What is the barcode sprayed on a mailpiece?

The vertical lines that are sometimes sprayed at the bottom of a letter or other mailpiece are a barcode.

An optical character reader (OCR) is an automated mail sorting machine at the United States Postal ServiceĀ® that interprets the information on a letter-size mailpiece and sprays the corresponding ZIP Codeā„¢ information onto the piece as a barcode.

Automated mail processing equipment can then "read" this barcode. This helps to:

  • Process mail more efficiently and accurately.
  • Keep the expenses down.

You can help increase speed and accuracy of your mailpiece by writing or typing information correctly so that it can be read and processed. An example of a barcode can be seen at the bottom righthand corner of the envelope displayed below. More information on the envelope standards can be found at http://pe.usps.com/text/qsg300/Q201a.htm#ep1021007.

Image of a letter-sized envelope detailing the location of different letter features. The barcode is in the lower righthand corner, between 3/16" and 1/2" from the bottom edge. The barcode ends 1/2" from the right edge of the envelope.

You may also add your own barcode using:

  • Printed postage (such as metered mail or PC Postage products).
  • Many word processing programs.

For information on adding the barcode to your own outgoing mail, refer to your postage provider or software documentation.

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