Understanding By/For as it Applies to Mail Tracking
February 24, 2021   Dave Lewis

A really brief history of MID’s and CRID’s

Before 2006, when the Intelligent Mail barcode (IMb) was introduced, there were no Mailer ID’s.  There were permits.  But the IMb required somebody’s MID in it, so the Postal Service decided that anyone who does any kind of commercial mail should have a MID:  Mail houses, nonprofits, dry cleaners, mail trackers – really anybody.  Because many of these organizations had multiple locations, and multiple mail vendors serving them, organizations ended up with multiple MIDs.

Thus, was born the Customer Registration ID (CRID), which is designed as sort of the organizational “mother ship” under which an organization’s MIDs live.  CRIDs are location specific, so one company may have multiple CRIDs with even more MIDs beneath them.  In most cases, either MIDs or CRIDs can be used interchangeably to identify the parties in a mailing. 

So, what do we do with all these IDs??

The Postal Service wants to know the cast of characters for a mailing.  At the eDoc level, there are only two folks they care about:  the mail owner and the mail preparer. 

  • The Mail Owner is the organization for whom the mailing is being prepared, who directly benefits from the mailing;
  • The Mail Preparer is generally a mailing service provider (MSP) – a mail house, a printing company that mails, or a commingler.  The MSP is acting on behalf of the mail owner, creating a By/For relationship that is identified in the eDoc.  The Mail Preparer is the party that is submitting the eDoc.

So, the mail preparer may not be the person who stuffs and addresses the mail pieces.  They are often produced and handed off to a commingler, who will be combining a variety of mailings, and submitting them.  The commingler will then become the mail preparer on the eDocs that they submit – the eDoc submitter.

This is just one example of the complexity of the cast of characters in a mailing.  There can also be third-party mail trackers, ACS providers, and more.

What does this mean to me? 

If you are a mail owner or preparer, you will need to be identified in the eDoc by your MID or CRID.  On the mail piece, itself, the MID will be represented as part of the IMb.  The MID in the barcode does not need to match either of the MID’s identified in the eDoc.  All of the IMb’s used will be associated to the eDoc elsewhere so the mail piece can be linked to the eDoc. The IMb on the mail piece may be associated to the mail preparer, the mail owner, the mail tracker (SnailWorks in the best cases,) or others.

Here’s why it matters

The MID contained within the IMb printed on the mail piece – we’ll just call it MID-on-piece – drives how tracking data will be distributed.   These delegations are generally driven by the MID profile, which lives entirely outside of the eDoc.  If you want to get tracking information on your mailing from a mail tracker, you need to get the appropriate MID on the piece. Seamless Acceptance assessments do not use the MID-on-piece to identify Mail Owner or Mail Preparer, that By/For relationship is presented within the eDocs.  

When a piece is UNDOCUMENTED, the ONLY means of identifying that piece for USPS is...the MID-on-piece.  When they go back to a mailer for an error, it's not necessarily (and in most cases not) their error.  They just need to assist USPS in identifying the culprit - usually the MSP.  This is where tracking helps immensely - tracking data is usually kept longer by the tracking provider (e.g. SnailWorks) than the Postal Service keeps eDoc data, and tracking data in your system references the MSP info - job #, lettershop, etc., so it’s a lot easier to search.  A simple IMb lookup and you can provide USPS with more information.

How it works at SnailWorks

We have two primary means of having data delegated to us:

  • Using the SnailWorks MID-on-piece.  Some customers opt to have us generate IMb’s for them using our MID for the IMb.  Since we’ll be the MID-on-piece, tracking data will be sent right to us. 
  • Using the Mail Owner or Preparer MID-on-piece.  Mailers can use their own MID on the mail piece, as long as tracking data from that MID has been delegated to SnailWorks.  If this is your preferred approach, SnailWorks will help you get the appropriate form submitted to USPS.  It’s a very simple process.

Your takeaway

The MID-on-piece does not need to match the Mail Owner or Mail Preparer listed in the eDoc.  Having a different MID on the mail piece should not generate by/for errors on your scorecard.