Washington — Mailing a letter, bill payment or birthday gift will cost more starting June 30.
Higher postal rates, including a 3-cent boost to 37 cents for first-class mail, were approved in February. The effective date was announced Tuesday by the Postal Service board of governors.
"The governors recognize that raising rates is not the long-term solution to retaining universal service," board Chairman Robert Rider said. But he said the higher rates will help the agency cope with its current economic problems.
The increases affect only domestic mail. The international letter rate of 60 cents for the first ounce to Mexico and Canada and 80 cents to other countries remains unchanged.
The increase will give the cash-strapped postal service a boost as it tries to cope with declining business and hundreds of millions of dollars in costs from the terror attacks and anthrax contamination last fall.
Postmaster General John Potter repeated his promise that there won't be another increase until at least 2004.
Chief Financial Officer Richard J. Strasser said the agency is sending Congress a request for $799 million in fiscal 2003 for air monitoring equipment, filtration systems and added security measures to prevent another anthrax-by-mail attack.
The post office does not receive taxpayer funds for operations, but had received special appropriations to help cope with the contamination.
Potter has announced an end to the self-imposed freeze on closing small post offices and sent a transformation plan to Congress seeking more flexibility in changing rates, adding new services and negotiating charges to large mailers.
While the cost of the first ounce of first-class mail goes up 3 cents, each additional ounce will remain at 23 cents.
Some other rates taking effect include:
Post card: 23 cents, up 2 cents.
Priority mail, 1 pound: $3.85, up 35 cents.
Express Mail, 8 ounces: $13.65, up $1.20.
Parcel post (varies), typical 2 pound: $4.14, up 69 cents.
Certified mail: $2.30, up 10 cents.
Money order up to $500: 90 cents, unchanged.
Bank statement, 3 ounces: 83 cents, up 3 cents.
Presorted utility bill: 27.8 cents, up 2.3 cents.
Weekly news magazine, presorted, 5.8 ounces: 17.5 cents, up 1 cent.
Household magazine, presorted, 13.8 ounces: 27.4 cents, up 1.5 cents.
National newspaper, presorted, 10 ounces: 30.3 cents, up 2.6 cents.