Do you know what your United States Postal Service® (USPS®) account number is? Hmmmm – what exactly “IS” a USPS account number? Is it my Mailer Identification (MID) number? Is it my Customer Registration Identification (CRID) number? Is it my postal permit number?
If you are now scratching your head in puzzlement, you are not alone!
These account numbers are actually tied to postal permits and serve, at least in part, as a means for the USPS to identify the postage funding source.
“So why haven’t I heard about these account numbers before?”, you may be asking. The answer is, these account numbers have been assigned to all permits in the PostalOne!® system to support the USPS Mail Anywhere program, which is fairly new. Mail Anywhere is a program that allows mailers to pay their postage anywhere they mail, using a single postal permit, rather than opening permits at each new mailing location. The permit numbering system within the USPS maintains unique permit numbers only within a ZIP+4 code; permit numbers are NOT unique across the country. For this reason, this National Account Number system was implemented to assign a unique identifier for each postal permit, regardless of where it is opened.
The account numbers
With this new account system, five digit (5 digit) account numbers have been assigned to all permits linked to aCentralized Account Processing System (CAPS) account. The CAPS database will continue to maintain the permit type and number, the local finance number, and the newly assigned account number. For non-CAPS permits, a six or seven digit (6 digit or 7 digit) account number has been assigned to all active permits in PostalOne! Any new permits opened will automatically be assigned a new, unique account number. Mailers can look up their account numbers on the Business Customer Gateway by logging into your account, clicking on Mailing Services, then on Balance and Fees to see a listing of your postal permits and their associated account numbers.
Account numbers in Mail.dat files
The next logical question is: so, do these account numbers replace my permit numbers in my Mail.dat® files? The answer is: not at the current time. While we do anticipate that the USPS will, over time, eliminate the permit numbers in favor of these new account numbers, that is not currently the case. However, there are instances where mailers need to populate this account number in their Mail.dat files IN ADDITION to the permit number information.
For mailers who are participating in the Mail Anywhere program, this account number must be populated in the Payment Account Number (PAN) field of the Mailer Postage Account (MPA) file in the Mail.dat file. This account number, along with the Verification Post Office (populate with a ZIP + 4 code) field in the Segment (SEG) file, are the only identifiers to PostalOne! that a mailing is being submitted under the Mail Anywhere program. For this reason, it is critical that mailers that are NOT submitting Mail Anywhere mailings leave the PAN field in the MPA file blank. For mailers who ARE submitting Mail Anywhere mailings, it is critical that this PAN field be populated with the correct account number, which is different than the permit number.
It is a common misconception that the CAPS account number must be populated in the Mail.dat files for mailings paying postage using the CAPS program. This is NOT required, and in fact there is no field in the Mail.dat specification set aside for the CAPS account number. Many mailers do populate this CAPS account number in the Customer Reference ID field, but it is not a requirement. For mailers who use CAPS and are submitting mailings under the Mail Anywhere program, either the CAPS account number or the account number assigned to the permit may be populated in the PAN field of the Mail.dat file.
As we mentioned earlier, population of the PAN field in the MPA file of the Mail.dat file is one of the indicators to PostalOne! that a mailing is being submitted as a Mail Anywhere mailing. In this case, there are a number of additional Mail Anywhere validation steps performed by PostalOne! As such, mailers may see a number of different validation error messages if this field is incorrectly populated. Details of the possible error messages may be found in the PostalOne! Mail.dat Technical Specification, in section 11.2 (an excerpt is shown below).
The USPS offers a user guide for the Mail Anywhere program on the RIBBS web site. Window Book’s DAT-MAIL™ solution offers an easy way to populate or edit the Payment Account Number field and other data required for Mail Anywhere participation. If you do encounter any related PostalOne! validation errors, our eDM10X™ with QuickFix is a great tool to easily correct the erroneous data and resubmit files to PostalOne!
Window Book can help you manage the account numbers and participate in Mail Anywhere in your mailing operation and automate your processes using our software and service solutions.
Window Book offers a free Mailing Optimization Analysis.
Call us at 1-800-524-0380 for more details or to sign up for your FREE Mailing Optimization Analysis!