On March 2, 2012, the Postal Service posted proposed changes to sections of the current mailing standards which would discontinue the use of POSTNET™ barcodes by January 2013. Public comment on the proposal closed on April 2.
As posted in Volume 77, No. 42 of the Federal Register, the rule change would end the use of POSTNET™ barcodes for automation price eligibility purposes and would allow only Intelligent Mail® barcodes (IMb™) going forward.
The proposal recommends that IMb be required for all automation letters, including Business Reply Mail® letters that qualify for Qualified Business Reply Mail prices and Permit Reply Mail letters, and automation flats.
DMM 202.5.0 of the Mailing Standards of the United States Postal Service would be revised to require barcode clear zones on all letters and cards claiming an automation letter price or automation carrier route letter piece. All machinable letters would be required to have barcode clear zones in the bottom right of the mailpiece to allow for postal equipment to print and read barcode routing information in situations where the address block code applied by a customer is absent or unreadable.
For publishers working with Allen Press, where the transition to Intelligent Mail Barcode for all outbound mail was completed in 2010-2011, no action is needed except for those who are designing and supplying their own Business Reply Mail pieces. If your current BRM pieces contain POSTNET barcodes, these pieces will need to be updated with IMb and reprinted for 2013.
The Intelligent Mail® barcode (IMb™) is 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.