Editor's Note: This originally appeared in the May/June issue of our sister publication, Mailing Systems Technology, but as more shippers are including the USPS in their carrier mix, we thought this would be a good fit for our PARCEL readers as well.

If you mail competitive parcels (Priority Mail, Priority Mail Express, First-Class Package Services, Parcel Select, and Parcel Select Lightweight), you are likely familiar with the current 20-cent per piece fee that is assessed by the Postal Service on non-compliant packages. The fee can be assessed based upon three different categories:

  • IMpb Barcode Provided: 95% threshold
  • Address Provided: 98% threshold
  • Shipping Services File (version 1.6 or newer) Provided: 91% threshold

In addition to the current compliance categories, the Postal Service has also been measuring the quality of IMpb barcodes, address information, and the shipping services file, but it has not been assessing for these verifications.

The current compliance categories are focused on the presences of the data. Did the piece have an IMpb barcode? Was a full 11-digit delivery point (or delivery address) provided? Was a shipping services file submitted for the pieces? In July, the Postal Service will be merging the quality verifications with the current compliance categories and begin assessments for the three IMpb quality categories. The change will simplify verifications by keeping only three categories instead of expanding to six by adding the three additional quality validations.

The current thresholds, noted above, will remain for IMpb Barcode and Shipping Services file, but the validations for these thresholds will be changing. Based on the new validations that will be performed, the Address Information Quality threshold will be reduced from 98% to 89%.

The 95% Barcode Quality verification in July will require:

  • The IMpb to have a valid MID.
  • The IMpb to be unique for a minimum of 120 days.

The Shipping Services File verifications in July will require:

  • The entry facility to match between the actual scan of the piece and the data in the file that was submitted.
  • The file must have a valid “post office of account” ZIP Code.
  • The file must have a valid payment account (permit number).
  • The file must have a valid method of payment, which could include permit, federal agency, PC postage, smart meter, other meter, and stamps.

The Address Quality verifications in July will require that:

  • Every package must include a full, valid destination delivery address and/or 11-digit Delivery Point Validated ZIP Code.
  • If both the 11-digit ZIP and address are provided, the address must match to the ZIP+4 Code.
  • When the address is provided, it must include a valid primary street number.
  • When the address is provided, it must include valid secondary address information (unit or apartment numbers).

It is important to understand that to determine if an address has a valid primary street number, you must use CASS-certified software. CASS software can also determine if an address is missing necessary secondary address information. If the address is a business, CASS software can append the necessary secondary information using Postal Service SuiteLink data. If the address is a residential address, the CASS software can only identify that the secondary address information is missing, but it cannot provide it because the Postal Service does not allow access to secondary residential address data due to privacy restriction.

The reduction in the address threshold from 98% to 89% was primarily driven by this secondary address information requirement. To better ensure compliance with this requirement, it may be necessary to consider integrating CASS software into your order entry systems and prompt for the additional information at the time the address is being captured. If CASS cannot be used at the point the address is being acquired, another possibility to consider is using data enhancement services that are likely also available to you through your CASS provider.

It will be important to carefully watch these new validations to ensure you avoid costly assessments. In particular, pay close attention to the 89% threshold, since it is likely the Postal Service will be looking to increase it over time, so it might require some changes in your current fulfillment process.

Bob Schimek is Senior Director of Postal Affairs for Satori Software.