Mailers submitting mailing jobs electronically to PostalOne!® need to identify the various entities involved in the mailing job – specifically, the Mail Owner, the Mail Preparer, and the eDoc Submitter. This information is sometimes referred to as the “By/For” relationship for mailings. In other words, the United States Postal Service® (USPS®) is asking that electronic documentation identify who is preparing the mail and who is submitting the eDoc (the “By” portion) and who is responsible for the content of the mailpiece and ultimately pays the postage for the mailings (the “For) portion.
For the most part, these entities may be identified in the eDoc using their Mailing Identification number (MID) or their Customer Registration Identification number (CRID). However, in the case of the Mail Owner identification, there are a number of places in the eDoc where this needs to be identified, and in some cases a Local Permit number is also needed for identification purposes. For mail service providers, getting all of this straight can be a challenge and it can be challenging to collect all of these critical pieces of information for their clients too.
Uses of Mail Owner information
The USPS uses the Mail Owner data in eDoc for three main purposes:
- To identify the Mail Owner for Full-Service compliance (this is the “For” part of the “By/For” relationship identification).
- To validate nonprofit price eligibility when nonprofit prices are claimed.
- To display the Mail Owners on postage statements.
Means of Identification
By/For Relationship: Currently, the Mail Owner MID, CRID or Mail Owner permit data may be used to identify the Mail Owner for this purpose. The Mail Owner is required to be identified when the owner represents 5,000 or more pieces in a mailing.
Nonprofit Price validation: For each nonprofit mailing, all mail owners must be identified and must have a valid nonprofit authorization number, regardless of the number of pieces per owner in the mailing. For mailings consisting of multiple mail owners, at least one mail owner must be identified in the eDoc; the remaining mail owners may be identified in a hard copy spreadsheet presented to the mail clerk at the time of mailing. Currently, the Mail Owner Permit may be used to identify the Mail Owner if the mail owner is paying their own postage using their own permit. For Mail Owners using a Mail Service Provider permit to pay postage, what is called a “Ghost Permit” is required. These ghost permits are established by request at the post office where the mailing is verified and paid for. These are non-paying postal permits, used for identification purposes only. This will be changing in November of this year, when the Mail Owner MID or CRID may be used for identification rather than the ghost permit.
Display Owner on Postage Statements: On the first page of postage statements, there are three blocks for Mailer information. The first block is the Permit Holder, and the data displayed in this block is that of the owner of the permit used to pay for the mailing, identified using that permit number. The second block is the Mailing Agent or Mail Preparer. This is identified by the CRID or MID of the Mail Preparer in the eDoc. The third block is the name and address of the organization for which the mailing is prepared, i.e. Mail Owner. This block is populated using the data in the Local Permit. If the Mail Owner uses their own permit to pay the postage, this data should be identical to the data in the first block. However, if the Mail Owner uses the postal permit of the Mail Preparer, a Ghost Permit is needed to correctly display the Mail Owner in this block. That ghost permit number should be populated in the Local Permit field of the Mailer Postage Account file (MPA) in the Mail.dat file. Ghost permits should be identified as “V” for Virtual in the Permit Type field. This is also scheduled to change in November 2014, when it will be populated using the Mail Owner MID or CRID if the Local Permit is not available.
Mail Service Provider Challenges
If you are a Mail Service Provider, you need to obtain not only the CRID’s and MID’s of your clients, but also the Local Permit Numbers, which may actually be a ghost permit number if the mail owner is not paying postage through their own permit account.
This can become a bit of a challenge for mail preparers, who may have hundreds of clients using hundreds of postal permits to pay for their postage. Associating each of the clients and permits with the appropriate MID’s can be a daunting task to say the least.
Mail Service Providers often ask, which piece of information should I get from my clients, their MID or their CRID? Currently, either piece of data may be used in eDoc, but that may change in the future. For that reason, we encourage Mail Service Providers to obtain both pieces of data for all their clients so that they are prepared should the USPS change the identification requirements in the future.
Add to that the fact that PostalOne! has to be aware of all of this MID, CRID, and permit information and also have them all appropriately linked! If the appropriate linkage has not been made, this can result in errors when uploading files to PostalOne!. These types of errors can only be rectified by contacting the PostalOne! Help Desk to request that the appropriate MIDs, CRIDs and permits be linked. Another error that can occur is when the same MID/CRID information is populated in the eDoc for both the Mail Owner and the Mail Preparer. If your company is indeed both the owner of the mail and the preparer of the mail, PostalOne! needs to know that and verify that this is indeed the case. If you receive this type of error, again you need to contact the PostalOne! Help Desk for resolution.
If you receive validation errors when submitting files to PostalOne! that refer to permits, postage payment methods, MIDs or CRIDs, or if you are seeing excessive By/For errors on your Mailer Scorecard, you should use this check list:
- Verify that the postage payment permit information you entered in your eDoc is correct for the client, the location, and the postage payment method.
- Verify that the MID/CRID information you entered in your eDocs is correct for the Mail Owner, Mail Preparer, and the eDoc Submitter. The MID/CRID information for the Mail Owner should not be the same as for the Mail Preparer, unless your company actually does own the mail and also physically prepares the mail. If you are a Mail Service Provider, this means that you need to obtain the MID/CRID data for all of your clients, either directly from your clients or by submitting a request through the Business Customer Gateway.
- Understand the difference between the Permit information and the Local Permit information in the Mailer Postage Account (MPA) file and verify that the correct permit information is being populated in each. The Permit information should be populated with the permit information that is being used to pay the postage for the mailing. The Local Permit information should be populated with the identical information as the Permit fields ONLY if the mail owner’s postal permit is being used to pay the postage. If the postage is paid from a Mail Service Provider’s permit, then the Local Permit information must be populated with Ghost Permit information as discussed above.
- Verify with PostalOne! the MID/CRID information for your company and for the clients for which you prepare mail, and also verify that the postal permits have been properly linked.
So, how do you try to make sense of all of this? The best resources are the Business Customer Gateway and PostalOne! A Mail Service Provider (MSP) may also verify or gather the MID and CRID data for their clients using the Business Customer Gateway. These requests may be submitted in bulk by submitting an Excel spreadsheet with the client company name and location information. Likewise, MSP’s may actually apply for MID’s on behalf of their clients, again through the use of an Excel spreadsheet submission. In this case, MSP’s must also provide documentation that the mail owners have given their permission for the MSP to apply for the MIDs on their behalf. The USPS RIBBS web site also has some helpful information to clarify MIDs and CRIDs. The USPS recently published an excellent Guide to Mail Owners in eDoc.