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Items That Can’t Be Mail By USPS

In Ireland, mailing straw and products made from straw is prohibited. In Russia, mailing a color copier is prohibited. In Tunisia, mailing playing cards is prohibited. With unexpectedly obscure rules and regulations such as these, it can seem like a daunting task to learn what materials and substances are accepted for mailing by the United States Postal Service. However, the USPS attempts to make it as simple as possible by posting all its regulations online. There are exceptions to many of these regulations, however.

Rules of Thumb
Just because something can be mailed domestically does not mean it can be mailed internationally. If you have a question about what you are mailing to another country, consult the International Mailing Manual or contact the country’s embassy. If you have questions about domestic mail, contact your local post office. Any questionable items may be subject to a ruling regarding its suitability for mailing. It is the sole responsibility of the mailer to comply with federal, state and local ordinances, as well as USPS regulations.

Hazardous Materials
Hazardous materials include anything that is a significant risk to public health, safety or property and are generally prohibited from air and surface transportation as well as international mail and APO/FPO mail by the USPS unless they are considered ORM-D materials. The Department of Transportation determines which materials are considered hazardous according to nine categories: explosives; gases; flammable and combustible liquids; flammable solids; toxic substances and infectious substances; oxidizing substances and organic peroxide; radioactive material; liquid and solid corrosives; and miscellaneous materials.

Restricted Matter
Restricted matter is anything that has been prohibited for reasons other than public safety. These substances and materials include intoxicating liquors; firearms; knives and sharp instruments; liquids, powders and odor-producing materials; motor vehicle master keys and locksmithing devices; controlled substances and drugs; and anything used for animal fighting ventures. These substances are generally prohibited by the USPS for mailing unless the sender and recipient are specially licensed or are members of the military or law enforcement, among other exceptions.

Perishable Matter
Perishable matter includes items that can deteriorate over the course of the mailing and could pose a health risk, cause a mess or be a nuisance. It is at the discretion of the mailer as to whether their items fall within this description, and it is up to the mailer to arrange schedules to ensure that their items will arrive before they become a risk or nuisance. While there are exceptions, live animals are considered prohibited perishable material.

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The Legal Difference Between Certified And Registered Mail

The United States Postal Service (USPS) offers various extra mailing services including certified mail and registered mail. While both types include a proof of mailing, registered Mail comes with maximum security and insurance options.

Certified mail and registered Mail allow online access to track the date, time and address of the delivery by inputting a unique tracking number, which is provided at the time of the mailing. At the time of the delivery, a signature is required from the recipient to ensure correct delivery.

Security and Insurance
Registered mail is used specifically for sending valuables or irreplaceable items. Items sent through registered mail are kept under tight security and can be insured for up to $25,000 for loss or damage. Certified mail cannot be insured.

As of July 2010 certified mail costs $2.80 plus the cost of postage. Charges for registered mail begins at $10.60 and increases as the declared value of the mailed item increases, plus the cost of postage.

Additional Services
Registered mail can be combined with the cash on delivery (COD) service which allows the price of the mailed item and the postage to be paid by the recipient at the time of delivery. The COD service cost $4.85 as of July 2010.

International Mailing
Unlike certified mail, which is only available for domestic mailing, registered mail can be used for international mailing.

usps tracking

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