If your business relies on mail delivery, you know what a time and money saver a postage meter can be. With a postage meter, all you have to do is run the mail through the postage machine, and it stamps each piece with a mark known as indicia. These markings are the heart and soul of the digital postal management system and contain all the data postal workers need to see to ensure the timely delivery of each piece of mail.
However, while the current standard, Information Based Indicia Program (IBIP), has served the postal system well, technology has rendered it wanting compared to the benefits provided by the latest data-based standard of Indicia, Intelligent Mail Indicia, or IMI. An IMI compliant meter does what an IBIP meter did, but better. It provides better security, cuts costs by automating back-office operations, and provides more detailed transactional data. And so, the USPS is now requiring that all new mailing systems adhere to the IMI standard.
FAQs About IMI Compliant Meters
Why is the USPS Mandating IMI Replace IBIP?
While IBIP calculates postage and keeps track of transaction data, its technology is not sufficient to automatically supply refunds or validate that the proper postage has been applied. IMI based mailing systems fully automate these operations. They deliver more real-time transactional data to the USPS while conforming to improved security standards than those offered by IBIP.
What is the USPS timeline for replacing IBIP Postage Systems with IMI Standard Systems?
In its final ruling issued on December 4, 2020, USPS declared that as of June 30, 2024, it would be decertifying all postal evidencing systems that do not produce IMI indicia (postmarks). This portion of the ruling applies to manufacturers because it means they can no longer make IBIP postage evidencing systems available to users. But it gives businesses that use these IBIP meters until December 31, 2024, to replace them with IMI compliant meters. The bottom line is that as of January 1, 2025, the USPS will no longer accept mail bearing an IBIP postage mark.
What Does It Mean that IMI is more Intelligent than IBIP?
IBIP systems must connect with USPS servers to receive updates every 90 days. Furthermore, many IBIP systems communicate over landlines which means they are slow to receive postage updates. IMI meters are required to connect every 72 hours. They must do so using a dedicated LAN system that maintains a constant internet connection to ensure they receive these postage updates automatically. At the same time, they supply the user with the data or intelligence needed to securely track each piece of mail, calculate expenses, and provide data required to compile weekly, monthly, or annual reports.
The Benefits of IMI Compliant Meters
IMI compliant meters provide three main benefits: cost savings, improved efficiency, and better security.
Is there nothing more frustrating than having a piece of mail returned to you stamped “more postage needed” or “insufficient address”? Not only does this mean that a time-sensitive document fails to reach your client, it also means one of you must spend hands-on time researching the correct information, reprinting, adding additional postage, and sending it back through the mail. With an IMI compliant meter, the postage is calculated automatically as soon as the service class is selected, so you won’t have to pay postage twice.
IMI compliant meters are better at moving mail through the system and managing logistics because their indicia impart real-time data to the USPS. This is a vast improvement over the 2D barcode markings printed by IBIP meters.
IMI compliant meters adhere to the stringent standards of FIP (Federal Information Processing), an organization that creates encryption standards. The specific standard they use, FIPs104-2, is recognized worldwide as the most up-to-date standard governing security. Furthermore, IMI compliant systems allow you to use a purchase order number or pin to track a piece of mail rather than a tracking number, so it reduces the risk of an unauthorized person intercepting it.
Next Steps to Ensuring Compliance
The first step to making sure you find the best IMI compliant meter for your particular needs is to look at your mailing schedule.
- How many pieces of mail do you send out a day?
- Are they mainly envelopes or parcels?
- Are they all the same size and weight if you ship packages, or are they mixed?
- Are any considered oversized?
- What class of mail do you use?
Only when you know your shipping habits can you explore your options.
And you may be surprised by how many options you have. However, the bottom line is that whatever you choose must be compliant with USPS standards, captures the data needed to determine the correct amount of postage, and communicates with the USPS in real-time. It helps if, like the IX Quadient Series, it lets you process mail and keep track of postage, so you can use it in reports and shipping expense analyses.
Although you have several years to secure an IMI compliant meter, you might want to get ahead of the crowd that will be forming closer to December 2024.
There’s no need to travel this road alone. Whether you’re at the beginning of your exploration or have narrowed down your choices, if you contact Anza Mailing Systems, we can make sure any postage evidencing system you consider for your Raleigh business has an IMI compliant meter. We’re just a phone call away. Please, get in touch with our experts when you’re ready.