Intelligent Mail Barcode Update

The following message was passed along from a really great ListServ I particpate in, from MFSA Mailing & Fulfillment Service Association. Participation in the ListSev is but one of the many benefits of MFSA Membership. It is a very useful resource.

This information is from the USPS, reagarding the Intelligent Mail Barcode for mailpieces themselves. DAT-MAIL will, of course, support the IMBs on tray, sack, and pallet placards. Our Confirm module already supports both the old traditional Confirm format as well as the IMB Confirm barcode information and format.

Please let me know if you have any questions on the post-presort possibilities for Intelligent Mail.
Best wishes,

Intelligent Mail Barcode Update

The Intelligent Mail barcode (formally known as the 4-State Customer Barcode) is the next generation of USPS barcode technology used to sort and track letters and flats. Intelligent Mail barcode technology, among other things, combines the capabilities of the POSTNET barcode and the Planet Code barcode into one unique barcode.

The 31-digit Intelligent Mail barcode (65 bars) is slightly longer than the 11-digit POSTNET barcode (62 bars), and it offers mailers certain flexibility in choosing the height and width of the barcode. Due to mail-piece real estate concerns and barcode print quality, some mailers expressed an interest in shorter-height Intelligent Mail barcode.

Evaluations were conducted with letter mail that allowed the USPS to reduce the height requirement by 16.3% for the September 2006 offering.

The USPS is committed to working with the mailing community to lock down the barcode variance and set the minimum natural threshold for readability and acceptance of the Intelligent Mail barcode.

Consequently, the read-rate and dimension analysis supported by an extensive flats test was used as a decision-making tool in determining the feasibility of a revised Intelligent Mail barcode for flat mail with reduced vertical dimensions. As a result of this, later this year, the USPS will be publishing a new Specification for the Intelligent Mail barcode with even shorter bar heights.

The Intelligent Mail barcode will be moving to a height range between 0.125 and 0.165 inches.

Until this Specification comes into effect, the USPS will have time to update the UFSM 1000 line of equipment to better read barcodes at this height range. All USPS publications that refer to the Intelligent Mail barcode will be updated to reflect the new height requirements. The mailing industry will also have enough time to review their existing fonts and make any necessary changes.

In support of these changes and in order to accommodate the new Intelligent Mail barcode specification tolerances, the USPS will be updating the font packages distributed via the RIBBS website (

The existing software and fonts support the following common print architectures:

  • Advanced Function Printing (AFP)
  • XEROX Metacode
  • Hewlett Packard’s PCL
  • Adobe’s Postscript
  • TrueType

These fonts were developed based on the current Intelligent Mail barcode Specification, which allows a Full Bar height range of 0.134 to 0.230 inches. The new Specification tolerances allow a Full Bar height range of 0.125 to 0.165 inches. All font packages will be updated to remove any fonts that are no longer valid and the USPS will develop additional shorter-height fonts to supplement those already distributed. Please discontinue using any fonts that are labeled as “Full Height” as they will not be valid after the new Specification comes into effect. This does not apply to users of the scalable TrueType USPS4CB.ttf font, which is still valid when printed at 20pt. There will be a grace period which will allow customers to continue using the Full Height fonts until they transition to the more elegant shorter-height barcode.

In addition to shorter barcode heights, the new Specification document will outline new rules for the availability of 6 or 9 digit Customer

(Mailer) ID as well as revised Sequence (Serial) Number construct. This information is already available in the Intelligent Mail barcode Resource Guide and the new Mailer ID Description documents on the RIBBS website ( We strongly encourage you to download the latest Resource Guide as it reflects additional changes, such as the availability of the Intelligent Mail barcode for Bound Printed Matter.

Thank you,

Intelligent Mail Barcode
National Customer Support Center
USPS(r) Address Management
877-640-0724 option 2