First Day Cover Preparation Instructions
Courtesy of the United States Postal Service

First day covers are a unique facet of philately. A first day cover is an envelope affixed with unused stamps bearing at a minimum the current first-class postage, having a postmark indicating the first day of issuance city and date. They can be simple covers (a stamp affixed to a plain envelope), or cachets comprised of thrilling creations of the imagination. Beautiful hand-painted designs spring from the minds of school children and professionals alike; computer-generated creations are becoming more and more common. The designs are all created around a theme related to the stamp affixed on the cover.

In producing first day covers, customers normally have 120 days from a new stamp's date of issue to purchase stamps, affix them to covers, individually address covers and mail them to the address below. Covers are no longer sent to the first day city for processing. Covers are then canceled, overwrapped for protection, and delivered back through the mail stream.

Customer Affixed Envelopes

Customers have 120 days to obtain the first-day-of-issue postmark by mail. They may purchase new stamps at their local Post Office, at The Postal Store website at, or by calling 800-782-6724. They should affix the stamps to envelopes of their choice, address the envelopes (to themselves or others), and place them in a larger envelope addressed 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 through the mail. There is no charge for the postmark up to a quantity of 50. There is a 5-cent charge for each hand cancel additional postmark over 50. All orders must be postmarked no later than 120 days after the day of issue.

Postal Service Affixed Covers

The Postal Service also offers first-day covers for new stamp issues and Postal Service stationery items postmarked with the official first-day-of-issue cancellation. Each item has an individual catalog number and is offered in the quarterly USA Philatelic catalog, online at, or by calling 800-782-6724. Customers may request a free catalog by calling 800-782-6724 or writing to:

U.S. Postal Service
Catalog Request
PO Box 219014
Kansas City, MO 64121-9014

© 2023 AFDCS Contact Us