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Jun-12-2019 13:25printcomments

ZIP Code: Amazing Facts That May Surprise You

With the help of only five (or nine) symbols the post office is able to find the destination fast and easy.

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(SALEM, Ore.) - Do you often send letters? If not, then it's very possible you have wondered about that strange set of numbers at the end of the mailing address. Some people are sure that those numbers aren't important and omit the ZIP code. In a couple of days, they get their mail back.

So, why is the ZIP code an essential part of postal service? What does it actually mean? Let’s get acquainted with these seemingly erroneous numbers. There are 5 facts you may be interested to know:

1. History

ZIP is an abbreviation that stands for Zone Improvement Plan. It was designed and launched in the USA in 1963. Still, the very first postal code appeared 20 years earlier in Germany. Nowadays every country has its own postal system, and may differ from the American one. It may include letters and symbols as well. In some countries it may even be called something else, "index" for instance.

2. Functions

Thanks to the introduction of the Zone Improvement Plan Code, the effectiveness of the postal services has increased significantly. Up-to-date, the postcode is crucial in the following fields:
  • mail delivery;
  • credit card security;
  • healthcare services;
  • insurance;
  • tourism

We live in a digital world. It should not a big surprise for us that even our address is codified. The numerous online services allow us to find any city knowing only its postcode or vice versa. You have to enter “zip code lookup by city” and enjoy the results. It’s very convenient when you order something on the Net.

3. Meaning

No matter what it is called and where it is used, the postcode possesses definite meaning. The set of numbers codifies definite area. It’s not always possible to note the whole address, but if the ZIP code is correct, your chances are good for it's success. With the help of only five (or nine) symbols the post office is able to find the destination fast and easy. That is, if you’ve noted the code correctly, of course.

Every number (or letter) determines one of the following:

  • the city;
  • the state;
  • the country;
  • the area;
  • the regional postal facilities;
  • local zone

It’s very important to put the number in the right order.

4. The most interesting ZIP codes

Perhaps, the residents of Newton Falls, Ohio, and General Electric in Schenectady, New York, are the luckiest people in terms of cool ZIP codes. They needn't work hard to memorize their ZIP codes... The first one is 44444 and the second one – 12345.

99950 is the highest postcode in the US. The variant 99999 doesn’t exist. This code belongs to Ketchikan, AK. The numbers 90210 are well-known to the youngsters of the 90's. It’s a code of Beverly Hills, California. It has become so popular thanks to the same name TV series.

5. How to get a personal code

You will have to become the President to get your personal ZIP code. He and his family have personal secret post codes.

However, there is another option. You actually can get a unique ZIP code in the United States if you rent a post office box at a post office. Every post office box has its own unique 9-digit ZIP code. No, it's not a “personal” ZIP code, the code belongs to the box you rented. But, as long as you’re the renter, it is uniquely yours.

Now you know that those strange numbers at the end of your address aren’t just numbers. They are a methodical plan to find the area your mail is destined for. And it works!

Source: Salem-News.com Special Features Dept.

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©2019 Salem-News.com. All opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Salem-News.com.


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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.

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