Postal Codes Around the World

Postal codes of all countries in the world are very important to locate areas and places of a particular country or city. Each geographic space has a code that identifies, consisting of numbers, letters or the combination of both. The existence of postal codes has a great importance. Among many things, they facilitate that mail pieces are accessible to the door of our houses.

Almost all state postal services in the world use zip codes. However, there are countries where they do not exist, such as in Ireland, and other territories whose geographical area is very small, and the implementation of the postal code is unnecessary.

The postal codes appeared for the first time in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in December 1932, but the system was abandoned in 1939. The next country to enter postal codes was Germany (1941), followed by Argentina (1958), the United Kingdom (1959), the United States (1963) and Switzerland (1964).

In February 2005, 117 of the 190 member countries of the Universal Postal Union had postal code systems. The countries that do not have national systems are Ireland and Panama. Although Hong Kong and Macao are now China’s Special Administrative Regions, each maintains its own long-standing postal system tradition, which does not use the national postal codes, and no postal codes are assigned to Hong Kong and Macao. Mail between Hong Kong, Macao and mainland China is treated as international.

Although postal codes are often assigned to geographical areas, special codes are sometimes assigned to individual addresses or institutions that receive large volumes of mail, such as government agencies and large commercial companies. An example is the French CEDEX system.

There are a number of colloquial terms for the zip code.

Zip Code: The general term is used directly in Canada.
Zip code: This suitcase is very popular in many English speaking countries.
Zip Code: The standard term in the United States and the Philippines; ZIP is an acronym of Zonal Improvement Plan.
PIN code / PIN code: The standard term in India; PIN is an acronym for Postal Index.

The characters used in the postal codes are:

The Arabic numbers “0” to “9”
The letters of the basic Latin alphabet ISO

Postal Codes Alphanumeric

Most postcodes systems are numeric, only a few are alphanumeric (ie, use letters and numbers). Alphanumeric systems can, given the same number of digits, encode many more places. For example: If you give us a 2-digit numeric code, then we could code 10 x 10 = 100 locations. In contrast to a 2-digit alphanumeric code that if you have to have 30 possibilities per digit then you would have 30 x 30 = 900 possibilities. So they are often more accurate, as is the case in the United Kingdom or in the Netherlands, where a postal code corresponds to a street or even a building, ie the postal code and the house / business number It is all that is needed for precise delivery. Independent nations based on postal alphanumeric codes systems are:

United Kingdom

Country code prefixes

The use of ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 codes is recommended for use as of 1994, but they have not become widely used. The European Committee for Standardization recommends the use of ISO alpha-2 codes for international postal codes and a guide on UPU international relative to states that “administrations may recommend” the use of the ISO alpha-2 codes. Germany, Andorra, Ecuador, Latvia, Moldova, Slovenia use ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 as a prefix in their zip codes.

In some countries (such as those in continental Europe, where a postal code in four- or five-digit numeric format is commonly used) the numeric postal code is sometimes preceded by a country code to avoid confusion when sending international mail to or from That country. Recommendations of the official bodies responsible for postal communications are unclear as to this practice for many years, the codes of plates -., For example “D-” for Germany or “F-” for France – were used, although this does not It was accepted by the Universal Postal Union (UPU).

The placement of the code

Postal services have their own formats and rules for the placement of postal codes. In most English speaking countries, the postal code is the last element of the address, after the name of the city or town. Something similar happens with the zip code Mexico that is placed at the end of the postal address, while in most countries of continental Europe it precedes the name of the city or town.

When you follow the city you can be on the same line or on a new line. In Japan, China, Korea and the Russian Federation, it is written more than the beginning of an address.

Geographic coverage

Postal codes are usually assigned to geographical areas. Sometimes, codes are assigned to individual addresses or institutions that receive large volumes of mail, for example, government agencies or large commercial companies. An example is the French Cedex system.

Postal area numbers

Before postal codes described here were used, large cities were often divided into postal zones or numbered postal districts, usually starting with 1 from each city. The new ZIP code systems often incorporate the numbers of the old areas, such as in London postal district numbers, for example. Ireland continues to use Dublin postal district numbers. In New Zealand, Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch were divided into postal areas, but fell into disuse, and now they have run out of purpose as a result of a new zip code system being introduced.

Codes defined along administrative boundaries

Some postal code systems, such as those in Ecuador and Costa Rica, show an exact match with the hierarchy of administrative subdivisions in the country.
Format of 6 numeric digits (8 alphanumeric digits) postal codes in Ecuador, introduced in December 2007: ECAABBCC

In Costa Rica, these codes are also used by the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses (INSEC). The first two digits of the postal codes in Turkey correspond to the provinces and each province has a unique number assigned to it. They are the same for them as in the ISO 3166-2 standard.

The first two digits of the postal codes in Vietnam indicate a province. Some provinces have one, others have several assigned two-digit numbers. The figures differ from the quantity used in ISO 3166-2: VN.

Codes defined near administrative boundaries

In France, the numerical code of the departments is used in the first digits of the postal code, with the exception of the two departments in Corsica that have codes 2A and 2B and use 20 as a postal code. Also, the codes are just the codes for the department in charge of delivering the message, so it may be that a location in a department has a zip code from the number of a neighboring apartment.

Codes defined indirectly to administrative boundaries
The first digit of the United States zip codes defines an area that includes several states. Of the first three digits (with some exceptions), you can deduct the state.

Codes defined independently of administrative boundaries

The first two digits of the postal codes of Germany define independent areas of the administrative regions. The coding space of the first digit is used completely (0-9), that of the first two combined is used for 89%, that is, there are 89 defined postal zones. Zone 11 is non-geographic.

The UK post designed the postal codes in the United Kingdom, especially for efficient distribution. However, over time, people associate with the codes of some areas, which leads some people who want or do not want to have a certain code. See also postal code lottery.


Netherlands: Postal codes in the Netherlands are alphanumeric, consisting of four digits followed by a space and two letters (NNNN AA). Add the house number to the zip code will identify the address, so the name of the street and redundant name of the city. For example: 2597 GV 75 will direct a mailing to the International School of The Hague.

USA: Other countries allow for equally accurate coding. For example, in the United States, the bar code printed at the point of delivery of a speech from the postal sorting equipment is usually derived from the last two digits of the house number and therefore (at least theoretically) allows an identification unequivocal of all the directions of the country. Otherwise, the United States uses a strictly numerical system called zip codes. “ZIP” is an acronym for the Zone Improvement Program. The basic postal code is five numbers: the first represents a region, the second a state within that region, and the third, a classification center within that state. The other two digits represent a particular community. For example: 48160 – “4” indicates the fourth ZIP code region, composed of the three Great Lakes states, “8” is assigned to this lower Michigan, “1” indicates the regional classification center in Dearborn, Michigan, and “60” represents Milan, Michigan and the surrounding area served by its post office. Postal customers can add an additional 4 digits (called “ZIP + 4”), which will sort the mail to a private mail carrier.

United Kingdom: For the internal properties of the postal code it refers to a maximum of 100 properties in contiguous proximity (for example, a small section of a road populated the world, or a series of less populated neighboring roads). The postal code plus the number or the name of a property is not always unique, especially in rural areas. For example, GL20 8NX / 1 could refer to a field or Frampton Frampton Farm Cottages, approximately a quarter of a mile away. The zip code plus the first line of the address, however, is always unique (except when sub-properties occurs).

Non-geographic codes

In Finland, the 99999 zip code is special for Korvatunturi, the place where Santa Claus (Joulupukki in Finnish) is said to live. In Greenland the postal code 2412 is for Julemanden (Santa Claus).

In Canada, the amount of mail sent to Santa Claus increased every Christmas, to the point that Canada Post decided to start an official Santa Claus response letter from the program in 1983. Approximately one million letters come to Santa Claus every Christmas, including from outside Canada, and all of them are answered in the same languages ​​in which they are written. Message Canada introduced a special address for Santa’s mail, complete with its own zip code: SANTA CLAUS NORTH POLE H0H 0H0

In the United Kingdom, the dissenting postal code GIR 0AA was used for the National Girobank until its closure in 2003.

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