Mailing Imprint Indicia vs. Business Reply Mail.

Print pieces often have very specific calls to action. Sometimes that call to action is filling out a form and mailing it back to the sender. A really good way to make it as easy as possible for the recipient to take action is by paying for the return postage. Not only is it saving the recipient $.46, but it’s also saving them the hassle of finding a stamp and applying it to the piece.

But do you know how to implement it? And do you know the difference between a Mailing Imprint permit, and Business Reply Mail permit? If you’re sending more than 200 pieces through the post office, you need to know about both.

What’s What.

For the purpose of clarity, we’ll use a print project we’re working on now as an example. It’s a roll-fold brochure with a perforated panel featuring a quote request questionnaire. We didn’t want the recipient to think twice about filling out the quote request form, so we decided to make it as easy as possible for them by having postage on the return piece already paid for. We knew we needed a Mailing Imprint permit so we could easily send the job out in bulk. However, we also needed a Business Reply Mail permit so the perforated panel could be returned at no cost to the original recipient. Although they’re both permits, that’s where the similarities between the two end.

Mailing Permit Imprint Indicia.

In a nutshell, using Permit Imprint Indicia makes it easy to send mail out in bulk (200 or more pieces, or 50 lbs in weight). Rather than appending postage to each piece or resetting your meter, the mailing house or post office will print a specific permit number in the upper right hand corner of the envelope – where the stamp would normally go. Then the postage for the job is billed to an account rather than paid individually for each piece. There are specific design requirements for the permit imprint, though, so be careful to follow all the rules.

One characteristic the Permit Imprint Indicia doesn’t have is the ability to return a piece at no extra cost to the recipient. This is where Business Reply Mail comes in.

Business Reply Mail Permits.

Business Reply Mail permits are what allow the recipient to send the perforated panel back at no cost to them. It’s pre-paid postage that the sender doesn’t have to actually pay for until the piece is stuck back in the mail. So aside from the annual permit fee (somewhere around $190/year) the sender isn’t charged unless someone on the other end takes action, and then it’s around $1.20 per piece. It works the same way as the Permit Imprint in that returned pieces are billed individually using an account set up specifically for BRM pieces.

Once again, there are incredibly specific design guidelines to follow so the sender doesn’t miss any opportunities for getting the piece returned.

One Without the Other.

Just because you’re using one doesn’t mean you don’t need the other. In our specific case, we’ll be mailing out more than 200 pieces at once, all of which will have the perf-off panel, so we’ll actually be using the Imprint Indicia as well as the Business Reply Mail permit.

Alternatively, you can use them individually if that better suits your project. If you’re just sending out a few pieces, it’s probably easiest to slap stamps on yourself rather than use the Imprint Indicia. Similarly, if such is the case that you’re only ever going to mail out a few pieces, it’s probably not be worth your money to pay for the yearly permit associated with a BRM permit. One thing’s for sure, though. If you have questions, call the experts! You’ll find them at the Post Office.


    Andrew 01/19/2016

    Thank you so much for this explanation! I have looked everywhere for a comparison of the two services and have hit many brick walls in trying to find the information on the USPS website. Thank you for such a well-written post!


    • admin 01/19/2016

      Hey Andrew, thanks so much for the kind words! We’re glad we could help!


Seen enough? Get An Estimate