Q:

What is the difference between normal ZIP codes and ZIP+4 codes?

A:

Quick Answer

The difference between normal ZIP codes and ZIP+4 codes is that ZIP+4 codes contain four extra digits that more accurately define the delivery area. The extra digits are not required, but they do help in routing mail more efficiently.

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What is the difference between normal ZIP codes and ZIP+4 codes?
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Full Answer

ZIP is an acronym for Zone Improvement Plan, and the normal five-digit ZIP code program was started by the U.S. Postal Service in 1963. In a five-digit ZIP code, the first digit corresponds to one of nine geographic areas across the country, with each area covering several states. The next two digits refer to a Sectional Center Facility in the area that serves as a central distribution hub for several post offices. The final two digits refer to a specific post office.

A ZIP+4 code adds an additional four numbers to the normal ZIP code. These four numbers are used to breakdown the delivery area even further and can refer to a sector, a city block, a specific building or any specific mail destination that is required. A properly formatted ZIP+4 code must have a hyphen between the first five digits and the last four digits. The use of ZIP+4 codes is not mandatory, and they are primarily used by businesses and other bulk mailers.

To help locate ZIP code information, including ZIP+4 codes, the Postal Service provides a ZIP code tool at the Postal Service website, USPS.com.

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