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NLS Operations Alert

No. 14-75

DATE          :    October 24, 2014
TO                :    Network Libraries
FROM         :    Vickie Collins, Postal Liaison
SUBJECT   :    Overseas braille


NLS can now authorize network libraries to resume sending excess braille overseas. Network libraries that have completed the XESS process may distribute braille
materials to overseas agencies serving individuals who are blind and visually impaired.

The updated United States Postal Service (USPS) International Mail Manual entry 270 follows, with NLS comments underlined:

270        Free Matter for the Blind
271        Description and Physical Characteristics
271.1     General

Matter may be entered free of postage provided that at least one of the following criteria is met:

            a.         The item is sent to or by an organization for the blind.
            b.         The item is sent to or by a person who is registered as blind or who meets the World Health Organization's definition of a blind person or a person with low vision.

Note: An "organization for the blind" (see 271.1a) means an institution or association serving or officially representing blind persons.

271.2     Weight Limits

The following weight limits apply to the mail classes identified in 273:

Maximum Weight Limit-Mail Service

4 Pounds       Priority Mail International Flat Rate Envelopes and Small Flat Rate Priced Boxes
                        First-Class Mail International
                        First-Class Package International Service

15 pounds     Priority Mail International parcels
                        Priority Mail International Flat Rate Medium and Large Flat Rate Boxes

272        Eligibility

272.1     Eligible Participants

Mailers may send Free Matter for the Blind free of postage provided that at least one of the following conditions is met:

            a.         The item is sent to or by an organization for the blind.
            b.         The item is sent to or by a blind person.

272.2     Eligible Matter

Mailers may send the following items as Free Matter for the Blind:

            a.         Letters bearing writing used by the blind and plates bearing the characters of writing used by the blind.
b.         Books, periodicals, literature, and other correspondence.
            c.         Paper, records, tapes, musical scores, or sound recordings.
            d.         Equipment or materials of any kind adapted to assist blind persons in overcoming the problems of blindness, including reproducers or parts of them for sound reproductions.
            e.         Specially adapted CDs.
            f.          Braille writing equipment, typewriters, educational or other materials or devices, or parts thereof used for writing by a blind person or designed or adapted for use by a blind person.
            g.         Braille watches.
            h.         White canes.
            i.          Recording equipment.

272.3     Ineligible Matter

Free Matter for the Blind items are solely intended for the use of an eligible participant who is unable to read conventional materials. The following list is not inclusive but provides guidance about ineligible items:

            a.         The item is for purposes of advertisement.
            b.         The item is intended as a profit-making transaction. There should be no charge (rental, subscription, or other associated fee) that is in excess of the actual cost.

272.4     Customs Forms Required

When required (see Exhibit 123.61), the mailer must affix a fully completed PS Form 2976 or 2976-A to each item. The known mailer exemption in 123.62 does not apply to Free Matter for the Blind items.

272.5     Mail Not Sealed Against Inspection

Free Matter for the Blind is not sealed against inspection (see ASM 274). Mailers must prepare items in such a way that the contents are sufficiently protected while permitting quick and easy inspection or verification of the contents.

This means that the seal should be prepared in a way as to allow easy inspection of the contents without damaging the package-thus, causing repackaging of the complete package as opposed to re-sealing.

272.6     Extra Services

Mailers must pay for any extra services requested for Free Matter for the Blind items. The Postal Service authorizes only the following extra services:

            a.         Registered Mail service for First-Class Mail International items, First-Class Package International Service items, and Priority Mail International Flat Rate Envelopes or Small Flat Rate Priced Boxes.
            b.         Insurance service for Priority Mail International parcels up to 15 pounds.

273        Postage Prices and Fees

Postage is provided at no charge for Free Matter for the Blind items only for the following classes of mail and products:

            a.         First-Class Mail International.
            b.         First-Class Package International Service.
            c.         Priority Mail International Flat Rate Envelopes.
            d.         Priority Mail International Small Flat Rate Priced Boxes.
            e.         Priority Mail International parcels weighing up to 15 pounds.

The sender must pay the applicable total postage based on the weight and destination price group of the article when sending eligible free matter as a Priority Mail International parcel weighing more than 15 pounds.

The sender must pay the applicable fees for Registered Mail or insured services (see 272.6).

274        Mail Preparation

274.1     Addressing

All international addressing standards apply. See 122.

274.2     Markings

In addition to the markings required in 234.2 for Priority Mail International parcels, in 244.2 for First-Class Mail International items, and in 254.2 for First-Class Package International Service items, the mailer must mark the item "Free Matter for the Blind" in the upper-right-hand corner of the address side of the mailpiece. In addition, the mailer must affix to the address side of the mailpiece a copy of the label depicted in Exhibit 274.2. The mailer may photocopy the image and apply it to the item.

Exhibit 274.2

Free Matter for the Blind
[cid:[log in to unmask]]

NLS anticipates acquiring peel and stick copies of the label above for distribution to its network of cooperating braille-lending libraries. In the interim, libraries may photocopy and tape this label to boxes of braille books being mailed overseas. Be sure to include the Free Matter Indicia that is just above the label.

275        Mail Entry and Deposit

275.1     Items Eligible for Deposit or Pickup

Eligible Free Matter for the Blind items bearing a computer-generated customs form with customs data that has been electronically transmitted may be deposited through any of the following methods provided any extra service fees have been paid by a means other than the use of postage stamps:

            a.         In a private mailbox bearing a return address that matches the address at the point of pickup, when the customer or business is known to reside or do business at that location.
            b.         At a Postal Service retail counter.
            c.         Into a Postal Service lobby drop.
            d.         In a collection box.
            e.         At a Contract Postal Unit (CPU).
            f.          At a USPS Approved Shipper location.

Note: The following items may also be deposited through the aforementioned methods:

            a.         Priority Mail International Flat Rate Envelopes weighing 13 ounces or less, bearing "Free Matter for the Blind" as postage, and not requiring a customs form (see 123.6).
            b.         First-Class Mail International letter-size and flat-size items weighing 13 ounces or less, bearing "Free Matter for the Blind" as postage, and not requiring a customs form (see 123.6).

275.2     Items Not Eligible for Deposit or Pickup

Customers must present the following eligible Free Matter for the Blind items requiring a customs form to an employee at a Post Office retail service counter. Deposit and pickup methods listed in 275.1 are prohibited. The Postal Service will return improperly presented items to the sender for proper entry and acceptance.

a.         Any item bearing a handwritten customs form.
b.         Any item bearing a customs form that was not computer-generated.
c.         Any item for which the customs data was not electronically transmitted.

--End of quoted material from the USPS International Mail Manual--

Network libraries are encouraged to follow IMM entry 270 in preparation of braille for mailing overseas. Libraries are advised to prepare and mail several boxes as a test to ensure all requirements are being met before mailing braille in quantity.

If a problem is encountered, please contact NLS immediately with details.

Following is the link to the Postal Explorer: http://pe.usps.com/

Once on the site follow the link to the International Mail Manual.

For more information contact:
Vickie Collins
NLS Postal Liaison
[log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>
202-707-9301