2015 USPS IMpb Requirements FAQ

Here’s a quick guide to the January 2015 USPS package barcode requirements and some frequently asked questions to help you learn more.

  1. What is it?

    The Intelligent Mail® Package Barcode (IM®pb) is the next generation tracking barcode for parcels and Extra Services through the U.S. Postal Service® (USPS®). The IMpb tracking barcode format includes shipping information needed to track packages from pick-up to final delivery. The USPS will use this data to provide more efficient delivery, reduce handling and improve tracking. Use of the IMpb tracking barcode enables the USPS to offer similar tracking capabilities as the private carriers.

  2. When will IMpb be required?

    As of January 26, 2014, most commercial packages were required to have an IMpb, with the exception of meter mailers, Standard Mail, MRS, Bound Printed Matter, Library Mail, and Media Mail which were granted a one year extension period. Effective January 25, 2015, all commercial packages are required to have an IMpb to qualify for Commercial Base Pricing (CBP) discounted rates.

  3. What do I need to do to comply with the requirements?

    Endicia has been supporting IMpb tracking since 2010. By using the Endicia service, you will easily create a compliant label that includes an IMpb. You also don’t need to worry about any of the data requirements, as Endicia handles that for you automatically.

  4. Which packages require an IMpb?

    All commercial packages (those using CBP or CPP rates), regardless of size, shape or price category, require an IMpb to be printed on the shipping label. This includes flat-rate boxes and envelopes. The distinction is that for retail transactions, it is a matter of when it is applied. For retail transactions, the data is manually keyed into the system and a postal clerk will apply a USPS tracking label to your package at the USPS Post Office location.

    A list of the mail classes that require IMpb is shown below:

    • Priority Mail
    • Priority Mail Express
    • First-Class Mail Package Services
    • Parcel Select
    • Parcel Select Lightweight
    • Standard Mail
    • Library Mail
    • Media Mail
    • Bound Printed Matter
    • Parcels that need Extra Services such as Certified Mail or Delivery Confirmation
  5. When is the IMpb not required?

    Periodical parcels and Standard Mail Marketing sent as product samples that bear a simplified address or those that use a detached address label (DAL) are not required to bear an IMpb; parcels using retail rates paid at the retail price and inducted through a retail transaction, clerks at the Post Office will affix the proper barcode.

  6. What are the requirements to support IMpb?

    Priority Mail 2-Day Shipping LabelFor IMpb compliance it is not just the label but also the data (specifically address and zip code data) submission that ties the barcode id to the data. There are three requirements needed to support IMpb including:

    • A unique tracking barcode
    • A Shipping Services file version 1.6 or higher (file that needs to be sent electronically to the USPS containing the shipping information)
    • Destination delivery address or ZIP + 4 Codes, class of mail, payment channel information, and extra service designation
  7. How do I benefit from the IMpb requirement?
    • End-to-end tracking visibility and better predicted delivery
    • Access to discounted rates in Commercial Base pricing
    • Improved USPS service as the USPS uses piece-level data to streamline operations
  8. Is IMpb required for Meter Customers?

    Effective January 25, 2015, all meter mailers must meet IMpb requirements to qualify for USPS Commercial Base prices. Meter mailers unable to comply with these requirements may continue to mail at retail prices but must affix a USPS Tracking™ label (Label 400) to each piece. Retail rates will apply for those companies using meters that do not meet IMpb requirements.

  9. How do I qualify for Commercial Base Pricing?

    In order to get Commercial Base rates, your shipping labels must include an IMpb barcode. Electronic Postage solutions such as Endicia fully meet USPS requirements for IMpb and automatically qualify you for Commercial Base Pricing. Endicia software solutions include Endicia Standard, Endicia PremiumEndicia Platinum Shipper and Endicia Professional.

  10. What other sources can I reference?

    The USPS has a section on IMpb and it can be found here:

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