Anyone who works with the United States Postal Service® (USPS) knows their penchant for using acronyms, and the Intelligent Mail (IM) program is no different. One of the areas that causes confusion for mailers is the registration for and use of Mailer Identification numbers (MID’s) and Customer Registration Identification numbers (CRID’s).
The Mailer ID is a numeric identification number which is used by the USPS to identify a mail owner or mailing agent. The MID must be included in the IM barcode and in the electronic files and documents that are submitted to the USPS for IM. The MID is either a 6-digit number or a 9-digit number, based on historical mail volume or the need to maintain the 45-day uniqueness requirement. For example, mailers can manage the 45-day uniqueness requirement for 1 million pieces of mail using a 9-digit MID (9-digit MID’s allow for 6-digit serial numbers in the barcode), whereas it can be managed for 10 million pieces with a 6-digit MID (6-digit MID’s allow for 9-digit serial numbers in the barcode). Alternatively, multiple 9-digit MID’s can be assigned for increments of 1 million pieces as another method of managing the uniqueness requirement.
The Customer Registration ID is also a numeric identification number (up to 15 digits) which is used to uniquely identify a USPS customer at a location. Essentially it identifies the various physical locations of customers. For example, if a USPS customer has five different mailing facilities, they will be assigned five CRID’s, one for each physical location. The CRID’s are used in the electronic files and documents for IM, but are NOT included in the IM barcode.
These MID’s and CRID’s may be applied for using the Business Customer Gateway. Mailers should allow for 2 to 5 days for this application process. There are some situations which may require that these applications be made manually using hard copy forms; if applicable this will be specified on the Business Customer Gateway.
As part of the IM program, the various participants in a mailing are uniquely identified using these MID’s and CRID’s in the electronic files and documents, and also by specifying the relationship between the various participants. This is known as the “By/For” relationship.
For example, a mailing may involve a mail owner, a mail preparer, and a logistics provider. The mail owner designs the mailpiece and pays the postage, the mailing is printed, sorted and mailed BY the mail preparer FOR the mail owner, and the mail is transported and drop ship appointments are made BY the logistics provider FOR the mail owner to drop ship entry points. Since each of these participants is involved with some portion of the electronic transactions with the USPS for the mailing, they must all be identified.
Every mailer has their own unique needs, so it is important that mail owners work with mail service providers to determine which MID to use for the barcodes, and to correctly assign the BY/FOR relationships. In addition, delegation of data can also be done using what is called “Cast of Characters.” For example, if a mail owner utilizes a fulfillment bureau to handle their address corrections from the USPS, the mail owner can delegate the receipt of the Address Change Service (ACSTM) data to this fulfillment bureau.
The real key is to map out your process flow for your mailings, including all of your service providers. You can then use this information, along with mail volumes and frequencies, to help manage the uniqueness and to properly register for and utilize the appropriate MID’s and CRID’s.
The USPS has numerous guides and checklists available on their Rapid Information Bulletin Board Site (RIBBSTM), and has recently added a PowerPoint presentation specifically explaining MID’s and CRID’s. Mailers should access these resources and devote some time to reading and understanding these documents. Although this may seem tedious, it can actually help save you time as you go through the IM integration process.
Monica Lundquist, Postal Affairs Manager, Window Book, Inc.