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

Scott HochbergScott Hochberg
 Postage $aver Software


If you are running a business, you can track outgoing First Class envelopes and cards for free through a system USPS calls "Informed Visibility" tracking.

Here's how to track outgoing First Class mail: Quick Lettertrack makes First Class Mail barcoding and tracking easy
  1. Sign up with USPS for a free "Informed Visibility" tracking account.

  2. Print a postal barcode on your mail. The barcode will contain a unique tracking number identifying that specific piece of mail.

  3. Use the tracking number to follow the mail through the USPS system, either with software that looks up tracking information or by creating reports on the USPS Business Customer Gateway web site.
We offer low-cost software to help you print the barcode and look up tracking information. I'll walk you through that simple process below.

Here's what this page covers:

red dotHow does USPS Informed Visibility tracking work?

red dotHow do I sign up with USPS for free tracking?

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

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

How does USPS Informed Visibility tracking work?

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 your company, and a unique serial number for each piece. Your Mailer ID number is linked to your login for the USPS Business Customer Gateway, so only you and others you authorize can see your tracking information.

Then, every time the mail goes through postal processing equipment, 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 using an app, like our Quick Lettertracker to look it up for you, or by creating a report on the USPS Business Customer Gateway.

Informed Visibility tracking does not provide proof of delivery, since envelopes and cards are not normally scanned when they are delivered. But you'll see a scan each time the mail moves through sorting equipment, so you'll see every step, from when it's postmarked to when it's sorted for the postal carrier to deliver.

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

How do I sign up with USPS for free 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 sending mail for other companies.

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 are the person who 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 our Quick Lettertracker to get your tracking information quickly and easily.

Congratulations! You can now start tracking your mail with USPS Informed Visibility tracking!
Postage Saver software makes postal bulk mailing easy

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 have an option 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 used by USPS for automated sorting. 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 coding that the software adds.

What software will help me use USPS Informed Visibility tracking?

We offer two inexpensive desktop apps 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 addresses regular First Class mail with barcodes one piece at a time. It saves the tracking code for each barcode you print and looks up the tracking information with one click.

Quick Lettertracker also looks up tracking information for barcodes you've created with other software, like our Postage $aver Pro bulk mail software. 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!

Scott Hochberg
Scott Hochberg started Postage Saver Software in 1994. He's been helping small businesses and nonprofits save postage with postal bulk mail for more than 25 years. Scott's based in Austin, Texas. He's happy to answer your bulk mailing questions!