International Mail - Printed Matter

Printed matter is defined as "paper on which words, letters, characters, figures, or images (or any combination thereof) not having the character of a bill or statement of account, or of actual or personal correspondence, have been reproduced by any process other than handwriting or typewriting."

For international mail, printed matter includes the following:

  • Regular printed matter, which includes advertising mail, catalogs, and directories.
  • Books and sheet music.
  • Publishers' periodicals, which are domestically approved publications that include magazines, newspapers, and journals of various types.

Items not acceptable as printed matter include the following:

  • Stationery items.
  • Stamps of various kinds, whether used or unused.
  • Framed photographs and certificates.
  • Photographic negatives and slides.
  • Films.
  • Microfilm and microfiche.
  • Sound or video recordings.
  • Punched paper tapes or ADP cards.
  • Playing cards.

Matter for the Blind

  • Consult your post office for matter admissible in international mail as matter for the blind. The weight limit is 15 pounds. There is no charge for surface mail for this category.

Small Packets

  • The small packet classification offers a convenient and economical way to mail certain items at generally lower rates than available for either letter packages or parcel post.
  • The following items can be mailed as small packets:
    • Documents that do not have the character of current and personal correspondence.
    • Gift packages.
    • Merchandise items.
    • Commercial samples.
    • Audio-visual materials.
    • Computer disks and tapes.
  • A small packet may include an invoice if it directly relates to the contents being shipped. Small packet service is available to all countries except Cambodia, Cuba, and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea). There is a 4-pound weight limit to all countries except Italy, which has a 2-pound weight limit.