Introduced in 1963 by the United States Postal Service (USPS), 5-digit ZIP Codes were developed to help make deliveries faster and more efficient for the enjoyment of both the workers and recipients of mail across the US. These perform by defining the location that a letter or package needs to be sent to, as well as outlining more productive travel routes for delivery drivers to take. 

To get a better understanding of what they are, we’re going to take a look at what they can be used for and how they work. You will also be able to answer the question, “What is my ZIP Code?”. 

Are ZIP Codes used for more than mail?

For the most part, ZIP Codes are used by the US Postal Service to assist with their deliveries, but they’re often used for collecting geographical data for a range of purposes, too. This is because they’re one of the most consistent ways to divide different areas and obtain information within any given sector. 

How do they work?

Zone Improvement Plan Codes have been in effect for more than half a decade, and while improvements have been made along the way (like the addition of four more digits in 1983 to further clarify destinations), they’re still one of the most streamlined ways for the postal service to make their deliveries.

This is because each of the 5 digits in every code has a purpose. The first number is used to show the region that the package will need to be delivered to, with each area having a number according to its location – 0 being northeastern and 9 western. For example, you’ll find New York in 1 and Hawaii all the way over in 9. This makes it easier to separate the many locations a parcel could go to.

The next two digits represent possible routes that could be taken by identifying linked transportation regions around the area and any other roads/routes that may be beneficial. With this information, a delivery driver can find the quickest path to their destination before they set off. 

Last but not least are the fourth and fifth digits, which are used to help find the best post office or processing center to send the letter or parcel.

The extra 4 digits mentioned earlier further define the parameters of the destination the package needs to travel to, making it even easier for the USPS to get the job done with little fuss. 

Did you know that there are around 43,000 ZIP Codes in the United States alone and even more across the globe? That’s no small number – so how can you find yours?

If you don’t already know your code, be sure to look it up to ensure the safe delivery of your mail; the good news is that it can often be easy to do just that. All you’ll need to do is find a website that can help you out! There are several options, one of which is a tool from USPS themselves.