14 FAH-4 H-220

pouch contents

(CT:DPM-30;   05-11-2018)
(Office of Origin:  A/LM)

14 FAH-4 H-221  CONTENTS disclosure

(CT:DPM-15;   12-4-2014)

a. Disclosure of pouch contents, regardless of nature or classification, to any person except U.S. Government employees or contractors with proper security clearance and a need to know, violates the security of the pouch.  Never disclose or discuss pouch contents with foreign officials.

b. Discussion of pouch contents with authorized personnel as described above:

(1)  Communications are considered UNCLASSIFIED when pouch contents are discussed in a general way (e.g., by registry number or by referring only to “items” or “material”); and

(2)  Communications are considered at least SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED when they specifically identify items being sent by pouch (e.g., “passports” or “Ambassador Smith’s letter of July 6”).


14 FAH-4 H-222.1  Types of Items That Must Be Registered

(CT:DPM-24;   09-29-2016)

a. Each piece (envelope, package, or other outer cover) of the following types of pouch material must be registered:

(1)  Classified, cryptographic, or administratively controlled materials; or

(2)  Material the sending office considers sufficiently important to warrant registry control.

b. The registry form used by the Department for official items is barcode-readable Form OF-120, Diplomatic Pouch Mail Registration.  Use only one registry number per item.  Ordering information for Form OF-120 is found on the A/LM/PMP/DPM website.

c.  Appropriate receipts should be kept on file in accordance with the Records Management Handbook's subchapter 5 FAH-4 H-310, Department/Field Offices/Posts.  Proof of handling is necessary to resolve tracking issues.

14 FAH-4 H-222.2  Types of Items That May Be Registered

(CT:DPM-24;   09-29-2016)

a. Official mail:  In unclassified pouches, senders may register any official item for any reason using Form OF-120, Diplomatic Pouch Mail Registration.  Registered items can be tracked but are still sent at the risk of the sender.  Locally produced barcode-readable registry number labels may be used as an alternative to Form OF-120 for official items.

b. Personal mail:  Locally produced barcode-readable registry number labels may be used for personal items.   Do not use Form OF-120 for personal items.

14 FAH-4 H-222.3  Classification Marking of Controlled Items

(CT:DPM-15;   12-4-2014)

a. Classified or administratively controlled items processed by the Department’s Internal Mail and Messenger Service (IMMS) or diplomatic pouch service must display only classification or administratively controlled indicators recognized by the Department, as follows:

·         Sensitivity Warrants Courier Handling



·         SECRET

·         TOP SECRET

b. Items not marked with one of the above indicators are assumed to be unclassified.  Items showing no classification but marked in a way that indicates they might be classified or administratively controlled (e.g., “By Courier,” “NOFORN”) will not be accepted for pouch transmission.

c.  Each envelope, package, or other outer cover (including collective cover) of official material originated by any Federal agency for transport by diplomatic pouch must be marked with the highest security classification or administrative control designation of the material it contains.

14 FAH-4 H-222.4  Dispatch of Registered Items

(CT:DPM-24;   09-29-2016)

a. Only items categorized as UNCLASSIFIED or SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED may be transported in [A] pouches.  Items in [A] pouches may be barcoded for tracking purposes.

b. Items transported in [C] pouches may be categorized as SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED, Sensitivity Warrants Courier Handling, CONFIDENTIAL, SECRET, or TOP SECRET.  Items in [C] pouches must be registered in accordance with 14 FAH-4 H-222.1:

(1)  For a description of CONFIDENTIAL, SECRET, or TOP SECRET classifications, see 5 FAM 480; and

(2)  UNCLASSIFIED or SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED items may be transported by classified pouch under certain conditions and must be barcoded.  See 14 FAH-4 H-213.2.

c.  Items transported in [C] pouches marked “VIA DCS” or “VIA Defense Courier Service” are handled as TOP SECRET items.  See 14 FAH-4 H-260 for DCS procedures.  The Department is charged an additional fee to use the DCS system, which is absorbed by the Courier Division for some Department customers and is charged back to the sender for some Department programs and non-Department customers (see 14 FAM 727, subparagraph c(2)).

14 FAH-4 H-222.5  Entry of Registry Items Received by DPM Posts

(CT:DPM-15;   12-4-2014)

a. When the vault/classified pouch room or mail room at a post receives an item with a registry number, whether Form OF-120, Diplomatic Pouch Mail Registration, or any scannable barcode such as a commercial carrier registry number, the staff must enter that item into the Integrated Logistical Management System Diplomatic Pouch and Mail (ILMS DPM) for both the classified and unclassified channels.

b. Information required by ILMS DPM for registered items is the registry number, classification, sending agency, and weight of the item in kilograms.

c.  Data entry may be done at the time the pouch is being closed using the “Quick Pouch Build” process or may be done in advance of pouch day using the “Add/Modify Acct Items” process.

14 FAH-4 H-223  sending sensitive but unclassified (sbu) material by pouch

(CT:DPM-24;   09-29-2016)

a. The originator must prepare SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED (SBU) material using the following procedures:

(1)  Attach barcode-readable Form OF-120, Diplomatic Pouch Mail Registration, to the front of the package.  Mark the package and the form “SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED”;

(2)  Deliver the package containing the SBU material to your servicing mail room; and

(3)  Keep a record of registry numbers and other pertinent information that would assist in tracking the SBU material.

b. Use Unclassified Controlled Air Pouch (UCAP) when additional safeguards are necessary as determined by the originator.  To send SBU via UCAP, the originator should do the following:

(1)  Attach barcode-readable Form OF-120 to the front of the package and place “UNCLASSIFIED - VIA CONTROLLED AIR POUCH” prominently on the front and back of the package and on barcode-readable Form OF-120;

(2)  Deliver the package to the vault/classified pouch room (at post) or your servicing mail room at the Department for processing; and

(3)  Keep a record of registry numbers and other pertinent information that would assist in tracking the SBU material.

14 FAH-4 H-224  sending visa forms to kcc by pouch

(CT:DPM-24;   09-29-2016)

a. Posts that use [A] pouches to send Form DS-156, Nonimmigrant Visa Application, and Form DS-157, Supplemental Nonimmigrant Visa Application, records to the Kentucky Consular Center (KCC) must ensure each package is appropriately addressed and that the pouch tag and the airway bill (consignee section) read as follows:






ATTN:  KCC OF156 Manager

3505 HWY 25W


b. KCC is an authorized pouch receiving facility for NIV records only.  KCC is authorized to receive and open these unclassified diplomatic pouches, remove the contents, maintain a record of the invoices, and return empty pouches to A/LM/PMP/DPM/UPM at SA-32.

c.  For airline and routing charges, Dulles International Airport (IAD) should remain the final destination airport.  All pouch shipments destined to KCC must be dispatched on a separate airway bill.  Address the airway bill and consign the shipment to KCC in Williamsburg, KY, as shown above.  Do not send regular [A] pouch shipments to A/LM/PMP/DPM/UPM at SA-32 on the same airway bill as shipments destined to KCC.

d. ILMS DPM posts do not have to establish a unique unclassified series as the system generates invoices based on specific business units.  KCC’s business unit is “VOKCC.”  ILMS DPM posts can check shipment status in ILMS DPM.

e. Pouch tags must contain the address in paragraph a of this section, so that pouches destined for KCC are not delivered by the carrier to SA-32.  Pouches for KCC must be double tagged with the same address on both tags.

14 FAH-4 H-225  sending retired records by pouch

(CT:DPM-15;   12-4-2014)

a. Posts abroad should notify the Records Service Center (A/GIS/IPS-RSC) of plans to ship records by unclassified e-mail addressed to RetiredRecords@state.gov.  Prior to shipment, include a copy of the completed Form DS-693, Records Retirement Transmittal, in the first box of records.  Label the top of the box with the address below and the post’s name.  Seal the box with a strong, clear tape.

b. Unclassified files may be sent by unclassified pouch, by air or sea cargo, or from border posts by truck.  Files may not be sent by military post office or diplomatic post office, since these systems are not protected under Article 27 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.  Classified files must be sent by classified pouch.

c.  For unclassified and classified pouch, address boxes to:

Office of Information Programs and Services

Records Service Center (A/GIS/IPS-RSC)


Department of State

Washington DC  20520

d. Classified documents must be transmitted via classified Diplomatic Pouch under courier receipt Form OF-120, which can now be generated in ILMS for the registration of official items.  Users can generate OF-120 forms and registry numbers in bulk or at the individual level.  From the Diplomatic Pouch and Mail website, users can access the bulk print OF-120s page to print up to 200 OF-120 forms and/or address labels.  ILMS will automatically assign a unique registry number to the item and generate OF-120s in PDF form, labels or both.

14 FAH-4 H-226  sending homeward-bound mail by pouch

14 FAH-4 H-226.1  HBMS Mailing Procedures

(CT:DPM-15;   12-4-2014)

Policy on homeward-bound mail service (HBMS) is set forth in 14 FAM 745 and is only available for posts without MPS/DPO facilities.  Persons wishing to use HBMS will:

(1)  Make sure the service is available at the post;

(2)  Securely wrap packages to avoid damage or loss and to facilitate proper handling;

(3)  Affix sufficient U.S. Postal Service (USPS) postage from Sterling, VA (Zip Code 20166) for delivery by the USPS;

(4)  In the event that the item is bound for an international address, affix sufficient postage and the appropriate customs form to the outside of the package (see USPS Customs Forms); and place a note on the outside instructing SA-32 to place the item into the USPS mail stream, not into any ongoing pouch;

(5)  Use the following return address clearly marked in the upper left corner:

(Name of sender)

Unique post “street” address (e.g., 6180 Kabul Place)

Dulles VA  20189-(plus 4-digit post extension); and

(6)  Deliver the mail to the location provided by the employee association.

14 FAH-4 H-226.2  Employee Association Responsibilities

(CT:DPM-15;   12-4-2014)

a. Employee associations at posts will:

(1)  Comply with 6 FAM 500 regulations regarding operating the employee association and the HBMS;

(2)  Establish procedures to collect payment from users of the service;

(3)  Ensure postal supplies are available;

(4)  Determine frequency of shipments;

(5)  Establish procedures to abide by USPS standards, policies and regulations;

(6)  Protect private property;

(7)  Reimburse the post for the cost of the procured supplies and air freight;

(8)  Provide a location for accepting mail and preparing pouch bags;

(9)  Deliver open pouches containing outgoing HBMS mail to the post’s mail room; and

(10) Ensure that no prohibited items are included.

b. Posts without an employee association should contact Commissary and Recreation Affairs (A/OPR/CR)

14 FAH-4 H-226.3  Mail Control Officer Responsibilities

(CT:DPM-15;   12-4-2014)

The mail control officer will instruct mail room staff to:

(1)  Accept open HBMS pouches from the employee association;

(2)  Ensure HBMS material is not intermingled in the same pouch as official pouch material;

(3)  Enter the employee association into ILMS DPM as an “agency” and HBMS pouches assigned to the employee association as the sender.  The ILMS DPM system will track weight of outgoing pouches;

(4)  Transport HBMS pouches on the same waybill as regular [A] pouches;

(5)  Provide HBMS weights and costs to the employee association manager and financial management officer; and

(6)  Provide appropriate amount of empty pouch bags for the employee association.  Official pouch material has priority when stock is low.

14 FAH-4 H-226.4  A/LM/PMP/DPM/UPM Responsibilities

(CT:DPM-15;   12-4-2014)

The Diplomatic Pouch and Mail unclassified mail facility (A/LM/PMP/DPM/UPM) will, upon receipt of pouches:

(1)  Open and provide a receipt for HBMS pouches;

(2)  Introduce HBMS parcels into the USPS system; and

(3)  Treat HBMS parcels as incoming mail for post, to be sent back to post, if rejected by the USPS.

14 FAH-4 H-227  sending items for the white house by pouch

(CT:DPM-30;   05-11-2018)

To send items to the White House by either classified or unclassified pouch, double-wrap the item (see 14 FAH-4 H-322.2).  Address the inner wrapper to the White House.  Address the outer wrapper to the Executive Secretariat (S/ES), marking the White House as the final destination.  Register the item using Form OF-120, Diplomatic Pouch Mail Registration (see 14 FAH-4 H‑222.1).


14 FAH-4 H-228.1  Inspection by Pouch Control Officer

(CT:DPM-24;   09-29-2016)

a. Each authorized user of the pouch who sends letters, flats, parcels, and nonconveyables automatically consents to an inspection by the pouch control officer (PCO).

b. PCOs may inspect items suspected of containing prohibited material subject to the following provisions:

(1)  Classified or unclassified mail room staff may intercept any letter, flat, parcel, or nonconveyable that is improperly prepared or otherwise considered questionable for pouch transmission.  Mail room staff may request the PCO to open the item to determine if it is eligible for pouch transmission;

(2)  At posts abroad, unclassified and classified items may be opened only in the presence of, and with the consent of, the originator or addressee.  If consent is refused, the item will not be accepted for pouch transmission and will be returned to the originator.  If neither originator nor addressee is physically present at post, the PCO may open suspect items in the presence of one witness;

(3)  At posts abroad, the PCO will make a reasonable effort to obtain disposition instructions from the appropriate person.  The cost for the return or disposal of items will be paid for by the originator or the addressee.  When disposition instructions or payment cannot be obtained, items will be turned over to the custody of the regional security office (RSO).  At the end of a 30-day holding period, the RSO will list each item to be disposed of on Form SF-120, Report of Excess Personal Property, and give the form and item to the general services office (GSO) for disposal;

(4)  In the Department, the PCO is authorized, in the presence of one witness, to open suspect items without the presence or the consent of the addressee or originator.  For classified items, a reasonable attempt will be made to contact the originator before opening the item; and

(5)  In the Department the Diplomatic Pouch and Mail Division (A/LM/PMP/DPM) will make a reasonable effort to obtain disposition instructions from the appropriate person.  The cost for the return or disposal of items will be paid for by the originator or the addressee.  When disposition instructions or payment cannot be obtained, items will be turned over to building security guards.  At the end of a 30-day holding period, DS personnel will list each item to be disposed of on Form DS-1882, Domestic Property Excess (see 14 FAH-1 H-722), and fax that form to the Business Analysis Division (A/LM/PMP/PM) to coordinate pick-up of the property.

14 FAH-4 H-228.2  Outgoing Items Containing Prohibited Material

(CT:DPM-24;   09-29-2016)

a. At domestic mail facilities for outgoing unclassified pouch, the pouch control officer takes the following actions:

(1)  If items have USPS postage and a valid return address, they are returned to sender via USPS and an e-mail is sent to post.  For all other material, the PCO sends an email to posts informing the addressee that the parcel is being held pending disposition instructions and receipt of funds for return; and

(2)  Items addressed to and from the same person and the same address cannot be returned or forwarded.  The PCO sends an email to the post requesting the addressee to make arrangements to have the item returned to a valid domestic address in the same manner in which it was delivered.  If forwarding instructions are not received within 10 working days, the item will be turned over to building security guards.  At the end of a 30-day holding period, Diplomatic Security personnel will list each item to be disposed of on Form DS-1882, Domestic Property Excess (see 14 FAH-1 H-722), and fax that form to A/LM/PMP/PM to coordinate pick-up of the property.

b. At domestic mail facilities for outgoing classified pouch, the PCO takes the following action:  Items found to have prohibited material will be returned to the originator in the same manner in which they were delivered.

c.  At posts abroad for both unclassified and classified pouch, the PCO returns the item to the sender.

d. For policies and procedures regarding pouch abuse, see 14 FAM 726.

14 FAH-4 H-229  PILFERAGE and damage

(CT:DPM-7;   05-03-2010)

a. The Department does not accept responsibility for lost or damaged items sent via pouch.  All items sent by diplomatic pouch are sent at the risk of the sender.

b. Post management must make certain that local procedures are in place to ensure the safekeeping of pouches and other property while under control of the PCO.

c.  To reduce the risk of damage, employees must ensure that parcels are packed well enough to withstand rough handling and storage.  PCOs must ensure pouches are properly packed to minimize possible damage to contents.

d. Pouches must be retrieved from the airport as soon as possible after arrival and opened only by authorized personnel in a controlled secure environment.