“Free Matter for the Blind” Postal Regulations
Postage-Free Mail Regulations
Federal Postal regulations allow specific mail to be sent to or from blind or low vision or other print-handicapped persons free of postage. You will need to be certified by a competent authority as unable to read conventional reading material to qualify for this service. More information can be found in the downloadable pamphlet Mailing Free Matter for Persons Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired: Questions and Answers (PDF). The following materials can be sent postage-free:
- Reading matter and musical scores;
- Sound reproductions;
- Paper, records, tapes, and other material for the production of reading matter, musical scores, or sound reproductions;
- Reproducers or parts of them for sound reproductions;
- Braille writers, typewriters, educational or other materials or devices, or parts thereof, used for writing by or adapted for the use of a blind or print-handicapped person;
- Letters are written in raised characters or type 14 points or larger or in the form of sound recordings if unsealed and sent by blind or other print-handicapped persons.
The matter sent must meet the following conditions:
- The matter must be for the use of a blind or print-handicapped person;
- Letters cannot be written or printed by hand or typed in a type size smaller than 14 points;
- Either no charge, rental, subscription, or other fee is required for this material, or, if required, it may not exceed the cost of the item;
- The matter may be opened and inspected by the Postal Service;
- Matter contains no advertising;
- Letters prepared in any format by sighted people are to be sent to blind or low-vision individuals, and empty shipping materials for mailing matter described in this section may not be shipped free and must bear full postage.
- Mail sent as free matter must be marked “Free Matter for the Blind or Handicapped” in the upper right corner of the address side;
- Mail must meet the minimum and maximum dimensions for mailing material found elsewhere in postal regulations;
- Mail sent as free matter is treated as First-Class Mail only to determine appropriate standards for processing and delivery and for handling if undeliverable;
- Insurance can be added to mail sent as free matter, and the sender must pay the insurance fee.
International mail may be sent as free matter for the blind or handicapped if marked “Free Matter for the Blind” in the upper right corner of the address side of the mail piece.
The following information can be sent:
- Books, periodicals, and other matter (including unsealed letters) in braille or “special type for the use of the blind.”
- Plates for embossing literature for the blind;
- Disks, tapes, or wires bearing voice recordings and special paper intended solely for the use of the blind, provided they are sent by or addressed to an officially recognized institution for the blind;
- Sound recordings or tapes that are mailed by a blind or low-vision person.