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Section: 553-5.2
Effective: 1/10/97
Supersedes: 1/1/93
Issuing Office: Mail Services

PPM 553-5-2 [PDF Format]

  2. The following current regulations apply to the use of International Business Reply Service (IBRS). Call Mail Services, x41164, for approval to use IBRS and to obtain proper guidelines and regulations. See U.S. Postal Service International Mail Manual IMM 393-4 for current fees.

    1. Description

    2. International Business Reply Service (IBRS) works like business reply mail, but enables mailers to receive envelopes and cards from a limited number of foreign countries. Contact Mail Services for countries participating in this type of service.

    3. Special Services

    4. Special services (e.g. insurance, registration, certified, C.O.D., return receipts) cannot be used with IBRS.

    5. Avalability

    6. Contact Mail Services for countries participating in this type of service. IBRS cards and envelopes may be enclosed only with items addressed to countries participating in this service. See IMM 241.5 regarding permissable enclosures.

    7. Dimensions

    8. (In Inches)
      Cards Envelopes
      Dimension Minimum Maximum Minimum *Maximum
      Height 3 1/2 4 1/4 3 1/2 4 3/4
      Length 5 1/2 6 5 1/2 9 1/4
      Thickness .007 .0095 .007 .2
      Weight --- --- --- 2 oz.
      Aspect Ratio (Length divided by height) 1.3 to 2.5
      Envelopes and cards must be able to withstand the forces encountered during processing by high speed letter sorting machines. Since it is difficult to define specific characteristics in terms of weight, stiffness, etc. thin and/or flimsy mail pieces should be evaluated by a local post office to assure machinability.

      *Note: Surcharges apply if standard sizes are not used. No maximum size although for nonstandard letters, a surcharge is applicable if the mail piece weighs under one ounce and it is larger than 6 1/8" x 11 1/2" (template dimensions). Also see "Aspect Ratio" above.

    9. Ink and Paper Relfections

      1. Background Contrast

      2. A print reflectance difference (envelope reflectance minus print reflectance) of at least .3 (30% percent) is required between the background material of the mailpiece and the barcode when measured in the red portion of the spectrum at 650 nanometers.

      3. Printing Irregularities

      4. Attached extraneous ink (connected to a bar) must not cause any bar to exceed the maximum height or width dimensions. Detached extraneous ink (not connected to any bar or bars) in the barcode read area must not exceed .003 inch in any dimension or cause the space-to-background print reflctance difference to exceed 10 percent. Individual bars must not contain ink voids which reduce bar width to less than .01 inch or remove more than .01 inch along the bar height.

    10. Envelopes

    11. Paper envelopes used for International Business Reply Service must have a minimum base weight of 20 pounds (17" x 22", 500 sheet base). Nonpaper envelopes must be approved for mailability by the USPS Engineering Support Center, Rockville, Maryland 20852-8101.

      If the IBRS envelope is made of paper with dark fibers, the print reflectance difference (PRD) between the fibers and the background should not exceed 10%.

      Envelope paper must not have phosphorescence exceeding 3.0 phosphory meter units (PMU) to avoid orientation problems in the facer canceller. Envelopes must have at least a 40% reflectance value.

      Half tone screening of less than 200 dots per inch must not be used in the background of the address area of the envelope as they cause OCR interference.

      IBRS envelopes are nonmailable when sealed with wax, clasps, string, staples, or buttons, or when all edges are not straight or when the envelopes are not rectangular.

    12. Cards

    13. IBRS cards must be printed on paper stock meeting a standard industry basis weight of 75 pounds, with none less than 71.25 pounds, for 500 sheets measuring 25 inches by 38 inches, and must also have a thickness of at least 0.007 inch and not more than .0095 inch. The paper must be free from groundwood except when coated with a substance that adds to the paper's ability to resist an applied bending force.

    14. Self-Mailers

    15. International Business Reply Service self-mailers must be rectangular, at least 0.007" thick, and contain instructions for folding and sealing. Self-mailers are nonmailable when sealed with wax, clasps, string, staples, or buttons, and when they do not have straight sides.

    16. Before Use

    17. Prior to printing, please send Mail Services four copies of the BLUELINE PRELIMINARY artwork for each International Business Reply Service. This will be forwarded to the U.S. Postal Service for final verification and approval (allow one week for approval). The name of an office contact, phone extension, recharge number, and a current date must be written on the back of each mail piece sample.

    18. Annual Update

    19. An annual update of all IRBS envelopes and cards is conducted each summer. Please respond to the questionnaire distributed to departments currently using International Business Reply Service to verify proper format, usage, recharge number and department contact phone number.


  4. In order to use International Business Reply Service, departments must adhere to the following requirements; further requirements can be found in IMM Sections 241.5 and 393:

    1. Format and Review

    2. An illustration of the acceptable International Business Reply Service format is shown in Figure 1. FIM negatives are available from Graphics & Reproduction Services. Spacing is critical. Postal inspection of IBRS before printing is mandatory, and will prevent the cost of reprinting and distribution in the event of a non-mailable ruling. The departments are responsible for correcting IBRS format and ensuring that future formats meet specifications.

    3. Address Format (Refer to Figure 1)

    4. The following format must be used in preparing International Business Reply Service pieces:

      			261				The permit number
      	University of California, San Diego	Top line is the permit holder
      	Department and Mail Code		2nd line for department and mail code
      	3300 Miramar Road			3rd line for delivery address*
      	La Jolla, CA  92037-9638 (under 2 oz.	4th line, NOT 92093 NOR ZIP+4
      			     OR		letter)
      	La Jolla, CA 92037-9637 (card)
      	United States of America		5th line, U.S.A.	

      *No nonaddress printing or marks of any kind should appear on or below the delivery address line.

      The bottom line of the address must be no lower than 5/8" and the city, state, and ZIP+4 line no higher than 2 1/4" from the bottom edge of the mail piece. The space 5/8" from the bottom edge and 4 1/2" from the right edge of the mail piece is reserved for bar codes. A clear margin void of any extraneous matter of at least 1" is required between the left and right edges of the mail piece and the address.

      There must be at least 1/2" clearance between the ZIP Code and the horizontal bars.

      A company logo is permitted if it is located no lower than the top of the street address or the post office box line. The logo must not interfere with any of the required business reply endorsements.

    5. On or Below the Delivery Address Line

    6. No nonaddress printing or marks of any kind should appear on or below the delivery address line. This includes attention lines, account numbers, tic marks, underlines, boxes, computer punch holes, prompting words, form lines, form or envelope numbers, department names, endorsements such as "please respond immediately", colored borders, or similar nonaddress information.

      If such information must be part of the address block, it should be put on the line directly above or below the department line.

    7. Format Elements

      1. "No Postage Necessary ***" Endorsement

      2. The endorsement ``NE PAS AFFRANCHIR, NO POSTAGE NECESSARY IF MAILED IN THE UNITED STATES'' must be printed in the upper right-hand corner of the face of the piece with a partial diagonal bar. The endorsement must not extend further than 1 3/4" from the right edge of the mail piece.

      3. Business Reply Legend

      4. The legend "INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS REPLY MAIL/RESPONSE PAYEE" must appear above the address in capital letters at least 3/16" of an inch high.

      5. Permit Number

      6. Immediately below the International Business Reply Mail/Response Payee legend, the words ``PERMIT NO. 261 LA JOLLA CA'' must be shown in capital letters. This information must appear between two horizontal bars at least 3/32 inch thick and at least 1/3 inch apart.

      7. "Postage Will Be Paid" Endorsement

      8. The endorsement "POSTAGE WILL BE PAID BY ADDRESSEE" must appear below the lower bar.

      9. Air Mail Endorsement

      10. The endoresement "AIR MAIL/PAR AVION" must be shown in the upper left corner on reverse print. Immediately beneath this endorsement must appear the words "IBRS/CCRI NO. 261".

    8. Recharge Numbers

    9. The recharge number must be printed in the upper left corner of the Business Reply Mail piece. This number will be charged on all returned pieces. See Figure 2.

    10. Bar Codes

      1. Top - Facing Identification Mark (FIM) (Figure 1)

      2. FIM is a vertical barcode pattern printed at the top right portion of the address side of the IBRS piece. FIM functions as an orientation mark for automatic facing and canceling equipment. Requirements for FIM are as follows:

        1. The horizontal distance from the right-most bar to the right edge of the mail piece must be 2 inches, plus or minus 1/8 of an inch.

        2. The width of each bar should be at least .03125 of an inch ( .008 inch wide). Enlarging or reducing may affect readability by automated mail processing equipment.

        3. Extraneous ink must not cause a bar to exceed the width limits specified above.

        4. The length of each bar must be at least 5/8 of an inch ( 1/8 inch).

        5. The vertical distance from the top of each bar to the upper edge of the mail piece must not exceed 1/8 of an inch. The top edge of the FIM pattern may touch the top edge of the mail piece.

        6. Skew and baseline shift. The combined effects of positional and rotational skew (slant) of the barcode must be limited to a maximum rotation of the bars of 5 degrees from a perpendicular to the bottom edge of the mailpiece. The bottom of any bar must not be more than .005 inch from the bottom of each adjacent bar.

        International Business Reply Service is nonmailable when the FIM has insufficient ink coverage, improper measurement, ink in the space between the bars, or is either enlarged or reduced.

      3. Horizontal Bars (Figure 2)

      4. To facilitate rapid recognition of IBRS, a series of horizontal bars parallel to the length of the mail piece must be printed immediately below the endorsement "NO POSTAGE NECESSARY IF MAILED TO THE UNITED STATES."

        1. A series of horizontal bars parallel to the length of the mail piece must be printed immediately below the endorsement "NO POSTAGE NECESSARY IF MAILED TO THE UNITED STATES".

        2. Bars must be uniform in length, at least 1" long and 1/16" to 3/16" thick and evenly spaced.

        3. There must be at least 1/2 inch clearance between the ZIP+4 and the horizontal bars.

        4. A 5/8" space must be left between the bottom horizontal bar and the bottom edge of the mail piece.

      5. ZIP+4 Barcodes (Figure 1)

        1. Official Format

        2. Only the official U.S. Postal Service ZIP+4 barcode may be printed, and it must be printed actual size. All letters and numerals used for identification on the bar code negative/positive should not be printed.

        3. Barcode Read Area

        4. A clear zone must be left along the bottom portion of the envelope or card, extending 4 1/2 inches from the right edge, and 5/8 of an inch high when measured from the bottom edge of the mail piece. This restricted area must not contain any printed patterns or symbols. It is reserved solely for the ZIP+4 barcode, which must be positioned within the clear zone as shown in Figure 1 and 2.

        5. Tolerances

        6. To ensure barcode reading accuracy, the barcode on the printed envelope or card must be within these tolerances:

          Height A tall bar must be 0.125 +-0.01 inch
          A short bar must be 0.050 +-0.01 inch
          Width 0.020 inch +- 0.005 inch wide
          Spacing 21 +- 1 bars per inch
          Pitch A bar and a space 0.045 inch minimum, 0.050 inch
          Skew A variation of +-5 degrees from the horizontal

        7. Location

        8. The location of the code and the tolerances have been chosen so that the code will be centered in a reading area and have the greatest likelihood of being read. The baseline of the code should be 1/4" 1/16" from the bottom edge of the envelope. The start (left-most bar) position must be 4" (+0", -1/8") from the right hand edge of the mail piece.

        9. Over Inking

        10. Extraneous inking must not cause the bar to exceed the recommended height and width limits. Detached extraneous ink should not exceed 0.003 of an inch in any dimension. Any voids within the printed bar should not remove more than 0.010 of an inch along the height of the bar.