9 February 2010

Registered Mail Codification

For the ease of universal mail tracking and tracing during shipping, in 1996 the Universal Postal Union (UPU) encouraged a universal use of S10 standard for mail identification coding. Cambodia, as a member of UPU, quickly adopted the new system and joined the revolution in registered identifier label format.

A 1988 cover from Phnom Penh with an old registered ID label.

S10 defines a system for assigning 13 character identifiers to postal items. The ID starts with a 2 letter service indicator code:
(source: UPU)

Most countries start their registered mail service indicator with "RR", then "RA", "RB", "RC" and so on, however some do not follow the sequence. For instance, France starts with "RK", Britain and her dependencies use "RJ" for international mail, Portugal starts wtih "RR", "RC", "RM" and some others.

After the service indicator is an 8 digit number and a check-digit, or the letter "X". The check digit is resulted from some calculation of the 8 digits. The 8 digit numbers can be reused after 12 months of previous allocation.

Since all ID labels are preprinted and distributed to different post offices in lots, it should be noted that ID numbers may not be assigned in ascending order, all depends on the number lot held by the particular post office and when the staff put them into use. For a clear illustration, if two senders mail at two different post offices at the same time, one mail may be numbered 00 000 260 while the other may be numbered 00 056 068. Then the next day a sender mails at a third post office, his item may be numbered 000 000 021.

The very last 2 letters of the code is the ISO country code to identify the issuing postal administration.

This 1996 registered letter from Phnom Penh has the new S10 identifier, "RR 00 016 427 3KH":

RR indicates that the item is registered. Cambodia starts with RR, and RC is concurrent in use now. No RA and RB is found. 00 016 427 is the 8 digit numerical identity, 3 is the check digit, and KH is the ISO code for Cambodia.

The above is a sample of the new registered ID label in S10 standard. It is a long arrow sticker with the 13 character identifier and barcode.

Initially a red cachet in French was used at the Phnom Penh Central Post Office (CPO) with the registered ID labels. It features a large "R" which stands for "Recommandé", and "Phnom Penh R.P." that indicates the mail is sent from Phnom Penh CPO. The barcode sticker is scissored short so can accommodate within the cachet.

Later the red cachet is omitted, only the cut short ID label is used. Another type was also in service with the letter "R" printed:

A variation can be found with "Cambodia Post" included above the barcode:

Recently a new type of ID label is used. The 13 digit identifier and barcode is larger on round corner rectangular stickers.

Just as most laws and regulations, S10 codification is not strictly implemented, sometimes the old style registered system is used at convenience.

S10 is not used on domestic registered mail, and the country does not use inward registered item identification.

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