The ultimate guide to Business Reply Mail

June 9, 2023
Minh Mai

With so many people turning to the internet to handle everything from shopping to paying bills, response rates to physical mailers are declining. However, there are ways you can bring those response rates back up — and Business Reply Mail (BRM) is one of them.

With BRM, you can send out BRM envelopes with prepaid postage and a preprinted return address inside your mailers. All customers need to do is complete the requested action and drop the mail in the mailbox: No need to look for addresses or stop by the post office to buy stamps. This makes it easy for your customers, which means you’ll get more responses. You can even use BRM services with your virtual mailbox or your mail forwarding service.

So how do business reply mail services work? Find out below!

What is Business Reply Mail?

For businesses, Business Reply Mail is the equivalent of sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope — only more convenient and more professional. It’s a service available through the U.S. Postal Service that allows you to provide a prepaid method for customers to reply to the mail you send them. The prepaid reply often takes the form of an envelope or a postcard.

Business Reply Mail options

You may not have realized, but there are actually several different options for Business Reply Mail. Which one will work best for your needs? Compare each below.

Basic Business Reply Mail (BRM)

Basic BRM is ideal for businesses that need to be able to provide a moderate amount of postage-paid, preprinted postcards or envelopes over the course of the year. For example, if you have dozens or hundreds of customers who send monthly payments via check, this option likely won’t be enough for you. 

But if you send out occasional surveys to be returned by mail, Basic BRM is exactly what you need. USPS recommends this service for business customers who expect 925 or fewer pieces of mail returned each year.

Key features

  • Postage-paid, preprinted materials for First-Class Mail and Priority Mail
  • Pay only for responses received


The good news is that as of 2017, the USPS eliminated their permit application fees for several services. For Basic BRM, this means that you only need to pay for the postage on pieces of mail returned to you.

High Volume Business Reply Mail

If you have many prepaid responses coming in each month, High Volume BRM is your choice. It’s ideal for businesses that accept checks via mail for subscriptions or other products. It’s also a good choice if you expect a high rate of return on things like surveys.

Key features

  • Get discounts on prepaid postage rates.
  • Sign up for an Advanced Deposit Account to prepay postage.
  • Use postage-paid preprinted First-Class and Priority mail materials.


For this service, you’ll pay First Class or Priority Mail postage rates for each returned piece, and you’ll need to pay an annual account maintenance fee of $860. However, as with basic BRM, the permit application fee has been eliminated.

Basic Qualified Business Reply Mail

This service is very similar to basic BRM in that it’s ideal for businesses that only need to handle a low volume of prepaid replies. The big difference between basic BRM and basic qualified BRM is that “qualified” means this service only works with automation-compatible pieces of mail.

And what does that mean? Qualified pieces of mail include mail that can be automatically sorted by USPS machinery. It features barcodes that can be machine-read, and since it costs less to process, you get a discounted postage rate.

Key features

  • Get discounts on qualified return mail pieces.
  • Get your own ZIP+4 Code and barcode.
  • Use an Advanced Deposit Account to prepay postage.


There are no account or permit fees for this service, so you’ll only need to pay for discounted postage on up to 875 responses per year.

High-Volume Qualified Business Reply Mail

High-volume qualified BRM is the automated version of high-volume BRM. Use this service when you expect more than 875 prepaid responses in a year and you want to get discounts on postage by using ZIP+4 Code barcodes. 

Automation-wise, this service is the same as basic qualified BRM in that it only works with mail that can be sorted and handled with automated USPS machinery. This is just the high-volume version of basic qualified BRM.

Key features

  • Get some of the lowest per-piece postage fees available.
  • Use your own ZIP+4 Code and barcode.
  • Use an Advanced Deposit Account to prepay postage.


While you’ll pay a discounted rate on per-piece postage, remember you’ll need to pay $860 for your annual account maintenance fee.

Courtesy Reply Mail

This is a courtesy service you can use to make life a little easier for your customers. Courtesy Reply Mail (CRM) is best when you need guaranteed responses on invoices and bills. CRM does not offer prepaid postage — your customers will have to put their own stamp on — but it does give you pre-addressed, pre-barcoded secure mailing envelopes that you can send out in your own mailers.

Key features

  • Get pre-addressed, pre-barcoded secure envelopes.
  • No need to pay for postage.
  • No account or permit fees required.


If you want to save money, this is the service for you. There are no account or permit fees, and your customers will use their own postage to mail their responses back to you.

Metered Reply Mail

Metered Reply Mail (MRM) is the right choice when you only need to send out prepaid mailers occasionally. You can use your own envelopes or parcels — just apply a prepaid stamp or label to your return materials.

Key features

  • Use Priority Mail Express, Priority Mail, First-Class, Media Mail, or Library Mail.
  • Get barcodes and Facing Identification Marks for free.
  • Use your own envelopes and mailing materials.


This is another service with no annual fees. Select the prepaid return postage type you want to use (Priority Mail, First Class, Media Mail, etc.), and pay the standard postage rate for that class.

How to get a Business Reply Mail permit

Getting a BRM permit is easy. All you need to do is fill out PS Form 3615. You can pick this form up at your post office or print it online here. Take the completed form to your local post office, and be prepared to pay a permit fee, if applicable. 

Check USPS regulations before you file, but as of 2017, BRM services don’t require a permit fee.

A quick note on unique zip codes for Business Reply Mail

To use any of the BRM services, you’ll need a unique zip code, otherwise known as a ZIP+4 Code. In fact, you’ll need to get separate ZIP+4 Codes for each type of BRM, so if you use basic BRM and high-volume qualified BRM, you’ll need two ZIP+4 Codes. This allows the USPS to automate sorting and weighing so that they can charge you appropriately for postage.

To get your unique zip code, you’ll need to register your company with USPS online, then sign up for BRM. When you sign up for BRM, you’ll see an option that allows you to add a ZIP+4 Code to your account. From there, USPS will send you return postage materials featuring your new code.

Looking for a business address? Contact Stable today

BRM is a fantastic solution for big businesses, small businesses, nonprofit organizations, and more. However, before you sign up for BRM through USPS, you’ll need a business address to receive direct mail.

That’s where Stable can help. Stable provides permanent virtual mailboxes and addresses, so you never have to worry about mail or changing addresses again. We’ll digitize all mail you receive, and you can scan, forward, shred, and even deposit checks from anywhere in the world. 

Get started with a Stable virtual business address + mailbox in less than three minutes!

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