Every week this section will be devoted to getting your IMB questions answered by the United States Postal Service.  We will gather the questions as they are submitted and forward them to the USPS for response.  We will also try to get answers from any printed materials, conference calls and/or webinars presented by the USPS.  To submit questions, please send an email to asktheusps@anchorcomputersoftware.com. 


For this week, we have selected 3 questions-and-answers from the recently published Intelligent Mail barcode FAQs document, which you can download by clicking here:  http://ribbs.usps.gov/files/fullserviceguides/imbarcode_faqs.pdf. 


Question: How do mailers benefit from the Intelligent Mail barcode?

Answer: The Intelligent Mail barcode is the result of the Postal Service'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 greater visibility and more accurate, detailed information about mailings which can enable better decision making.

§          Increases mailpiece "real estate" by eliminating the need for multiple barcodes.

§          Allows for participation in multiple USPS service programs with a single barcode. 


Question: Whose Mailer ID may be used on the mailpieces, trays or sacks, and containers that are part of the same mailing?  Can they be used different or do they all have to be the same?


Answer: The Mailer ID used in the Intelligent Mail barcode on letters and flats, in the Intelligent Mail Tray barcodes on tray and sack labels, and in the Intelligent Mail Container barcodes on container labels may be the same Mailer ID throughout the whole mailing - or a different Mailer ID may be used on tray labels and container labels than is used on mailpieces. For example, a mail owner's Mailer ID may be used in the Intelligent Mail barcode on the pieces in a mailing, but the mail preparer's Mailer ID is in the barcodes on tray and container labels. Also, multiple Mailer IDs are likely to occur in an MLOCR environment merging mailpieces from multiple owners. However, if the mail preparer's Mailer ID is used on the mailpieces, the mailing documentation accompanying the mailing must specify the mail owners.


Question: How do I decode the Intelligent Mail barcode?


Answer: Unlike today's POSTNET barcode, the Intelligent Mail barcode cannot be decoded by looking at it. USPS provides an online decoder tool available on our website at ribbs.usps.gov/onecodesolution/. A decoder will convert a sequence of bars in the Intelligent Mail barcode into meaningful tracking and delivery point ZIP Code information. Decoders are not owned by the Postal Service; please check with vendors for other decoders.


Wallace Vingelis

Anchor Software, LLC

Director, Product Management & Postal Affairs