Postal codes in Germany

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Germany introduced postal codes on 25 July 1941, in the form of a two-digit system that was applied initially for the parcel service and later for all mail deliveries. This system was replaced in 1962 in West Germany by a four-digit system; three years later East Germany followed with its own four-digit system. Whereas the Federal Republic introduced a system with space left for the East German postal system after a possible reunification, such as by omitting all codes starting with '1' (except 1000 for West Berlin) and '9', the German Democratic Republic had a system that used all codes starting from '1' to '9' just for East Germany.

Germany Federal parliamentary republic in central-western Europe

Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central and Western Europe, lying between the Baltic and North Seas to the north, and the Alps, Lake Constance and the High Rhine to the south. It borders Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, France to the southwest, and Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands to the west.

Postal code series of letters and digits for sorting mail

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.

West Germany Federal Republic of Germany in the years 1949–1990

West Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, and referred to by historians as the Bonn Republic, was a country in Central Europe that existed from 1949 to 1990, when the western portion of Germany was part of the Western bloc during the Cold War. It was created during the Allied occupation of Germany in 1949 after World War II, established from eleven states formed in the three Allied zones of occupation held by the United States, the United Kingdom and France. Its capital was the city of Bonn.

Today, German postal codes are numeric, consisting of five digits since 1993. Between 1990 and 1993 the old four-digit codes in the former West were prefixed with the letter "W", and in the former East with the letter "O" (for "Ost", which means "east" in German). Even though the western system had kept some number ranges free specifically for later integration of the East should reunification come, it was decided that the time was right to create an entirely new system in the 1990s, in which larger towns and cities would be divided into multiple postal code areas (the old system had made inconsistent use of additional numbers after the city's name for this), and companies receiving a lot of mail (such as mail-order businesses) could get a private code assigned. This resulted in a system where one could no longer identify the size of the city by the number of trailing zeros in its postal code (such as 2000 for Hamburg or 8000 for Munich).

Post office boxes are arranged in racks containing several dozens of them. Each rack is identified by an individual postal code.

The 1993 system has geographic zones on the first (Postleitzonen) and on the second level (Postleitregion), e.g., 1 is North East Germany, and 10 is a zone in the inner city of Berlin.

Berlin Capital of Germany

Berlin is the capital and largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,748,148 (2018) inhabitants make it the second most populous city proper of the European Union after London. The city is one of Germany's 16 federal states. It is surrounded by the state of Brandenburg, and contiguous with its capital, Potsdam. The two cities are at the center of the Berlin-Brandenburg capital region, which is, with about six million inhabitants and an area of more than 30,000 km², Germany's third-largest metropolitan region after the Rhine-Ruhr and Rhine-Main regions.

German Postleitzahl map of the first two digits. The green lines mark state borders, which do not always correspond with postal code areas. German postcode information.png
German Postleitzahl map of the first two digits. The green lines mark state borders, which do not always correspond with postal code areas.
P. O. box racks in a German post office of the Duisburg post code area. The top number is the postal code (PLZ=Postleitzahl) for the individual rack. Postfachschraenke.jpg
P. O. box racks in a German post office of the Duisburg post code area. The top number is the postal code (PLZ=Postleitzahl) for the individual rack.

As of 31 December, 2007, the zones have the following area and population:

Leitzone Area (km²) Population Region covered Large cities
0 37,187.8 6,819,607 Saxony, southern parts of Saxony-Anhalt and Brandenburg, eastern parts of Thuringia Dresden, Leipzig, Halle, Chemnitz, Cottbus, Jena
1 47,642.4 7,034,541 Berlin, largest parts of Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, small parts of Lower Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt Berlin, Potsdam, Frankfurt (Oder), Rostock, Schwerin
2 44,207.4 8,691,409 Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein, northern parts of Lower Saxony, Bremen, small parts of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Hamburg, Lübeck, Kiel, Bremen, Bremerhaven, Oldenburg
3 45,488.1 9,012,212 southern parts of Lower Saxony, eastern parts of Westphalia, northern parts of Hesse, Thuringia and Saxony-Anhalt Hanover, Bielefeld, Kassel, Fulda, Gießen, Göttingen, Brunswick, Magdeburg
4 20,212.3 10,331,535 north-western parts of North Rhine-Westphalia, south-western parts of Lower Saxony Düsseldorf, Dortmund, Essen, Duisburg, Münster, Osnabrück
5 28,834.5 9,233,815 south-western parts of North Rhine-Westphalia, largest parts of Rhineland-Palatinate, small parts of Hesse Cologne, Bonn, Aachen, Mainz, Koblenz, Trier
6 17,247.9 7,540,503 southern parts of Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland, small parts of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg Frankfurt (Main), Wiesbaden, Darmstadt, Saarbrücken, Heidelberg, Mannheim, Aschaffenburg
7 27,864.2 8,715,898 largest parts of Baden-Württemberg, small parts of Rhineland-Palatinate Stuttgart, Tübingen, Freiburg, Konstanz, Baden-Baden
8 36,427.2 7,675,001 southern parts of Bavaria, south-eastern parts of Baden-Württemberg Munich, Rosenheim, Augsburg, Ulm, Ingolstadt
9 47,803.7 7,163,416 northern parts of Bavaria (Franconia), largest parts of Thuringia, small parts of Baden-Württemberg Nuremberg, Würzburg, Erfurt, Weimar, Eisenach, Bamberg, Bayreuth

There are only three states (Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein and Saarland), in addition to the city states, that lie completely within one postal zone, while three states (Lower Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Baden-Wurttemberg) cover four postal zones.

See also

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