How to Read an Intelligent Mail Barcode (IMb) (2023)

How to Read an Intelligent Mail Barcode (IMb)

The Intelligent Mail Barcode or IMb provides a key to who is sending aletter and where it is going. It has between 20 and 31 digits, which are converted to barcode. Learn more about Intelligent Mail Barcodes in two of Tension's blogs hereandhere.

(Video) USPS Intelligent Mail Barcode Video

How to Read an Intelligent Mail Barcode (IMb) (1)

How to Read an Intelligent Mail Barcode IMb

The IMb is broken into two parts — the tracking code and the routing code. The tracking code tells us the identification of the mailer plus unique mailpiece information and the routing code consists of the Delivery Point Zip code.

TheIMbTracking Code

The tracking code tells us about the mailer and the mailpiece.

  • Barcode Identifier (BI): TheBIis a required, specific two-digit identifier assigned by the Postal Service™ and is used primarily to encode the presort identification.

  • Service Type Identifier (STID): The three-digit STID is assigned by the Postal Service and indicates any combination of services that have been requested for themailpiece. These services include defining themailpieceasfull service, basic or non-automation. It also is used to determine what the mailer wants the USPS®to do with mail that is found to be “undeliverable as addressed” (UAA), as well as the form of address correction that a mailerdesires, if any. The USPS provides an STID charthere.

    (Video) Video About The Intelligent Mail Barcode (IMB)

  • Mailer ID (MID): TheMIDis assigned by the Postal Service and is a sixor nine-digit number that uniquely identifies a business or customer. Its length depends on the volume of mail a business/customer sends out.

  • Serial Number: These sixor nine-digit numbers are either mailer or postal produced. Serial numbers can be unique to a user’s entire mailing or unique to the individualmailpiece. EveryIMb, other than those with an OriginIMbTracing barcode, must include a serial number. The serial number can also be referred to as a Sequence Number.

TheIMbRouting Code

The routing code includes carrier route and delivery information. It is zero, five, nineor elevendigits depending upon the amount of information included by the mailer.

  • No information: zero digits.

  • When the fiveor nine-digit ZIP code is known or included in theIMb, the routing code is fiveor ninedigits.

    (Video) Intelligent Mail Barcode (IMb) Informational Video

  • A two-digit delivery point code can be included along with the nine-digit ZIP code when appropriate, bringing the digits in the routing code to 11(digits, that is). A delivery point code is based on what’s called the “secondary address value” or, more simply, an apartment or suite number.

Intelligent Mail Barcode Decoder

There's an App for That

Therearethree ways to use theIMb: non-automation, basic automation and Full-Service mailings. No matter which method you choose, it’s critical to test or read your barcode for accuracy.

TheIMbis based on a computer algorithm. Once it has been converted into a barcode, it can only be read using a computer orhandhelddevice.

  • The USPS has a decoder/encoder online at To use this tool, you need to enter the letter designation for each bar (F, D, A or T). Then, it decodes theIMbbased on the letters input. Because this method relies on manual input, it’s important to check for correctness when inputting the letter designations.

  • Did you know there areapps that can read the IMb?IMBScanpro is available for purchase on the App store or Google Play.

    (Video) USPS Intelligent Mail Barcode in Dymo Connect

Our customers often ask us to help test their barcodes for accuracy by sending us theirIMbartwork. We use handheld scanners that can verify the information held on theIMb, and check to ensure it is a viable, readable code. Once tested, we send theIMbback to the customer on a proof to be scanned and tested on their end. Some take this process a step further and send it to the USPS® for final verification.

How to Read the Intelligent Mail barcode GuideHow to Read an Intelligent Mail Barcode (IMb) (2)

Tension has prepared an easy-to-read overviewof how to read the IMb, available to you. Click hereto download.

Read theIMbquickly and confidently with help from your friends at Tension.Contact ustoday to discuss your next mailcampaign.

Disclaimer: All approvals must come from the USPS®. The information presented here is for illustrative purposes only.


How do I read my USPS IMb barcode? ›

The IMb is broken into two parts — the tracking code and the routing code. The tracking code tells us the identification of the mailer plus unique mailpiece information and the routing code consists of the Delivery Point Zip code.

What is the breakdown of IMb barcode? ›

The five IMb fields are the Barcode Identifier, the Service Type Identifier, the Mailer ID, the Serial Number, and the Routing Code (ZIP Code).

How do you read a postal bar code? ›

The PostNET bar code represents 6 digits for a 5 digit ZIP code (and 10 digits for a 9 digit ZIP + 4 code, or 12 digits for an 11 digit Delivery Point code). If you compare a known ZIP code with its PostNET bar code, you will see that the last digit is the mystery number (our example above was for the ZIP code 56458).

Can you track Intelligent Mail barcode? ›

Delivery data from intelligent mail barcode

One benefit of using the intelligent mail barcode is that not only can you track mail and verify delivery, but you also use this information to improve direct mail performance.

How does Intelligent Mail barcode work? ›

The Intelligent Mail barcode is a 65-bar Postal Service™ barcode used to sort and track letters and flats. It allows mailers to use a single barcode to participate in multiple Postal Service programs simultaneously, expands mailers' ability to track individual mailpieces, and provides greater mail stream visibility.

What type of barcode is USPS IMb? ›

The Intelligent Mail Barcode (IMb) is a 65-bar barcode for use on mail in the United States. The term "Intelligent Mail" refers to services offered by the United States Postal Service for domestic mail delivery.

How can the information in a barcode be read? ›

Laser scanners are the primary source used to read barcodes, whether they are stationary at a register or a mobile, handled scanner. LED lights scan over the black bars and white spaces, which then converts into text. The text is delivered to a software system that then reads and translates the information.

How do you read a 10 digit barcode? ›

The first six numbers of the barcode is the manufacturer's identification number. The next five digits represent the item's number. The last number is called a check digit which enables the scanner to determine if the barcode was scanned correctly.

Can barcodes read letters? ›

CODE 39 is the barcode developed by Intermec Corporation in 1975. Up to 43 characters including numbers, letters and some symbols can be included in the barcode. Since letters can be handled, CODE 39 is indispensable in the industrial fields and used in industries such as automotive and electronics.

Is there an app to read postal barcodes? ›

Aspose USPS OneCode Barcode Reader is a free online application to read barcodes from image or your mobile phone's camera. It is able to locate and read multiple barcodes on image. Our sophisticated algorithm allows you to read even damaged barcodes.


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