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Mailing Film Postage ?


Workshop Member
This seems like an easy question to just Google ..but I have been having mixed results . I have been trying out B&W film processors so that I can settle on a combination of film stock and film processing . To do this I send a single roll of film to each film processor requesting development and the best scans they can provide .

In the past I always used film mailers and the postage was always 2 maybe 3 stamps . The weight of a single roll in a 3x5 padded envelop is 1.3 OZ .

I use 4 stamps and most of my packages have arrived without postage due . But to a single lab ...I just get the film back with a note that postage was due .

If I send the film as a package per the current USPS rates ...its $7.50 which seems excessive .

Some labs have prepaid mailers which are similar to what I use . I understand that the issue is the padded envelops will not go thru the sorting machines .

Seems like I should be able to send the film First Class mail for half the package rate .

Long term I don t expect an issue because I will try to send 6 rolls at a time and thats a fixed rate package .

Oren Grad

The USPS now adds a surcharge to first class items that are not flat envelopes - for example, anything with a lumpy solid object in it. Here's the relevant section from the Domestic Mail Manual:

1.2 Nonmachinable Criteria

A letter-size piece is nonmachinable if it has one or more of the following characteristics (see 601.1.1.2 to determine the length, height, top, and bottom of a mailpiece):
  1. Has an aspect ratio (length divided by height) of less than 1.3 or more than 2.5.
  2. Is polybagged, polywrapped, enclosed in any plastic material, or has an exterior surface made of a material that is not paper. Windows in envelopes made of paper do not make mailpieces nonmachinable. Attachments allowable under applicable eligibility standards do not make mailpieces nonmachinable.
  3. Has clasps, strings, buttons, or similar closure devices.
  4. Contains items such as pens, pencils, keys, or coins that cause the thickness of the mailpiece to be uneven; or loose keys or coins or similar objects not affixed to the contents within the mailpiece. Loose items may cause a letter to be nonmailable when mailed in paper envelopes; (see 601.3.3).
  5. Is too rigid (does not bend easily when subjected to a transport belt tension of 40 pounds around an 11-inch diameter turn).
  6. For pieces more than 4-1/4 inches high or 6 inches long, the thickness is less than 0.009 inch.
  7. Has a delivery address parallel to the shorter dimension of the mailpiece.
  8. Is a self-mailer that is not prepared according to 201.3.14.
  9. Is a booklet that is not prepared according to 201.3.16.

You can calculate how much the surcharge will be by using the price calculator on the USPS website:


Workshop Member
Thanks for the link . I knew how to send the film as a package using parcel post rates ...but thats a minimum of 7.50 and almost 9.00 if you use a usps priority mail box . What I needed was the rate for first class mail of a non machinable letter . Went to the window at the Post Office and it turned out to be $3.80 .

A few more rolls and I should be able to share my experience in trying a half dozen B&W labs.


Well-known member
I've started using Boutique Film Lab over mailers for several reasons. Simple ordering, pricing and shipping are the primary reasons. Each developed roll of E6 is $10 and ship to me was $8. It's $8 to develop B/W. Using a padded envelope with 2 rolls and it cost approximately $5. I probably could've got 2 more rolls of 120mm in the package. No affiliations. Here's a link...