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 from customers. The following is a reminder of how to identify and process Franked Mail.
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 section 703.6.1 of Mailing Standards of the United States Postal Service, Domestic Mail Manual (DMM®) 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 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.
Mailings under the franking privilege include 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.
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 section 491.5 of the Postal Operations Manual.
With the exception of mail security (see part 274 of the Administrative Support Manual), Franked Mail must 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, which will refer the matter to the Postal Inspection Service for investigation and to Headquarters, Government Relations, for coordination with the appropriate congressional organization.