[Federal Register Volume 75, Number 180 (Friday, September 17, 2010)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 56922-56923]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2010-23313]



39 CFR Part 111

Implementation of the Intelligent Mail Package Barcode

AGENCY: Postal ServiceTM.

ACTION: Advance notice of proposed rulemaking.


SUMMARY: The Postal Service is proposing to incorporate standards into 
Mailing Standards of the United States Postal Service, Domestic Mail 
Manual (DMM[supreg]) for the optional use of Intelligent Mail[supreg] 
package barcodes (IMpb), no later than January of 2011; and expects to 
require the mandatory use of IMpb on all domestic packages beginning in 
January 2012.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before September 27, 2010.

ADDRESSES: Mail or deliver written comments to the Manager, Mailing 
Standards, Postal Service, 475 L'Enfant Plaza, SW., Room 4446, 
Washington, DC 20260-4446. Copies of all written comments will be 
available for inspection and photocopying between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., 
Monday through Friday, at the Postal Service Headquarters Library, 475 
L'Enfant Plaza, SW., 11th Floor North, Washington, DC 20260-0004. Email 
comments containing the name and address of the commenter, may be sent 
to: [email protected], with a subject line of ``Intelligent 
Mail Package Barcode comments.'' Faxed comments are not accepted.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Juliaann Hess at 202-268-7663 or Kevin 
Gunther at 202-268-7208.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This advance notice of proposed rulemaking 
is intended to provide information and assistance to mailers in 
planning for future mailings and preparing for system changes necessary 
to adopt the new IMpb format and electronic files. The subsequent 
proposed rule to this advance notice, will provide standards for the 
optional use of IMpb no later than January of 2011, and will propose 
the mandatory use of IMpb barcodes on all domestic packages in January 
2012. The Postal Service looks forward to receiving and considering 
industry feedback on its proposed timeline prior to publishing final 
    The term ``package'' is used to encompass any domestic mailpiece 
meeting the characteristics in DMM sections 101.3, 401.1, and all 
Express Mail[supreg] and Priority Mail[supreg] mailpieces, regardless 
of their shape, including flat-rate items.
    Piece-level package information is needed in the shipping industry 
to expand product lines, increase competitiveness, provide greater 
visibility to mailers and the Postal Service, and to create a more 
comprehensive service performance measurement tool. Today, without the 
purchase of an extra service such as Delivery 
ConfirmationTM, Signature ConfirmationTM, or 
insurance, package tracking and delivery information is limited. 
Barcodes are not currently

[[Page 56923]]

required on packages; and the barcodes now being used are unable to 
incorporate the data necessary to meet the needs of the USPS 
Intelligent Mail strategy. Packages that currently bear barcodes 
designed to provide delivery and tracking information only do not 
always include a routing code (a barcode that represents the 
destination ZIPTM Code). The current barcodes have limited 
revenue protection capabilities, due to the absence of information 
associating the piece with its specific payment method; and have 
limited integration of multiple extra services.

IMpb and Electronic Documentation

    The IMpb will provide piece-level data to enable the Postal Service 
to increase efficiency, add value to its package product line, and 
enhance its package tracking capabilities. The IMpb is a 34-digit 
modulated barcode that generally follows the specifications of the GS1-
128 symbology. GS1-128 barcodes are a special type of global standard 
Code 128 barcodes, which make use of Application Identifiers (AI) to 
define the encoded data and how it is used. The IMpb incorporates 
features of the GS1-128 symbology to allow for the unique 
identification and tracking of domestic packages from induction to 
delivery. The GS1-128 barcode symbology is already a requirement for 
users of electronic Confirmation Services and the Electronic 
Verification System[supreg] (eVS[supreg]). Customers currently 
participating in these programs will not need to change the symbology 
of the barcode; however the elements within the barcode and layout will 
    There are several barcode variations for use at the commercial and 
retail level that will provide the flexibility to accommodate the 
diverse shipping needs of Postal Service customers. To improve routing, 
tracking, and service capabilities, the Postal Service is providing 
advance notice of a future proposal to require customers to include the 
correct ZIP + 4 Code in the barcode of each package, or to transmit 
this information to the USPS via an electronic file.
    Enhancements to the current requirements for electronic files used, 
in conjunction with parcel barcodes, will be necessary to support the 
additional features incorporated into IMpb. Electronic files now used 
for packages do not provide adequate space for supplemental fields, 
limiting their ability to support the additional piece-level 
information received from customers. The new electronic file format 
will include expanded package identification code fields to accommodate 
up to a 34-digit barcode string, and will require fewer file types to 
support any combination of products and services. In addition, 
customers will be required to include the destination ZIP + 4 Code in 
the electronic file for all records. This additional ZIP Code 
information will assist in the routing and tracking of our package 
products. An optional field for the delivery point code of the 
destination address has also been added to the electronic file to 
provide additional information to improve service. A listing of 
electronic file formats is located in the addendum to Publication 91, 
Addendum for Intelligent Mail Package Barcode (IMpb) and 3-digit 
Service Type Code.
    The data construction of the IMpb barcode will be different from 
that of the current Confirmation Services barcode. Detailed 
specifications for IMpb barcode construction are available in the 
``Barcode Data'' section of the specification document, Barcode, 
Package, Intelligent Mail (USPS2000508). The most significant change in 
the barcode data is in the service type code. Currently, barcodes use a 
2-digit service type code that can represent multiple mail classes or 
products, limiting the number of extra services that may be integrated 
into a single barcode. When two or more extra services are used, a 
barcode representing each extra service is usually required on the 
mailpiece, resulting in the need to scan multiple barcodes at delivery.
    The IMpb will use unique 3-digit service type codes which identify 
the exact product and extra service(s) combination, eliminating the 
need for separate barcodes and separate scanning, enabling more 
efficient package handling. A list of the 3-digit service type codes is 
available in the addendum to Publication 91.
    To increase package visibility, the Postal Service will scan the 
IMpb throughout processing using automated mail processing equipment 
and Intelligent Mail devices. Mailers who include extra services with 
their packages will have scan data, including acceptance, enroute, and 
delivery-type data available to them. Mailers will also be able to 
increase package visibility by associating each package with the 
appropriate sack, or an approved alternate container, which bears an 
accurately encoded Intelligent Mail tray label. Each sack or alternate 
container may then be electronically associated to a pallet (or similar 
container) that bears an accurately encoded Intelligent Mail container 
    The Intelligent Mail package barcode will:
     Require a routing code to aid in processing packages on 
automated sorting equipment.
     Use a channel-specific Application Identifier (AI) that 
associates the barcode to the payment method, supporting revenue 
assurance protection.
     Contain a 3-digit service type code, which will identify 
the exact mail class and service combination, reducing the number of 
barcodes on a package.
     Permit the use of a 6-digit or 9-digit numeric Mailer ID 
    These enhancements will add data-stream efficiency within mail 
processing, delivery, payment, and reporting. Packages without the 
addition of extra services must also bear Intelligent Mail package 
barcodes and will be identified through the use of specific mail class 
service type codes.
    Intelligent Mail barcodes, used on letters and flats, will not be 
permitted on packages in lieu of the IMpb.

Additional Information

    Mailers can access the following references on the RIBBS[supreg] 
Web site at ribbs.usps.gov:
     Proposed addendum to Publication 91, Addendum for 
Intelligent Mail Package Barcode (IMpb) and 3-digit Service Type Code.
     Specification document, Barcode, Package, Intelligent Mail 

Stanley F. Mires,
Chief Counsel, Legislative.
[FR Doc. 2010-23313 Filed 9-16-10; 8:45 am]