The United  States  Postal Service  provides  information about upcoming pictorial postmarks in its Postal Bulletin which is published approximately every two weeks in the “Stamp Services” section.

The following are the instructions as printed in each Postal Bulletin:

As a community service, the Postal Service offers pictorial postmarks to commemorate local events celebrated in communities throughout the nation. A list of events for which pictorial postmarks are authorized appears on the following pages. The sponsor of the pictorial postmark appears in italics under the date. Also provided are illustrations of these postmarks.

People attending these local events may obtain the postmark in person at the temporary Post Office station established there. Those who cannot attend the event but who wish to obtain the postmark may submit a mail order request. Pictorial postmarks are available only for the dates indicated, and requests must be postmarked no later than 30 days following the requested pictorial postmark date.

All requests must include a stamped envelope or postcard bearing at least the minimum First-Class Mail® postage. Items submitted for postmark may not include postage issued after the date of the requested postmark. Such items will be returned unserviced.

Customers wishing to obtain a postmark must affix stamps to any envelope or postcard of their choice, address the envelope or postcard to themselves or others, insert a card of postcard thickness in envelopes for sturdiness, and tuck in the flap. Place the envelope or postcard in a larger envelope and address it to: Pictorial Postmarks, followed by the Name of the Station, Address, City, State, ZIP+4® Code, as listed next to the postmark.

Customers can also send stamped envelopes and postcards without addresses for postmark, as long as they supply a larger envelope with adequate postage and their return address. After applying the pictorial postmark, the Postal Service returns the items (with or without addresses) under addressed protective cover.


First Day of Issue Postmarks

The Postal Bulletin also explains how to obtain the pictorial postmarks provided for first days of issue.  Most, but not all, of the stamps issued by the U.S. Postal Service also have the traditional barred “FIRST DAY OF ISSUE” cancellation available, as seen below on the 2020 Year of the Rat stamp released on 11 January:

United States: Year of the Rat (first day cover with traditional rubber FIRST DAY OF ISSUE postmark), 11 January 2020.

Customers have 120 days to obtain the first-day-of-issue postmarks by mail. Each cover must have sufficient postage to meet First-Class Mail® requirements. Customers may purchase new stamps at their local Post Office™, by phone at 800-782-6724, or on The Postal Store® website at usps.com/shop.

Digital Color Postmarks
Only select stamp issues offer a digital color postmark. Customers may submit #6 or #10 envelopes constructed of paper rated as “laser safe.” The Postal Service™ recommends envelopes of 80-pound Accent Opaque, acid-free, 9/16-inch side seams with no glue on the flap. The maximum size of all digital color postmarks is 2 inches high by 4 inches long. Allow sufficient space on the envelope to accommodate the postmark. Do not use self-adhesive labels for addresses on the envelope. Two test envelopes must be included. There is a minimum of 10 envelopes at 50 cents per postmark required at the time of servicing. Customers must submit a check, money order, or credit card for payment.

The Postal Service reserves the right to not accept hand-painted and other cachet envelopes that are not compatible with our digital color postmark equipment. The Postal Service also reserves the right to substitute traditional black rubber postmarks if use of nonspecified envelopes results in poor image quality or damage to equipment.

Customers must affix the stamps to the envelopes and address them to themselves or others for return through the mail. Or, they may include an additional self-addressed return envelope, large enough to accommodate their canceled items, with sufficient postage affixed for return of their postmarked items. Address customer requests for digital color postmarks to:

FDOI – (Name of Stamp Issue)
USPS Stamp Fulfillment Services
8300 NE Underground Drive, Suite 300
Kansas City, MO 64144-9900

After applying the first-day-of-issue postmark, the Postal Service will return the envelopes to the customer by U.S. Mail®.

Traditional Postmarks
Customers must affix the stamps to the envelopes and address them to themselves or others for return through the mail. Or, they may include an additional self-addressed return envelope, large enough to accommodate their canceled items, with sufficient postage affixed for return of their postmarked items. Address customer requests for traditional postmarks to:

FDOI – (Name of Stamp Issue)
USPS Stamp Fulfillment Services
8300 NE Underground Drive, Suite 300
Kansas City, MO 64144-9900

After applying the first-day-of-issue postmark, the Postal Service will return the envelopes to the customer by U.S. Mail™. There is no charge for the first 50 postmarks. There is a 5-cent charge for each additional postmark over 50. Customers must submit a check, money order, or credit card for payment.