USPS seeks comment on proposed uses of Intelligent Mail barcodes

The US Postal Service is seeking feedback on proposed rules related to the use of Intelligent Mail barcodes.

The notice is expected to be published in the Federal Register sometime in January. Once published, a 45-day comment period will begin.

The Intelligent Mail barcode was developed by the USPS to encode routing and tracking information on mail. While the PostNet barcode only contains the routing code, the Intelligent Mail barcode includes fields that identify the mailer and class of mail, encode special services, and uniquely number each mailpiece.

According to the notice, mailers will have to use one of two proposed options in order to qualify for automation prices for letters and flats as of January 2009. As of this date, automation prices will no longer be available for PostNet barcode users.

The first option, which the USPS is calling “Full Service,” will require that unique Intelligent Mail barcodes be applied to the following three categories: letter and flat mailpieces, handling units such as trays and sacks, and containers. Postage statements and mailing documentation will also need to be submitted electronically. The second option, referred to as “Basic,” will require mailers to use Intelligent Mail barcodes on mailpieces, but not on trays and containers.

In the future, the USPS plans to issue a separate notice addressing mail characteristics impacting machineability and delivery efficiency for letters and flats.

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