14 FAM 700 

14 FAM 710

general information

(CT:LOG-285;   05-15-2020)
(Office of Origin:  A/LM)

14 FAM 711  OBJECTIVEs and policies

(CT:LOG-223;   05-03-2017)

a. This chapter sets forth regulations for all users of the Department's diplomatic pouch, mail, and messenger services.  Responsibility for operating these services, and authorizing use of the services, rests with the Diplomatic Pouch and Mail Division Director, in the Office of Program Management and Policy, Office of Logistics Management, Bureau of Administration (A/LM/PMP/DPM).

b. Summary of general policies:

(1)  Send unclassified official items to post by unclassified diplomatic pouch (address Washington, DC 20521-xxxx) for all posts; however, send official supplies to post by U.S. Despatch Agency;

(2)  Send classified official items to post by classified diplomatic pouch for all posts (see 14 FAM 723.1, paragraph c);

(3)  Send personal items to post by MPS/DPO, international mail, or border support address where available.  Where there is no available service, send personal items to post by unclassified diplomatic pouch (address Dulles, VA 20189-xxxx);

(4)  Shipment of employee's household effects (HHE), unaccompanied baggage (UAB) and consumables to post through the diplomatic pouch and mail system is prohibited.  Employee personal effects shipments are managed through A Bureau’s Travel and Transportation Management Office (A/LM/OPS/TTM); and

(5)  Items Prohibited for Pouch Dispatch are listed in 14 FAM Exhibit 723.2

c.  Information:  The A/LM/PMP/DPM Web site provides a useful information, references, updates, and contact information http://pouch.a.state.gov.

d. Contact:  A/LM/PMP/DPM can be contacted via e-mail at DPM-Answerperson@state.gov on the Department’s Global Address List (GAL).


(CT:LOG-223;   05-03-2017)

These regulations apply to all U.S. Government employees who use the diplomatic pouch and mail services, provided by the Department’s Diplomatic Pouch and Mail Division (DPM):

(1)  Diplomatic pouch:  DPM provides classified and unclassified diplomatic pouch services for official items to all agencies operating abroad under chief-of-mission (COM) authority (see 14 FAM 720 and 14 FAH-4 H-200);

(2)  Official mail:  DPM provides personnel and procedures for entering official items into the United States Postal Service (USPS) and commercial transportation companies.  DPM also operates an Internal Mail and Messenger Service (IMMS) to transport official items between Department annexes in the Washington metropolitan area (see 14 FAM 730 and 14 FAH-4 H-300);

(3)  Personal mail:  Official mail systems may not be used to transport personal mail.  DPM provides some limited personal use of the diplomatic pouch, by employees at posts abroad, where it has been determined by the Director of A/LM/PMP/DPM that USPS or international mail service is insufficient (see 14 FAM 740 and 14 FAH-4 H-300);

(4)  Military postal service (MPS):  The MPS processes personal and official mail for authorized personnel to and from Department of Defense installations abroad.  MPS operates on behalf of the USPS, and is responsible for carrying out USPS policies, procedures, laws and regulations governing the USPS.  Where MPS facilities are located at Department posts abroad, Department personnel may use the MPS for personal mail only (see 14 FAM 712, subparagraph (4)); and

(5)  Diplomatic post office (DPO):  The DPO processes personal mail for authorized personnel to and from selected posts abroad.  DPO operates on behalf of the USPS, and is responsible for carrying out USPS policies, procedures, laws and regulations governing the USPS (see 14 FAM 760 and 14 FAH-5).

14 FAM 713  AUTHORITIES and references

(CT:LOG-223;   05-03-2017)

Authorities and references include:

(1)  18 U.S.C. 83, section 1719 (franking privilege);

(2)  31 U.S.C. 9701 (fees and charges for Government services);

(3)  39 U.S.C. 406 (postal services at armed forces installations) and 39 U.S.C. 413 (postal service at diplomatic posts);

(4)  39 U.S.C. 3401 (free military mail privileges in war time) and 39 U.S.C. 3406 (free mail services for balloting materials);

(5)  Title 49 CFR 100 through 49 CFR 185 (hazardous materials regulations);

(6)  Title 41 CFR 102 through 41 CFR 192 (mail management);

(7)  International Air Transport Association (IATA) Dangerous Goods Regulations;

(8)  Article 27 (diplomatic pouch) and Article 40 (diplomatic couriers), Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations;

(9)  Department of Defense (DoD) Postal Manual 4525.6-M;

(10) U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Domestic Mail Manual (DMM) and International Mail Manual (IMM);

(11) USPS Postal Operating Manual (POM) and Administrative Support Manual (ASM); and

(12) General Services Administration (GSA) Mail Center Security Guide, Third Edition 2014.

14 FAM 714  roles and RESPONSIBILITies FOR DIPLOMATIC pouch and mail

14 FAM 714.1  Policy Guidance

(CT:LOG-59;   05-06-2009)

The Deputy Assistant Secretary for Logistics Management in the Bureau of Administration:

(1)  Provides broad policy guidance and direction in carrying out the provisions of this chapter and 14 FAH-4; and

(2)  Serves as the final authority concerning requests for changes in mail management policies and procedures.

14 FAM 714.2  Department’s Official Mail Manager (OMM)

(CT:LOG-223;   05-03-2017)

a. The Director of the Diplomatic Pouch and Mail Division (A/LM/PMP/DPM), as the Official Mail Manager (OMM) of the Department:

(1)  Interprets existing official and personal mail policies and procedures; formulates changes to policies and procedures; and presents division-cleared changes to A/LM’s Policy Branch for clearance and publication;

(2)  Advises on the development and deployment of the Diplomatic Pouch and Mail (DPM), Courier Travel System (CTS), Mail and Messenger Service (MMS), and Diplomatic Post Office (DPO) modules of the Integrated Logistics Management System (ILMS);

(3)  Ensures that mail management training is available; and

(4)  Is the single point of contact on all official and domestic mail matters with the General Services Administration (GSA), the Department of Defense (DoD), the Military Postal Service Agency (MPSA), the United States Postal Service (USPS), and other federal agencies.

b. In addition, the Department’s OMM is responsible for submission of the Department’s annual mail management report to GSA, due annually on January 15, (see 41 CFR 102.192)

c.  For additional duties of the Department’s OMM see 14 FAM 737.1, paragraph a.

14 FAM 714.3  Appointed Officials

(CT:LOG-244;   03-27-2018)

There are four types of officials to be appointed at the bureau or post level:

(1)  The bureau or post OMM is responsible for mail management at the bureau or post level (see 14 FAM 737.1, paragraph b);

(2)  The pouch control officer (PCO) is responsible for implementing pouch policies and procedures at facilities where diplomatic pouches are processed (see 14 FAM 728.1);

(3)  The bureau or post mail control officer is responsible for ensuring employee compliance with mail and correspondence policies and procedures (see 14 FAM 737.2); and

(4)  Postal officers are responsible for implementing mail policies and procedures at posts with diplomatic post office facilities (see 14 FAM 763).  DoD also appoints postal officers at missions with military postal facilities (see 14 FAH-4 H-113.1).

14 FAM 715  DEFINITIONS (acronyms, technical terms, and phrases employed in pouch and mail operations)

(CT:LOG-285;   05-15-2020)

Accompanied pouches: Pouches escorted from origin to destination by cleared U.S. citizen employees of the Federal Government; i.e., a professional diplomatic courier or a nonprofessional courier appropriately approved according to 12 FAM 142.

Addressee:  Person or organization that receives items through the diplomatic pouch and mail service.

Army (or Air Force) post office (APO):  A military post office of the Army or Air Force.

Bulk shipment:  Official or personal shipment(s) that arrive at DPM/U or post DPO within 7 calendar days (whether a single item or multiple parcels) which exceeds 6 cubic feet in volume (approximately the size of 5 copy paper boxes) and is addressed to one addressee/household.  Bulk shipments also include automotive tires (whether a single tire or multiple tires), and shipments that originate from the same location/ZIP addressed to multiple people at post and appear to have been sent in order to circumvent the bulk shipment policy (see 14 FAM 723.3).

Classified pouch/mailroom:  A core controlled access area and/or vault located at an embassy or consulate approved for the storage of Top Secret material in which items are processed for distribution.

Commercial transportation company:  Any private commercial company such as FedEx, UPS or freight forwarder that transports items for a fee.

Congressional mail:  Mail for Members of the United States Congress.

Correspondence:  An official item that is not entered into the postal system and does not have postage affixed, and that is transported between Department entities, usually in a messenger envelope.

Crate:  A non-conveyable item in a hard container usually tripled walled cardboard or wood construction.  The Department of State requires that a crate be covered in burlap (see 14 FAH-4 H-213.1-1).

Defense Courier Service (DCS):  The Defense Courier Service is established under the United States Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM) and is a global courier network for the expeditious, cost-effective, and secure distribution of highly classified and sensitive material for the Department of Defense (see 14 FAH-4 H-260).

Despatch Agency (DA):  U.S. Despatch Agencies are regional logistics hubs that can help posts determine the best source of supply and choose the most cost effective shipment method. The Department should utilize the U.S. Despatch Agents when shipping official supplies and equipment from the United States.

Diplomatic and Consular Program (D&CP):  An appropriation by Congress to the Department of State, the D&CP account funds State’s salaries and expenses, overseas operations (e.g., motor vehicles, local guards, telecommunications, medical), activities associated with conducting foreign policy, passport and visa applications, regional bureaus, Under Secretaries, and post assignment travel.

Diplomatic Post Office (DPO):  A postal facility that operates at one of the Department’s missions abroad as a branch post office of the USPS.

Diplomatic pouch or bag:  A sealed, opaque container which, according to Article 27 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations:

(1)  Must bear visible external marks of its character;

(2)  May contain only diplomatic documents or articles intended for official use (see 14 FAM 721, paragraph b); and

(3)  May not be opened or detained (see 14 FAM 722).

Diplomatic Pouch and Mail (DPM):  The division within the Office of Program Management and Policy, Office of Logistics Management, Bureau of Administration, responsible for operations and regulations relating to the movement of diplomatic correspondence both internally (through the mail) and abroad (through the pouch).  Generically, DPM is also used as an abbreviation for the words “diplomatic pouch and mail” when not referring to the office division of A/LM.

DMM:  The Domestic Mail Manual of the United States Postal Service.

Domestic:  Field offices of U.S. Government agencies located in the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and all territories and possessions of the United States.

DoD:  Department of Defense.

DPM/C:  Diplomatic Pouch and Mail Division, Classified Pouch and Mail Processing Branch (office symbol:  A/LM/PMP/DPM/CPM), located at SA-8 in Springfield, VA.

DPM/U:  Diplomatic Pouch and Mail Division, Unclassified Pouch and Mail Processing Branch (office symbol:  A/LM/PMP/DPM/UPM), located at SA-32 in Sterling, VA.

DS/C/DC:  Diplomatic Courier Service of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security.

Eligible family member:  A family member under the definition of 14 FAM 511.3 who is residing at the sponsoring employee’s post of assignment abroad and is counted as a dependent under ICASS.

Employee:  Assigned personnel (U.S.-based direct hire) of the Federal Government as described in 6 FAH-5 H-352.1.  For categories of persons authorized or not authorized to use the diplomatic pouch, see 14 FAM 724.

Flat: Mail that is not letter mail and is not contained in a hard container, i.e. magazines, newspapers, or catalogs.  According to the USPS Domestic Mail Manual, flat-size mail is:

(1)  More than 11-1/2 inches long, or more than 6-1/8 inches high, or more than 1/4 inch thick;

(2)  Not more than 15 inches long, or more than 12 inches high, or more than 3/4 inch thick; and

(3)  Flexible; rectangular; uniformly thick; and unwrapped, sleeved, wrapped, or enveloped.

Fleet Post Office (FPO):  A military post office of the Navy, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard.

Gift:  A “bona fide gift” is an article formerly owned by a donor who gave it outright in its entirety to a donee without compensation or promise of compensation (see 19 CFR 10.152), (See Goods and Merchandise).

Goods:  “Good” means any merchandise, product, article, or material, whether having commercial or intrinsic tangible value (see 19 CFR 10.450).

Homeward bound mail service (HBMS):  A private mail service provided by employee associations located at Foreign Service posts to authorized U.S. citizen employees or contractors at no cost to the U.S. Government (see 14 FAM 745).

HST:  Harry S Truman Building (Main State).

Integrated Logistics Management System (ILMS):  A computerized data and tracking system used by the Office of Logistics Management in the Bureau of Administration.

ILMS CTS:  The Courier Travel System module of the ILMS computer system.

ILMS DPM:  The Diplomatic Pouch and Mail module of the ILMS computer system (for classified and unclassified channels).

ILMS DPO:  The Diplomatic Post Office module of the ILMS computer system.

ILMS MMS: The Mail and Messenger Service module of the ILMS computer system.

Internal Mail and Messenger Service (IMMS):  The service operated by the Department to deliver internal items, correspondence, and mail between Department mail rooms in the Washington metropolitan area.

International Air Transport Association (IATA):  The International Air Transport Association is an international industry trade group of airlines that helps formulate industry policy and standards.  It also regulates the shipping of dangerous goods and publishes the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations manual, a globally accepted field source reference for airlines shipping hazardous materials.  IATA is headquartered in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and Geneva, Switzerland.

International Cooperative Administrative Support Services (ICASS):  It is the policy of the Department of State to provide shared administrative services for U.S. Government agencies at posts abroad using a voluntary interagency mechanism for managing and funding those services, and using a full-cost recovery system which is transparent, fair, and equitable.  ICASS applies to the management and funding of all shared administrative services abroad and related costs at participating agencies’ headquarters.  ICASS involves all participating U.S. Government agencies at all posts.

Item:  A letter, flat, parcel, or non-conveyable that is processed by the DPM or IMMS system (see also Mail and Correspondence).

Label:  Any address, return address, registry, or identifying label affixed to an item of mail.

Lateral mail:  Mail sent directly from one Foreign Service post to another.

Lateral pouch:  A diplomatic pouch sent directly from one Foreign Service post to another.

Letter:  According to the USPS Domestic Mail Manual, standard letter-size mail is:

(1)  Not less than 5 inches long, 3-1/2 inches high, and 0.007-inch thick; and

(2)  Not more than 11-1/2 inches long, or more than 6-1/8 inches high, or more than 1/4-inch thick;

(3)  Not more than 3.5 ounces; and

(4)  Rectangular, with four square corners and parallel opposite sides.

Locally employed staff (LE staff):  The general term used for Foreign Service nationals, as well as some U.S. citizens who ordinarily reside in the host country and are thus subject to its labor laws (see 3 FAM 7121).  For the purposes of 14 FAM 700 and 14 FAH-4, LE staff includes all staff employed locally at post, including those employed by agencies (such as Peace Corps) who do not use the overseas employment system managed by the Department (GTM/OE).

Mail:  A letter, flat, parcel, or non-conveyable on which U.S. postage has been paid and which is deposited into the U.S. Postal System either domestically or via a DPO.  Mail that is delivered to DPM/C and DPM/U for transmittal to a post abroad by diplomatic pouch becomes an item upon delivery into the DPM system, at which point it ceases to be subject to USPS rules and regulations and becomes subject to Department rules and regulations.

Mail operations center:  The facilities at HST, SA-1, SA-5, and SA-9 that are operated by A/LM/PMP/DPM and that process mail, items, and correspondence for the Department (see 14 FAM 731).


(1)  A facility at a post abroad that processes mail, correspondence, and items in unclassified diplomatic pouches, and/or that processes mail in the MPS or DPO system;

(2)  A facility at a domestic office that processes mail, correspondence, and items, under the operational control of a bureau other than A/LM/PMP/DPM; and

(3)  A facility at a Washington metro annex that processes mail, correspondence, and items, under the operational control of a bureau other than A/LM/PMP/DPM (see also Mail Operations Center).  (See 14 FAM 731.)

Mail screening facility:  At posts abroad, a facility outside the main building, preferably a removable modular facility, or in an area or device that has its own ventilation system, where mail is screened for suspicious characteristics before entry into the U.S. Government facility (see 14 FAH-4 H-121.1).

Mail stop:  A physical location where an internal messenger system picks up and delivers mail.

Merchandise:  Goods or commodities, regardless of size, form, or value, having commercial value.

Military post office (MPO):  Either an Army post office (APO) that serves the Army or Air Force or a Fleet Post Office (FPO) that serves the Coast Guard, Navy, or Marine Corps.  The terms APO and FPO are used in addressing mail to an MPO.  Where operating under chief-of-mission authority, MPOs are to be used to send and receive personal mail but must not be used to send or receive official Department mail.

Military Postal Service (MPS):  The Military Postal Service (MPS) is an extension of the United States Postal Service (USPS) which establishes branch post offices at camps, posts, bases, or stations of the Armed Forces and at defense or other strategic installations.  It provides full postal services, as nearly as practicable, for DoD personnel abroad where there is no USPS post office available.  These branch post offices are called APO or FPO.

Military Postal Service Agency (MPSA):  The DoD postal policy agency designated as the point of contact with the United States Postal Service (USPS).

Mission:  See post.

Non-conveyable:  Any item that will not fit into a pouch bag.

Office of Inspector General (OIG):  An office of the Department that provides policy direction for and conducts, supervises, and coordinates audits, investigations, and inspections relating to the programs and operations of the Department (see 1 FAM 050 for further description of the responsibilities of OIG).

Official items:  Mail, correspondence, and contents of packages intended for the official use of the U.S. Government.

Official mail manager (OMM):  An individual, whether by position or appointment, who is responsible for:

(1)  Interpreting and carrying out regulations relating to official mail; and

(2)  The acquisition, use, and disposition of mail supplies and property.  Bureau and post OMMs are responsible for:

(a)  The proper use of mail supplies and property; and

(b)  The budgeting and expenditure of appropriated funds for postage and fees.

Since the OMM function is an inherently governmental function, it must not be contracted out (see 14 FAM 737.1).

Parcel:  An item in a hard container; i.e., cardboard, plastic, fiberglass, metal, or wooden box, weighing 70 pounds or less and measuring no more than 108 inches in length and girth combined.  See USPS Domestic Mail Manual for definitions of machine-able parcels, irregular parcels, and outside parcels.

Personal items:  Contents of packages intended for the private, individual use of authorized personnel.

Post:  U.S. embassies, consulates, and diplomatic offices throughout the world and U.S. missions to international organizations, except those located in the continental United States.

Postal officer:  Direct-hire U.S. citizen employee with a secret security clearance, responsible for the operation, safety, security, accountability, and efficiency of diplomatic post offices at posts with those facilities.  The postal officer ensures compliance with Department, United States Postal Service, and local regulations relating to postal operations. Conducts inspections and ensures mail is delivered in a timely and efficient manner (see 14 FAM 763).

Pouch control officer (PCO):  Direct-hire U.S. citizen with a top-secret security clearance, who is responsible for enforcing regulations relating to the classified and unclassified diplomatic pouch (see 14 FAM 728).

Pouch Label: An ILMS generated bar-coded label that is attached to the pouch tag and shows origin address, channel of dispatch, weight, and destination address.

Pouch Tag: A piece of reusable durable material attached to a diplomatic pouch that has the pouch label affixed to it (see 14 FAH-4 H-214).

Retrograde Mail: Mail that is being returned to the United States.

Return Address: Generally considered the sender of the shipment, whether a person or organization, to which a shipment should be sent back to if it cannot be moved through the diplomatic pouch and mail system.  It provides the recipient (and sometimes authorized intermediaries) with a means to determine how to respond to the sender of the message if needed.  A valid return address cannot be the delivery address.

Sac vides:  Empty diplomatic pouches being returned to the Department or country of origin.

Seal:  A tamper-proof device used to close a diplomatic pouch (see 14 FAH-4 H-213.3-2).

Sender:  Person or organization that transmits items to the diplomatic pouch and mail service; also called originator or mailer.

United States Postal Service (USPS):  An independent establishment of the executive branch of the U.S. Government, with a mandate to provide reliable, affordable universal mail service.

Unaccompanied pouches: Unclassified pouches that travel from origin to destination unescorted.

Unclassified controlled air pouch (UCAP):  Controlled air pouches that contain Sensitive But Unclassified (SBU) material, and might disclose the nature of a classified project if the contents were known.  For procedures in handling UCAP pouches (see 14 FAH-4 H-223, paragraph b).

14 FAM 716  categories of posts for pouch and mail purposes

(CT:LOG-223;   05-03-2017)

There are five categories of posts for pouch and mail purposes, those serviced by the Military Postal Service, diplomatic pouch, diplomatic post office, international mail, and USPS domestic ZIP codes.  For detailed descriptions of each category and a list of posts by category (see 14 FAH-4 H-113):

(1)  Category A posts have full access to the Military Postal Service (MPS);

(2)  Category B posts do not have access to MPS facilities, diplomatic post office (DPO) facilities, or to the USPS.  These pouch-only posts have full access to the diplomatic pouch system for all items, official and personal;

(3)  Category C posts have full access to the diplomatic post office (DPO);

(4)  Category D posts should send and receive all personal mail by international mail and all official mail by pouch; and

(5)  Category E posts should send and receive mail via U.S. ZIP codes, either directly or through border city support.

14 FAM 717  mailRooms

(CT:LOG-188;   03-30-2015)

a. Classified and unclassified mailrooms at posts abroad must meet the Department’s safety and health standards which are referenced in 15 FAM 900, Safety, Health and Environmental Management Abroad and promulgated by the Secretary of Labor under 29 CFR 1910 and 29 CFR 1926.  The Office of Safety, Health, and Environmental Management (OBO/OPS/SHEM) per 1 FAM 286.6, is responsible for the Department’s overall safety, health, environmental, and environmental health programs to assist posts abroad in meeting Department requirements and assist Department headquarters organizations in integrating appropriate safety, health, environmental, and environmental health requirements into their operations abroad.

b. The Domestic Environmental Safety Division (A/OPR/FMS/DESD) is responsible for the Department's domestic safety, health, environmental, and environmental health programs and will assist domestic mailrooms in integrating appropriate safety, health, environmental, and environmental health requirements into mailroom operations.

c.  Every Department mail room must have a written mail security plan that is reviewed and exercised annually by the bureau or post official mail manager.  See the GSA Mail Center Security Guide for a description of the critical elements of a mail center security plan.

d. The purpose of mail screening is to protect Department facilities and personnel.  Therefore, all Department overseas and domestic facilities must conduct a risk assessment of their incoming mail streams and develop mail screening procedures.  (See 14 FAH-4 H-120 for guidance on mail screening facilities at posts abroad, mail room physical facilities, security and safety.)  (See 14 FAH-4 H-331 for mail screening procedures.)