Non-Machinable Stamps

What Are Non-Machinable Stamps?

What Are Non-Machinable Stamps

Have you ever been in line at the post office, eagerly clutching a carefully wrapped package?
When you see automatic sorters running in sync and efficiently, you will be suspicious. What if your uniquely shaped package doesn’t fit into an automated mold?
The unworkable stamp came in handy.
So, What are non-machinable stamps, and why do they stand apart from their conventional counterparts?
Join us as we delve into the realm of non-machinable stamps.

What are Non-Machinable Stamps?

What are Non-Machinable Stamps?

Non-machinable stamps are a special type of stamp designed for mail that cannot be processed through automatic sorting machines.
These items may cause them to become jammed or damaged in the machine.
By placing an non-machinable stamp on your mail, you can ensure that your mail receives proper manual handling and attention to detail to avoid damage or misdelivery.
Now that we know what non-machinable stamps are, let’s take a look at what are non-machinable mail.

What is Non-Machinable Mail?

What is Non-Machinable Mail

Non-Machinable Mail refers to mail items that cannot be processed through automated sorting machines due to their size, shape, weight, or other characteristics.
These items require special handling and manual processing by postal workers to ensure their safe and accurate delivery.
Non-machinable mail items typically have certain attributes that make them unsuitable for automated sorting.
Some common characteristics of non-machinable mail include:
● Irregular Shapes: such as square envelopes or envelopes with protrusions, may be considered non-machinable.
● Rigid Contents: like CDs, pens, or keys, can cause jams or damage in sorting machines and therefore require manual processing.
● Excessive Thickness: this can include bulky envelopes or packages.
● Uneven Weight Distribution: such as lumpy or heavily padded envelopes, may be considered non-machinable as they can disrupt the automated sorting process.
● Special Enclosures: like clasps, strings, buttons, or other non-paper materials may be classified as non-machinable.
To meet the criteria for a USPS standard-size letter, the letter must be:
● It is rectangular.
● Minimum height 3.5 inches, length 5 inches, thickness 0.007 inches.
● Maximum height is 6.125 inches, length is 11.5 inches, and thickness is 0.25 inches.
If your letters do not meet USPS standard size letter requirements, they will slow down the machine and will not be sorted by machine.
Post Office employees sort these different sizes of mail by hand to prevent such machine problems.
Depending on the volume of mail, sorting by hand takes a considerable amount of time while sorting by machine takes only a few minutes.
Therefore, USPS charges a non-machinable surcharge for non-machinable mail.
When mailing non-machinable items, it is important to ensure proper postage, which may include using non-machinable stamps or paying additional fees
So, what is the non-machinable surcharge?
Read on.

What is the Non-Machinable Surcharge?

What is the Non-Machinable Surcharge

Irregular sized mail outside of standard sized mail requires manual sorting.
Well, post office workers spend a lot of extra time and effort on this task, which makes postage expensive for non-machinable mail.
Therefore, USPS charges a surcharge for these non-machinable mail items.
As of April 2023, the cost of the non-machinable surcharge is 40 cents.
So if you were sending a letter that weighed 1 ounce, USPS would charge you $1.03 (that’s 63 cents postage for a 1 ounce letter plus a 40-cent non-machinable surcharge).
Please note that despite the July 2023 postage rate increase, the non-machinable surcharge will remain at the 40-cent rate effective January 2023.
In addition to some of the cases we mentioned above are non-machinable mail, the following cases also need to be charged for non-machinable surcharges.
Read on.
USPS charges a non-machinable surcharge on regular mail if the mailpiece falls into any of the following categories:
● Square envelopes have a width-to-height ratio greater than 2.5 or less than 1.3.
● Envelopes should have a minimum length of 6 inches, a height of 414 inches, and a thickness of 0.009 inches.
● Mail with buttons, clasps, threads, or similar closures.
● Mail is rigid.
● Mail with a delivery address aligned with the short edge of the mail piece.
● Letters of irregular thickness due to the inclusion of objects such as credit cards, keys, pens, etc.
● Mail wrapped in plastic or plastic bagged and covered with plastic components.

How Much Does A Non-Machinable Stamp Cost?

How Much Does A Non-Machinable Stamp Cost

As of April 2023, the cost of a non-machinable stamp for domestic first-class mail weighing under one ounce is $1.03.
Please remember. . .
If your letter weighs more than 1 ounce and is non-machinable, you will need more postage than is covered by the non-machinable stamp.
For international non-machinable items, costs vary based on the destination and weight of the item.
If you want to know more about non-machinable stamps, keep sroll.

Are Non-Machinable Stamps The Same As Forever Stamps?

Are Non-Machinable Stamps The Same As Forever Stamps

Unworkable stamps, also known as Non-Machinable Stamps, and permanent stamps, such as Forever Stamps, do share similarities in their style and design.
For example, both types of stamps may feature the word “forever” to indicate their long-term value or the word “non-machinable surcharge” to denote the additional fee for non-machinable mail items.
Besides that, you collect some non machinable stamps today, and the value of the stamps will go up in a few days.
Even if you pay less than the stamp’s current value, you can still use old value stamps on non-Machinable mail.
So, how should you recognize that your stamp has included a non-machinable surcharge?

How Do I Know If the Stamp Covers The “Non-Machinable” Surcharge?

How Do I Know If the Stamp Covers The "Non-Machinable" Surcharge?

Non-machinable stamps are larger than regular stamps and have specific designs to indicate that they are for non-machinable items.
They usually have the words “Non Machinable” instead of “Forever”. to show that they have sufficient postage to cover the 1 oz. standard letter rate plus the non-machinable surcharge.

FAQs for Non-Machinable Stamps

FAQs for Non-Machinable Stamps

● How much does it cost to mail an non-machinable letter?
The unworkable cost of letters is now 40 cents instead of 39 cents. The price for each additional ounce will remain at 24 cents. Five-figure automatic letter prices will increase by 3.5%. In addition, the overall increase in apartments was 6.2%.
● How much additional postage is required for non-machinable letters?
A non-machinable surcharge of $0.40 applies to all surface mail with a weight limit of 3.5 ounces or less. However, the non-machinable surcharge does not apply to greeting cards classified as flat.
● Are there specific stamps designated as non-machinable stamps?
Some postal services offer stamps that are specifically designated as non-machinable. These stamps may bear the word “Non Machinable” or contain symbols or markings to indicate their purpose. Use of these stamps ensures coverage of non-machinable surcharges. Example: 2021 USPS Colorado Hairstreak Stamps


In conclusion, non-machinable stamps are the unsung champions of the postal system, ensuring that our non-standard mail items receive the care and attention they deserve. From their distinctive design and purpose to the additional surcharges they may entail, these stamps play a crucial role in navigating the complexities of mailing irregularly shaped or delicate items. By understanding the significance of non-machinable stamps, we can better prepare our mailings, ensure their safe handling, and avoid delays or mishaps. So, the next time you encounter a non-standard item that requires special treatment, remember the power of non-machinable stamps, the often-overlooked heroes that keep our unique mail on the move.



Toney Renteria, born into a family with a deep-rooted passion for stamps, has dabbled in philately since childhood. As Toney matured, his passion for stamps led him to pursue a career in the world of philately. His extensive knowledge and experience in the field have been accumulated through many years of active participation and dedicated work. From assisting with stamp valuations and appraisals to curating rare and unique stamp collections, Tony's expertise knows no bounds. Today, Toney Renteria is proud to share his wealth of knowledge and insights as a Marconisp stamp columnist.

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