Presorted first-class mail requires precanceled stamps or metered postage for discount bulk mailing. Both private businesses and nonprofit organizations use presorted mailings to save money. Collectors also acquire precanceled stamps and overprints as a specialized area of philately, the study of stamps and related items.
Precanceled stamp prices vary according to what is being mailed, but they are much cheaper than regular first-class. Stamps can be machine- or hand-canceled, and modern presorted stamps are printed as precanceled.
Business Bulk Mailing
To be eligible for presorted first-class rates, businesses must have mailings of at least 500, obtain a permit and pay an annual mailing fee.
Nonprofit Bulk Mailing
The United States Postal Service (USPS) has ten categories of nonprofit eligibility, and qualified nonprofit organizations, or combined organizations, are eligible for extra presorted first-class savings under Nonprofit Standard Mail.
How To Mail Presorted First-Class
The reason the USPS grants cheaper postage rates for presorted mail is that much of their work is done prior to mailing. All envelopes must be sorted by ZIP code and precanceled.
Collecting Precanceled First-Class Stamps
The USPS authorized precanceled stamps in 1887, and collectors will want to acquire a copy of "Catalog of United States Bureau Precancels," printed by the Precancel Stamp Society, to identify precancel overprints. Precanceled stamps are becoming less common with increasing usage of metered postage.