The grace period for collectors to send covers for first-day cancels ends 30 days after a stamp's issue date, unless stated otherwise in the listing. Within the grace period, buy the stamp (or stationery item) at your local post office or philatelic center, affix it to an addressed envelope (postage must make up at least the first-class rate) and send under cover to Customer-Affixed Envelopes, Postmaster, (Name of City, State and ZIP Code-9991 or the ZIP+4 Code given). No remittance is required. Most collectors prefer to use peelable return address labels that can be removed after the USPS returns the cover.
Mail orders for mint stamps, uncut press sheets, postal stationery, and the Postal Service's uncacheted first-day covers (FDCs) should be sent to Stamp Fulfillment Services, Box 419636, Kansas City, MO 64141-6636. Postal Service supplied first-day covers are available only in certain formats. They usually cost the face value of the stamps affixed plus 21¢ per cover. The prices of some items, including first-day-canceled stationery, may vary. Orders should use USPS item numbers.
Stamp Fulfillment Services accepts credit card orders by telephone (800-782-6724) or fax (816-545-1212). Orders may be placed from countries other than the United States by calling 816-545-1000. An additional $5 shipping fee is added to standard shipping and handling charges for orders to be mailed to a foreign address.
New issues should be ordered no more than two weeks in advance of the date of issue.
The Postal Service does not accept orders for selected limited-edition products, including uncut sheets, until the official first day of sale. In some cases the quantities of such items that customers may purchase may be limited.
Mail, phone or fax orders have a flat service charge of $1 if they include only prepackaged items, such as the minimum purchase of a block of four perforated sheet stamps or a pane of definitive self-adhesive stamps. The flat charge is $3 for orders for stamps in other than prepackaged formats.
A detailed sales catalog called USA Philatelic lists the prepackaged formats. It is free on request from Information Fulfillment, Dept. 6270, U.S. Postal Service, Box 419014, Kansas City, MO 64141-6014. USA Philatelic listings include formats and USPS item numbers other than those listed here.
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Plate numbers. Multistamp issues require as a minimum a plate block with every stamp design represented at least once. Plate block formats are listed by the Scott Publishing Co. in the Scott Stamp Monthly and the ScottSpecialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers.
Stamp Fulfillment Services requires the purchase of a minimum number of stamps to obtain plate number markings. For stamps with face values of 1¢ to 33¢ the minimum purchase is a full pane. For stamps with face values of 34¢ to 99¢ the minimum purchase is either a full pane or block per the catalog listing. For stamps with face values of $1 and up the minimum purchase is a block of four stamps. Plate numbers on most coil stamps may be obtained with a minimum purchase of 25 stamps. Stamp Fulfillment Services does not guarantee specific plate numbers.