ZIP Code
ZIP codes are a system of postal code
Postal code
A postal code is a series of letters and/or digits appended to a postal address for the purpose of sorting mail. Once postal codes were introduced, other applications became possible.In February 2005, 117 of the 190 member countries of the Universal Postal Union had postal code systems...

s used by the United States Postal Service
United States Postal Service
The United States Postal Service is an independent agency of the United States government responsible for providing postal service in the United States...

 (USPS) since 1963. The term ZIP, an acronym for Zone Improvement Plan, is properly written in capital letters and was chosen to suggest that the mail
Mail, or post, is a system for transporting letters and other tangible objects: written documents, typically enclosed in envelopes, and also small packages are delivered to destinations around the world. Anything sent through the postal system is called mail or post.In principle, a postal service...

 travels more efficiently, and therefore more quickly, when senders use the code in the postal address
Address (geography)
An address is a collection of information, presented in a mostly fixed format, used for describing 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...

. The basic format consists of five decimal numerical digit
Numerical digit
A digit is a symbol used in combinations to represent numbers in positional numeral systems. The name "digit" comes from the fact that the 10 digits of the hands correspond to the 10 symbols of the common base 10 number system, i.e...

s. An extended ZIP+4 code, introduced in the 1980s, includes the five digits of the ZIP code, a hyphen
The hyphen is a punctuation mark used to join words and to separate syllables of a single word. The use of hyphens is called hyphenation. The hyphen should not be confused with dashes , which are longer and have different uses, or with the minus sign which is also longer...

, and four more digits that determine a more precise location than the ZIP code alone.