What is the Cost to Hand-Cancel Mail?

Hand-canceling mail is a method often employed when sending out unique or delicate items through the post, such as wedding invitations. Understanding the benefits and cost of this practice can help ensure safe delivery of your precious pieces.

What Hand-canceling Mail Means

Most mail sent out is run through automatic machinery for sorting and stamping. While this is efficient for standard letters and envelopes, more intricate pieces can end up damaged in the process. For this reason, the option for hand-canceling exists, where postal workers manually mark the stamp, thereby skipping the potentially harmful machinery. This way, your beautiful, embellished invitations are less likely to be ripped, torn, or stained.

pensive statue

When to Opt for Hand-canceling

Hand-canceling is particularly useful when you’re dealing with envelopes that are uneven, bulky, or larger in size. If you’re sending out wedding invitations with elements such as ribbons, wax seals, or printed on thick paper, it may be wise to consider this option. Even if you have the slightest suspicion that your materials may get damaged by the machines, it’s better to err on the safe side.

    • Ribbons
    • Wax Seals
    • Thick Paper

Hand-canceling Costs and Procedure

It is crucial to note that hand-canceling is not a free service. As of the latest data available, you would be charged an additional $0.21 per envelope as of 2021. In some cases, as of 2024, a fee of $0.44 per envelope might be applicable. Remember, these costs are over and above your usual postage. Do note that these figures can vary, and rates are subject to changes.

pensive person

Making the Request

You will have to make a special request for hand-canceling at your local post office. It is advisable to do this when the office is less busy. Most likely, the post office employee would be the one hand-canceling your mail. However, due to staffing issues, sometimes you might be asked to do it yourself. Keep in mind, though, some offices may refuse to offer this service at all, in which case you can try speaking to the branch manager or visiting a different branch.

Delivery Times

One other point to consider is that hand-canceling might extend delivery times. Since your mail is being manually sorted and not run through machines, it could take a week or more longer to reach its destination compared to regular mail. Always account for this in your planning.

question mark


In conclusion, hand-canceling can provide an extra level of protection for your valuable or delicate mail items. Although there is a small additional cost, the investment could be worth avoiding the potential damage caused by mechanical handling. Coupling this with the extended delivery times should give you a complete understanding of what you can expect when choosing to hand-cancel your mail.

Related articles

Leave a Comment