ZIP Code Overview
Why ZIP Code APIs?
Over the last several decades, the process of sending and receiving mail around the world has become increasingly automated. For instance, ZIP codes in the United States are convertible into barcodes that are easily scannable in postal centers.
This automation becomes increasingly necessary when items change hands across postal carriers both domestically (i.e. from FedEx to USPS) and internationally (i.e. from USPS to Canada Post). When goods ship between countries, it’s common for packages to exchange hands between local postal carriers.
The Importance Of The Technology
An API is what enables players in a shipping, logistics, and fulfilment puzzle to communicate with one another. The acronym API stands for “application programming interface” which defines programming standards between different systems.
A ZIP code API, also known as a ZIP code lookup, makes it possible to programmatically look up information using a ZIP code as a unique identifier.
In North America, all major shipping carriers including USPS, Canada Post, FedEx, DHL, and UPS maintain various APIs with corresponding documentation.
For instance, the USPS API user guide is available here. It specifies that a ZIP code lookup API call to the UPSP returns the ZIP Code and ZIP Code + 4 corresponding to the given address, city, and state (use USPS state abbreviations).
ZIP code APIs can return a maximum number of lookups per request based on server limits. This threshold depends on the company responsible for maintaining this data. The USPS zip code lookup API can return up to five lookups per request.
ZIP Code Backstory
The term “ZIP” refers to the zoning improvement plan (ZIP) that was implemented in the United States in the late 1960s, due to a boom in the population and a corresponding growth in commerce. Over the last several decades, ZIP codes have taken on an important role in the expedient delivery of mail within and across the continent.
United States ZIP codes are five numerical digits long. ZIP + 4 codes, also known as add-on or plus-four codes, include four additional digits that identify a geographic segment within a ZIP code delivery area.
The first digits of a ZIP code define a group of U.S. states. The second and third digits represent a region within that group. Every additional digit defines where a person lives, with greater precision.
The United States is currently the only nation in which a postal code is called a ZIP code. The rest of the world, including Canada, refers to postal codes as postal codes.
To learn more about ZIP codes in the United States and postal codes in Canada, take a look at the following resources:
Use Cases For ZIP Code Lookups
A ZIP code lookup API will ensure that data flows swiftly and accurately between relevant systems. Here are some example use cases for using a ZIP code lookup API.
- Build systems of record for strategic planning around brand messaging, customer support, and safety protocols for front-line workers. Gain an understanding of what the environment might be like, on the ground.
- Ensure an efficient and rigorous data capture process for fighting fraud. Use a ZIP code lookup API to identify a customer’s identity. Cut down keystrokes, speed up the order process, and reduce the number of failed postal deliveries.
As a result of COVID-19, economic conditions are strained around the world, which necessitates an increased level of communication between customers, merchants, payment processors, and card issuers. Tightened verification checks may be necessary to streamline digital transactions and ensure that the person paying for the product or service is the person ordering it.
Loqate helps businesses around the world verify customer addresses by combing our global datasets with best in class technology. Our easy to integrate APIs helps our customers verify customer data at the point of capture. Find out more about how Loqate address verification solutions can help your business.