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Size, Weight, and Shape Matters

Mail Services can help community members save time and money as they navigate the changing rules of the U.S. Postal Service, international requirements, and shipping guidelines. Feel free to consult with Mail Services before printing materials and planning large mailings.

Size Regulations


The U.S. Postal Service will accept nothing smaller than 3 1/2 inches by 5 inches. An 11-cent surcharge is added to pieces more than 6 1/2 inches by 11 inches or 1/4 inch thick.


The maximum size for a postcard is 4 1/4 inches by 6 inches. Any card larger than this is charged as a letter. The minimum size is the same as for letters.


The U.S. Postal Service has restrictions on where printing may appear on envelopes in order to fit their automation equipment. The Barcode Clear Zone is the area where the barcode is printed. The area in the lower right corner 4 1/4 inch from the right edge and 5/8 inch up from the bottom edge must be kept clear. Neither words nor design may be printed or written in this area.

OCR Read Area

The OCR Read Area—the middle of the envelope that contains the address – must be clear of extraneous printing. Logos and return addresses in this area can cause mail to be returned to the sender.

Please check with Mail Services before ordering envelopes. Requirements for mailing change frequently, so even an established design may not pass current regulations.

Call Mail Services to discuss mailing matters between 8:00 am and 5:30 PM, Monday through Friday, or fax a copy of a proposed design to 617-252-1552.



Department Directory

Mail Services

Phone: 617-253-6000
Building: WW15
Street Address: 350 Brookline St.
Cambridge, MA 02139-4827

Michael Fahie

Debbie Puleo
Senior Administrative Assistant

Discuss Mail Regulations

Hours: M - F, 8AM - 5PM
Phone: 617-253-6000
Fax the proposed design to: 617-252-1552


making MIT work accessibility Massachusetts Institute of Technology