What Are Intelligent Mail Services?


You’ve probably seen them before – those interesting strips of bars printed on envelopes, postcards, and more. Most people likely assume they’re used to help with tracking mail, and they’d be right. In this article, we’re giving you a bit more information about these unique aspects of direct mail in an effort to help you better understand how they can benefit your business.

What exactly are they?

The Intelligent Mail Barcode, also known as an IM barcode, is a 65-bar identification code used on mail pieces in the United States. In the past, it was known as the 4-State Customer barcode. As many could probably guess, it’s used to help sort and track letters and flats. The thing that makes the IM barcode especially helpful is the ability to track mail pieces individually, therefore allowing senders and receivers greater visibility.

intelligent mail barcode

How does the barcode work?

The IM barcode system uses a mix of data from the POSTNET and PLANET Code systems (as well as other data). With a height-modulated format, the code uses a combination of varying bar heights separated into four distinct vertical types – ascender, descender, full, and tracker.

What’s the benefit?

The IM barcode system was developed by the US Postal Service in an effort to have codes that are capable of more while taking up less space on the mail piece itself. Here are a few of the benefits:

  • Provides mailers with more digits, allowing for unique identification of up to a billion pieces per mailing
  • Provides more accurate, detailed information about mailings
  • Allows for participation in multiple USPS programs with a single barcode
  • Has a greater overall data capacity than existing barcodes
  • Increases the amount of usable space on the piece by eliminating the need for multiple barcodes

If you’d like to learn more about the IM barcode system and see how it can benefit your next mailer, get in touch with the experts at EBA Printing today! We’ll help you arrange all aspects of the piece, from design to printing to sending.

Great customer service, friendly, easy to work with. The quality of the work is excellent. I recommend EBA Printing all the time.

Moshe R., Mequon, WI

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