A Crash Course on the USPS® Intelligent Mail® Package Barcode, Part Two: Applying the Barcode Correctly

Looking for more information about the U.S. Postal Service’s® Intelligent Mail® package barcode (IMpb)? This three-part series will turn you into an IMpb pro.

Looking for more information about the U.S. Postal Service’s® Intelligent Mail® package barcode (IMpb)? This three-part series will turn you into an IMpb pro. To get up to speed, take a look at part one, which explains how businesses benefit from using the IMpb, as well as which parcels do or don’t require the barcode. In this post, we’ll tackle the essential question: How do you make sure you’re applying the barcode correctly? 

Requirements for Each Package

Using the IMpb correctly provides a number of benefits. According to the USPS, packages with the barcode ship more efficiently, as the Postal Service can use automated equipment to sort and track packages. That electronic information helps project workload and resources throughout the packages’ journey. The IMpb also gives you access to the best possible prices, by allowing you to qualify for Commercial Base and Commercial Plus pricing, and you receive automatic insurance.

In order to receive the full benefits of using the IMpb, there are three components required for each parcel. 

01. An IMpb barcode: Each parcel must bear a unique IMpb barcode. 

02. Destination Delivery Address and/or ZIP+4 Code: Packages need to include the correct destination delivery address and/or 11-digit Delivery Point Validated ZIP Code for each record in the Shipping Services File.

03. Shipping Services File, Version 1.6 or higher: All commercial packages must submit mailing information electronically, using a Shipping Services File. Each file is populated with required details about the package, including piece-level details, mail class, processing category, mailer ID, transaction ID, payment account number and method of payment. This file is required to be transmitted to the USPS at the end of each shipping day.  

Be Prepared

Using the IMpb is not quite as simple as printing out a shipping label, but it doesn’t have to be complicated, either. If you want to use your own software, you must complete the IMpb certification process. As part of the process, you sign up for a business account and Mailer Identification (MID) number, through the USPS Business Customer Gateway.

The other essential component is making sure you have the right equipment. The correct equipment can make this a seamless process for your business. Which raises the question, what is the right equipment? Software and printers capable of printing unique, high quality IMpb barcodes for packages, and generating and transmitting electronic information in the Shipping Services File format for each package. Shipping software used by commercial mailers is generally capable of doing this for you. There are also many service providers, software vendors, PC Postage and meter vendors who offer IMpb compliant solutions.

Pitney Bowes’ USPS-endorsed, proven solutions like SendSuite take care of meeting IMpb requirements, allow you to qualify for the best pricing possible and help you save time and money on shipping and mailing operations. 

For more information about the IMpb, including how to navigate compliance thresholds, check out the final post in this three-part series.