[Talk-us] Boundaries of cities used in postal addresses?

Carl Anderson carl.anderson at vadose.org
Fri Nov 12 15:12:13 GMT 2010

As far as I can tell from the USPS point of view the name is an attribute of
a ZIP Code.
When you change ZIP Codes the list of valid names also changes.

Form my experience the rate of change of valid names for a single ZIP Code
is very low, less than 0.5% per year.
On the other hand newly added addresses may change ZIP Codes, as published
in the USPS AIS ZIP+4 product, several times in their first year.

The problem with boundaries is not so much wholesale ZIP Code renumbering
but the refinement of the boundary through growth.  As new things pop up
they seem to get allocated to a ZIP Code that has sufficient capacity to
serve them, not necessarily the ZIP Code of their neighbors.  Likewise
commercial and residential mailboxes often get served by different mail
carriers (the people actually doing the delivery).  Sometimes those carriers
are associated with different ZIP Codes.  It is possible and known that one
building can have one ZIP Code for its commercial addresses and another ZIP
Code for its residential addresses.

Looking back at the 32830 vs 32836 issue
the USPS reports both with an "Actual City name" of Orlando FL
while 32836 also has an "Acceptable City name" of Lake Buena Vista FL
(The USPS use of Actual in this way does cause a different confusion, in
that neither are within the municipal limits of Orlando)

try it yourself

The USPostal data from geonames.org may help you associate a valid names
with point locations.


On Fri, Nov 12, 2010 at 9:07 AM, Nathan Edgars II <neroute2 at gmail.com>wrote:

> On Fri, Nov 12, 2010 at 9:02 AM, Richard Welty <rwelty at averillpark.net>
> wrote:
> > i guess it's like any other admin boundary, it's subject to change.
> > who is going to maintain it, or will it be allowed to slowly
> > deteriorate and become obsolete? if the rate of change is low,
> > maybe that's not an issue.
> How frequently does a piece of land change postal place name (not zip
> code)? Does this usually happen only with a new community?
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Carl Anderson, GISP

canderson at spatialfocus.com
carl.anderson at vadose.org
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