ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Explanation of US Zip Codes, or Why United States Zones Are the Way They Are!

Updated on February 4, 2015

ZIP Code Classifications

Upon seeing this request, I visited the USPS website. The information that I found about ZIP codes was quite interesting. For those of you that don't know, ZIP stands for Zone Improvement Plan and was put into action in 1963 by Postmaster General John A. Gronouski. On July 1, 1963, the Postmaster announced that the Zone Improvement Plan code would begin.

The digits mean specific things and here is what they mean:

The First Five Digits

  • First Digit: A broad geographic location.
  • Second and Third Digits: Pinpoints a more specific area.
  • Fourth and Fifth Digits: Designates Post Offices and/or Postal Zones

In 1983 an expansion was needed and became known as ZIP+4. This meant better and faster deliverability for our mail. The 4-digit add-on identifies the following:

  • City Blocks
  • Office Buildings
  • High Volume Mail Receivers
  • ... AND MORE!

The ZIP (Zone Improvement Plan) Code is vital to the USPS (United States Postal Service. If you have any further questions about the ZIP Code, please feel free to visit their website. For your convenience a link under the USPS logo above.

For more information about Zip Codes, please visit www.USPS.gov. There is a link near the top of the page for them.
For more information about Zip Codes, please visit www.USPS.gov. There is a link near the top of the page for them.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      postal code 

      8 years ago

      nice its help us for my site

    • hamil331 profile image

      hamil331 

      9 years ago

      I never knew there was this type of info in a zip code...thanks

    • ProCW profile imageAUTHOR

      ProCW 

      10 years ago from South Carolina

      Thanks. Feel free to share this article with teachers and students!

      ProCW

    • SweetiePie profile image

      SweetiePie 

      10 years ago from Southern California, USA

      This would be a good article for kids that are learning how to mail letters and about the US Postal service. I better go mixx it for you.

    • NateRider profile image

      NateRider 

      10 years ago from Missouri

      I never understood the zip code system until today. I thought it was just a random number draw for counties in a state region. Now, I know otherwise. Good Hub

    • Kathleen in PA profile image

      Kathleen in PA 

      10 years ago

      Thanks, everyone!  I had 'fun' figuring it out - really!  Numbers have always interested me.

      Violette, you must have had fun w/the DB! I must "assume" that the odd/even rule is true, then, instead of N/S & E/W, due to pgmg experience.

      I recently created one in ACCESS for my high school class (won't tell you which year, ha ha). Didn't have opportunity to work on Data Bases on Mainframe through. - although everything ELSE!

      I haven't looked into the Area Codes yet...there are new ones cropping up all the time, and some have been split off due to overload/population.  Probably 'arbitrary', ha ha. Mine is 717, next-door neighbor's is 975 - Go Figure!

      HEY, IT'S CONTEST TIME!!!

                               Go to your local Post Office, and TRY to get an answer on the ZIP CODE 'rule'!  Mine just said "We don't use the +4, and he never heard of the added two digits!!!                                                                     

    • An Again profile image

      An Again 

      10 years ago from Boston

      You know, I'd always wondered, but never thought to look it up myself. Thanks!

    • glassvisage profile image

      glassvisage 

      10 years ago from Northern California

      What a great idea for a hub!

    • glycodoc profile image

      glycodoc 

      10 years ago

      Thanks for taking the time to research this - interesting reading. Well done!

    • dutch84 profile image

      dutch84 

      10 years ago

      You rock! I have wondered about this.

      What about area codes. Do you know how those are chosen?

    • stylezink profile image

      stylezink 

      10 years ago from Atlanta, GA.

      Wow, never knew any of this before. I'm not sure what I'll do with it though; maybe save it for when I go on jeopardy, lol!

      Overall great hub and very informing.

    • SweetiePie profile image

      SweetiePie 

      10 years ago from Southern California, USA

      Had never looked into this topic, but thanks for sharing this info. I answered a request about where to buy stamps, so our hubs have something in common :).

    • Violette DeSantis profile image

      Violette DeSantis 

      10 years ago from Broomall, PA

      I used to build matchkeys to link households in relational databases and yes the zip, zip+4 and first two digits of the house number are unique, unless we are talking multi-family dwellings. Can we talk MSA and FIPS codes now? LOL

    • Kathleen in PA profile image

      Kathleen in PA 

      10 years ago

      No problem! I was 'around' when they started, and I can't 'let go' of something that 'should' make sense, ha ha. The first part of the ZIP code came from a classmate of mine, whose father was Post Master in our hometown, and actually made the suggestion of using numbers. Don't know if it was HIS suggestion that got the ball rolling or not, but probable. One **correction** I made: not even/odd, but East/West or North/South side of the street, for last two digits of the +4. I certainly couldn't find any explanation on the USPS site!!

    • ProCW profile imageAUTHOR

      ProCW 

      10 years ago from South Carolina

      Hey Kathleen. Thanks for more information on the organization of US Zip Codes! We appreciate it very much!

    • Kathleen in PA profile image

      Kathleen in PA 

      10 years ago

      The country is divided into 9 REGIONS, going from east to west, numbered 0 - 9.    Within each region are GEOGRAPHICAL AREAS, similarly numbered 0-9.  The third number represents the SECTIONAL POST OFFICE within that geographic area.

      Then the last two digits are for EACH post office, and are assigned ALPHABETICALLY, by city name.

      The + 4-digit number seems to indicate: pos 1-2:  Carrier Route.  Pos 3-4, East/West or North/South side of the street. It can also indicate a Post Office Box number.

      There is also an additional +2 numbers, that I 'think' are the last two positions of the house number.

      Ideally, these 12 numbers alone (without address) would get a parcel to the correct house, assuming the post office uses all 12 numbers.

      Additional comment:  There is to be NO COMMA between the city and state, on addresses:  100 Main St.  AnyCity   NY  nnnnn-nnnn-nn

    • mroconnell profile image

      mroconnell 

      10 years ago from France

      Thanks for the research. Maybe you should include a link to the website you talk about.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)