14 FAM 760

DIPLOMATIC POST OFFICE (DPO)

(CT:LOG-246;   04-30-2018)
(Office of Origin:  A/LM)

14 FAM 761  policy and authority

(CT:LOG-236;   11-17-2017)

a. 39 U.S.C. 413 authorizes the United States Postal Service (USPS) to establish U.S. Post Office branches at U.S. diplomatic missions abroad.  It also authorizes the Department of State to enter into an agreement with USPS to perform postal services at such branch post offices through personnel designated by the Department of State.  The Tripartite Agreement between the Department of State, Department of Defense, and USPS exercises that authority, providing a framework for the establishment and support of Diplomatic Post Offices (DPOs).

b. The Director, Diplomatic Pouch and Mail (A/LM/PMP/DPM), provides policy and procedural guidance, and establishes DPO services based on requests from posts.  The decision to establish a DPO encompasses a variety of factors, beginning with the International Cooperative Administrative Support Services (ICASS) community’s approval at U.S. diplomatic missions abroad.  DPM bases their decision to establish a DPO with cost analyses and efficiency reviews, a Host-Nation Agreement (HNA), flight/capacity availability, staffing, and local last-mile agreements.

14 FAM 761.1  Diplomatic Post Office (DPO)

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a. A DPO provides global mail service to authorized personnel who have duty-free import privileges assigned to designated posts abroad.  The DPO is a postal facility that operates at one of the Department’s missions abroad as a branch post office of the USPS.  DPO posts are category “C” and are listed in 14 FAH-4 H-113.3.  Respective post Zone Improvement Plan (ZIP) Codes are published on the DPM website.

b. Posts desiring consideration to establish any form of DPO service must follow the process outlined in 14 FAM 761.2.

14 FAM 761.2  Establishing a DPO

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a. Requests to establish DPO service must be vetted through the respective regional bureau to the Director of Diplomatic Pouch and Mail.  Necessary criteria to establish a DPO include the following:

(1)  Post must ensure sufficient ICASS resources are available to fund the cost of establishing permanent DPO services, which may encompass added staffing and local last-miles agreements(s).  A minimum of 30 ICASS customers are required in order to pursue a DPO;

(2)  Post must use the Office of Legal Adviser (L)-approved Host-Nation Agreement (HNA) template available via dpo-answerperson_MB@state.gov.  This template, along with its sample diplomatic mail tag, is consistent with Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and Article 50 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.  Post's draft HNA must be tailored to their location and submitted back to DPM for coordination and final approval by L prior to being submitted to the ministry of foreign affairs (MFA) of the respective country for signature;

(3)  Post must conduct an analysis, in consultation with DPM, to determine if there is sufficient commercial air transportation support to and from the closest servicing airport.  At a minimum, post must have two USPS-awarded commercial air carrier contracts for the movement of prograde and retrograde mail.  The United States Postal Service (USPS) Administrative Support Manual, Section 274, mandates that all mail will be protected from rifling and weather elements, from the time it arrives at the destination airport, until it is delivered to the designated State Department representative;

      NOTE:  Prograde mail is defined as mail originating in the United States and destined for locations abroad.  Retrograde mail is defined as mail originating abroad and destined for the United States;

(4)  Post's management officer (MO) must review 14 FAM 760 and 14 FAH-5, which provide information about DPO oversight responsibilities, and 14 FAH-4 H-331, which pertains to mail screening requirements;

(5)  Post must designate a direct-hire employee (example:  IMO, IPO, GSO) who at a minimum has 1 year remaining on his or her tour, as the postal officer;

(6)  Post’s MO must certify to DPM that post is able and willing to fund all local last-mile costs (e.g., ground transportation to/from airport and post, storage fees, handling fees, and adequate mailroom staffing, etc.) and all transportation costs of DPO retrograde mail;

(7)  Post must complete and submit DPM’s Host-Country Local Last-Mile Verification Record; and

(8)  Post must purchase, install, and issue individual mail receptacles to all authorized DPO ICASS customers.

b. If an existing DPO is requesting to support a downstream post, the DPO is defined as the regional DPO.  The regional DPO will be responsible for providing logistical support, training, supplies, troubleshooting for the downstream location, and ensuring all DPO functions at the downstream conform to current USPS and Department policies and procedures.

c.  A request to establish DPO downstream services must be submitted by the MO, approved by DPM, the respective bureau and the regional DPO.  A draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) must be prepared between the regional DPO and the downstream post outlining roles and responsibilities of each, and submitted to their respective regional information management officer (RIMO) and DPM prior to establishing downstream services.  If DPM approves downstream services, the downstream post is responsible for transportation costs from the regional DPO to the downstream destination.  Regional DPOs are responsible for all downstream support as follows:

(1)  Movement of mail between the regional DPO and the downstream post; and

(2)  Mail moving to and from downstream locations must be processed in ILMS, using one of the following methods, DPM or MMS:

(a)  Mail movement within country must be transported in a sealed bag or loose-loaded inside of a sealed truck, or nested directly to a sealed truck using ILMS-DPM or MMS;

(b)  Mail movement within country via commercial air requires an air waybill and must be transported using ILMS-DPM; and

(c)  Mail movement crossing international borders must be transported using ILMS-DPM.

d. The DPO downstream location must deliver mail and capture customer's signatures in ILMS-DPM or ILMS-MMS.

NOTE:  USPS will not honor indemnity claims submitted for loss that occurs between the regional and downstream location.

14 FAM 761.3  Authorized Users

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a. The Department determines access to the DPO using the same rules as those used to determine which individuals are authorized to use the diplomatic pouch for personal mail, as set out in 14 FAM 724.2, paragraph b.  In general, U.S. citizen employees who have duty-free import privileges and certain authorized contractors may use the DPO (see 14 FAM 724.2, paragraphs b and c).  Not all employees have duty-free import privileges all the time.  At an embassy, diplomatic agents and members of their families do (VCDR Article 36 and 37.1), but A&T staff only have duty-free import privileges at the time of first installation (VCDR Article 37.2).  At consular posts, consular officers and their family members have duty-free import privileges (VCCR Article 50(1)(b); consular employees only have duty-free import privileges at the time of first installation.  (Note that bilateral agreements may extend greater import privileges to A&T staff and consular employees at specific locations.)  At post, the sponsoring agency must subscribe to ICASS Basic Package and Mail and Messenger Services (6 FAH-5 H-352.3-1).

b. Private commercial firms, private U.S. citizens abroad, locally employed staff (LE staff), and private foreign citizens are prohibited from using the DPO with the exception being in paragraph c below.

c.  In limited circumstances such as contingency environments, U.S. citizen third-party contractors on a USG contract, and/or U.S Government personnel stationed in an overseas location but not accredited to the mission may be authorized use of the DPO.  The following are the minimum criteria that must be met to request DPO services in these instances, and included in a package submitted through the regional bureau executive office to the Director, Diplomatic Pouch and Mail (A/LM/PMP/DPM) for review:

(1)  Proof of host-nation approval (such as amendment to existing HNA or diplomatic note exchange) for contractors and/or nonaccredited U.S. Government personnel to be allowed duty-free privileges, usually associated with accreditation to the host government as diplomatic, administrative and technical, or consular staff;

(2)  Written justification as to why the local mail infrastructure is insufficient or the hosting organization/company cannot provide mail services certified by the chief of mission, or designee; and

(3)  The regional bureau executive office must attach these documents to an action memorandum addressed to the Director, Diplomatic Pouch and Mail (A/LM/PMP/DPM), cleared through the Office of the Under Secretary for Management.  The memorandum must address the circumstances requiring DPO mail for third party U.S. citizen contractors and/or U.S. Government personnel not accredited to the mission, and certify adequate funding to support the service.  At posts with contracts utilizing U.S. citizen third-party contractors funded through other bureaus (e.g. Diplomatic Security), those bureaus’ budget offices must clear the memorandum and certify funds availability for providing DPO services to its contractors.  For other USG nonaccredited personnel, that agency's sending office must certify funds availability for its intended recipients.

d. When all requirements listed in 14 FAM 761.3, paragraph c, are met, the Director of Diplomatic Pouch and Mail will assess the capacity of DPM to provide these services to contractors, and will provide approval or disapproval to the regional bureau executive office.

e. If approved, costs must be included in ICASS Basic Package “Mail and Messenger Services.”  In some cases, DPM will direct bill for additional services; an example would be mail screening at SA-32.

f.  Schools abroad:

(1)  Schools are not authorized to use the DPO for personal mail or to ship supplies such as books and equipment.  U.S. Despatch Agencies are authorized to provide shipping services on behalf of U.S. Government-sponsored schools abroad.  Books as well as other educational supplies and equipment will be forwarded to the appropriate consolidated receiving point (CRP) by contract commercial suppliers for onward shipment to post through the U.S. Despatch Agency (DA) (see 14 FAM 315.1); and

(2)  Requests for emergency orders for books and educational materials are not authorized through the DPO, but may be sent via the unclassified diplomatic pouch with the approval of the Office of Overseas Schools (A/OPR/OS) and A/LM/PMP/DPM (see 14 FAM 724.11).

14 FAM 761.4  Items That May or May Not Be Transported

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a. Mailing restrictions vary by ZIP Code and can be found in the USPS Postal Bulletin.

b. USPS Publication 52, “Hazardous, Restricted, and Perishable Mail,” lists information about mailable and nonmailable items (see 14 FAM Exhibit 761.4 for a representative list of items prohibited in the DPO).

c.  A listing of all prohibitions and restrictions by country can be found in the USPS International Mail Manual "Individual Country Listing."

d. When applicable, specific host-country items may or may not be transported.

e. For all downstream locations, DPO mail must be placed in a sealed bag and marked with the diplomatic mail tag.

f.  When in doubt, email DPO-Answerperson_MB@state.gov.

g. Customers sending or receiving prohibited, restricted, or hazardous mail may be held responsible, see 14 FAM 766, paragraphs a and b.

14 FAM 761.4-1  Official Mail

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The DPO must be used only for personal mail.  Official mail, including official supplies, is not permitted in the DPO.  Personal baggage and household effects that are entitled to inspection-free transport under Article 36(2) of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and under Article 50 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations are also not permitted in the DPO.

NOTE:  GPS Manila is the only exception.

14 FAM 761.4-2  Personal Mail

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a. Individuals and agencies that are authorized DPO privileges must not send mail or receive any item(s) intended for sale or resale.  This prohibition applies whether a sale is for authorized DPO users or not, and regardless of the beneficiary of the proceeds (e.g., charitable organizations or schools).

b. All mail from a DPO is subject to U.S. customs inspection.  For information on U.S. Customs duties, see the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website.

c.  Mail received at DPO locations is not exempt from local customs inspection.

d. Intra/inter-theater Delivery Service (IDS) and Military Postal Service (MPS) correspondence is not authorized to or from DPO locations.

e. Personal mail items must comply with host-country restrictions and prohibitions.  A listing of all prohibitions and restrictions by country can be found in the USPS International Mail Manual "Individual Country Listing."

14 FAM 761.4-3  Private Property

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a. Individuals and agencies authorized DPO privileges must not mail, through a DPO, any private property ((household effects (HHE) or unaccompanied baggage (UAB)) to themselves at a domestic address or another post abroad.  Such mailing of household goods to oneself to circumvent the limit on household goods is an abuse of the agreement that grants Department employees the privilege of using the DPO for personal mail.  Employees who abuse the DPO must reimburse the Department for the Secondary Destination Transportation (SDT) costs of all HHE or UAB items mailed via the DPO, and may risk the loss of DPO privileges.

b. Authorized personnel may use the DPO to ship or receive limited quantities of non-prohibited foodstuffs, not to exceed the bulk shipment limit (see 14 FAM 742.4-2, paragraph c).

    NOTE:  Mailing case lots of food must be approved by the sender's parent agency and the Director, Diplomatic Pouch and Mail, prior to mailing.

c.  Customers sending or receiving mail identified as prohibited may be responsible for reimbursing the entire cost of the shipment to include local last-mile costs (see 14 FAM 766, paragraph c).

14 FAM 762  FUNDING

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a. As an extension of the USPS abroad, DPOs function as authorized USPS branch offices.  For mail to post, the customer pays the USPS domestic rate from the originating address to the respective Zip Code (e.g., 340XX, 96XXX, etc.).  For mail from post, the customer pays the USPS domestic rate from the U.S. gateway to the final destination in the United States and its territories.

b. Diplomatic Pouch and Mail (DPM) through central ICASS funding pays for all mail transportation costs from the U.S. gateway to the airport servicing the post.  Fees incurred to transport the mail from/to the airport to/from post are borne by post (referred to as "Local Last-Mile Costs").  Designated DPOs are required to reimburse DPM for air transportation fees for their retrograde mail.

c.  The Department, through its foreign missions, embassies, and consulates, intends that no additional administrative burden or costs outside the scope of the agreement will be incurred by DoD or USPS for mail delivery or routing.  USPS or DPM may terminate any DPO activity in the event of noncompliance of rules contained herein.

14 FAM 763  RESPONSIBILITY for DPO Personnel at Post

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a. The DPO postal officer (PO) must be a Department of State U.S. direct-hire employee, and must be officially designated in writing.  At post, this is typically the information management officer (IMO), information programs officer (IPO), or general services officer (GSO), in the absence of the IMO or IPO.  The PO is responsible for the operation, safety, security, accountability, and efficiency of the DPO.  The PO conducts inspections (see 14 FAH-5 Exhibit H-1011, Inspection Checklist) and ensures mail is received and delivered in a timely and efficient manner.

b. The DPO mailroom supervisor and mail clerks may be locally employed staff (LE staff), and are responsible for the security, accountability, and execution of daily DPO operations.  The mailroom supervisor supervises the mail clerks.  The DPO mailroom supervisor and mail clerks are responsible for ensuring mail is received, distributed, and delivered in a timely and efficient manner.

c.  Unit mail clerks (UMCs) are responsible for the collection and delivery of all personal mail for their respective units.  They may be locally employed staff (LE staff) or any other designated agency representative.  UMCs must be designated in writing by their section head, and a copy of the designation memorandum must be provided to the designated DPO PO.  Any changes in duties require a new memorandum submitted to the servicing DPO PO.  UMCs are only authorized at geographically separated unit/annex locations that are not located within the embassy, consulate, or mission where the DPO is located.  UMCs must receive an overview of 14 FAM 760 and 14 FAH 5 from the DPO supervisor prior to their official designation.  UMCs must sign for all accountable mail on the electronic signature pad in ILMS DPO.  It is mandatory that UMCs maintain a record of final delivery to customers in the event an indemnity claim is received from USPS.

14 FAM 764  facilitY requirements

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For a description of DPO physical and security requirements, see 14 FAH-5 H-120.

14 FAM 765  mail services

(CT:LOG-246;   04-30-2018)

a. Postal mail services provided by DPOs are limited to:

·         Certified Mail

·         Insured Mail

·         Certificate of Mailing

·         Return Receipt

·         Return Receipt for Merchandise

·         Parcel Return Services

·         USPS Tracking

·         Priority Mail

·         First Class Mail

NOTE:  Any mail services not listed above are not authorized in the DPO (e.g., USPS Registered, Priority Mail Express, and MPS/IDS).

b. The PO must coordinate with DPM before procuring additional mailroom equipment (e.g., kiosk, scanner, etc.).

NOTE:  Postage meters are not authorized in a DPO.

c.  Requests for instructions that govern how these services are provided, internal controls, and record keeping may be sent to dpo-answerperson_MB@state.gov.

14 FAM 766  the Mailing of Prohibited or Restricted Items

14 FAM 766.1  Consequences

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a. The mailing of dangerous goods via the DPO may present serious dangers to aircraft and passengers, and/or cause serious diplomatic concerns with host nations.  USPS Publication 52, “Hazardous, Restricted, and Perishable Mail,” USPS International Mail Manual "Individual Country Listing," and when applicable, specific host-country items, lists all prohibited items.  Post must take the recommended actions stated herein upon notification by DPM of serious infractions to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR):

(1)  For a first offense:  The PO must provide the offender with a verbal warning reminding them of DPO policies and restrictions, and may result in possible reimbursement of SDT costs after consulting with A/LM/PMP/DPM.  The PO must document all circumstances surrounding the incident and submit a Postal Offense Report via ILMS DPO;

(2)  For a second offense:  The PO must collaborate with the post’s management officer (or equivalent) and issue a written notification including a reminder of DPO policies and restrictions, and may result in possible reimbursement of SDT costs after consulting with A/LM/PMP/DPM.  The PO must submit a Postal Offense Report via ILMS DPO and attach a copy of the written notification;

(3)  For a third offense:  The PO must collaborate with post’s management officer (or equivalent) and issue a written notification of a suspension and restriction of DPO privileges for a limited amount of time (determined by post management), and may result in possible reimbursement of SDT costs after consulting with A/LM/PMP/DPM.  The PO must document all circumstances surrounding the suspension, submit a Postal Offense Report via ILMS DPO, and attach a copy of all the supporting documents; and

(4)  For a fourth offense:  The Director of Diplomatic Pouch and Mail will issue an official written notification to the repeat offender (and copy post’s management officer) of permanent suspension of DPO mail privileges and seek reimbursement of SDT costs for all aforementioned offenses.  The PO must document all circumstances surrounding the suspension, and submit a Postal Offense Report via ILMS DPO and attach a copy of all the supporting document(s).

      NOTE:  During suspension and/or removal of DPO privileges, all DPO mail received at post addressed to the offender will be endorsed “Returned to Sender, Not Authorized DPO Privileges” by the DPO mailroom staff.

b. Customers sending or receiving volumes of mail designated as prohibited may be responsible for reimbursing the entire cost of the shipment to include local last-mile costs.

    NOTE: The above consequences are not to the exclusion of any counseling, admonishment, formal disciplinary actions, or other employment actions that may result from mailing of dangerous goods via the DPO.

14 FAM 766.2  Disciplinary Actions for the Mailing of Dangerous Goods

(CT:LOG-236;   11-17-2017)

a. The mailing of dangerous goods via the DPO may present serious dangers to aircraft, passengers, and cause serious diplomatic concerns with host nations. The recommended actions herein must be taken by post upon notification by DPM of serious infractions to IATA dangerous goods policies:

(1)  First infraction:  Post provides a letter of notification to the employee, requiring a signed reply acknowledging that the employee understands the policies and consequences of future incidents and the actions that may be taken by HR in the event of future violations.  Employee should be referred to 14 FAM Exhibit 723.2; and

(2)  Second Infraction:  Post refers the matter to the Office of Employee Relations (HR/ER) for appropriate disciplinary action.

b. IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations, Section 9, requires DPM to report to the appropriate authorities of the State when undeclared or misdeclared dangerous goods are discovered in cargo or mail.  Incidents discovered anywhere in the USPS supply chain must be reported to DPM via a Postal Offense Report in ILMS DPO.  DPM will notify the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), the Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS), and the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA).

14 FAM 767  Detaining U.S. Mail

14 FAM 767.1  Detention of Mail

(CT:LOG-246;   04-30-2018)

a. The designated PO is responsible for ensuring that DPO clerks and supervisors understand and adhere to policies contained herein.  Mail may be held or detained when a qualifying condition described in USPS Administrative Support Manual (ASM), Chapter 2, section 274.3 is fulfilled.

b. If a PO detains mail based on a reasonable suspicion, as described in ASM 274.3, the PO or designee must take immediate action to gather evidence to satisfy the probable cause requirement for a search warrant and to apply for, obtain, and execute the authorization by coordinating their findings with the RSO within 72 hours.

c.  No person may detain DPO mail other than a postal inspector or postal employee, in accordance with conditions outlined in ASM 274.3.

d. The PO or the designated individual must submit a Postal Net Alert in ILMS DPO within 24 hours.

14 FAM 767.2  Dangerous Mail

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In accordance with the USPS ASM, Chapter 2, Section 274, the PO, RSO, or a designated individual acting under their authority, who suspects an item poses an immediate danger to life and limb, may detain, open, or remove the item from postal custody, and process the mail for inspection.  The PO must be notified within 24 hours of the incident in order to promptly notify the customer in writing.  Such detention is only allowed to the extent necessary to determine and eliminate the danger.  Justification and documentation must be consistent with the following:

(1)  Identify suspected mailings by using the guidelines in USPS Publication 52, Hazardous, Restricted, and Perishable Mail; and

(2)  A complete written and sworn statement of the detention, opening, removal or treatment of the dangerous mail or harmful matter, including the circumstances that prompted it, signed by the person performing these procedures.  The PO or the designated individual must submit a Postal Offense Report in ILMS DPO within 24 hours with the sworn statement attached.

14 FAM 767.3  CHEMICAL, BIOLOGICAL, RADIOLOGICAL, NUCLEAR, AND EXPLOSIVE (CBRNE) AGENTS

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a. The procedures for examining suspicious letters and packages are necessary for effectively managing threats at post.  DPO mail clerks must screen and visually examine all mail arriving at post (see 14 FAH-4 H-331.2).  During the mail screening process, if suspicious mail is believed to contain chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive (CBRNE) agents, the mail clerk must immediately contact the postal officer (PO), post security officer (PSO) or the regional security officer (RSO), he or she must then assess the threat.  In the event that the PO, PSO, or RSO, determines that a possible threat exists, he or she must segregate and secure the mail containing the hazardous agents from the uncontaminated mail, and use good judgment; safety and contamination avoidance always remain the first priority.  The PO must submit a Postal Offense Report in ILMS DPO within 24 hours of the incident.

b. The Weapons of Mass Destruction Countermeasures Division (DS/PSP/WMD) is responsible for establishing countermeasures to protect personnel against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) agents and to prevent the introduction of hazardous substances into posts abroad.  DS/PSP/WMD will assist posts in the development of best practices in all WMD-related matters and will provide mission-specific training on mail screening processes for all applicable post personnel.  DS/PSP/WMD is responsible for evaluating and recommending mail screening equipment and personal protective equipment (PPE) for use in mail screening operations abroad.

c.  Additional information on managing threats, including CBRNE can be found in the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) Mail Center Security Guide.

14 FAM 767.4  Execution of Search Warrants

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a. Warrant(s) issued by a Federal court, served by a Federal officer:

(1)  A search warrant duly issued per Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure must be executed per Administrative Support Manual (ASM) 13, page 87, ref 274.62.  Usually, a warrant issued by a Federal court or served by a Federal officer is issued under Rule 41 and is duly issued if signed and dated within the past 10 days (ASM 13, page 87, ref 274.61); and

(2)  POs and DPO clerks must not permit the execution of a search warrant issued by a State court and served by other than authorized Federal officers.  If in doubt, the DPO clerk or PO must temporarily detain the mail in question and contact DPM for guidance.

b. Execution procedures for search warrants:

(1)  A postal inspector may execute a search warrant;

(2)  An OIG special agent may execute a search warrant;

(3)  A person other than a postal inspector or OIG special agent executing a search warrant must be accompanied by a postal employee authorized by the head of the postal installation at which the warrant is to be executed;

(4)  Mail may be taken from postal custody under the authority of a search warrant only if the person executing the warrant leaves a copy of the warrant and a receipt or inventory, made out in the presence of the postal employee accompanying that person, which particularly describes each piece of mail taken, including all service endorsements on the cover (such as “Return Receipt Requested”) and any official postal identity numbers (such as registry, insurance, or certified mail numbers). The receipt or inventory may be attached to the copy of the warrant or written on the reverse side of the copy of the warrant; and

(5)  The COM or designee must do the following:

(a)  Ensure the PO or DPO clerk must make a copy of the receipt or inventory, and of the copy of the warrant, which must be uploaded in ILMS DPO when submitting the Postal Offense Report;

(b)  Ensure the RSO or designated official must report the seizure of any mail via a Postal Offense Report in ILMS DPO within 24 hours.  The warrant, along with the inventory, must be uploaded in ILMS DPO when submitting the Postal Offense Report; and

(c)  If the cover of the mail has been endorsed and stamped to show that the sender has requested and paid for a return receipt, the sender must be notified by the PO of the seizure of the mail under the warrant by an endorsement to that effect on the return receipt or on a duplicate, if the original receipt is taken.  The receipt must be dispatched as soon as possible, unless the officer executing the warrant presents a Federal court order to delay the dispatch.  In that event, the dispatch must be delayed in accordance with the order.

14 FAM 767.5  Mail Covers

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a. In accordance with ASM 13, Section 213, the Postal Service maintains rigid controls and supervision with respect to the use of mail covers as an investigative technique for law enforcement or the protection of national security. These regulations constitute the sole authority and procedure for initiating a mail cover, and for processing, using, and disclosing information obtained from mail covers.

b. A mail cover is the process by which a nonconsensual record is made of any data appearing on the outside cover of any sealed or unsealed class of mail matter (see ASM 13, 274.23), or by which a record is made of the contents of unsealed class of mail matter as allowed by law, to obtain information for any of the following conditions:

(1)  Protecting national security;

(2)  Locating a fugitive;

(3)  Obtaining evidence of commission or attempted commission of a crime;

(4)  Obtaining evidence of a violation or attempted violation of a postal statute; and

(5)  Assisting in the identification of property, proceeds, or assets forfeitable under law.

c.  A record, for the purposes of this section, is a transcription, photograph, electronic image, photocopy, or any other facsimile of the image of the outside cover, envelope, wrapper, or contents of any class of mail.

d. Sealed mail is mail which under postal laws and regulations is included within a class of mail maintained by the Postal Service for the transmission of letters sealed against inspection.  Sealed mail includes the following:

(1)  First-Class Mail items;

(2)  Priority Mail items:  USPS Administrative Support Manual (ASM) 213.3, Definitions;

(3)  Express Mail items;

(4)  Global Express Guaranteed (GXG) items that contain only documents;

(5)  Express Mail International items;

(6)  Priority Mail International flat-rate envelope and small flat-rate box;

(7)  First-Class Mail International items;

(8)  International Priority Airmail (IPA) items, excluding IPA M-bags;

(9)  International Surface Air Lift (ISAL) items, excluding ISAL M-bags;

(10) Global Bulk Economy (GBE) items, excluding M-bags;

(11) Certain Global Direct (GD) mail (refer to the customer’s specific USPS International Customized Mail (ICM) agreement for determination); and

(12) International transit mail.

e. Unsealed mail is mail that under postal laws or regulations is not included within a class of mail maintained by the Postal Service for the transmission of letters sealed against inspection.  Unsealed mail includes the following:

(1)  Periodicals items;

(2)  Standard Mail items;

(3)  Package Services (including Parcel Select) items;

(4)  Incidental First-Class Mail attachments or enclosures mailed under DMM 703.9;

(5)  GXG items that contain nondocuments;

(6)  Priority Mail International items except the flat-rate envelope and small flat-rate box;

(7)  M-bags;

(8)  Items sent via “Free Matter for the Blind or Other Physically Handicapped Person” under 39 U.S.C. 3403 through U.S.C. 3406, and IMM 270; and

(9)  Certain GD mail (refer to the customer’s specific USPS ICM agreement for determination).

f.  Fugitive is any person who has fled from the United States or any State, the District of Columbia, territory, or possession of the United States, to avoid prosecution for a crime, to avoid punishment for a crime, or to avoid giving testimony in a criminal proceeding.

g. Crime, for the purposes of this section, is any commission of an act or the attempted commission of an act punishable by law by imprisonment for a term exceeding 1 year.

h. Postal statute refers to a statute describing criminal activity, regardless of the term of imprisonment, for which the Postal Service has investigative authority, or which is directed against the Postal Service, its operations, programs, or revenues.  See 213.4 Administrative Support Manual 20 ASM 13, July 1999 Updated Through November 28, 2013.

i.  Law enforcement agency is any authority of the Federal government or any authority of a State or local government, one of whose functions is to investigate the commission or attempted commission of acts constituting a crime, or protect the national security.

j.  Protection of the national security means to protect the United States from any of the following actual or potential threats to its security by a foreign power or its agents:

(1)  An attack or other grave hostile act, including upon information infrastructures;

(2)  Sabotage or international terrorism; and

(3)  Clandestine intelligence activities, including commercial espionage.

k. Emergency situation refers to circumstances that require the immediate release of information to prevent the loss of evidence or in which there is a potential for immediate physical harm to persons or property.

l.  The chief postal inspector or designee may order mail covers under any of the following circumstances:

(1)  When a written request is received from a postal inspector or OIG special agent that states reason to believe a mail cover will produce evidence relating to the violation of a postal statute;

(2)  When a written request is received from any law-enforcement agency in which the requesting authority specifies the reasonable grounds to demonstrate the mail cover is necessary to protect the national security; locate a fugitive; obtain information regarding the commission or attempted commission of a crime (see USPS Administrative Support Manual (ASM) 213.3, Definitions); or assist in the identification of property, proceeds, or assets forfeitable because of a violation of criminal law; and

(3)  When time is of the essence, the chief inspector or designee may act on an oral request, to be confirmed by the requesting authority in writing within 3 calendar days.  Information may be released by the chief postal inspector or designee, prior to receipt of written request, only when the releasing official is satisfied that an emergency situation exists.

m. The following limitations apply:

(1)  Mail covers only authorize the recording of mail information for a law-enforcement investigative purpose.  Mail may only be detained, opened, searched, and seized in accordance with USPS ASM section 274.  Information from mail may be recorded for operational purposes as prescribed by USPS ASM section 274.5;

(2)  No mail cover shall include matter mailed between the mail cover subject and the subject’s known attorney;

(3)  No officer or employee of the Postal Service other than the chief postal inspector, ISOSG manager, and their designees are authorized to order mail covers.  Under no circumstances may a postmaster or postal employee furnish information for a law-enforcement purpose except as authorized by a mail cover order issued by the chief postal inspector or designee, or as directed by a postal inspector under the circumstances described in USPS ASM section 213.6;

(4)  Except for mail covers ordered upon fugitives or subjects engaged, or suspected to be engaged, in any activity against the national security, no mail cover order shall remain in effect for more than 30 days unless adequate justification is provided by the requesting authority.  At the expiration of the mail cover order period, or prior thereto, the requesting authority may be granted additional 30-day periods under the same conditions and procedures applicable to the original request.  The requesting authority must provide a statement of the investigative benefit of the mail cover and anticipated benefits to be derived from its extension;

(5)  No mail cover shall remain in force longer than 120 continuous days unless personally approved for further extension by the chief postal inspector or designees at headquarters;

(6)  Except for fugitive cases, no mail cover shall remain in force when information has been filed or the subject has been indicted for the matter for which the mail cover is requested.  If the subject is under investigation for further criminal violation, or a mail cover is required to assist in the identification of property, proceeds, or assets forfeitable because of a violation of criminal law, a new mail cover order must be requested consistent with these regulations; and

(7)  Any national security mail cover request must be approved personally by the head of the law enforcement agency requesting the cover or a designee at the agency’s headquarters level.  The head of the agency shall notify the chief postal inspector in writing of such designation.

n. All requests for mail covers, with records of action ordered thereon, and all reports issued pursuant thereto, shall be deemed within the custody of the chief postal inspector or designee.  However, the physical storage of this data shall be at the discretion of the chief postal inspector.  The following also apply:

(1)  If the chief postal inspector or designee determines a mail cover was improperly ordered, all data acquired while the cover was in force shall be destroyed, and the requesting authority notified of the discontinuance of the mail cover and the reasons for it per USPS ASM section 214.2;

(2)  Any data concerning mail covers shall be made available to any mail cover subject in any legal proceeding through appropriate discovery procedures; and

(3)  The retention period for files and records pertaining to mail covers is 5 years.

14 FAM 768  And 769 UNASSIGNED

14 FAM Exhibit 761.4  
Items Prohibited for Diplomatic Post Office (DPO)

(CT:LOG-246;   04-30-2018)

a. Hazardous, restricted, or perishable materials mailed to, from, and between overseas military (APO/FPO) and Diplomatic Post Offices are subject to the conditions of the International Mail Manual (IMM); the standards in the Domestic Mail Manual (DMM); USPS Publication 52, Hazardous, Restricted, and Perishable Mail; and conditions prescribed by the Department of State, as listed in the Pull-Out Information Section under “Overseas Military/Diplomatic Mail” found in the United States Postal Service (USPS) policies and procedures of the Postal Bulletin.

b. In accordance with the aforementioned, DPO mail may not contain items that are classified as “dangerous goods, certain perishable or hazardous items,” or that require any International Air Transport Association (IATA), Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR), outside container markings, labeling, or endorsements.  Air carriers may refuse mail pieces based on content and packaging, or suspected to contain hazardous materials, even if the items have been accepted by USPS.

c.  Specific USPS lithium-battery guidance and applicable updates are published by USPS.  At the time of ordering, customers are encouraged to ask the vendor if a hazard label is required on the outside of the package.  Customers sending and receiving mail with DPO service should be aware that items may be deemed nonmailable based on noncompliant packaging.

d. While DPO mail is considered a domestic service, many of the shipping requirements are based on International Mail Manual (IMM) safety and security requirements.  See Domestic Mail Manual Mailability Conditions.  Additionally, DPO mail may not contain items that are illegal to import into the receiving country, or export from the originating country as outlined in the IMM listing.  To avoid rejection of the mail piece, all DPO customers are encouraged to check their specific DPO ZIP Code restrictions before ordering personal items from commercial vendors.

e. Questions regarding potentially prohibited items should be sent to DPO-Answerperson_MB@state.gov for final decision.  Items known as hazardous, restricted, or perishable are prohibited for dispatch by DPO from the United States to either abroad, or from abroad to the United States, or from post to post (consult USPS Publication 52).  Such items include, but are not limited to:

(1)  Agriculture products (e.g., plants, seeds, bulbs, soil, fertilizer, plant food, wood chips, fruits, etc.);

(2)  Alcoholic beverages (e.g., beer, wine, liquor, any liquid containing alcohol);

(3)  Firearm/ammunition/explosive devices (e.g., blanks, caps, shells, simulated ammo);

(4)  Animals:  Endangered species products (e.g., lab samples, insects, etc.);

(5)  Batteries:  Most are defined as corrosive and, as such, are prohibited in international mail.  Examples of nonmailable corrosives batteries are:

(a)  Sealed and unsealed lead acid used in automobiles as they are only mailable via surface transportation, and all DPO mail travels via air;

(b)  Uninterruptible power supply (UPS), and wet-cell batteries (car batteries with electrolytes); and

(c)  Lithium batteries are mailable; however, customers must follow the steps outlined by USPS in Publication 52, section 622.5, Lithium and Lithium-ion Cells and Batteries;

(6)  Bulk (case-lot) shipments, per USPS Postal Bulletin restriction N;

(7)  Charitable donations of goods;

(8)  Compressed gases and aerosols (e.g., hairspray, cylinders containing residual pressure, inhalers for asthma);

(9)  Corrosives (e.g., car batteries with electrolytes);

(10) Currency (cash);

(11) DEA Schedule 1, controlled substances and drugs;

(12) DEA Schedules 2, 3, and 4 controlled substances to be used without a prescription (e.g., OxyContin, Percocet or Valium, which are brand names for certain generic-controlled substances);

(13) Dry ice;

(14) Explosives or inert training devices resembling explosives;

(15) Express mail, per USPS Postal Bulletin restriction M;

(16) Firearms and objects resembling weapons or dangerous objects (e.g., air rifles, paintball guns, training weapons, weapons and/or gun parts made/fashioned by three-dimensional (3D) printers, etc.), per USPS Postal Bulletin restriction U4;

(17) Flammable liquids (e.g., nail polish and remover, hand sanitizer, lens wipes, medication containing alcohol, perfume, or cologne);

(18) Flammable solids (e.g., safety matches);

(19) Fragile items that are broken and/or improperly packaged so as to have the potential to cause personal injury or damage to DPO contents (see DMM 601.3 for packaging standards);

(20) Gel packs and instant ice packs;

(21) Household Effects (HHE) or Unaccompanied Baggage (UAB) per USPS Postal Bulletin restriction N, and 14 FAM 761.4-4, Private Property in the DPO;

(22) Human remains are only authorized when sent via Priority Mail Express International Service (NOTE:  Express mail is not authorized to/from a DPO);

(23) Incendiary materials such as road flares, cigarette lighters, self-starting charcoal, MRE meals with heaters, etc.;

(24) Infectious substances (IATA Category A and B), toxins, contaminated medical equipment, and medical specimens requiring outside markings under IATA regulations;

(25) Items for resale (e.g., Girl Scout cookies, magazines, etc.) per 14 FAM 742.4-3;

(26) Light bulbs containing hazardous material, such as compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs);

(27) Liquids improperly packaged (see DMM 601.3.4);

(28) Magnetic materials are prohibited in international mail except for those that cannot cause a compass deviation at a distance of seven (7) feet or more;

(29) Official mail per 14 FAM 761.4-1, 14 FAM 761.4-2, and USPS Postal Bulletin, restriction L1;

(30) Oxidizers:  All oxidizing substances and organic peroxides are prohibited;

(31) Perishable matter;

(32) Pressurized containers (e.g., “contents under pressure”);

(33) Poisons or toxic and infectious substances;

(34) Private/personal business items (“to include business books and goods”).  Authorized pouch users may not use the diplomatic pouch, MPS, or DPO to ship or mail items for resale or personal business use (see 14 FAM 742.4-3);

(35) Radioactive substances;

(36) Registered mail per USPS Postal Bulletin, restriction J;

(37) Weapons or items that resemble weapons (e.g., any spring-loaded knife (switchblade), tactical knives, fixed-bladed fighting/hunting knives, firearms, or components thereof, sling shots, bows, arrows, BB guns and pellet guns, firearms, throwing stars/spikes, ceremonial swords, toys closely resembling weapons, etc.).  NOTE:  Kitchen knives are permitted but highly discouraged; and

(38) Electronic Cigarettes (e-Cigarettes).