Government Relations

Reminder: Franked (Congressional) Mail, Postage Payment, and Detention of Mail Guidelines

This article serves as a reminder regarding Franked Mail, also referenced as Congressional Mail. There have been recent reports of the improper identification and handling of Franked Mail in the mailstream, including returning it for postage or requiring postage due to customers. The following is a reminder of how to identify and process Franked Mail.

Official Mail (Franked)

Franked Mail is defined as Official Mail sent without postage prepayment, which can be used only by members and members-elect of Congress, the Vice President, and other authorized individuals. Franked Mail is identified by the facsimile signature of the member of Congress (or authorized user as defined in Domestic Mail Manual (DMM) 703.6.1) in the upper right corner of the envelope or franked label, followed by “M.C.” standing for member of Congress, or “U.S.S.” for U.S. Senate.

Franked Mail Envelopes and Labels

Franked Mail consists of franked envelopes, or flats and packages with official franking labels preprinted with “franking” elements in the upper right hand corner, which are easily read. It is inappropriate to use a franked envelope as a label for the purpose of mailing another item. A franking label is required for items larger than a flat-sized envelope. See below for an example of a Franked Mail envelope and Franked Mail label.

Sample - Franked Mail Envelope

Sample - Franked Mail Envelope

Sample - Franked Mail Label

Sample - Franked Mail Label

Types of Franked Mailings

Mailings under the franking privilege include both single piece mailings sent by First-Class Mail®, Priority Mail®, and mass mailings. Mass mailings may be sent as First-Class Mail or Standard Mail®. Process and handle all Franked Mail according to the class of mail and special service indicated on the outside of the mailpiece. Franked Standard Mailings consist of newsletters, meeting notices, and other printed matter. The mailpieces may bear individual names and addresses or alternative address formats as outlined in DMM 602.3. While individual pieces are processed as Standard Mail, the overall mailing may be sent Priority Mail Open and Distribute™.

Most franked mass mailings for members of the House of Representatives are sent from Washington, DC. However, franked mass mailings for members of the House of Representatives may also be inducted at local Post Offices™ outside of Washington, DC. Members, or vendors on their behalf, must submit a PS Form 3615, Mailing Permit Application and Customer Profile, to the entry Post Office when the first franked mass mailing is entered at that location. The United States Senate requires that all Senate frank mass mailings originate in Washington, DC.

Franking Blackout Period

A Member of Congress may not send any unsolicited mass mailing or mass communication (500 pieces or more) of substantially identical content during the designated “Franking Blackout” period, which begins 90 days before the date of any primary or general election in which the Member is a candidate for public office. The last day to send mass mailings or mass communications before the November 8, 2016, general election is August 10, 2016. The table below provides the cut-off dates for state primary elections. Mass mailings are permissible after the state’s Primary Election Date and before the August 10, 2016, cut-off date prior to the General Election.

 

State

Mass Mailing
Cut-off Date

Primary Election Date*

Alabama

12/2/2015

3/1/2016

Arkansas

12/2/2015

3/1/2016

Texas

12/2/2015

3/1/2016

Mississippi

12/9/2015

3/8/2016

Illinois

12/16/2015

3/15/2016

North Carolina

12/16/2015

3/15/2016

Ohio

12/16/2015

3/15/2016

Maryland

1/27/2016

4/26/2016

Pennsylvania

1/27/2016

4/26/2016

Indiana

2/3/2016

5/3/2016

Nebraska

2/10/2016

5/10/2016

West Virginia

2/10/2016

5/10/2016

Idaho

2/17/2016

5/17/2016

Kentucky

2/17/2016

5/17/2016

Oregon

2/17/2016

5/17/2016

Georgia

2/24/2016

5/24/2016

Puerto Rico

3/7/2016

6/5/2016

California

3/9/2016

6/7/2016

Iowa

3/9/2016

6/7/2016

Montana

3/9/2016

6/7/2016

New Jersey

3/9/2016

6/7/2016

New Mexico

3/9/2016

6/7/2016

South Dakota

3/9/2016

6/7/2016

Maine

3/16/2016

6/14/2016

Nevada

3/16/2016

6/14/2016

North Dakota

3/16/2016

6/14/2016

South Carolina

3/16/2016

6/14/2016

Virginia

3/16/2016

6/14/2016

Washington, DC

3/16/2016

6/14/2016

Colorado

3/30/2016

6/28/2016

New York

3/30/2016

6/28/2016

Oklahoma

3/30/2016

6/28/2016

Utah

3/30/2016

6/28/2016

Kansas

5/4/2016

8/2/2016

Michigan

5/4/2016

8/2/2016

Missouri

5/4/2016

8/2/2016

Washington

5/4/2016

8/2/2016

Tennessee

5/6/2016

8/4/2016

U.S. Virgin Islands

5/8/2016

8/6/2016

Connecticut

5/11/2016

8/9/2016

Minnesota

5/11/2016

8/9/2016

Vermont

5/11/2016

8/9/2016

Wisconsin

5/11/2016

8/9/2016

Hawaii

5/15/2016

8/13/2016

Alaska

5/18/2016

8/16/2016

Wyoming

5/18/2016

8/16/2016

Guam

5/29/2016

8/27/2016

Arizona

6/1/2016

8/30/2016

Florida

6/1/2016

8/30/2016

Delaware

6/15/2016

9/13/2016

New Hampshire

6/15/2016

9/13/2016

Rhode Island

6/15/2016

9/13/2016

Massachusetts

6/22/2016

9/20/2016

Louisiana

8/10/2016

11/8/2016

American Samoa

8/10/2016

11/8/2016

No. Mariana Islands

8/10/2016

11/8/2016

* For states and territories that are not holding 2016 primary elections, the cut-off and election dates are reflective of the general election. The primary date for any state is subject to change by local legislation.

Postage Payment

Franked Mail must not be returned for postage or delivered to the recipient as “postage due”. Postage for Franked Mail is paid in aggregate by the U.S. Treasury to the Postal Service. Franked Mail, therefore, must not be returned for collection of postage, nor should the recipient be charged postage due in order to receive the item. Franked Mail sent from Washington, DC, is counted by the House of Representatives and the Senate, and reported to the Washington, DC Post Office and Postal Service Headquarters. Procedures for accounting for franked mailings entered outside Washington, DC, are found in the Postal Operations Manual (POM) 491.5.

Detention of Mail

With the exception of mail security (see Administrative Support Manual 274), Franked Mail should not be detained, and must be dispatched and delivered as addressed. If there are indications of possible abuse of the franking privilege, this must be reported to the Pricing and Classification Service Center (PCSC), which will refer the matter to the Postal Inspection Service for investigation and to Headquarters, Government Relations, for coordination with the appropriate congressional organization.




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