Difference Between Postal Code vs ZIP Code

Difference Between Postal Code vs ZIP Code

You may have come across forms or documents asking you to identify your postal code. Then, you’ll stumble on another form but, this time, it’s asking for your postal code. You can’t help but wonder why these interchangeable terms exist.

This can be confusing, especially now that snail mails aren’t very common anymore and posts are mostly received on social media rather than through the post office. The key factor that makes up the difference between postal code and ZIP code is geography.

They are similar key indicators of one’s location so that individuals can be easily found. If you’re still confused, don’t worry as this article will provide more context on these two representations so you won’t have to be confused anymore.

Definition of Postal Code

Postal code is defined as a collection of digits or letters, even spaces and punctuation marks, that represent a specified location for more methodical tracking and categorizing of posts or mail. Postal codes or postcodes are mostly assigned to a specified locale, but it is also possible for special codes to be designated to an address if that residence has a history of receiving bulk mail.

In pinpointing the distinction between postal code vs. ZIP code, one must know that, while they share a common intent, postal digits are also employed as an additional source of statistical data for census and route planning.

Because it contains various characters, it offers many possibilities concerning variety. This may be the reason why it is recognized by more nations around the globe. It may also be city-based, so it allows for delivery to be much more structured.

Definition of ZIP Code

ZIP code is an acronym for “zone improvement plan.” Unlike the former, it is only used in two nations, the United States and the Philippines. In America, it is habituated by the United States Postal Service or USPS to allow mail to ZIP along.

It was instituted in the US in 1983 with only a 5-digit code, but was extended with an additional 4 digits (with a hyphen separation) in 1983 to pinpoint a more targeted site, like a city block or a group of apartments. ZIP code is also used in US Territories and addresses of US diplomats overseas. It is also used to send mail to US military bases.

In the US, the four types of ZIP codes are as follows: unique, post office box, military, and standard. With this reference, it is indeed easier to contrast ZIP code vs. postal code.

Main Differences Between Postal Code vs ZIP Code

While the definitions above could have given you more ideas, we’ve laid out a table below to further explain the difference between ZIP code and postal code.

Basis of ComparisonPostal CodeZIP Code
Coverage117 nations2 nations
Usually linked withUnited KingdomUnited States
Also recognized asPostcode, Eircode, and pin code, PLZ, CAP, CEP, NPAZoning Improvement Plan
Initiated in19591963
FormatAlphanumeric (and special characters)Numeric
Positioning in the addressNear the end of the addressThe last few characters in the address
RoutingCan be utilized as a plan to the routeNot utilized for route tracking
Site usedWithin the cityWithin the country
Other usageCollecting demographic dataMail sorting

The table above outlines the main distinction between these two frequently confused terms.

Difference Between Postal Code and ZIP Code: Conclusion

Identifying the difference between postal and ZIP code allows one to have increased awareness should he or she travel abroad. It is also helpful in understanding how the countries’ systems work. With the world now relying on delivery to get parcels and shipments, it is vital that one understands how the postal system works.

If you’re in one of the two nations mentioned above, then you must know that you’re to provide a 5 to 8 digit number when asked to provide your ZIP code. If you’re not situated in these two nations, then you’re most likely using a postal system. Either way, it’s vital that you provide the correct digits or alphanumeric characters when asked so you can easily be located when you need to be reached.