Shipping Off Campus

Charging a Fund Account

Charges for mailing and shipping through Postal and Parcel Services may only be posted against active University fund accounts. Cash, P-Cards and other Credit/Debit cards will not be accepted.

If the intent is to only use a fund account for a single time, simply use an intramural purchase form (usually available from the department secretaries), and attach the completed form to the items to be mailed or shipped. If an additional copy is attached, one will be returned to you with the total charges when determined.

If you plan to repeatedly use a single fund account for mailings and shipments, an account with Postal and Parcel Services may facilitate using our services. To request a Postal & Parcel Services account, please create an intramural with the request, and either e-mail to, fax to (515) 294-0907, or campus mail to Postal & Parcel Services. This intramural should include:

  • Account Title (for your reference, up to 30 characters)
  • Active Fund Account number to be charged
  • Contact Name, address, phone number & e-mail

Upon receipt of your intramural Postal & Parcel will assign an account number for you to use. This number is referred to us as a "p-number", and will be used as a reference for mailing, shipping and billing purposes. Postal & Parcel will furnish to the account contact, preprinted barcoded labels which are to be used on the mail and/or shipping instruction cards. These labels will only be sent to the contact listed on the account, but may be used by any authorized department member. The purchase of stamps & mailing directly through the USPS may not utilize this number; only charges for the services provided directly through Postal & Parcel may be applied.

Billing information on charges posted to these accounts may be viewed online at any time using the link provided on the top of the Postal & Parcel website, under "Billing Information". Once the account has been established, and barcode labels furnished, any charges billed against the account are the responsibility of the account holder.

Filling Out a Mail Instruction Card

White Mail Instruction card

The white mail instruction card is for regular USPS services, both international and domestic.
  • Place your department's barcode sticker on the correct side of the card for the service desired (domestic or international)
  • Write in date, phone number and name legibly. Its VERY important we have contact info in case there are any questions regarding your mailing.
  • Bundle the mail with a rubber band mail if more than one piece
  • Circle the service level for the entire bundle of mail. The service selected should apply to ALL pieces in that bundle.
  • If you have some domestic and some international, please separate them and put one card with each bundle. If one piece requires certified service it must be separated or you risk paying for certified service on each piece.
  • Any international mail should be separated from domestic mail. Failure to do so may result in additional charges and delayed delivery.
  • Circle additional services desired (see service descriptions for details)
white card white card

Green Express Services Instruction card

The green instruction card is for all EXPRESS services (USPS, FedEx, DHL, and UPS).

  • Multiple packages going to a single destination at the same time require only one card
  • Apply barcode sticker
  • Decide which courier you would like to use for your shipment
  • Circle the desired service level for that courier
  • Put the entire address on the BACK of card
  • The recipient's phone number can be extremely helpful if delivery problems arise
  • Except for the US Post Office's Express Mail, all days included are BUSINESS days only.
    • USPS delivers on Saturday at no extra cost
    • For UPS and FedEx, Saturday Delivery is available for an extra fee
    • When considering Saturday Delivery, please be sure someone will be at the destination to sign for the package. The fee will be assessed whether a delivery is made or not.
  • All service guarantees can be voided by acts of God such as weather.
  • Only the US Post Office can deliver to a Post Office Box! UPS, FedEx, and DHL cannot
  • International shipments must pass through customs at the receiving country
  • An accurate description of contents, including value, is required for international shipments. The more specific you can be in describing the item the more quickly and easily it will move through customs.

An important tip: If you are planning to send a Next Day package to a destination in Iowa, UPS GROUND service standards show delivery the next (business) day. This can help you avoid expensive shipping costs!

green card green card

Mail Design Pointers

Please open the links below for a guide when designing your mail piece.

Postcard Designing a post card for mailing at Iowa State University

tabs Mail Piece Tabbing Requirements

Presort Template Presort Mail-envelopes have a space in the bottom right hand corner that is white in color measuring at least 5/8 inches high and 4 3/4 inches wide can be sent presort. This means it can have a barcode added that allows the piece to travel more quickly and easily through the US Postal Service.

APO/FPO/DPO (Military Mailing)

APO and FPO are special military addresses designed to deliver packages to military destinations overseas as well as on bases in the US. Because the address does not indicate whether the mail will be leaving the country or not, a customs form is required on all packages. You can click here to go to the USPS guidelines and regulations page.

Customs Forms

When shipping through the United States Postal Service, international packages that have anything other than documents in them (including books and CD/DVDs) OR weigh more than 1lb must have a customs declaration attached. We can provide this service if you let us know the contents and value of your package on the mail instruction card.

If you are shipping a CD/DVD please indicate what is on the disk (documents, programs, etc.).

Small customs forms (Form 2976) are for packages weighing 1 to 4 lbs and can be ordered through Postal and Parcel.
Large customs forms (Form 2976-A) are for packages weighing 4 lbs and over and must be filled out online here.
A detailed description of the contents should be filled in. Approx value is required.

small customs form  large customs form

Hazardous/Regulated Shipping

You MUST call Environmental Health & Safety (294-5359) BEFORE you ship potentially hazardous materials OR materials requiring non-regulated paperwork. Failure to have the required paperwork can lead to your package not being shipped. This is especially important for International shipping, as often the recipient must have import paperwork in order to receive some materials.

Hazardous materials may include:

  • Dry ice (paperwork always required)
  • Plant Materials
  • Animal Materials
  • Bacteria
  • Biologicals
  • Infectious Substances
  • Compressed Gasses
  • Flammable Liquids or Solids
  • Corrosives
  • Toxic Substances
  • Oxidizers
  • Explosives
  • Spray Paint
  • Char

Please have all Hazardous Materials shipments to Postal and Parcel Services before 3:30 PM for same-day processing on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday. EH&S may ship on Tuesday or Thursday during holiday weeks. Or for an additional fee when staffing is available. Contact EH&S 294-5359 for schedule information

PLEASE NOTE: FedEx has advised that all Styrofoam coolers containing dry ice must be in a cardboard box. Styrofoam containers that contain dry ice will not be accepted for shipment at Postal and Parcel unless enclosed in a cardboard box.

Packing Instructions

The following are links to packing requirements for packages sent out via various carriers. Even if a package is insured it must meet these requirements for the claim to be paid. The carrier will inspect any packaging if a claim is entered on so please be sure anything sent out meets these requirements.



US Postal Service

Damaged Packages

If you are contacted by someone who has received a damaged package shipped through Postal and Parcel Services or are sending a package of high value please give the recipient the following information:

If damage is evident upon delivery please note this on all copies of the delivery receipt and have the carrier sign it. If a camera is available, take a photograph of the damage. Use as much detail as possible to describe the damage to the packaging and any obvious breakage or loss. You can then contact Postal and Parcel at Iowa State.

If any damage is detected when shipment is unpacked contact Postal and Parcel at Iowa State immediately. You can contact us via phone at (515) 294-7790 or email at There are limitations on how long a claim may be filed. Postal and Parcel will handle the process.

Please be prepared to give Postal and Parcel the tracking number as it appears on the shipping label as well as a list of any missing or damaged pieces as specifically as possible. If this is a piece of machinery, information such as the exact make and model would be helpful.

Be certain to preserve the outside shipping container as well as any packing material inside and the damaged piece until instructed otherwise. Move it as little as possible but do you best to ensure there will be no further breakage. An inspection of the materials will most likely be necessary. Do not initiate any repairs on the item until instructed to do so by Postal and Parcel. If it is necessary to begin repairs take as many pictures as possible, preferably in a digital format that can be emailed. Neither Postal and Parcel nor Iowa State are bound to pay for the damage. While every attempt will be made to get reimbursement for insured items from the carrier it is not guaranteed under any circumstances.

Reusing Packaging

In light of increased awareness for homeland security, all package shippers the university conducts business with are working to comply with international, national and state shipping regulations.

Federal Department of Transportation legislation requires any package with a Hazardous Materials label, signage or other wording contain exactly what is described. This requirement applies to both new and recycled/reused shipping containers.

Some university employees are using packaging material and shipping containers with visible Hazardous Materials labels, signage or wording that do not accurately describe the package contents. Shippers who use mislabeled packages can be subject to fines and jail time.

Crossing out or covering up Hazardous Materials labels, signage or wording on packaging material or shipping containers is not sufficient. These labels, signage or wording must be removed or completely obstructed to meet regulations. UPS suggests all shipments, regardless of content, be sent in NEW packaging material, particularly insured items.

Noncompliance can result in the package being returned to the shipper regardless of contents.

We can be reached at (515) 294-7790 to assist with questions about packaging or shipping requirements. Environmental Health and Safety (294-8973) is available to assist you with all regulations and shipping preparation requirements for regulated items or materials.

Here are examples of improperly labeled packages:


Packages that contain aerosol cans ALWAYS require documentation and hazardous materials warning labels. This includes nonhazardous items such as spray paint.


Partially obscured hazardous materials warning label. Label must be completely removed prior to shipping because the package does not contain what the hazardous materials warning label indicates.


ORM-D label indicates the package contains a regulated substance. Contact Environmental Health and Safety to determine the proper packaging requirements and documentation that must be on this package. If the box no longer contains the original item, cover up entire marking.


Package contents are not what this hazardous materials label indicates. CROSSING THROUGH LABEL IS NOT ACCEPTABLE. Label must be completely removed from package or otherwise covered in a way that makes it impossible to tell what the label originally was.


Box does NOT contain hazardous material. Label must be completely removed to meet Federal Department of Transportation regulations.


ORM-D-AIR label indicates the package contains a regulated substance. Contact Environmental Health and Safety to determine the proper packaging requirements and documentation that must be on this package.


Reused package where original UPS delivery bar code has not been completely removed. This package could come back to the sender, wasting time and money. All bar code labels should be completely removed from shipping container or covered from top to bottom. Also, brownish-red stains on right side of package may be blood or some other hazardous material.