The Intelligent Mail barcode will be required by the USPS beginning in May 2011
May 2011 is the date set by the United States Postal Services requiring Intelligent Mail barcodes for automation discounts, business reply mail and confirm service.Â Combining the capabilities of the Postnet and Planet barcodes into one unique barcodeÂ makes the Intelligent Mail barcode a much more efficient process for all parties involved.
What is an Intelligent Mail Barcode?
The Intelligent Mail barcode, formerly referred to as the 4-State Customer barcode, is a new Postal Service barcode used to sort and track letters and flats. The Postal Service is promoting use of the Intelligent Mail barcode because it expands the ability to track individual mailpieces and provides customers with greater visibility into the mailstream.
How does it work?
The Intelligent Mail barcode combines the data of the existing POSTNETâ„¢ and the PLANET CodeÂ® barcodes, as well as other data, into a single barcode. The Intelligent Mail barcode is a type of height-modulated barcode, that uses four distinct vertical bar types (Full, Tracker, Ascender and Descender).
How do mailers benefit from the Intelligent Mail barcode?
The Intelligent Mail barcode is the result of the Postal Serviceâ€™s efforts to develop more robust codes capable of encoding more information, while minimizing the space used on the mailpiece. The Intelligent Mail barcode:
- Has a greater overall data capacity than existing barcodes.
- Provides mailers with more digits for their use, allowing for unique identification of up to a billion mailpieces per mailing.
- Provides more accurate and detailed information about mailings which can enable better decision making.
- Increases mailpiece â€œreal estateâ€ by eliminating the need for multiple barcodes.
- Allows for participation in multiple USPS service programs with a single barcode.
Am I required to use the Intelligent Mail barcode in lieu of POSTNET and PLANET codes?
Currently, use of Intelligent Mail barcode is optional; however, because it offers significant advantages over POSTNET and PLANET Code barcodes (including using less mailpiece â€œreal estateâ€ and offering more overall data capacity), most customers have found it makes good business sense to adopt this new format, today. The Postal Service will require use of the Intelligent Mail barcode to qualify for automation prices beginning May 2011.
For more Q & A regarding Intelligent Mail Barcodes download USPSIMB_QandA Fact Sheet.