A Brief Primer on Intelligent Mail Barcode

Effective in the fall of 2011, the POSTNET™ barcode will no longer be available for automation discounts due to the implementation of the Intelligent Mail Bar Code (IMb).

If you’re not yet familiar with Intelligent Mail Barcode (IMb) – it’s the next generation of USPS® barcode technology used to sort and track mail pieces. IMb expands the ability to track individual letters and flats in the mail stream and improves delivery. It combines the data of the existing POSTNET™ and the PLANET Code® barcodes and other data into a single barcode. The IMb is a type of height-modulated barcode that uses four distinct vertical bar types instead of two previously available, allowing for more information to be encoded than before in the same amount of space.

Although there are distinct benefits to mailers—including increased data capacity and more accurate and detailed information about mailings—this will require minor changes for some publications. If customers (mailers) use Business Reply Cards (BRC) or other mail pieces that are self-designed or self-mailed, these will have to be redesigned to accommodate the new barcode. To meet this requirement, and to receive IMB discounts, customers will need to access the USPS Business Customer Gateway and apply for a Mailer ID. For additional information on IMB, including details on compliance and benefits to mailers, visit https://ribbs.usps.gov/index.cfm?page=intellmailmailpieces.

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