ZIP codes are a series of five numerical digits that are allotted to different geographical locations in the United States to help the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). ZIP codes are a part of a highly sophisticated physical delivery network. The term "ZIP" is short for "Zone Improvement Plan".
One of the most frequently asked questions is, “What is my ZIP code now?” You can easily find your ZIP code online based on your current GPS location.
ZIP Code System in The United States
To enhance the productivity and proficiency of delivering the increasing number of mail, the U.S. Postal Service invented the ZIP codes to designate post destinations.
During the Second World War, the U.S. Postal Service experienced a shortage of manpower as workers were forced to leave their job and the country to serve in the military. In 1943, the USPS devised a code system to divide delivery districts among the country's 124 major cities to deliver mail more efficiently.
As the war ended, the United States observed an economic boom and a considerable increase in the population. By the 1960s, the volume of mail had skyrocketed as businesses expanded and used the mail to send bills, magazines, and advertisements. To handle large quantities of mail, an improved system was required by the Post Offices.
The standard five-digit ZIP code was introduced in 1963. Later, an extended ZIP+4 code was established in the year 1983; it featured the basic five digits of the ZIP code, followed by a hyphen, and then came the additional four digits that indicate a more precise location.
Components of The ZIP Code and ZIP+4 Code
Each digit in the ZIP code holds a significant value. Of the total five-digits, the first numeral indicates the “National Area”, the next two digits designate the “sectional center facility (SCF)” which is a processing and distribution center (P&DC) of the United States Postal Service that serves a specific geographic area, after the mail is sorted, they are sent to the corresponding post offices and the final digits of the code indicate the associated post office or delivery area.
In 1983, a hyphen and extra four digits were added to the standard ZIP code. As it was becoming complex to sort mail using the basic ZIP codes, ZIP+4 was implemented. The four additional digits identify a geographic region within each ZIP code delivery region.
ZIP Code Facts
● Around 7,500 people live in each ZIP Code.
● The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is located in Holtsville, New York and it possesses the lowest-numbered ZIP code: 00501.
● The President of the United States and the first family have their very own private ZIP Code.
● The simplest ZIP code “12345”, belongs to the headquarters of General Electric in Schenectady, New York.
● There are 41,702 ZIP Codes in the United States as of October 2019.
To access your ZIP Code now, you can go online and find it here right away!