ZIP Codes: a very brief history
ZIP codes, the postal code system used by the US Postal Service (USPS), were introduced in 1963. Their basic, and most familiar, format consists of five digits that indicate a specific delivery area. In 1983, the USPS introduced the extended ZIP+4 code.
Also called “plus-four codes”, “add-on codes”, or “add-ons”, the ZIP+4 code starts with the standard five-digit ZIP Code. The four extra numbers are added after a hyphen to complete the ZIP+4.
So what do the extra numbers mean?
These last 4 digits represent specific delivery routes within delivery areas. This extra detail means an even more precise matching to a more granular level. It could represent a handful of houses on one side of a street, or even a single building that receives a high volume of mail.
So ZIP+4 Codes help the USPS more effectively sort and distribute mail. How does this affect you?
Why should you care about ZIP+4?
As we already discussed, using the ZIP+4 Code narrows down your delivery address to a handful of addresses. There are plenty of resources that suggest ZIP+4 accelerates the overall delivery process by one or even two days since it reduces the processing time needed at a mail centre.
Delivery addresses do not require ZIP+4 Codes. However, ZIP+4 codes require an address to be first standardized and verified to exist. This means that an address with a ZIP 4 code can be sure to exist and therefore deliverable.
ZIP+4 Codes can change
Delivery addresses do not require ZIP+4 Codes. However, ZIP+4 codes require an address to be first ZIP+4 Codes are based on actual delivery routes. This means that they can change fairly regularly. Some resources state that the USPS can update a ZIP+4 Code as frequently as once in two months. However frequently or infrequently the case may be, it’s important to note that they can change. Sounds like you want some *cough* automated software to find that for you…
The USPS discounts on bulk mailings if you do tasks that the USPS would normally do, like bundling mail, adding barcodes and, most relevant here, if you add the ZIP+4 Code extension.
If you frequently work with PO boxes, ZIP+4 Codes are incredibly useful. The USPS usually assigns each PO Box its own +4 Code, which matches the box number. In other words, the ZIP+4 Code will likely include the actual PO Box number in the +4 part of the ZIP Code.
Retrieve ZIP+4 in Salesforce
Now you know why you should care about ZIP+4 codes. The next step is how to start using them. If you use Salesforce then there’s some good news for you.
Easily retrieve the ZIP+4 for your addresses in Salesforce with AddressTools. Our solution includes US-specific interactive functionality to help you easily look up and verify full ZIP codes.
Book a free demo
We love talking about all things address related! See AddressTools, our address data solution that can retrieve ZIP+4 codes for Salesforce, on a free demo.