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Sending Happy Mail in Canada?!

Wed August 29 2012

I fell in love with the idea of Happy Mail by AmberLee on but I don’t live in the US. I did a quick scan of the comments on some of her Happy Mail posts to see if any of her readers had tried to mail happy things in Canada, but I couldn’t find much in the way of specific details or experiences. Still too curious and with apparently too much time on my hands, I pulled up the Canada Post site and did some searching. It doesn’t look too promising for Happy Mail in Canada.

I mean, you CAN mail anything, nearly. There is a whole section about how to go about mailing honey bees. Great. Canada Post considerately puts everylittlething into a pricing structure (with a zillion guides, policies, surcharges, measurements), so you can probably mail it, but you definitely have to pay for it.

The Canada Post site is a labyrinth of pdfs and tables and links. I felt like I was on Charlie and Lola’s loop the looper ride, trying to find each little bit of information. So, full disclaimer > the following information is the best i could do, but not necessarily the best. Errors, omissions, misinterpretations are entirely possible. Best to assume they are and check everything out yourself.  Here is the link to Canada Post’s pdf they call the ABC’s of Mailing. Everything I reference assumes you are mailing “Personal” and not as a business.

Is Is A Parcel?

In terms of sending a PARCEL, Canada Post opts for the greater of either the item’s standard weight OR it’s volumetric weight. Yay! Have fun with that. Here is the link to where you can calculate a rate.  If you want to do the math yourself, it’s the l x w x h in centimetres = cm cubed then divided by 6000. See here again. This is probably going to be a significant factor in the sending of irregular happy mail items, if Canada Post will accept them at all.

With fun and zany Happy Mail still in mind, I thought it would be cute to mail a box of smarties or something to my kids as a back to school treat, and impatient with the actual availability of smarties in the house at the moment I thought of them, I found a (yes, empty) box of sour watermelon candy in my pantry. Good enough for investigation purposes!

If this box of candy is a parcel, it would cost $9.83 to send it TO MYSELF by regular parcel mail. This totally dampens the happy part of happy mail, so let’s hope it’s not a parcel.

Minimum parcel size is listed as  100 mm L x 70 mm x 1 mm H (you can go ahead and convert that to whatever you like).  I’m now visualizing a parcel as something bigger than a business card and much thicker than a regular envelope of papers.

Is it Lettermail?

Maybe, but Canada Post seems really stickly on the sizes of things. Every so conveniently Canada Post lists all sizes in millimetres, so either I can eye poppingly remeasure my box counting those teeny mms, or i can calculate conversions on every measurement. This is so much happy fun!

Regular letter mail cannot have a thickness of more than 5mm according the Table 1 in the Lettermail manual, so that eliminates my approximately 17.5 mm candy box right away.

Also keep in mind that Canada Post stipulates that standard lettermail must be rectangular in shape (also, staples on the outside of standard lettermail are not permitted, fyi).

It is Oversize/Non-Standard Lettermail?

Who knew? Maybe, let’s see. I guess this category explains why square envelopes are more expensive to mail. Again with the sizes of things.

Canada Post list the MIMIMUM size of non-standard lettermail as 140 mm L x 90 mm W x 0.18mm thickness, and minimum 3 grams.  Oversize lettermail is 5 grams minimum, same dimensions.

The MAXIMUM size for non-standard lettermail is 380 mm L x 270 mm W x 20 mm thickness, and max 500 grams.

My box of candy is about 152.5 mm L x 95 mm W x 18 mm H or thickness – yay! Sour watermelons are oversize lettermail! I think!

Happy Mail note: Canada Post stipulates that if the item’s dimensions exceed any one of the maximum sizes then it cannot be oversized lettermail and is then considered a Parcel. In the case of a happy flip flop, the height measurement is going to have to include the top strap bit, sending you way over 2 cm max. That flip flop is going to be a parcel, I think. A $10+ parcel. SAD FACE.

What’s The Rate?

Happy Mail is going to be much less happy if it costs me an arm and a leg to actually get it anywhere. Now that I’ve determined my rectangular shaped candy box can qualify as Oversize lettermail, I can look up the price to send it.

Canada Post has a handy pdf of lettermail prices, you can find it here.

For my happy candy, I know it’s Oversize Lettermail, but now I have to go by the weight to find the appropriate price. My candy is 100g, and I’m assuming plus the weight of the box (maybe not), but I’m going to opt for the 100-200g weight category to be safe (remember, if it exceeds 500g or the max dimensions, it’s a parcel).

This means my 100g box of sour watermelon candy is going to cost $2.10 to send to my kids.


Wait, Is There A Surcharge? What’s a Self-Mailer? What About Big, Flat Things?

One of the cute things about the Happy Mail items is the surprise-y, unpackaged delight of them. HOWEVER, Canada Post does not seem open to chuckles in the workplace.

Mail needs to be wrapped or packaged, unless it’s a “self-mailer”.

Self-mailers are explained as  “an article other than a card, postcard, magazine or catalogue that does not have an outer cover, wrapping or envelope in addition to the paper or material on which the communication is written,” says Canada Post. I guess that flip flop could be a self-mailer, except for it’s size which makes it a parcel, so…

Things that are not packaged are subject to a list of conditions to determine if it’s offensively un-packaged enough to warrant a surcharge. The Unpackaged items surcharge is $10, according to what I could find on the website. Ack. Narrowing down those conditions was very sleuth-y, and the following answers were found in yet another pdf, this time Canada Post’s Parcel Service Customer Guide:

“Unpackaged surcharge
A surcharge will be applied to any item shipped without packaging. An unpackaged item may be accepted if it:
• is not a size or shape suitable for wrapping;
• potentially would not be damaged or cause damage
to postal equipment or other items;
• potentially would not cause injury to persons
handling the item;
• is shipped within Canada or to the USA”

hm, so possibly a happy mail PARCEL item could be mailable WITHIN Canada. The wording of “MAY be accepted” is pretty open though. May, may not. Who’s to say.

What about happy big flatish things like a garland? That was totally cute. Possibly a self-mailer with that label, but it’s thickness looks like it exceeds lettermail maximums, making it a parcel. Of course not. So, that garland would be light, but kind of big. Is it worth it to spend $10 or more to send it? You make the call.

Also, in the event that it fits within the maximum sizes for lettermail, a standard lettermail item CANNOT SAG more than 22 mm in the middle. Don’t forget to sag-test your lettermail, folks.

So. Happy Mail in Canada?

The result of this is I’m mostly just as clueless about whether or not I could send a Happy Mail item to someone in Canada as I was before I started looking for answers. Overall I think it will turn out to be too expensive to justify, other than a one-time thing. I think I can send a box of candy, and I think it will be less than $3. To know for sure about anything else, I think I’ll just have to take it to the post office and ask. That will be fun. If I do, or if YOU DO, or if you or anyone you know ALREADY HAS tried, please let me know!

Now I’m off to handcarve a stamp to make cute mailing labels, and to buy some boxes of back-to-school treats to put them on to mail to my kids. In rectangular boxes, no staples, non-saggy, clearly addressed, hopefully non-unpackaged-surcharged, within Canada, not exceeding 500g… um, wish me luck?!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Jen permalink
    Mon September 03 2012 12:02 pm

    I have been looking into this ‘happy mail’ too and would love to know of anyone who has had luck with it in Canada!

    • Mon September 15 2014 11:54 am

      I just mailed an empty NyQuil bottle with rolled up family recipes to my daughter who is a province away at university. It had to be mailed as a parcel and cost me $11.06 with the taxes. I am looking at other ways to send things that won’t have to be considered a parcel. On that note, Happy Mail in Canada is hit or miss at best. I am willing to spend a little to keep in touch with my kids who live away.

  2. Tue September 18 2012 5:38 am

    I live in Sweden so I have no idea, but here I find it’s better to decide it’s a envelope, weight it yourself and put it a mail box without asking. It arrives even if it’s against one or some of their rules. If you put a “sender” you will get your parcel-envelope back if they get mad at you! 🙂 Good luck!

  3. Shirley permalink
    Mon August 04 2014 8:06 am

    I am part of a Happy mail exchange with 4 friends. Every other month each of us send all the others a Happy Mail package. We try to keep the packages certain dimensions and weight to keep our costs low. On average it costs me about $12.00 total every other month to send a 6 x 9″ envelope packed with goodies to 4 friends. If the package is under a certain thickness it mails out as oversized mail. While the cost may not be as cheap as the states, knowing the smile it puts on others’ faces is worth it. I also send out little things like stickers and flatter objects in regular sized envelopes and just put a regular stamp on it. The whole point of happy mail isn’t the contents or the size of the package. It’s the thought. and, of course, getting mail that isn’t a bill!!!

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