In a letter from Postmaster General John E. Potter, the USPS announced updates to the implementation schedule and other details regarding the new Intelligent Mail Barcode (IMB)

The IMB,¬†also known as the 4-state barcode, is a replacement of the older Postnet barcode used to assist the post office in routing First Class, Standard Mail and Periodicals based letters, flats and some parcels. You probably have already received mail using the new IMB code. Where Postnet had short and tall bars that were level on the bottom, the IMB “sticks out” on both the top and bottom. The reason for this is to increase the amount of data that can be stored in the code. In the original implementation plan, mailers were to be required to switch over to the IMB by January 2009. While there are still many reasons for mailers to convert as soon as possible, the new plans are more flexible.

Here is the text of the letter from the Postmaster General…

Thank you for your feedback on January’s Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Federal Register concerning the implementation of the Intelligent Mail Barcode (IMB).

Your comments were thoughtful and thorough. I am encouraged by the number of responses received and the support of the IMB vision of true transparency, visibility and real-time data. It is all about increasing the value of the mail.

You also raised a number of implementation concerns that we need to address. Implementation of the IMB is so important to our future that I am taking the unusual step of giving you advance notice of some of the changes you can expect in the Proposed Rulemaking we plan to publish in the Federal Register next month.

Here is a preview:

  • Many of you told us that January 2009 was too soon. We will propose a May 2009 implementation, concurrent with our next annual price change.
  • We understand from you that many factors will drive the choice between the basic and full-service options. The May 2009 implementation will include separate prices for the full-service and basic option.
  • The Postnet Barcode will remain eligible for an automation price until May 2010. Those prices will be announced with the May 2009 change.
  • The proposal will include new options for mail owner identification.
  • We are removing the requirement for green color bars on the container label.

Again, thanks for your responses. I encourage you to continue your implementation efforts and to comment on our next notice. Let’s work together to make the IMB vision a reality.


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