What are Non-Machinable-Stamps?

What Are Non-Machinable Stamps? (Hand-Cancelled Mail)

When it comes to sending mail through the United States Postal Service (USPS), many people are familiar with the concept of postage stamps. However, not all postage stamps are created equal. Non-machinable stamps, for example, are a special type of stamp that must be used for certain types of mail. In this article, we will discuss what non-machinable stamps are, how the surcharge fee works, and when you should use them.

The invention of mail sorting machines made USPS’s mail sorting easier and faster. These machines are able to sort as many as 36,000 mails per hour. 

In terms of sorting standard-size mail, a mail sorting machine works efficiently. But what is the solution if the mail piece is not of standard size?

Well, in that case, the mails that are not supported by the machine are hand-canceled. It obviously requires maximum time. Hence, UPSC charges a surcharge on non-machinable mail pieces. 

To send a non-machinable mail piece to its destination, you need to add a non-machinable stamp to your mail piece. This article will discuss Non-Machinable stamps in detail to give you in-depth knowledge about Non-Machinable stamps.

Read Also: 2023 USPS Postage Rate Increase

What is a Non-Machinable Stamp?

USPS Non-Machinable Stamp

Non-Machinable stamps are a particular category of USPS stamps used to cover postage costs for First-Class domestic mail that does not meet the requirements for USPS standard-size mail.

These mails are oversized and need to be hand-canceled at the post office as they can’t fit in mail sorting machines. As a result, a surcharge is charged on such mail for USPS employees’ extra time and effort.

What is Meant by Non-Machinable Mail?

Any mail that does not meet USPS standard size mail requirements is considered Non-Machinable mail. In other words, Non-Machinable mail is mail that does not fit into a mail sorting machine. They are sorted by hand.

Some examples of Non-Machinable mail are rigid letters, square-shaped invitations or greeting cards, pens, books, credit cards, keys, and more.

To meet the criteria for a USPS standard-size letter, the dimensions of a letter must be:

  • In rectangular shape.
  • Minimum height 3.5 inches, length 5 inches, and thickness 0.007 inches.
  • Maximum height is 6.125 inches, length 11.5 inches, and thickness 0.25 inches.

If your letters don’t meet the USPS standard-size letter requirements, they slow down the machine’s function and 

won’t be sorted by machine. Post office employees sort these varying size mail pieces by hand to prevent such machine issues.

Hand-sorting requires considerable time, while machine sorting can be accomplished in a matter of minutes, depending on the volume of mail. And because of this, the USPS charges Non-Machinable surcharges on Non-Machinable mail. 

Continue reading the article to get more clarification about Non-Machinable stamps. In the following sections of the article, we will explain Non-Machinable stamps in more depth.

Read Also: How Many Stamps For A Bubble Mailer?

What is the meaning of the Non-Machinable Surcharge for First-Class Mail?

The non-Machinable surcharge is an additional amount that needs to be paid for shipping First-Class Non-Machinable letters. 

Irregular-sized mail is hand-sorted outside standard-sized mail. Post office workers spend a lot of time and effort completing this task, which makes postage of Non-Machinable mail expensive. USPS charges a surcharge on these Non-Machinable mail pieces.

The USPS charges a Non-Machinable Surcharge on First-Class mail if the mail falls into any of the following categories:

  • The ratio of the width to the height of a square envelope is more remarkable than 2½ or less than 1⅓.
  • The minimum length of the envelope should be 6 inches, height 414 inches, and thickness 0.009 inches.
  • A mail with buttons, clasps, threads, or similar closing mechanisms.
  • The mail piece is rigid.
  • A mail with the delivery address aligned with the mail piece shorter side.
  • A letter that has an irregular thickness due to the inclusion of objects like credit cards, keys, pens, and so on.
  • A mail that is poly-wrapped or poly-bagged, covered in plastic elements.

Read Also: How Many Stamps Do I Need for a Letter to Canada?

How Much Do Non-Machinable Stamps Cost?

The current price of a 1 ounce First class Non-Machinable stamp is $1.03, which includes a Non-Machinable surcharge and the cost of First-Class postage and Non-Machinable surcharge costs $0.40. A book of 20 Non-Machinable stamps will cost you $20.60.

Keep in mind that..

The surcharge fee varies depending on the weight of the item and the type of non-machinable stamp that is used. For example, as of 2023, the surcharge fee for a non-machinable First-Class Mail letter is $0.40. The surcharge fee for a non-machinable First-Class Mail flat is $0.70.

Are Non-Machinable Stamps and Forever Stamps the Same?

Where to put Non-Machinable Stamps

Non-Machinable Stamps and Forever Stamps have the same style. Just as “Forever” is written on Forever stamps. Similarly, the word “Non-Machinable Surcharge” is written on Non-Machinable stamps. 

But, the usage of both stamps is different. Non-Machinable stamps will be valid for existing Non-Machinable surcharges.

Apart from this, you collect some Non-Machinable stamps today, and the value of the stamps goes up after a few days. You can still use the old value stamps on your Non-Machinable mail, even though you are paying less than the current value of the stamp.

Read Also: How Many Stamps Do I Need for International Shipping?

Can You Use Non-Machinable Stamps On Your Regular Mails?

You are allowed to use a Non-Machinable stamp for your regular mail to cover postage costs. However, if you are sending standard-size mail, you do not need to use a Non-Machinable stamp.

This is because Non-Machinable stamps are meant for letters over 1 oz to cover First-Class postage. You need not pay unnecessarily more by using Non-Machinable stamps for your regular letter.

Is it possible to use two Forever Stamps instead of a Non-Machinable stamp?

You can use two Forever stamps instead of one Non-Machinable stamp to cover the Non-Machinable surcharge. Currently, a Forever stamp costs $0.63, and a Non-Machinable stamp costs $1.03.

Using two Forever Stamps for your Non-Machinable mail will cover a little more, i.e., $1.26. It means you are paying $0.23 extra.

Hence, from the economic point of view, to avoid unnecessary expense, it would be better to use Non-Machinable stamps for your Non-Machinable mail rather than using multiple Forever stamps.

Read Also: How To Mail a Letter or Postcard Internationally?

Where Can You Purchase Non-Machinable Stamps?

You can purchase Non-Machinable stamps at any USPS post office and from the USPS website. Besides, you can buy Non-Machinable stamps online. In that case, you’ll need to purchase a set of 20 Non-Machinable stamps. Buying a set of stamps may cost less.

How can I identify Non-Machinable stamps based on their appearance?

Butterfly Non-Machinable Stamps

Non-Machinable stamps have butterfly images, and hence, these stamps are also known as Butterfly stamps. The butterfly design of the stamps is determined by a 2010 collaboration between the USPS and the Greeting Card Association. 

The reason behind this is that consumers can quickly identify Non-Machinable stamps and use them for their irregular letters.

Presently, USPS offers two Butterfly stamps, such as the California Dogface butterfly and the Colorado Hairstreak butterfly.

FAQs on Non-Machinable Stamps

How much does it cost to mail a Non-Machinable letter?

Letters would now carry a Non-Machinable cost of 40 cents as opposed to 39 cents. The price of each extra ounce will stay at 24 cents. Five-digit automated letter prices will rise by 3.5%. In Addition, Flats have had an overall increase of 6.2%.

How much extra postage is needed for a Non-Machinable letter?

A $0.40 Non-Machinable surcharge is charged on all First-Class mail that is under the weight limit of 3.5 oz. However, the Non-Machinable surcharge does not apply to greeting cards classified as flats.

Can I write “Non-Machinable” in my letter?

You can write “Non-Machinable” in the top right corner of your Non-Machinable letter; no problem with that. However, you must also add a Non-Machinable stamp on your letter. 

Otherwise, your letter will not be accepted. Machines can’t read the message written in your letter. Plus, Non-Machinable mails are automatically rejected by mail sorting machines. Such mails are sorted manually.

Read Also: Does Target Sell Stamps?


Suppose you wish to convey a congratulation to your beloved ones on their anniversary through an anniversary card. In that case, you need to use a Non-Machinable stamp on the card to ensure the safe shipping of your mail to its destination. The USPS’ butterfly-featured Non-Machinable stamp adds elegance to your mail.

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