The Facing Identification Mark, or FIM, is used by the United States Postal Service (USPS) for the automation of mail processing. Basically, the FIM is a set of vertical bars that are printed on the upper edge of an envelop or postcard, slightly to the left of the stamp. It’s a nine digit barcode that consists of vertical bars and zeros, which are represented by the blank spaces.
The FIM’s primary function is to ensure that all mail is facing the proper way, to identify how the postage was paid (business reply, etc.) and whether or not the business reply mail has a POSTNET barcode. Should there be a POSTNET barcode, the mail can then be sent directly to the barcode sorter.
There are four different types of FIM barcodes, A, B, C and D.
- FIM A: Used for courtesy reply mail and metered reply mail with a preprinted POSTNET barcode.
- FIM B: Used for business reply mail without a preprinted ZIP+4 barcode.
- FIM C: Used for business reply mail with a preprinted ZIP+4 barcode.
- FIM D: Used only with IBI postage.
As far as standards are concerned, the FIM has to meet very specific guidelines:
- A FIM clear zone must not contain any printing other than the FIM pattern
- The rightmost bar of the FIM must be at least 2” (+/- 1/8”) from the right edge of each piece of mail
- Each FIM bar must be 5/8” high (+/- 1/8”) and 1/32” wide (+/- 0.008”)
- The tops of each FIM bar can’t be lower than 1/8” from the top edge of the mail
- The bottoms of each FIM bar can’t touch the bottom edge of the FIM clear zone, but can’t be more than 1/8” above or below the edge.