Postage Meters: USPS’ Required Update
It looks like snail mail is getting a revamp. As of June 30, 2024, postage meters from the USPS will be required to switch from their current analog system to a new, digitally-oriented system. Otherwise, these meter machines will be decertified by the USPS at the end of that year. Read on to find out more about the update itself and what it means for your business.
- Postage meters are a great tool for businesses that distribute large volumes of mail. They are more cost effective and efficient than sending stamped mail.
- IBI postage meters are being phased out in 2024. These postage meters will be replaced by more modern IMI systems.
- IMI systems are a mailing solution that improve the accuracy, security, efficiency, and connectivity of your mailing system.
- A reputable mailing equipment partner can help you transition from an IBI to an IMI.
What Are Postage Meters from the USPS?
Postage meters are an essential piece of mailroom equipment for small businesses, high-volume mailers, and third-party mailing service providers. These USPS postage machines allow businesses to send large quantities of metered mail instead of applying hundreds or thousands of stamps. These postage meters from the USPS allow your business to print approved postage directly onto the envelope.
US postage meters print an indicia onto the corner of an envelope, which takes the place of a postage stamp. These indicia markings contain all of the necessary postage information required by the postal service, such as the class rate, the words “U.S. Postage Paid,” and the permit information.
With a postage meter from the USPS, print companies can send more letters per minute than traditionally stamped mail. Meter machines print directly onto the envelope, whereas stamps must be removed from their spool and applied correctly to the envelope. Because postage stamps are adhesive, they can easily cause jams in the machine, resulting in a less efficient workflow.
Postage meters from the USPS also reduce the cost of sending mail. A regular, first-class postage stamp costs $0.60, while the rate of metered mail is $0.57. Three cents per piece of mail may not seem like much of a difference, but when you send thousands of pieces of mail a day, it adds up.
Old vs. New USPS Postage Meters
Now that we know how USPS postage meters work, let’s explore the differences between the previous standard and its replacement.
Information Based Indicia (IBI)
Introduced in 1999, IBI systems were the USPS’ first attempt at applying digital indicias. These systems connected to the mail server once every 90 days to update the postage rates and verify that the printed indicia was compliant with the Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS). However, a lot can change in 90 days. It soon became clear that there was ample room for improvement of the metered mailing system.
Intelligent Mail Indicia (IMI)
Intelligent mail indicias were introduced in 2013. It’s no surprise that postage meters from the USPS received an update, considering how far our technological capabilities have grown since the turn of the century. IMIs allow the postal service to provide more transparent, detailed pricing and reporting data in real time. Instead of connecting to the server once every 90 days, IMIs are required to connect once every 72 hours. This allows them to be even more up to date than their predecessor. IMIs also provide a higher level of security than IBI systems.
In fact, IMI systems surpass IBI systems to such a degree that by the end of 2024, all non-IMI systems will be considered redundant and the USPS will decertify them.
Encrypt Your Printer Data and Authenticate Users
You can also ensure that you’re printing securely by using encryption. If you encrypt print jobs and queues, the data becomes unreadable to prying eyes. In addition, you can make document owners verify their identity before being able to print a document. This way, only authorized users are allowed access to the printer and printer data.
Encryption and authentication are critical for companies that use bluetooth or cloud printing. Because this form of printing goes through your network, it needs to be as secure as possible. Encryption prevents unauthorized users from accessing data within the printing system, and authentication prevents them from releasing a print job in the first place.
Are you looking for print services alongside your mailing solutions? Check out our diverse range of options.
Benefits of IMI Postage Meters
Of course, updating your equipment alongside the progression of technology will be good for your business. But what, specifically, do IMI systems provide for your company?
With an IMI postage meter from the USPS, the postage rate is automatically calculated after you input the class rate. This removes the possibility of incorrect input from manual entry and reduces the likelihood of mail being returned for incorrect postage information. Overall, improved accuracy will save you time and money.
The FIP sets the standard for security and data encryption, and the new postage meters from the USPS strictly adhere to these standards. This ensures that information transmits safely to and from your postage meter.
As mentioned above, the USPS requires that each IMI system connect to the manufacturer servers once every 72 hours. The USPS uses information gleaned from the IMI system to better manage mail flow. When an IMI connects to the manufacturer server, rate changes and other modifications are immediately updated to your equipment. This ensures that you never over or under pay for postage.
IMI systems have a dedicated LAN connection. This ensures that your postage meter from the USPS has a constant connection to the manufacturer server, and that it can receive faster updates and postage refills.
Start Your Transition With Superior Office Solutions
Although the deadline to phase out IBI systems seems far off, it’s best to consider your options ahead of time. Two years can quickly fly by, especially when your mail room is operating at its highest capacity. So, when it comes time to make the switch, consider getting your mailing equipment from a reputable, high-quality supplier.
At Superior Office Solutions, we ensure a smooth transition from analog to digital. With postage meters from FP mailroom solutions, you can be sure that your mailroom workflow is efficient, up to date, and secure. If you need a postage meter rental or want to fully transition to an IMI system, we have you covered. Save yourself a trip to the post office and start your IMI journey today.
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