Mailing postal codes: Printable ZIP Code Maps — Free Download
What Are Postal Codes? — Smarty
Postal codes are strings of numbers (and sometimes letters) that help postal services determine where a piece of
mail is being sent to. They help simplify the task of bringing post to its destination. Nations throughout the
world use postal codes, and though the systems and formats vary, the common trait is that they all make the
postman’s job a little easier.
These codes indicate the extent of delivery jurisdictions. Every delivery point that falls under the same
jurisdiction is one whole postal code, and anything beyond those dividing lines are counted as a different code.
Sometimes postal codes are tied to geographical areas or administrative boundaries. Sometimes they’re more
free-floating. In some cases, they are attached to a specific organization, or even to a single delivery point.
In all cases, they are closely tied to and heavily defined by where the postal employee goes when delivering the
How Postal Codes are Developed and Used
Fair warning: we find this subject unreasonably exciting. Accordingly, we’re happy to help you find your own postal code. But more than that, these codes had an
immense impact on postal operations worldwide. Without them, mail would take longer to reach you. But we’re
getting ahead of ourselves. First, let’s talk about where they came from, and then we can talk about why we have
them and how they work.
The Source of the Code
In the (Postal) Zone
Back when cities started to get bigger, and reliable mail services became the standard, a problem was identified
that made deliveries difficult: In a place like, say, London, there were just too many people for one postman—or
even one post office—to deliver to. Like any industry, meeting demand is at least partially a problem of
logistics: having the means and the manpower to fill the need. So the first and most obvious answer was to build
more post offices and hire more postmen.
Once that happens, though, you start running into a problem. How do you know which houses are the ones you’re
supposed to take mail to? If Dr. John Watson lives halfway between post office A and post office B, which office
should handle his mail? Both could do it, but that would be less efficient; it’s smarter to have one postman
deliver mail to the Doctor’s house and everything to the right of his house, or to have the other postman handle
the Doctor’s house and everything to the left.
Either way, the work needs to be divided to make sure any given post office isn’t doing more than their fair
share of labor.
So post offices started drawing lines in the sand. The divisional boundaries they put in place were called
postal districts, or sometimes postal zones. To keep track of them all, they were numbered, creating «postal
district numbers» or «postal zone numbers.»
These postal district numbers started in large cities, and they started a while ago (London, for instance, was
divided into 10 districts as early as 1857). WWI Europe had already seen the implementation of similar systems
in cities throughout the continent. The US started using them at least as early as 1920. These district numbers
were the forerunners of the modern day postal codes.
Post Codes from Coast to Coast—Taking it Across the Country
The primary difference between these primitive codes and their more evolved cousins is that of coverage: postal
districts only happened in the cities, and then only in some cities. They were neither pervasive nor systemic,
though the idea of expanded and universal delivery codes started floating around as early as the 1930s. The
first country to try and implement a system was the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (a USSR that eventually
became part of the USSR) back in December 1932.
However like everything else that invades Russia during the winter, it didn’t find a warm reception. The failed
attempt was discontinued in 1939.
Germany had functioning system in place in 1941 despite the war, while the US didn’t put ZIP Codes into effect until 1963. Later still, the UK hadn’t fully deployed a
nationwide implementation until 1974. Since then, though, postal codes have been the norm, with countries
expanding their formats to accommodate for additional areas. This is most frequently done by adding digits to
the code, a la changing from a 3-digit code to a 5-digit one, and so on.
Today, these codes are used for a great deal. They help with geocoding,
address validation, and efficient shipping, to name just a
few things. They are even used as part of verifying identity and ensuring that things like credit cards aren’t
being stolen. So unlike what you learned in high school algebra, these are numbers worth knowing how to
International Post Code Names
William Shakespeare once wrote, «A postal code by any other name would smell as sweet.» We may have paraphrased
that just a little, but the point is, different nations have different names for the same thing. Just like the
US calls it a «flashlight» and the UK calls it a «torch,» so too are the names of the postal code different
depending on where you are. Here are some of the most popular ones:
- ZIP Code: the «Zone Improvement Plan» Codes used in the
- Postal code: a generic term that can be applied universally; also the name used specifically for Canadian
- Postcode: a variant of the above; used in multiple English-speaking nations, as well as The Netherlands
- CAP: the acronym for Italy’s «Codice di Avviamento Postale», or Postal Expedition Code
- CEP: Brazil’s «Código de Endereçamento» Postal, or Postal Addressing Code
- Eircode: Ireland’s most recent delivery code system
- PIN code/Pincode: what they call it in India; stands for «Postal Index Number code»
PLZ: stands for
«Postleitzahl» (which translates to, conveniently enough, «postal
Different Formats of Codes
Formats for these codes vary. There are some cornerstones that can be laid, and some generalities given on the
topic, however. Like how they’re used heavily by the Universal Postal Union, an agency of the UN.
At First Glance
First thing’s first: the characters used in the code. Keep in mind that the actual composition of the codes used
varies from nation to nation, so not every place is going to use every character. That said, you can expect
these three kinds of symbols:
- The ten base characters of the Arabic decimal system (i.e., the numbers 0-9)
- The 26 letters of the basic Latin alphabet (A-Z)
- Hyphens and spaces
Most nations use just the numbers (and sometimes spaces or hyphens, with varying levels of saturation). There
are some countries though that like to add a little bit of complexity by throwing in the letters, making the
code alphanumeric. Here’s the list of who uses these swanky alphanumeric codes, in reverse alphabetical order,
because we’re cool like that:
- United Kingdom
Location, Location, Location
The way postal codes are written is frequently tied to the locations that they are attributed to. It’s better
this way; rather than just randomly assigning numbers and letters and expecting everyone to remember what they
mean, well-intended government organizations group things together for easier labeling.
For instance, in the US the first digit in the code (which can be anything
from 0 to 9) indicates what region of the country the destination is in. ZIP Codes that start with «0» are
located in northern New England, while ones starting with «9» are tied to the west coast, Alaska, and Hawaii.
Meanwhile, the first 1-2 digits of a UK codes are letters, indicating the
city or area of the destination: «L» for Liverpool, «RH» for Redhill, and so forth.
The thing is, the system varies nation to nation (this is starting to seem like a trend). They’re not always
tied to administrative or geographical borders. Sometimes they’re tied to the old postal zones used in big
cities. Sometimes they actually are tied strictly to geographical/administrative areas, like provinces
and states. Ecuador has a couple of those.
Then there are ones that are close but not quite; sometimes this means codes that never extend beyond a
province’s borders, but there are more than one code within it.
Many codes are only loosely based on administrative areas, like the US, where the first number gives a
reasonable indicator of the destination county. However many ZIP Codes cross county, city, and even state lines.
When it boils down to it, postal codes in this category don’t really bother confining themselves to the same
boundaries used by the rest of the nation’s administrative infrastructure. They put themselves wherever is most
convenient for the purposes of running the mail.
Now sometimes, codes won’t be tied to boundaries at all; they’ll be tied to recipients. Here’s a few examples
Post office boxes often have their own postal code, or postal code suffix (they get their own personal «+4»
in the US)
Some countries use postal codes where each code is unique to the destination address (a little more on this
Large buildings, businesses, and organizations like universities and hospitals often have their own postal
code, due to the volume of mail they receive
Some individuals are such popular recipients that they merit a postal code all on their own: there’s a
unique post code in Finland (99999), Greenland (2412), and Canada (the H0H 0H0 mentioned above) reserved
specifically for Santa Claus (who is known as Joulupukki to the Finnish and Julemanden to Greenland)
The Santa Claus example is the true exception—the others will still be tied to the general geographical
location where the destination is.
Postal Code Accuracy
Divisions of postal jurisdiction notwithstanding, some codes are more accurate than others. By that we mean,
some codes point to a post office or a delivery route, while some get specific enough to point to the actual
house. In Ireland, the Eircode system launched in 2015 is accurate enough to effectively replace
addresses. This wasn’t the intention, but the seven-digit codes are each attributed to individual locations.
Theoretically, you could know the Eircode and nothing else, and still make it to the destination.
Most systems don’t produce codes that are as accurate as that. US ZIP Codes get to what’s called «block level» accuracy; the ZIP+4 system mentioned above denotes the
delivering post office with the first five digits, with the additional four indicating the delivery route. That
means that everything that shares the same +4 will be hit by the same deliveryman on the same truck during the
same trip. Essentially everything he hits on that one delivery run is it’s own nine-digit ZIP Code.
Accuracy at that level could mean a single building or organization as mentioned above, or it could mean a
street or a block (hence «block level»).
Just like everything else, accuracy depends on (you guessed it) the country that developed the code.
How Do I Use It?
A quick comment about meta-formatting: different countries put the code in different places in an address. While
this has nothing to do with the format of the code itself, how it’s put together or what it means, it’s perhaps
more important. You don’t necessarily need to know that an Eircode will get you to the doorstep of a property,
or what the boundaries of a ZIP Code are. You should probably, however, know where to place it on the envelope
(that varies too, by the way).
Most English speaking nations place the code at the end of the address (usually immediately after the name of
the city/town). Most European nations place the code at the front of that line—the one that includes
the city name—instead of the end. And for a handful of nations (including Japan and the Ukraine), it is listed
near the beginning of the address. Long story short, you may want to lookup and verify the address before you start
scribbling on the envelope.
Sealing the Envelope
Postal codes are an important part of getting mail to its destination. Most countries use them, though yes, the
formats differ. What’s important to know and to remember is that your postage has a better chance of getting
where it’s going if you put down the correct postal code. It makes the postman or postwoman’s life a lot easier.
It’s usually the first thing they look at when sorting the mail, and in some cases it may be the last.
And if you’re worried about whether the postal code you’re using is correct, whether at home or abroad we can help you with that. We can even tell you if the whole address is
So go ahead and do your postal thing.
State Abbreviations & Postal Codes Cheatsheet
Updated September 18, 2021 | Logan Chamberlain
From AL to WY
The post office advises people to write out full state names when sending a letter. But, especially in the age of texting, people like to abbreviate. Here are the recognized abbreviations for each state name, as well as their official two-letter postal code. If you think you know them all, try our postal codes quiz.
|State Name/District||Postal Abbreviation||Postal Code|
|District of Columbia||D.C.||DC|
|North Dakota||N. D.||ND|
|Northern Mariana Islands||MP|
The History of U.S. Postal Codes
The history of the postal service in the U.S. is long, complicated, and supremely important for westward expansion. But, a lot of people might not realize that USPS postal codes are actually quite recent. What’s more, the two-letter abbreviations that people are familiar with today actually came after the invention of ZIP codes.
An Abbreviated Early History
The story starts in 1831–well before the states were given codes–with that year’s Table of Post Offices in the United States. The Table was essential for people to figure out where they could send their mail and where it could be received back when they were expected to retrieve it themselves. In 1831 the Post Office Department included a list of acceptable state abbreviations to use when addressing letters. They preferred that people just write the full names, but people enjoyed the quicker and easier way of writing (just like today).
The Beginnings of the Modern Mail Service
President Abraham Lincoln (a former postman himself) was persuaded to begin free letter shipping in cities in 1863. This was the origin of the modern system of home letter deliveries. As mail carriers began taking more complicated and longer routes through the cities, the number of carriers grew. Due to the growing workforce, the admission of new states, and more interstate mail thanks to the likes of the Pony Express, the government sent out a new, bigger list of abbreviations in 1874. These would be the default codes until World War II.
When the war called away huge numbers of the country’s young men, the post was seriously understaffed. The people who were left also weren’t as familiar with the parts of town they didn’t work in prior. The post offices began breaking down cities into broad numbered regions (like Birmingham 7, etc.) to narrow the field for carriers. This system proved effective, and became de facto practice up until the release of the Postal Bulletin for June, 1963. The bulletin introduced the ZIP Code as a fast and easy way of organizing mail. They also released new shorter state abbreviations to make room for ZIP codes on letters.
The Current System
But what about the postal codes? That same year, in October, came Publication 59. With it came the codes we have today. They were originally intended as optional tags for businesses, but became standard for everyone over time. Since 1963 there has been only one change to the postal codes; in 1969, at the request of the Canadian government, the code for Nebraska was changed from NB to NE, to avoid confusion between Nebraska and New Brunswick.
In addition to the fifty states and D.C., the United States also holds several overseas territories. The populated ones have their own postal codes, but only the two most populous (Puerto Rico and Guam) have abbreviations. Some former territories still maintain postal codes, as they are considered free associates of the United States. The Marshall Islands, Micronesia, and Palau are all free associates. These are included on a second table below.
Source: United States Postal Service
U.S. Letter Rates Since the Civil War How to Complain About a Postal Problem
Our Common Sources
- Life Expectancy by Country
Postal codes and branches of Yalta — a guide to rest in Crimea
There are 11 post offices in Yalta.
Main Post Office
Main Post Office
Zip code: 298600.
st. Lenina, 1 (Embankment), tel.: 27-31-57
Coordinates: +44° 29′ 47. 40″, +34° 10′ 9.40″
Zip code: 298601.
st. Drazhinskogo, 50 (hotel «Yalta»), tel.: 35-01-10
Post office: Yalta-1
Coordinates: +44° 30′ 10.20″, +34° 11′ 26.00″
Zip code: 298603.
st. Sverdlova, 61, tel.: 32-56-52
Post office: Yalta-3
Coordinates: +44° 30′ 34.60″, +34° 10′ 38.40″
Zip code: 298604.
st. Gorky, 4, tel.: 31-36-13
Post office: Yalta-4
Coordinates: +44° 29′ 13.20″, +34° 8′ 40.30″
Zip code: 298607.
st. Sosnovaya, 23, tel.: 31-54-69
Post office: Yalta-7
Coordinates: +44° 29′ 1.90″, +34° 8′ 52.50″
Zip code: 298609.
st. Khalturina, 28, tel. : 23-49-00
Post office: Yalta-9
Coordinates: +44° 29′ 46.70″, +34° 8′ 51.60″
Zip code: 298612.
st. Moscow, 37, tel.: 23-41-78
Post Office: Yalta-12
Coordinates: +44° 30′ 28.10″, +34° 10′ 9.10″
Zip code: 298624.
st. D. Ulyanova, 1 (Vasilyevka), tel.: 34-72-92
Post office: Yalta-24
Coordinates: +44° 31′ 1.70″, +34° 10′ 10.20″
Zip code: 298612.
st. Krivoshty, 2, tel.:
Additional post office Yalta-12. It used to be Yalta-33.
Coordinates: +44° 30′ 47.40, 34° 10′ 0.60″
Zip code: 298635.
st. Gogol, 24 (house of Sofia Rotaru), tel.: 32-80-39
Post Office: Yalta-35
Coordinates: +44° 29′ 25. 20″, 34° 9′ 15.40″
Zip code: 298637.
st. Kirov, 135 (above Chekhov’s House), tel.: 39-74-52
Post office: Yalta-37
Coordinates: +44° 29′ 31.20″, +34° 8′ 31.80″
|Architect N. P. Krasnov st.||298600|
|Gorky M. st.||298604|
|Jafer Seydamet st.||298624||298600|
|Kazantseva A.I. st.||298624|
|Red Partizan per.||298609|
|Red Partizan st.||298609|
|Liebknecht K. per.||298600|
|Liebknekhta K. st.||298600||Makarenko st.||298612|
|Maxim Bogdanovich st.||298637|
|Marksa K. st.||298600|
|Musy Mamuta st.||298600|
|Nadia Lisanova st.||298612|
|Oslovskogo Pavel st.||298609|
|Osmanov Eybazer Mustafa st.||298600|
|Popova A. P. st.||298609|
|Roosevelt Franklin St.||298600|
|Saveliev Mayor st.||298637|
|Ukrainki Lesi st.||298600|
|Ulyanova D. st.||298624|
|Akmolly Adamanov st.||298624|
|Fadeeva A. N. st.||298612|
|Fountain lane, 1, 2, 4||298600|
|Fountain lane, 9015 3 8637|
|Tsetkin K. st.||298612|
|D.K. Chernova st.||298609|
| Chernova per.