The U.S. Postal Service announced Tuesday that it will increase postage rates on Jan. 22, including a 1-cent increase in the cost of first-class mail, to 45 cents.

Under the law the post office cannot raise prices more than the rate of inflation, which is 2.1 percent, unless it gets special permission from the independent Postal Regulatory Commission. The PRC last year turned down such a request.

The post office lost $8 billion in fiscal 2010 and the bottom line is likely to be even worse when final figures for fiscal 2011 are released next month.

Other proposals to cut the losses have included reduction of mail delivery from six to five days a week and closing thousands of offices across the country.

The current 44-cent rate has been in effect since May 2009.

The Postal Regulatory Commission now has 45 days to verify that the new prices comply with the law limiting the increase to an average of 2.1 percent across all types of mail. They can then take effect.

Because most stamps being issued are `Forever` stamps, they will remain good for first-class postage. But buying new Forever stamps will cost more when the prices go up.

    Other prices will also change including:

  • Postcards will go up 3 cents to 32 cents.
  • Letters to Canada and Mexico will increase a nickel to 85 cents.
  • Letters to other foreign countries will go up 7 cents to $1.05.
  • Prices for advertising mail, periodicals and parcels also will rise about 2.1 percent.
  • There will be a new three-month option for renting post office boxes, for people who need them only for a short time.
  • Delivery confirmation will be free on some parcel services, rather than being an extra charge.