USPS Barcode Format Change Set for January

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The U.S. Postal Service said last week that beginning Jan. 10, 2004, parcel mailers who want to qualify for the parcel barcode discount must print labels using the Uniform Code Council/European Article Number Code 128 barcode.


Mailers currently use four barcode formats, though about 80 percent of all barcodes the USPS receives use the Code 128 format, USPS package services manager Jim Cochrane said, so the change will not affect the majority of mailers.


The UCC/EAN Code 128 format is the barcode that carriers such as United Parcel Service and FedEx use and is similar to what the military uses on goods it ships.


Code 128 will be the new standard "because it has a better read rate on our sortation," Cochrane said.


In general, the new barcode is "more flexible and will help us process the mail better, and it is more compatible with the delivery confirmation barcode," he said. "It is accepted industry-wide as one of the most reliable, compact, one-dimensional formats available today.


"The industry has known for five years that we are moving to this standard," he said. "But we want to remind people that it is coming."


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