USPS lets you design your own stamps on your PC

The U.S. Postal Service usually issues 30 or 40 new stamps each year, but a new program approved last month could result in millions of new stamp designs.

USPS has given the nod to an online product that lets customers design their own stamps.

'We have authorized to conduct this test through the end of September,' said USPS spokesman Gerry McKiernan. is an online postage vendor in the USPS PC Postage program. PC Postage users pay for the ability to print out an information-based Indicia barcode on envelopes, effectively turning their computers into postage meters.

The PhotoStamps program takes the idea a step further and lets users customize the postage with a digital image of their choice. Rather than downloading the postage, it is mailed to customers as self-adhesive stamps that are legal postage. PhotoStamps are available online.

The process is simple, but not cheap. Customers upload a digital image and use tools on the Website to edit it into a stamp. The image takes up about three-quarters of the stamp, with the indicia barcode and the value printed on the right side. The stamps arrive in four to seven business days.

Stamps come in 20-stamp sheets and are available in seven denominations, from the 23-cent postcard stamp to the $3.85 one-pound priority mail. Customers will pay a hefty premium for the customization, from 17 percent ($89.99 for a sheet of $3.85 stamps with a value of $77) to 204 percent ($13.99 for a sheet of 23-cent stamps with a value of $4.60). There also is a $2.99 shipping and handling charge for each order.

'This is only a test,' McKiernan said. 'I don't want to make anyone think that they will be able to put their kids' photos on stamps this holiday season.'

USPS will evaluate the program after the test, examining the potential for fraud, revenue assurance and propriety of images.

'What somebody in one part of the country thinks is appropriate, somebody in another part may not,' McKiernan said.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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