The US Postal Service has announced that the POSTNET™ barcode will be discontinued effective January 28, 2013 and will no longer qualify mail for automation rate discounts. This change applies to letters, flats and Qualified Business Reply Mail. As of that date, mailers can earn automation rates only with the Intelligent Mail® barcode (Basic or Full-Service). The official notice can be found at: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-05-03/pdf/2012-10505.pdf.
The new code can hold a lot more information in the same space. Where the old POSTNET code only held only zip code and routing information, the new Intelligent Mail barcode indicates the sorting level, class of mail, optional services requested, the Mailer ID, an optional serial number identifier for the piece, plus the zip and routing information that was in the original POSTNET code.
The Intelligent Mail barcode consists of 65 bars and has strict data requirements. The four elements that need to be perfected before next year are:
- Content of the data to be encoded in the barcode
- Rules to produce the bars from the data fields
- Physical dimensions of barcode printing
- Physical limitations on printing
The USPS has created a helpful guide with the specifications online at: https://ribbs.usps.gov/intelligentmail_mailpieces/documents/tech_guides/SPUSPSG.pdf
January will be here before you know it. It will take some planning and retooling to convert to the Intelligent Mail barcode system if you haven’t already made the switch. Admail West has extensive experience with the Intelligent Mail barcode system, so if you want to talk to an expert, give us a call. We would be happy to help you with your mailing and fulfillment needs.