A USA Postal Code the postal code format used in the United States. These postcodes make it easier for the United States Postal Service (USPS) to deliver mail, making the postal system more efficient. Postal codes are also called ZIP codes, with the ZIP standing for “Zone Improvement Plan.” The original five-digit ZIP code was first introduced in 1964. The code expanded to include a dash and another four digits. This new code was called a “ZIP+4” code. Those extra four digits make mail delivery more precise.
What is a Postal Code?
Even though ZIP codes were originally developed for – and used by – the USPS, many shipping companies use them today. The United Postal Service (UPS), FedEx, and DHL all use these codes. Postal codes help couriers determine shipping rates, including the cost and time of shipping. Some states have unique ZIP codes that are different from the generic ones used around the country.
There are also five-digit area codes. These area codes are assigned to particular regions or locations that share geographical features. For example, all the post offices in Phoenix, Arizona, have the same ZIP code – even ones outside of the metropolitan area.
There are some variations between different ZIP code formats. For example, some ZIP codes don’t have a hyphen while others do. Some codes include two-letter combinations as well. An example of this is Hillsboro, Oregon, where the USA postal code is 40074.
In general, USA postal codes are standardized across a state. Arizona and Texas are the only exceptions to the rule. All post offices accept and process addresses with a standard ZIP code so long as those codes are assigned consistently. Some postal codes are incorrect due to address duplication or population differences.
Are There Special USA Postal Codes?
As with anything else, there are some exceptions to the rule. The US Military uses special nine-digit postal codes. The codes help to deliver mail between army bases and installations. Every military unit receives a unique nine-digit number to expedite military mail delivery. The military calls these bases “installations” rather than “addresses,” meaning that some military units get two postal codes.
There are other special codes and addresses used by the United States Postal Service. You can find these addresses and codes on the USPS website using the locator tool. The tool also helps you find the ZIP code for your area or somewhere else if you ever need to look up a postal code.
What Does the Future Hold for Postal Codes?
Postal codes are becoming something of antiquity. Some starts are starting to phase these codes out. For example, New York City introduced plans for people to submit an exact address instead of using a ZIP code. The mail is sent to the physical address using the full street address. These systems haven’t spread far yet, but more places are beginning to adopt them. ZIP codes have served the country well for the past 50 years, but who knows what the next 50 will bring.