The United States Postal Service has been a provider and integral piece of the retail shipping model dating back to the roots of the industry. USPS developed a specific “Retail” program in 2005 called the Approved Shipper Program. The Approved Shipper Program is part of the USPS initiative referred to as “Alternate Access Channel” and is promoted by USPS as a network on non-USPS businesses that provide convenient access to postal products and services.
Approved Shipper locations receive program-specific marketing materials, a guaranteed daily pickup, local USPS representation and pricing.
Note: As a retail shipping store, you may already be selling USPS products and service, but you must complete the application and verification process in order to officially be deemed an “Approved Shipper” and be included in the recognized network.
A commercial mail receiving agency ("CMRA"), also known as a mail drop, typically operates as a Private Mail Box Operator.
A customer of a CMRA can receive mail and other deliveries at the street address of the CMRA rather than the customer's own street address. Depending on the agreement between the customer and the CMRA, the CMRA can forward the mail to the customer or hold it for pickup
A customer may wish to use the services of a CMRA for privacy; for example, a person running a home-based business may not wish to disclose his or her residential address. Alternatively, a customer in one community may contract with a CMRA in another community with a better known or more prestigious address.
A CMRA is able to receive parcels shipped by means other than a postal system; some postal operators, such as the United States Postal Service, are not. CMRAs also usually provide ancillary services such as copy or courier services. Many CMRAs will discount their other prices for mail box subscribers. The use of a CMRA may render the delivery of mail at a later time of day than it would at a Post Office box.
Note: CMRAs are not necessarily Approved Shippers and vice-versa. Each program/category has its own requirements, rules, and business practices.
USPS provides specific benefits and resources to stores that qualify for the program. Following are some of the program
benefits and requirements.
In order to be eligible for the USPS Approved Shipper Program, the following requirements must be met:
The process to become a USPS Approved Shipper is fairly simple and straight-forward. Following are the steps:
USPS Approved Shippers are currently NOT allowed to ship lithium ion batteries internationally through USPS. This policy is expected to change in Q1 2013. When the policy changes only Approved Shippers (and staff) who have completed the "International Mailing of Dangerous Goods by Air" training will be allowed to ship lithium ion batteries.
All Approved Shippers and their employees who handle mail are required to complete the "International Mailing of Dangerous Goods by Air" training. Individuals may retake the training as many times as necessary to become proficient in the handling of dangerous goods for mailing.
New employees for Approved Shipper who handle mail are required to complete the "International Mailing of Dangerous Goods by Air" training within 30 days of employment at the Approved Shipper.
Have all staff members that will be handling mail complete the "International Mailing of Dangerous Goods by Air" online training.
Complete and submit the USPS Approved Shipper Training Record.
Note: The training form may be submitted as often as needed to document completed training.