Profit Organization
U.S. Postage Paid
Permit No. 164
Charlottesville, VA _____ (ZIP+4 code)

  • Dimensions:
    • Minimum: 3 �" high and 5" long
    • Maximum: 6 1/8" high and 11 �" long
  • An authorization form MUST be obtained from University Mail Services before you mail under Permit No. 164. The Post Office Bulk Mail Acceptance Unit will not accept your mailing without the form. (See memorandum dated October 26 with attached form)
  • All mail bearing Permit No. 164 must be presented to the bulk mail entry unit (BMEU) at the Charlottesville Post Office. Permit mail cannot be dropped in a blue collection box.
  • Bulk Mail Information and Authorization Form — (downloadable pdf document)


  • All mail must be properly prepared, presorted, packaged, labeled, and trayed (letter mail) or sacked (flats).
  • Determine if Non-Profit or Regular:
    • Apply appropriate indicia
  • Request Authorization Form from University Mail Services if using the University's Permit.
  • Complete applicable USPS Forms.

Contact Printing & Copying Services for printing and preparation of your bulk mailings. They are familiar with the USPS requirements.


Internal Mass Mail

University Mail Services will accept mass mailings for internal delivery with a date no older than one day before distribution. Mail that requires posting must be delivered to the Mailroom before 9:00AM for next day delivery. All other mail with an older printed date will need to be revised to allow for a more accurate posting time.

Mass mailings must be separated into two groups: ACADEMIC and HEALTH SCIENCES CENTER. Furthermore, these groups must then be sorted by department or box number. Failure to do so will cause a delay in the posting of your mail or refusal by the Mailroom.


Undeliverable Mail Policy

The U.S. Postal Service delivers all mail identified for ZIP Codes 22904 and 22908 or with University of Virginia in the address to the University, regardless of its content or completeness of address. It will not take back most types of Standard Mail for return to sender, for forwarding, or for address correction. Disposition is at the Mailrooms’ discretion.

The following types of Standard Mail will be delivered if the DEPARTMENTS NAME and/or BOX # is listed within the address or can be otherwise identified:

  • Book clubs and book catalogues
  • Communications from other colleges and universities
  • Educational Seminars
  • Medical Journals
  • Medical catalogs
  • Other business related catalogs
  • Periodicals

Standard mail that will be discarded:

  • Advertisements marked "FREE"
  • Gift catalogs of all types
  • Leisure travel brochures
  • Lottery offerings
  • Other non – educational catalogs

The Future

University Mail Services will be starting a year long project to assign a proper mailing address to each department/organization that receives mail addressed to ZIP Codes 22904 and 22908, which will be, machine readable. The assignment of a machine readable mailing address will allow the University to take full advantage of the automation introduced by the U.S. Postal Service. The benefits to the University will be reflected in reduced transit time to receive mail, introduction of a standard addressing format to be used by correspondents and reduce the incidents of miss-sorted mail inherent in our current mailing process.


Mail Supplies

  • Messenger Mail Envelopes
  • Priority Mail Padded Envelopes
  • Priority Mail Envelopes
  • Priority Mail Boxes (all sizes)
  • Delivery Conformation Forms
  • Signature Conformation Forms
  • Certified Mail Forms
  • Certified Mail Receipts
  • Insured Mail Forms
  • Registered Mail Forms