What is a USPS PLANET Barcode?

What are PLANET Barcodes

Share This Post

The United States Postal Service (USPS) relied on the Postal Alpha Numeric Encoding Technique (PLANET) barcode for many years to efficiently identify and track mail pieces for its Confirm service. 

The PLANET barcode system was an essential tool for ensuring reliable mail delivery across the country, and its use was widespread in the industry. However, in 2013, the USPS replaced PLANET barcodes with the Intelligent Mail Barcode to upgrade services and improve efficiency.

In this article, we will explore the PLANET barcode, how it works, and why it is no longer used in the USPS. 

What Are PLANET Barcodes?- An In-Depth View

PLANET Barcode

The PLANET barcode was a liner barcode symbology developed by the USPS to automatically identify, sort, and track pieces of mail. It was commonly used alongside the USPS Postal Numeric Encoding Technique (USPS POSTNET) symbology. However, the USPS Intelligent Mail barcode fully superseded the PLANET code in 2013 due to its limited capability of tracking details. 

PLANET barcodes include two parts – the frame bars and the symbol characters. The frame bars were located around the perimeter, and the symbol characters were inside the frame bars. 

The PLANET barcode allowed for greater accuracy during automated sorting than previous manual methods and detailed tracking of individual mail pieces through the USPS Confirm service. PLANET barcodes were classified into two types based on the Confirm service, Destination Confirm service and Origin Confirm service.  

Where Were PLANET Barcodes Used?

The PLANET barcode was only used by the USPS to accurately track, sort, and identify mail throughout the United States.  

Structure of USPS PLANET Barcodes

The structure of the PLANET codes consisted of five vertical bars that could be either short or tall. However, all PLANET codes began and ended with tall bars.

Depending on the type of Confirm service chosen, users would have access to different symbol elements within their PLANET code. 

Destination Confirm provided recipients with an additional two-digit Service Type Identifier, while Origin Confirm enabled shippers to include an optional Delivery Point Indicator in each code.

Destination Confirm PLANET codes consist of eight key components. 

  • Leading Quiet Zone
  • Start Frame Bar (which is always tall)
  • Two-digit Service Type ID (e.g. 40 for first-class mail letters, 42 for standard mail letters),
  • Five-digit Subscriber ID assigned by USPS
  • Six-digit Mailer Code
  • Check Digit
  • Stop Frame Bar (also tall) 
  • Trailing Quiet Zone
Structure of Destination Confirm PLANET Code
Structure of Origin Confirm PLANET code

Origin Confirm PLANET codes contained seven key elements. 

  • Leading Quiet Zone
  • Start Bar (which is always tall)
  • Two-digit Service Type ID
  • Nine- or eleven-digit Customer ID
  • Check Digit
  • Stop Bar (which is always tall)
  • Trailing Quiet Zone 

PLANET barcodes are composed of 12-14 characters, with 11-13 of those characters being data and the last character being a checksum digit. Each character contains five bars – two short and three tall – with the spaces between each character having a fixed width. 

PLANET barcodes can only support numeric characters 0-9, meaning they cannot encode symbols or alphabets.

The PLANET system uses a check digit generated through the Modulo 10 (mod 10) algorithm.


PLANET barcodes were a revolutionary technology developed by the USPS to simplify the mail tracking process. Although it has been replaced with the four-state IMb codes, its influence is still seen in modern postal tracking systems today. It was an important step forward for the USPS Confirm service efforts that enabled easier mail tracking processes.

Overall, PLANET barcodes have played an essential role in helping improve mail delivery services and providing enhanced tracking data service over time.

We hope this article was useful. Thanks for reading!  

Latest Articles

Learning Centres