The Postal Alpha Numeric Encoding Technique (PLANET) barcode was used by the USPS to identify and track mail. A PLANET barcode was either 12 or 14 digits long and it identified the class and shape of mail items. It also included up to 6 digits of other information someone could use for further identification. For example, someone could assign a customer ID or campaign number. The bar code was commonly placed below a printed address.

Like the POSTNET barcode, you would have had to limit the nominal horizontal spacing or pitch to 22 +/− 2 bars per inch when measured over any 0.5-inch portion of the barcode. Then, the horizontal spacing at 24 bars per inch was to be 0.0416 inch and at 20 bars per inch was to be 0.050 inch. You were also to have left a clear space of at least 0.012 inch but not more than 0.040 inch between bars.

PLANET encoded data in half- and full-height bars and it always started and ended with a full bar. Each individual digit was represented by a set of five bars using a two-out-of-five code. Here, the two-of-five were the short bars.


PLANET Code digits were the inverse of the POSTNET Code digits, basically reversing long bars for short bars and short for long. These codes were used with USPS high-speed mail processing equipment to scan mail items for automated sorting.

The PLANET Code processing data was supplemented by an entry scan that took place when outgoing confirm mail shipments were initiated at the USPS. Before mailing, a user would provide a pre-shipment notification, or electronic manifest, that was used to connect entry scan data with a PLANET Code mail item.

POSTNET and Planet barcodes were part of the USPS’ Confirm service efforts. It helped people making mailings better achieve mail-related goals via important mail intelligence data. This allowed them to make relevant and timely business decisions. Customers were using the Confirm service to anticipate when their message would reach customers by using the Destination Confirm service. This included having an ability as to when to expect a response using the Origin Confirm service. Because the Confirm service tracked items such as direct mail pieces, catalogs, checks, statements, and similar important messages, the data within these barcodes provided clear business benefits.