Yes, You Can Track Postal Mail, and It's Free!

Scott HochbergScott Hochberg



Does USPS provide tracking for First Class Mail? Yes! Business mailers can track First Class envelopes and cards through a system USPS calls "Informed Visibility" tracking. And it's free!

Many large-volume mailers use Informed Visibility to track direct mail ad campaigns, but small and medium volume mailers can use it too. Most just don't know about it.

To track regular First Class mail, you need to sign up for an Informed Visibility account with USPS, and then print a postal barcode on your mail at the top or bottom of the address. Then you can use the tracking number from that barcode to follow that piece through the USPS system. There's low-cost software available to create the barcodes and to look up the tracking results. I'll walk you through the process below.

Postal Barcoder Max Creates Perfect Intelligent Mail Barcodes While Informed Visibility gives you detailed tracking information, it does not provide proof of delivery, since envelopes and cards are usually not scanned when they are delivered. But every piece is scanned each time it moves through sorting equipment, so you'll see every step, from when it's postmarked until it's prepared for the letter carrier to deliver.

In addition to regular First Class mail, Informed Visibility tracking is available for First Class Presort, Marketing Mail and several other mail categories. If you're sending presorted mail, you can even track entire trays and sacks, using the tracking number on the tray/sack tag.

Here's what this page covers:

red dotHow does USPS Informed Visibility tracking work?

red dotHow do I print the barcodes I need for Informed Visibility tracking?

red dotHow do I get started with USPS Informed Visibility tracking?

red dotWhat software will help me use USPS Informed Visibility tracking?

How do I track envelopes and cards?

For each piece of mail that you want to track, you'll print a unique barcode above or below the address. The barcode will include a "Mailer ID" number that identifies the mail as coming from your company, and a unique serial number for each piece.

Then, every time the mail goes through a sorting station, the barcode will be scanned and the piece's progress will be recorded. You can check the status of the piece at any time within 30 – 45 days of when it was mailed by either creating a report on the USPS business web site, or by using an app, like our Quick Lettertracker to look it up for you. The same goes for the tracking codes on trays and sacks of presorted mail.

The Mailer ID number is linked to your specific login for the USPS system. That makes sure that only you, and others in your company who you specifically authorize, can see the tracking information for mail you send. A recipient cannot track the mail back to you through this system, nor can anyone else see who are mailing to.

How do I print the barcodes I need for Informed Visibility tracking?

You'll need software to create the Informed Visibility Tracking barcodes. But you don't need anything special to print the barcodes – any modern laser or inkjet printer will work. You just print the barcode when you print the address.

Our Quick Lettertracker software creates and prints the barcodes for you one at a time, or use our Postal Barcoder Max software if you want to send barcoded mail to a whole mailing list at one time. You can then use either one to track the mail you've sent.

The barcodes are the standard "Intelligent Mail barcodes" used throughout the postal system to automatically sort the mail. They look like this:
Intelligent Mail Barcode
If you are already printing Intelligent Mail barcodes on your mail for another purpose (for example, if you are preparing barcoded bulk mail), your barcoding software should be able to add the coding for Informed Visibility tracking into your barcodes.

By the way, you'll see barcodes that look like this on most mail, because they are primarily used by USPS for automated sorting. So just because you see a barcode on mail you receive, it doesn't mean that piece is being tracked by the mailer. It's only a tracking barcode if it has the additional information that the software adds.

How do I get started with USPS Informed Visibility Tracking?

It's easy and free, and takes just three steps.

Step 1 - Open a Free Account on the USPS Business Customer Gateway

The USPS Business Customer Gateway (BCG) is a special web site where USPS provides business services. To access Informed Visibility tracking, you must first sign up for a free account. Here's how:

1. Go to the gateway.usps.com.

USPS Business Customer Gateway log in 2.) Click on "Sign up for the BCG".

3.) Follow the USPS instructions to set up your BCG account.

Step 2 - Get your MID and CRID Numbers

Once you've signed up for the Gateway, you'll automatically be assigned a Mailer ID (MID) and a Customer Registration ID (CRID). Write them down. The MID is encoded into each barcode to identify you as the mailer. You'll be asked for your CRID if you need to contact USPS help with your tracking account.

MID and CRID numbers
You may also see a question on this screen asking if your location is a "Mail Service Provider". Do not check this box unless you are in the business of preparing and mailing other companies' mail.

Step 3 -Sign Up for Informed Visibility Tracking

1.) From the main menu in the Gateway, select "Mailing Services". You'll see a list of services. Scroll down to "Informed Visibility". Click "Get Access" to the right of "Informed Visibility" to start the process.

2.) Wait a few minutes to receive an email from USPS confirming the addition of the service. When you receive the email, repeat step 1, except that the button to the right of "Informed Visibility" should now read "Go to Service". Click it.

3.) You will see a window asking for BSA authorization. (The BSA is the person at your company who is authorized to approve the use of services on the Gateway. If you set up the account, the BSA is probably you.) Click "Email Code to IV BSA". The response will show you who will receive the email.

If you do not receive the email with the code in a reasonable amount of time, you can reach out to USPS for help at InformedVisibility@usps.gov. Give them the CRID and MID for the account you are trying to sign up, and ask them to send you the authorization code. They are usually very prompt with customer requests for help.

4.) When you receive the authorization code, enter it on that same window and click "Submit". When you see the "Informed Visibility" screen, you can use it to set up detailed reports. Or, you can ignore that complicated USPS reporting screen and use software like Quick Lettertracker to get your tracking information quickly and easily.

Congratulations! You can now start tracking your mail with USPS Informed Visibility tracking!
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What software will help me use USPS Informed Visibility tracking?

Postage $aver Software has two inexpensive products to help you create and print barcodes for Informed Visibility tracking and easily look up tracking information for mail you have sent.

Quick Lettertracker Quick Lettertracker is designed for addressing regular First Class mail with barcodes one piece at a time. It saves the tracking code for each barcode you print so you can look it up with one click.

Or, if you're already using other software like Postage $aver Pro to add barcodes to bulk mail, you can use Quick Lettertracker to quickly track that mail. It's the simplest tracking solution for small-to-medium-volume mailers. Try it free.

Postal Barcoder Max If you want to add barcodes to a whole mailing list at one time, Postal Barcoder Max is what you need. It creates barcodes for many different kinds of mail (First Class, Marketing Mail, etc.) one piece at a time or for an entire list at once. Then use it to track each piece. Try it free.

Both are inexpensive, easy to use, and include lots of help. So why not get started tracking your mail today!

Questions? Ask us!