What makes the Intelligent Mail barcode (IMb) so intelligent? It is the Service Type ID (STID), the three digits that bring an IMb to life. The other elements of the IMb are just identifiers – the STID makes the barcode DO something.
The IMb is really just a big number in a funny font – somewhere between 20 and 31 digits. It is made up of:
- The Barcode ID – the first two digits of the IMb value provides some basic identification of the mail piece. For letters it will most often be 00. For flats it may identify sort level. USPS may assign some values to identify a redirect piece. Don’t worry about these two digits.
- The Service Type ID (STID) – Today’s subject – is the next three digits.
- The Mailer ID (MID) identifies who the mailer is and, generally, where to send data. It may be six or nine digits.
- The next six or nine digits are the serial number – these numbers in conjunction with the MID should uniquely identify the mail piece.
- Finally, the IMb ends with the routing code – the ZIP code and the Plus 4 value (if available) and the last two digits of the street address or delivery point…or not. An IMb may not have a routing code in some cases.
But all we care about today is the STID, the King of the IMb. The STID tells the Postal Service what they should do with the IMb and mail piece it is on, as well as a little about what kind of mail it is.
Here are some of the services that may be requested within the STID:
- Mail tracking data (IV-MTR) (or not)
- ACS data:
- OneCode, Full Service, or traditional
- Change Service, Address Service, Return Service
- Manual corrections
The STID also indicates some characteristics of the mail:
- Class of mail
- Marketing Mail
- Bound Printed Matter
- Priority Mail
- Political Mail (Candidate/Campaign mailings)
- Ballot Mail
- Outbound to voter
- Inbound from voter
- Return Mail
- Share Mail
Wow! That’s a lot of options for three little digits! Of course, there are many combinations of all of these. Some common STIDs:
- 270 – First-Class Mail – Full-Service with IV tracking, no ACS
- 271 – USPS Marketing Mail – Full-Service with IV tracking, no ACS
- 241 – First-Class Mail – Full-Service with IV tracking, and with ACS, Change Service, Option 2
- 231 – USPS Marketing Mail – Full-Service with IV tracking, and with ACS, Change Service, Option 2
Political mail has its own parallel set of STIDs. The functions are often identical, but simply identify the mail as political mail:
- 747 – First-Class Political Mail – Full-Service with IV tracking, no ACS
- 748 – USPS Political Marketing Mail – Full-Service with IV tracking, no ACS
- 768 – First-Class Political Mail – Full-Service with IV tracking, and with ACS, Change Service, Option 2
- 781 – USPS Political Marketing Mail – Full-Service with IV tracking, and with ACS, Change Service, Option 1
They are largely parallel, but not entirely. Some options may not be available for Political mail.
Ballot Mail, again, has its own set of STIDs, largely, but not entirely parallel.
Interestingly, other election mail – like official sample ballots or voter guides do NOT have their own set of STIDs. They just use the general STIDs.
Hoo boy! This stuff is hard to keep straight!
Here’s why you care about STIDs: Using the wrong STID can result in delayed mail – if for example you use a Marketing Mail STID on your First-Class Mail it may get slower handling. A political mail STID may get you faster delivery – the Postal Service hates to deliver political mail after the election. It’s embarrassing.
Worst of all, if you use a non-tracking STID on a piece of mail you want to track, and it won’t generate any scan data. Oh no! (We can fix that sometimes, but don’t tell anybody.)
STIDs can change, too. This past January the Postal Service released a slew of new political mail STIDs and forgot to make the tracking ones track. Even the Postal Service gets confused about these things.
Want to know all the STIDs? Click here to see the whole STID table. Then call us at SnailWorks – we’ll work with you to make sure you have the right STID every time!