“Return to sender”. It’s a very famous line when it comes to mails and packages. And it is something you don’t want to happen when you send a package or letter via snail mail. There could be a number of reasons as to why a mail will be returned to its sender. One could be the lack of proper postage stamps. Another would be a wrong or incomplete address. Or it might simply be because you forgot to put the right ZIP code.
ZIP codes are important for sending letters and packages. But their importance is not only limited to sending mails via postal offices. Sometimes, they are also required when registering in various online sites and services. So, what does the ZIP in ZIP code stand for?
What is exactly its point?
ZIP in ZIP code is an acronym for Zone Improvement Plan. ZIP code was first implemented in 1963 by the U.S. Post Office Department. ZIP codes evolved from the zone program implemented during World War II. They used ZIP codes to break down large areas into smaller postal areas, making it easier to locate the address. They actually designate a 2-digit code for every postal office. For example, in one big city, you can assign codes to postal offices or delivery stations, in the different parts of the city.
To make the zoning of postal areas more efficient, the U.S. Post Office Department implemented another program using a 5-digit coding system. The first digit determines to which area of the country you are. This greatly depends on your state. The next 2 digits are for the Sectional Center Facility, or SCF, that is servicing in your area. The last 2 digits of the code are the old zoning codes implemented before.
Now, the private and nonprofit United States Postal Service, or the USPS, improved the 5-digit coding program. The USPS is now using the ZIP + 4 program. They added 4 more digits to the ZIP code for identifying a geographic segment within the city, like an office building, or an entire block.
However, ZIP codes are no longer limited for the use of the USPS. Many countries implement their own zoning programs and still use the term “ZIP code”. These zoning programs make deliveries easier and much more efficient. They are not limited to post offices anymore. Private delivery companies, such as FedEx, UPS, and DHL, also use ZIP codes for optimal routing of packages.
So the next time you send a mail make sure you know the ZIP code. ZIP codes don’t just sound fast; they actually make sending mail faster and more efficient.