Intelligent Mail®Package Barcode (IM®pb)
Don't Miss out on Discounts and Enhanced Tracking
Intelligent Mail® Package barcode
The Intelligent Mail Package Barcode (IMpb) is the Postal Service's next-gen tracking barcode for parcels and extra services. The barcodes provide you with complete visibility to your package status – from the moment you send your package up to the moment it’s delivered. Plus, since the IMpb labels help make the Postal Service more efficient, they pass along those benefits to you, the shipper, in the form of Commercial Base pricing discounts. The discounted rates are accessible only through the creation of shipping labels generated from online shipping software.
IMpb applies for the most part to parcels, except USPS Extra Services, which are now required to have Intelligent Mail Package Barcodes. The Post Office™ prefers the term “parcel” to refer to anything that is not a letter, postcard or flat. While it is often considered to be a cardboard box, a parcel does not always take the form of a box. For example, padded envelopes thicker than 3/4 inches are considered parcels.
When are letters or flats considered parcels?
If one or more of the following are met:
Thicker than 3/4″
Rigid or inflexible
Weighs more than 13 ounces
The following require an IM®pb barcode:
All commercial parcels:
- Packages over 13 oz.
- Priority Mail® or Priority Mail® Express (any shape, size or price category, including Flat Rate boxes and envelopes
The following mail classes:
- First-Class Mail Package Services
- Parcel Select or Parcel Select Lightweight
- Marketing Mail, Library Mail, Media Mail
- Bound Printed Matter
The following Extra Services:
- Certified Mail
- USPS Tracking™
- Signature Confirmation
- Restricted Delivery
- Return Receipt
You are not required to meet IM®pb requirements for the following:
- Transacting your parcel at a retail USPS® counter
- Periodical parcels (e.g. newsletters, magazines)
- Standard Mail® parcels (typically small marketing items like catalogs)
If you are interested in lowering your shipping costs, while keeping track of your orders, then you may be interested in an online shipping solution such as NeoShip.
When using NeoShip, Your packages are qualified for FULL IM®pb benefits such as:
- Full end-to-end tracking information
- Get status from every scan point – manage shipment expectations
- Access to the best prices for parcel shipments
- Commercial Base Discounts
- Free Insurance on Priority Mail™ and Priority Mail Express™
- Items with a value up to $50 (Priority) / $100 (Priority Mail Express)
- Professional look with a neat / clean shipping label
- Eliminates the need for multiple barcodes on a package
There are two ways you can ship a package via the USPS® and meet IM®pb requirements:
Option 1: Pre-printed Label
Use a pre-printed Label 400 from the USPS® or Label 888 from Neopost that includes an IMpb barcode. With a pre-printed label, you can easily peel and stick it on your product. The sender can also write the addresses on the parcel and use in conjunction with a postage meter strip tape for parcel shipments.
With this option, the mailing characteristics are not uploaded to the USPS®. The mailer can still view tracking information, but pre-printed labels do not qualify for Commercial Base® pricing benefits because the label is missing certain data elements that are required to receive the discount per the USPS®. Also, packages will only qualify for free insurance if scanned at the Post Office™ retail counter.
- Available from the USPS
- Free Tracking
- No Commercial Base® discounts (Only retail prices)
- Free insurance, ONLY IF scanned at the post office
Option 2– Software-generated label that includes an IM®pb
An all-in-one label created with software such as NeoShip automatically includes the IM®pb on the shipping label. To create the label, you need to first define the characteristics of the shipment. You will enter in data such as name, delivery address, return address, class of service, Extra Services and zip + 4, which create the barcode. The shipping label will also include a unique mailer ID. By creating this label with IM®pb, the package qualifies for full benefits including discounted Commercial Base® pricing and automatic qualification for free insurance on Priority Mail® ($50) and Priority Mail® Express ($100).
- Qualifies for Commercial Base® Pricing
- Free insurance on Priority Mail® and Priority Mail Express®
- Generated by online shipping software such as NeoShip
- Free tracking
The Label 400 is a pre-printed tracking label that is free from the USPS®. However, the Post Office™ now applies full retail costs to parcels with Label 400. Using a Label 400 will not qualify for Commercial Base® Pricing but it does meet the USPS requirement for affixing an IM®pb barcode to every parcel.
Commercial Base® pricing (CBP) is a set of special discounted rates that are available to shippers who use IM®pb labels that send package data to the USPS® systems electronically.
So what does that mean?
With CBP there is no minimum shipping volume required to obtain the discounted rates and it applies to items with a weight up to 70 lbs. Also CBP can be applied to mail classes such as: Priority Mail®, Priority Mail Express®, First-Class Package Service and First-Class Package International, Media Mail, Library Mail, etc.
Only shipping labels that include an IM®pb will qualify for Commercial Base® pricing. A packcage with a pre-printed label that includes an IM®pb will cost the retail rate. Pre-printed labels with an IM®pb barcode include:
- USPS® Tracking Label (also known as the Label 400 or Label 888 from Neopost)
- USPS® Extra Services Label such as e-Signature Confirmation
In order to qualify, your shipping labels must include an IM®pb with the following information, electronically uploaded to the USPS:
- Destination delivery address or Zip+4 Code
- Unique tracking barcode
- Shipping address file version 1.6 or higher (sent to the USPS® electronically)
- Mail class, payment channel information and extra service designation
An online shipping software such as NeoShip easily generates an Intelligent Mail Package Barcode with necessary information such as the address, shipping method and any Extra Services. The Intelligent Mail Package Barcode is generated based on the information entered, and as part of the software, a shipping services file is then sent to the USPS® which makes them more efficient.
Pre-printed labels (Label 400 or Label 888) do not qualify for benefits such as Commercial Base® Pricing because the label is missing data elements that are required in an IM®pb barcode per the USPS®.
With a pre-printed label, you are peeling and sticking the label on the package. No shipping services file is being uploaded to the USPS. More importantly, you have not created the label based on the unique characteristics of the shipment. There is no address validation, correction, or zip + 4 upload. Therefore, the item does not deliver any efficiencies to the USPS® and will only qualify for retail rates.
Depending on the number of packages that you are shipping and the options you are looking for, Neopost offers two IM®pb compliant online shipping solutions. One is NeoShip, which is designed for low to mid volume shippers. The second is Enhanced Mailing & Shipping (EMS) designed for high volume shippers.
NeoShip is our latest online shipping solution that works in conjunction with your IS/IM/IN series postage meters. People often ask, "Does the mailing system print the IM®pb shipping label?" The simple answer is no. The postage meter works in conjunction with online shipping software such as NeoShip to create the IM®pb compliant labels.
See if NeoShip is right for your business.
Download our one-page guide to USPS® shipping labels for IM®pb!