I spoke with our Cargo department and the post does have merit. Here were their thoughts on the questions listed.
1) It is true that not all mail is sent in containers, in fact only a few posts do, so it won’t always have a container number. However, if I understand the SIS document correctly we can use a value of zero for any mandatory field where actual data is not available. I really could go either way on whether this field is mandatory but I think that having it as a mandatory field to populate might be good so that it doesn’t get skipped when we do have the container number. Those posts that send containerized mail do require the container number on their invoice.
2) From the start I’ve been a little fuzzy on what IATA is calling the Mail No. There are a few unique identifiers for mail that are called different things depending on the type of mail. I’ve been going on the assumption that this field refers to the receptacle number/dispatch number. Foreign Mail (non-USPS mail) and Retrograde mail (USPS inbound from outside the US) are the only types of mail where we use the hard copy CN38 for manual input. For those types of mail only the AV # and the receptacle number/dispatch number are unique identifiers and both of those are required to be on the document. So, if we have the document we should have the numbers. At any rate, if we don’t have the data, this field can be populated with a zero.
--Can we clarify what is meant by mail number?
3) There is a standard format for the CN38 put out by the UPU. Currently not every post is using it but the majority do. Even for those that don’t all of the information should be contained on the document that they are using. The UPU is actually working to eliminate paper documents and get all posts to submit their CN38 data electronically.
Posted: Saturday, October 16, 2010 1:57 PM
Subject: Postal Mail
1) As per 18.104.22.168 of ISPG3, Container number is mandatory. Many times, postal mails are not sent in container. Hence, container number is not available in CN38. Hence, we feel container No. should be optional as mail will have container No. only if they shipped in containers.
2) Many times Mail No. is also not available. Hence we feel even this field should be made optional .
3) Since format of CN38 is not standard across all countries, is it possible for IATA to take up with UPU and USPS to standardise the CN38 format (including printed formats) so that CN38 issued by various postal authorities contain key fields and in same position. It will also help to identify mail bags uniquely.