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.
|Name and status of region||ISO||ANSI||USPS||USCG||GPO||AP||Other|
|United States of America||Federal state||US
|District of Columbia||Federal district||US-DC||DC||11||DC||DC||D.C.||D.C.||Wash. D.C.|
|Illinois||State||US-IL||IL||17||IL||IL||Ill.||Ill.||Il., Ills., Ill's|
|Kentucky||State (Commonwealth)||US-KY||KY||21||KY||KY||Ky.||Ky.||Ken., Kent.[b]|
|New Mexico||State||US-NM||NM||35||NM||NM||N. Mex.||N.M.||New M.|
|New York||State||US-NY||NY||36||NY||NY||N.Y.||N.Y.||N. York|
|North Carolina||State||US-NC||NC||37||NC||NC||N.C.||N.C.||N. Car.|
|North Dakota||State||US-ND||ND||38||ND||ND||N. Dak.||N.D.||NoDak|
|Pennsylvania||State (Commonwealth)||US-PA||PA||42||PA||PA||Pa.||Pa.||Penn., Penna.|
|Rhode Island||State||US-RI||RI||44||RI||RI||R.I.||R.I.||R.I. & P.P., R. Isl.|
|South Carolina||State||US-SC||SC||45||SC||SC||S.C.||S.C.||S. Car.|
|South Dakota||State||US-SD||SD||46||SD||SD||S. Dak.||S.D.||SoDak|
|West Virginia||State||US-WV||WV||54||WV||WV||W. Va.||W.Va.||W.V., W. Virg.|
|American Samoa||Insular area (Territory)||AS
|Guam||Insular area (Territory)||GU
|Northern Mariana Islands||Insular area (Commonwealth)||MP
|Puerto Rico||Insular area (Territory)||PR
|U.S. Virgin Islands||Insular area (Territory)||VI
|U.S. Minor Outlying Islands||Insular areas||UM
|Micronesia||Freely associated state||FM
|Marshall Islands||Freely associated state||MH
|Palau||Freely associated state||PW
|U.S. Armed Forces – Americas[d]||US military mail code||AA|
|U.S. Armed Forces – Europe[e]||US military mail code||AE|
|U.S. Armed Forces – Pacific[f]||US military mail code||AP|
|Northern Mariana Islands||Obsolete postal code[g]||CM|
|Panama Canal Zone||Obsolete postal code||PZ
|Nebraska||Obsolete postal code[h]||NB|
|Philippine Islands||Obsolete postal code||PH
|Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands||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 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.
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.
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; 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 red in the table above.
Address Management System (AMS) is the United States Postal Service master database of deliverable addresses. Address-checking tools using AMS provide address standardization, as well as city/state and ZIP Code lookup features.Business mailers use the USPS Address Management System database to standardize addresses by correcting errors in street addresses and city names and to return the correct ZIP Codes. City/state lookup services use AMS to provide the city and state corresponding to any given ZIP Code.AMS is also a general term describing a technological solution for managing street addressing.Advanced Facer-Canceler System
The Advanced Facer Canceller System (AFCS) is a high-speed machine used by the US Postal Service to cull, face, and cancel letter mail through a series of automated operations. AFCS was first implemented in 1992, and is capable of processing 30,000 pieces of mail per hour.Air Mail Facility
An Air Mail Facility is an installation for Airmails of the United States.Boat Railway Post Office
Post was transported over water in the United States in the later nineteenth and the twentieth century.Bureau of Transportation
The Bureau of Transportation of the United States Post Office Department was established in 1960. It was the successor to the Postal Transportation Service (PTS); the PTS had responsibility for mail transportation contracting as well as employees assigned to Mobile Unit and stationary PTS facilities such as Air Mail Facility, Terminal Railway Post Office, or Transfer Office operations. Only the contract issuance and administration responsibilities for mail routes were given to the Bureau of Transportation. Human Resources were transferred to postmasters in the cities where Mobile and Stationary Units were located. This division of activity continued to the end of the Post Office Department and after it became the U.S. Postal Service.Domestic Mail Manual
The Domestic Mail Manual (DMM) is a document that lays out the policies and prices of the United States Postal Service (USPS). In legal parlance, it contains "the Mailing Standards of the United States Postal Service". Changes to the DMM are announced in the Federal Register. The DMM sets postage rates and all other aspects of the USPS' service delivery.Flats (USPS)
The United States Postal Service uses the words "flats" and "nonletters" interchangeably to refer to large envelopes, newsletters, and magazines.Information-Based Indicia
Information-Based Indicia (IBI) refers to a secure postage evidencing standard used by the United States Postal Service (USPS) to indicate electronic postage payment.Information-Based Indicia is a 2-dimensional PDF417 or data matrix barcode combined with human-readable information. The barcode data contains such information as amount of postage, origin zip code, destination, mail class, weight, confirmation/tracking numbers, and a cryptographic signature. The human-readable information shows at a minimum the information required by the USPS Domestic Mail Manual (DMM).Locatable Address Conversion System
Locatable Address Conversion System (LACS) is a service offered by the United States Postal Service to update mailing addresses when a street is renamed or the address is updated for 911. In the case of 911, the address is changed from a rural route format to an urban/city route format. E.G. RR 2 BOX 8, SOME CITY, TX would become 2601 BELMONT DR, SOME CITY, TX.
A check of address using LACS is typically not performed by the USPS, but by 3rd parties who license the LACS data from the USPS. A licensee will create or purchase software to perform the LACS check and receive monthly or bi-monthly updates of LACS data from the USPS.Mail hook
A mail hook is an installation at a railroad where a catcher pouch can be hung, to be picked up by a passing train without the train having to stop. See further discussion at Railway post office.Mail jumping
Mail jumping is a type of mail delivery. The person doing the mail jumping (known as a mail jumper) is transported on a body of water by a boat. The person jumps off the boat onto a dock, places incoming mail in a mailbox, retrieves outgoing mail, and jumps back onto the boat. The boat continues to move at a slow and steady pace (about 5 miles per hour (8 km/h)) while the mail jumper is jumping.National Alliance of Postal and Federal Employees
The National Alliance Of Postal and Federal Employees (NAPFE) is a labor union in the United States. It was founded October 6, 1913 and is affiliated with the International Trade Union Confederation.National Association of Presort Mailers
The National Association of Presort Mailers (NAPM) is a US trade group which represents major mailers and third-party presorted mailing firms.Network Distribution Center
A Network Distribution Center (NDC) is a highly mechanized mail processing plant of the United States Postal Service that distributes standard mail and package services in piece and bulk form.Permit Reply Mail
Permit Reply Mail is a class of mail service provided by the United States Postal Service. It is described in section 505 of the Domestic Mail Manual and is primarily used for reply envelopes containing optical discs.Permit mail
Permit mail is anything sent through the postal service where postage is paid by a post office issued permit. No postage stamp is affixed to letters sent by permit mail.
The post office will bill the sender based on the number of items sent, their weight, etc.Advantages of permit mail:
The sender does not have to affix postage stamps to the mail
The sender does not have to safeguard postage stamps from employee theft
The post office does not have to cancel any stamps, thus requiring less work to deliver the mail.Rural Post "Good" Roads Act of 1916
The Rural Post Roads Act of 1916 provided federal aid in the United States to the states for the construction of rural post roads, construed to mean any public road over which the United States mail was then transported.States and territories
States and Territories may refer to:
List of U.S. state abbreviations
States and territories of Australia
Provinces and territories of Canada
States and union territories of India
Political divisions of MexicoTitle 39 of the United States Code
Title 39 of the United States Code outlines the role of United States Postal Service in the United States Code.
Part III—Modernization and Fiscal Administration
Part IV—Mail Matter
Part V—Transportation of Mail