Postal Code vs. Zip Code: 7 Differences You May Not Know

Whether you’re sending a high-value product to a customer or a holiday card to a loved one, you need to use the right address data to make sure the items arrive on time and in the right place.

Postal codes, or zip codes, which are the required characters at the end of addresses, are very important for helping mail carriers figure out where to deliver mail and how to get there.

But if we dig deeper, what is a zip code, what is a postal code, and how are they different? In this essay, we’ll talk about the most important things you should know.

What is a Postal Code?

A postal code is a system of codes that was first used in 1959. It is used by many countries around the world to make it easier to sort and deliver mail.

Whether an item is shipped within a state, across a country, or all the way around the world, these combinations of numbers (and sometimes letters) create a unique identification code that assigns delivery points to a specific place.

It is important to remember that the structure and use of these codes will depend on the exact location to which they are linked. This means that postal codes will probably be different from one country to the next.

Postal Code vs. Zip Code

No matter how it is set up, the goal of the postal code is always the same: to make mail exchange and delivery more accurate and efficient.

What is Zip Code?

The zip code was created in 1963 by the United States Postal Service® (USPS) to help people distinguish between different post offices across the country.

Mail delivery used to be based on remembering cities and states, but as the country grew and changed, it became necessary to switch to a new method based on numbers.

By 1967, the newly discovered zip code system had been used for all mail processing and delivery in the United States.

In the United States, zip codes are at least five digits long and tell you the national area, region, or city, as well as the delivery area, for a certain address.

Do you want to know more about how to break down this important piece of information? How to figure out a zip code:

  • The first digit: this number refers to the national area, or defined group of states.
  • The second and third digit: this set of numbers signifies a region within this group, such as a large city.
  • The fourth and fifth digit: these numbers represent the associate post office or delivery area of a region.

If you want to send mail within the United States, you need these five numbers. Plus-four codes, on the other hand, are used to make sure that letters are delivered even more accurately. We’ll talk more about these codes below.

ZIP+4 Codes: a look at full zip codes

Most people are familiar with the five-digit zip codes in the list above. But because of the growing need to improve mail sorting and delivery, the system needed more information to keep growing and getting better.

ZIP+4 are the last four numbers at the end of a zip code that are used as an extra way to identify a place.

ZIP+4 codes let mail carriers know that a certain part of a delivery area is nearby. Once the location has been checked and standardized, these codes are added to a 5-digit USPS® zip code.

This makes it possible to pinpoint an address within a few blocks. Overall, these extra numbers help improve the accuracy of letter delivery.

Key Differences Between Zip Code and Postal Code

The difference between a zip code and a postal code can be seen in the following ways:

  • A zip code is a postal code that is used with an address in a few countries to show where mail is delivered. The postal code, on the other hand, is the code that is used in the postal address. This code helps sort mail so that it can be sent to the right place.
  • The United States Postal Service (USPS) started the zip code system in 1963. The postal code system was started in 1959.
  • Most people in the United States and the Philippines know what a “zip code” is. In the rest of the world, on the other hand, the postal code is used.
  • Zip codes are used to group areas together to make it easier to sort mail, and they tell where the mail is going. On the other hand, a postal code is used to identify and talk about a place, plan a route, and get information about the people who live there.
  • The postal code is made up of numbers or a combination of numbers and letters, and sometimes it also has punctuation. The zip code is only made up of numbers.

Comparison Chart: Zip Code Vs Postal Code

Basic TermsZIP CodePostal Code
Country of AdoptionThe United States and the PhilippinesThe United Kingdom and other countries
Year of Discovery19631959
ObjectiveReference and location identificationReference, location identification, census and route planning
ContainsNumbers onlyNumbers only or a combination of numbers and letters
ExplanationUsed within a countryUsed within a city
UsageHelps in identifying the exact bigger location.It is usually used within a country to deliver documents
LengthBetween 5-8 charactersCan be shorter or longer

Postal Code vs. Zip Code Pros and Cons

Pros and Cons of Postal Code

Pros of Postal Code

  • People don’t have to go from one place to another to get their packages because they can have them sent to their homes.
  • Since most post offices are near markets, it’s easy for Pericles to send his letter.

Cons of Postal Code

  • Some big items cost a lot to ship by package because they are so big. Package services can’t send things that are too big. The package can weigh up to 20 kg. Speed post is not always available, and when it is, it is very expensive.

Pros and Cons of Zip Code

Pros of Zip Code

  • In the United States, zip codes are used by the USPS to deliver mail and other items.
  • This 4–5-digit code makes sure that all packages get to the right place safely.
  • Zip codes are important not only for public services but also for job opportunities and getting to places like doctors’ offices and stores.

Cons of Zip Code

  • If a zip code gets out by accident, other people can track the package, which could lead to the information getting out.
  • Zip codes are only used in the United States and the Philippines. Postal codes are used everywhere else.

Postal Code vs. Zip Code FAQs

Is Postal Code the Same as Zip Code?

No, in the United States and the Philippines, the zip code is used to send mail. In the United Kingdom and other countries, postal codes are used.

Postal Code vs. Zip Code

Are Area Code and the Zip Code Same?

No, they are not exactly the same. A five-digit code called a zip code is added to the end of an address. In the United States, all phone numbers start with a three-digit number called the area code.

What Is the Full Meaning of Zip?

Zip’s full meaning is “zone improvement plan.”

Why zip code (and other address data) accuracy matters

Businesses can use zip code information to make sure their packages get to their customers on time and without damage, delays, or other problems along the way.

But they can only be successful if zip codes and other important information about addresses are correct.

Experian gives companies like yours access to address verification solutions that use finely tuned technology to get accurate data at the point of entry. I’m still not sure.

Find out for yourself why businesses trust us to verify over 6 billion requests each year.


In their postal addresses, many countries around the world use postal codes, zip codes, or some other kind of code that is the same.

Most of the time, these make moving and delivering mail easier, faster, and more efficient. This saves the mailman time and effort and makes things clearer if two places in a city or town have the same name.

Leave a Comment