December 22, 2005

By Jessica Chapman
The Kaselehlie Press

Postage rates will increase next month per recent United States Postal Service negotiations. Effective January 8, 2006, the cost of mail leaving the FSM will be subject to a 5.4 percent across-the-board increase. For a first-class stamp, this means an increase from 37 cents to 39 cents. Postcard stamps will go up 1 cent to 24 cents.

The base rate for Priority Mail will rise from $3.85 to $4.05. This change will affect the entire USPS system. What may impact FSM residents even more, however, is a change to the rates for incoming mail from the United States.

Amended Compact provisions permit the USPS to charge international postage rates for mail to the FSM (as well as to the Marshall Islands) from the US. Currently, mail from the US to the FSM is priced at the US domestic rate.

Article Six of the Federal Programs and Services Agreement in the amended Compact provisions states "The United States Postal Service may . . . opt to establish standard international rates and classification for mail from the United States to the Federated States of Micronesia . . . beginning no sooner than 2006." This increase will go into effect concurrent with the domestic rate increase. The Compact specifies that rates are to be "phased in." As a result, a the cost to send a letter from the US to the FSM will go up to at least 48 cents, nine cents more than the new rate. The standard cost to send a letter to international destinations from the US is 80 cents.

Priority Mail service will no longer be available to US customers sending mail to the FSM. Schools and businesses that may rely on US-based textbook or office supply companies for example could be affected by the change. Similarly, FSM residents who order items from online sites such as or who subscribe to US-based periodicals will have to pay the difference. The domestic rate increase results from the passage of a US law in 2003. The last domestic postage increase occurred in 2002. International rates last increased in 2001.