How many stamps do I need: Postage stamps are the little squares on letters and small packages (in the upper right-hand corner) that tend to be overlooked (and underappreciated) as of late. As the world continues to become more and more digitally oriented, letters seem to be the odd man out.
With that said, when an individual needs to mail a letter, envelope, or parcel package, these postage stamps are the key ingredient to make it happen. They play a major role in the mailing of any item, both internationally and domestically.
There are many different types of postage stamps. The various stamps differ based on postage value, type of shipping, and cosmetic factors (such as design). Actual postage costs for shipping letters and packages vary based on the weight, height, and dimension of the package, and the timeframe for the delivery. People can choose their desired shipping style based on their delivery time requirements and item volume/metrics.
For those of you who are not as familiar with stamp basics, here’s a brief introduction:
About Postage stamps
Generally known as a stamp, postage stamps are small pieces of paper issued by a post office, postal administration, or any authorized postage stamp vendor under government rules and regulations. Customers (senders) who wish to mail a letter or any other type of parcel are required to pay a predetermined amount that covers the cost of moving, insuring, and registering the mail. Once the price is determined, the item is affixed with a stamp (to the face or on the address side – typically upper right corner). The item is then processed by the postal officials, where a postal mark is applied to the item stating its date and point of origin. This helps ensure that the item isn’t reused or misused at a later date. After the completion of this process, the item is processed and ultimately delivered to its destined address.
A postage stamp always features the name of the issuing nation, along with a denomination of its value. The stamp will also include an illustration of persons, events, natural realities, or institutions that hold importance to the nation at hand. The shape of postage stamps tends to vary. At present, stamps are rectangular. One can also opt for specialized custom-made stamps based on the issuing postal office.
There are various types of stamps available for use. A comprehensive list of the postage stamps available for use is discussed below.
- Airmail stamp – For payment of airmail services.
- Booklet stamp – Produced and issued in booklet format.
- Carriers stamp – To deliver mail directly.
- Certified mail – Provides proof of mailing via a receipt to the sender.
- Coil stamps – Tear-off stamps issued in vending machines.
- Commemorative stamp – Issued for a limited time to commemorate a person.
- Computer vended postage – Advanced secure postage.
- Definitive stamps – For everyday postage.
- Express mail – Special delivery stamp.
- Local post – Used to mail to a local post.
- Makeup stamp – A small valued stamp used to make up the difference when postage stamp rates increase.
- Military stamp – Special postal system for armed forces of a country.
- Mini sheet – A commemorative stamp issue, contains a different number of stamps.
- Newspaper stamp – To pay the price of mailing newspapers and other periodicals.
- Official mail stamp – Government-issued stamp for government agencies.
- Occupation stamp – Issued for use by citizens in a country occupied by the forces of a foreign country.
- Non-denominated postage – Stamp that remains valid even when the price of the postage stamp has increased.
- Overprint – Regular stamp, such as a commemorative stamp or a definitive, which has been changed after issuance by ‘printing over’ portions of the stamp.
- Perforated stamp – Referred to the stamps having perforations around the stamp, known as perfins.
- Personalized stamps – Custom made stamps allowing a sender to add images of their choice.
- Pneumatic stamps – Produced only in Italy, these stamps are used for sending items using pressurized air tubes.
- Postage currency – Stamps that are used as currency instead of postage stamps.
- Postage due – Stamp that states postage has not been paid.
- Postal tax – A stamp that states that a tax above the postage rate has been paid.
- Self-adhesive stamp – Self-sticking stamps.
- Semi-postal – Also known as a charity stamp, it requires additional payment for a charity.
- Souvenir sheet – contain perforated or imperforate stamps as a part of its design.
- Specimen stamp – Sent to postal officials to identify valid and forged stamps.
- Test stamp – Used for testing in machines and scanners.
- Variable value stamps – Stamps that differ in rate based on the times of issuance by machines.
- War tax stamps – A type of tax stamps that defray the cost of war.
- Water-activated stamp – Used generally, that can be stuck on by moisture.
The list above includes the majority of the postage stamps available for use. However, for most Americans, the main question that still arises is: “How many stamps do I need?” Most individuals will not need all of the above-mentioned stamps. These stamps have sub-genres, and their rates and usage vary with the type of item being mailed. To provide a more direct answer, here is some specific guidance regarding the number of stamps you would need on different occasions.
How many stamps do I need?
- For a standard letter: If you are mailing a standard letter, one Forever Stamp or one First Class Letter stamp at the top right corner of an envelope can be used. If the size of the letter is of the standard size, then a Forever stamp is sufficient for mailing within the United States. The number of stamps that need to be attached to a letter depends upon the size and weight of the letter.
- For a package: For packages that weigh less than 12 ounces (0.75 pounds), one (or more) postage stamps are accepted. The exact amount of stamps required is calculated based upon the weight and dimension of the package. The point of origin and destination must also be considered. Typically, the first four ounces of a package requires approximately $3.80 in postage, with additional postage added for any additional weight. For more information, please see our guide on the Cost of First-Class Postage.
- For a 9” by 12” envelope: The 9” by 12” envelope is a standard dimension accepted by postal services. Like a standard letter, it requires postage stamps affixed at the top right corner of the envelope for proper postage service. For customers with larger envelopes, postage costs around $1.00 for the first ounce and $0.20 for each additional ounce.
- For a legal-sized envelope: Two Forever stamps (currently valued at $0.55 per stamp) are needed to mail a one-ounce legal-sized envelope (9½” by 15” envelope). Each additional ounce over the standard one ounce requires an additional $0.20 in postage (per the January 24, 2021 price increases). Large envelopes are typically used for mailing sheets of legal paper and photos. Large envelopes are also known as flats.
- For a manila envelope: Manila envelopes have the same postage requirements as 9” by 12” envelopes and legal sized envelopes; the postage rate is $1.00 for the first ounce and $0.20 for each additional ounce. If you are to use Forever stamps for manila envelopes, then you will require two Forever stamps for envelopes weighing less than one ounce.
- For international mail: A postage stamp known as the Global Forever stamp is used to mail postcards. The same is used for 1-ounce letters to be mailed anywhere in the world. These stamps can be picked up at your local post offices. If you are sending from within the United States, the international first-class mail costs $1.20 (Global Forever stamps are currently priced at $1.20). For letters larger than 1 ounce and packages, you will need to perform additional calculations based on the weight and dimensions of what you are sending and the current pricing of the Global Forever stamp to determine the exact pricing and the number of stamps that are required.
- Per ounce: As we previously mentioned, the number of stamps needed to be affixed on a particular item of mail depends upon the weight and dimensions of the letter. If the letter to be posted weighs more than an ounce, you will have to weigh it before affixing stamps to ensure that letters are not returned due to insufficient postage. The Forever stamp is considered to be the ideal postage stamp for mailing regular, standard-sized one-ounce letters within the United States.
Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer to the common question of “how many stamps do we need?” However, hopefully, this article has at least given you a rough idea of the number of stamps you would need to mail your letter.
While, in our experience, there’s always a bit of wiggle room with weighing a package, it is crucial to keep the weight and dimension of the mail in mind. No one ever wants to send a letter only to have it returned at a later day due to a lack of correct postage. Generally, heavier letters are the ones more likely to be returned if the postage isn’t accurately calculated. But with due diligence (if you are paying attention to the regulations set forth by the post office), you will always be good to go.