Several sets of codes and abbreviations are used to represent the political divisions of the United States for postal addresses, data processing, general abbreviations, and other purposes.
In communications and information processing, code is a system of rules to convert information—such as a letter, word, sound, image, or gesture—into another form or representation, sometimes shortened or secret, for communication through a communication channel or storage in a storage medium. An early example is the invention of language, which enabled a person, through speech, to communicate what he or she saw, heard, felt, or thought to others. But speech limits the range of communication to the distance a voice can carry, and limits the audience to those present when the speech is uttered. The invention of writing, which converted spoken language into visual symbols, extended the range of communication across space and time.
An abbreviation is a shortened form of a word or phrase. It consists of a group of letters taken from the word or phrase. For example, the word abbreviation can itself be represented by the abbreviation abbr., abbrv., or abbrev.
Political divisionsof the United States are the various recognized governing entities that together form the United States — states, territories, the District of Columbia, and Indian reservations.
This table includes abbreviations for three independent nations related to the United States through Compacts of Free Association, and other comparable postal abbreviations, including those now obsolete.
The Compact of Free Association (COFA) is an international agreement establishing and governing the relationships of free association between the United States and the three Pacific Island nations of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and Palau. These nations, together with the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, formerly composed the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, a United Nations trusteeship administered by the United States Navy from 1947 to 1951 and by the U.S. Department of the Interior from 1951 to 1986.
|Name and status of region||ISO||ANSI||USPS||USCG||GPO||AP||Other|
|Federal district||US-DC||DC||11||DC||DC||D.C.||D.C.||Wash. D.C.|
|State||US-IL||IL||17||IL||IL||Ill.||Ill.||Il., Ills., Ill's|
|State (Commonwealth)||US-KY||KY||21||KY||KY||Ky.||Ky.||Ken., Kent.|
|State||US-NM||NM||35||NM||NM||N. Mex.||N.M.||New M.|
|State (Commonwealth)||US-PA||PA||42||PA||PA||Pa.||Pa.||Penn., Penna.|
|State||US-RI||RI||44||RI||RI||R.I.||R.I.||R.I. & P.P., R. Isl.|
|State||US-WV||WV||54||WV||WV||W. Va.||W.Va.||W.V., W. Virg.|
|Insular area (Territory)||AS|
|Insular area (Territory)||GU|
|Insular area (Commonwealth)||MP|
|Insular area (Territory)||PR|
|Insular area (Territory)||VI|
|U.S. Minor Outlying Islands||Insular areas||UM|
|Freely associated state||FM|
|Freely associated state||MH|
|Freely associated state||PW|
|U.S. Armed Forces – Americas||US military mail code||AA|
|U.S. Armed Forces – Europe||US military mail code||AE|
|U.S. Armed Forces – Pacific||US military mail code||AP|
|Obsolete postal code||CM|
|Obsolete postal code||PZ|
|Obsolete postal code||NB|
|Obsolete postal code||PH|
|Obsolete postal code||PC|
As early as October 1831, the United States Post Office recognized common abbreviations for states and territories. However, they only accepted these abbreviations because of their popularity, preferring that patrons spell names out in full to avoid confusion.
The United States Postal Service is an independent agency of the executive branch of the United States federal government responsible for providing postal service in the United States, including its insular areas and associated states. It is one of the few government agencies explicitly authorized by the United States Constitution.
The traditional abbreviations for U.S. states and territories, widely used in mailing addresses prior to the introduction of two-letter U.S. postal abbreviations, are still commonly used for other purposes (such as legal citation), and are still recognized (though discouraged) by the Postal Service.
Legal citation is the practice of crediting and referring to authoritative documents and sources. The most common sources of authority cited are court decisions (cases), statutes, regulations, government documents, treaties, and scholarly writing.
Modern two-letter abbreviated codes for the states and territories originated in October 1963, with the issuance of Publication 59: Abbreviations for Use with ZIP Code, three months after the Post Office introduced ZIP codes in July 1963. The purpose, rather than to standardize state abbreviations per se, was to make room in a line of no more than 23 characters for the city, the state, and the ZIP code.
Since 1963, only one state abbreviation has changed. Originally Nebraska was "NB"; but, in November 1969, the Post Office changed it to "NE" to avoid confusion with New Brunswick in Canada.
Nebraska is a state that lies in both the Great Plains and the Midwestern United States. It is bordered by South Dakota to the north; Iowa to the east and Missouri to the southeast, both across the Missouri River; Kansas to the south; Colorado to the southwest; and Wyoming to the west. It is the only triply landlocked U.S. state.
New Brunswick is one of four Atlantic provinces on the east coast of Canada. According to the Constitution of Canada, New Brunswick is the only bilingual province. About two thirds of the population declare themselves anglophones and a third francophones. One third of the population describes themselves as bilingual. Atypically for Canada, only about half of the population lives in urban areas, mostly in Greater Moncton, Greater Saint John and the capital Fredericton.
The two-letter postal abbreviation system is complicated by the fact that several state names begin with the same letter (e.g., eight state names begin with M and eight begin with N, four "New" and two "North"). To avoid duplications, some abbreviations are not intuitive.
Prior to 1987, when the U.S. Secretary of Commerce approved the two-letter codes for use in government documents,the United States Government Printing Office (GPO) suggested its own set of abbreviations, with some states left unabbreviated. Today, the GPO supports United States Postal Service standard.
The Associated Press Stylebook, the usage guide for most United States newspapers, counsels the use of abbreviations for most state names, when appended to a city name (for example, "Santa Ana, Calif."). AP suggests spelling out the names of Alaska, Hawaii, and all states with five or fewer letters; and, unlike the old GPO recommendations, AP suggests spelling out the names of all non-state territories, with the exception of the District of Columbia (D.C.). Legal citation manuals, such as The Bluebook and The ALWD Citation Manual , typically use these "traditional abbreviations" or variants thereof.
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) established alphabetic and numeric codes for each state and outlying areas in ANSI standard INCITS 38:2009. ANSI standard INCITS 38:2009 replaced the Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) standards FIPS 5-2, FIPS 6-4, and FIPS 10-4. The ANSI alphabetic state code is the same as the USPS state code except for U.S. Minor Outlying Islands, which have an ANSI code "UM" but no USPS code—and U.S. Military Mail locations, which have USPS codes ("AA", "AE", "AP") but no ANSI code.
The United States Postal Service has established a set of uppercase abbreviations to help process mail with optical character recognition and other automated equipment.There are also official USPS abbreviations for other parts of the address, such as street designators (street, avenue, road, etc.).
These postal abbreviations are distinguished from traditional abbreviations such as Calif., Fla., or Tex. The Associated Press Stylebook states that in contexts other than mailing addresses, the traditional state abbreviations should be used.However, the Chicago Manual of Style now recommends use of the uppercase two-letter abbreviations, with the traditional forms as an option.
The postal abbreviation is the same as the ISO 3166-2 subdivision code for each of the fifty states.
These codes do not overlap with the 13 Canadian subnational postal abbreviations. The code for Nebraska changed from NB to NE in November 1969 to avoid a conflict with New Brunswick.Canada likewise chose MB for Manitoba to prevent conflict with either Massachusetts (MA), Minnesota (MN), or Montana (MT).
The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) uses a set of two-letter prefixes for vessel numbers; red in the table above.39 states and the District of Columbia have the same USPS and USCG abbreviations. USCG prefixes have also been established for five outlying territories; all are the same as the USPS abbreviations except the Mariana Islands. The twelve cases where USPS and USCG abbreviations differ are listed below and marked in
Country codes are short alphabetic or numeric geographical codes (geocodes) developed to represent countries and dependent areas, for use in data processing and communications. Several different systems have been developed to do this. The term country code frequently refers to international dialing codes, the E.164 country calling codes.
Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) are publicly announced standards developed by the United States federal government for use in computer systems by non-military government agencies and government contractors.
ISO 3166 is a standard published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) that defines codes for the names of countries, dependent territories, special areas of geographical interest, and their principal subdivisions. The official name of the standard is Codes for the representation of names of countries and their subdivisions.
A postal code is a series of letters or digits or both, sometimes including spaces or punctuation, included in a postal address for the purpose of sorting mail.
A ZIP Code is a postal code used by the United States Postal Service (USPS) in a system it introduced in 1963. The term ZIP is an acronym for Zone Improvement Plan; it was chosen to suggest that the mail travels more efficiently and quickly when senders use the code in the postal address. The basic format consists of five digits. An extended ZIP+4 code was introduced in 1983 which includes the five digits of the ZIP Code, followed by a hyphen and four additional digits that reference a more specific location.
FIPS state codes were numeric and two-letter alphabetic codes defined in U.S. Federal Information Processing Standard Publication 5-2 to identify U.S. states and certain other associated areas. The standard superseded FIPS PUB 5-1 on May 28, 1987, and was superseded on September 2, 2008, by ANSI standard INCITS 38:2009.
ISO 3166-2:CA is the entry for Canada in ISO 3166-2, part of the ISO 3166 standard published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), which defines codes for the names of the principal subdivisions of all countries coded in ISO 3166-1.
ISO 3166-2:US is the entry for the United States in ISO 3166-2, part of the ISO 3166 standard published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), which defines codes for the names of the principal subdivisions of all countries coded in I 3166-1.
ISO 3166-1 is part of the ISO 3166 standard published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), and defines codes for the names of countries, dependent territories, and special areas of geographical interest. The official name of the standard is Codes for the representation of names of countries and their subdivisions – Part 1: Country codes. It defines three sets of country codes:
ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 codes are two-letter country codes defined in ISO 3166-1, part of the ISO 3166 standard published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), to represent countries, dependent territories, and special areas of geographical interest. They are the most widely used of the country codes published by ISO, and are used most prominently for the Internet's country code top-level domains. They are also used as country identifiers extending the postal code when appropriate within the international postal system for paper mail, and has replaced the previous one consisting one-letter codes. They were first included as part of the ISO 3166 standard in its first edition in 1974.
These are data codes for Switzerland.
Franking refers to any devices, markings, or combinations thereof ("franks") applied to mails of any class which qualifies them to be postally serviced. Types of franks include uncanceled and precanceled postage stamps, impressions applied via postage meter, official use "Penalty" franks, Business Reply Mail (BRM), and other permit Imprints (Indicia), manuscript and facsimile "franking privilege" signatures, "soldier's mail" markings, and any other forms authorized by the 191 postal administrations that are members of the Universal Postal Union.
An address is a collection of information, presented in a mostly fixed format, used to give the location of a building, apartment, or other structure or a plot of land, generally using political boundaries and street names as references, along with other identifiers such as house or apartment numbers and organization name. Some addresses also contain special codes, such as a postal code, to make identification easier and aid in the routing of mail.
Canadian provincial and territorial postal abbreviations are used by Canada Post in a code system consisting of two capital letters, to represent the 13 provinces and territories on addressed mail. These abbreviations allow automated sorting.
Geolocation is the identification or estimation of the real-world geographic location of an object, such as a radar source, mobile phone, or Internet-connected computer terminal. In its simplest form geolocation, involves the generation of a set of geographic coordinates and is closely related to the use of positioning systems, but its usefulness is enhanced by the use of these coordinates to determine a meaningful location, such as a street address.
ISO 3166-2:UM is the entry for the United States Minor Outlying Islands in ISO 3166-2, part of the ISO 3166 standard published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), which defines codes for the names of the principal subdivisions of all countries coded in ISO 3166-1.