Understanding Postal ZIP Zones and Zone Charts

UPDATED: 20 February 2016

Postal Zones are based on the distance a mail piece travels from origination to the destination. These distances are formulated into Zones, which are seen on a United States Postal Service (USPS®) zone chart. Because zones are calculated based on where you are mailing from, make sure you use a USPS zone chart specific to your originating ZIP code.

The first 3 digits (prefix) of your destination ZIP code determine the shipping zone for your mail piece. Find the ZIP prefix within the ZIP code range of your destination -- and you will find the postal zone for your mailing in the same row.

Example: To send a package from ZIP code 38012 to ZIP code 06484

  • Use this sample chart (created based on the originating (380) ZIP code prefix)
  • Find the prefix for the destination ZIP code 06484
  • The prefix for 06484 (064) falls within the 010 - 065 range
  • Your mail piece should go to Zone 6

IMPORTANT: USPS Rate Changes can include ZIP and Zone changes. As of May 2015, the ZIP Code entry field on some meters features both numbers and letters; meters include: DM100i®--DM225™, mailstation™ and mailstation2™.

About Zones
Eight USPS Zones measure the distance from a mailer's location to the receiver's location. The mailer's local ZIP code is always the starting point. As shown in the following graphic, zones increase from one (1) through eight (8) as the mailing address gets farther away. The zones are used to gage postage for the USPS.

Zip Codes & Zones
Entering the Correct Zone for Your Mail
Follow these instructions to obtain a Zone to enter on your meter:

  1. If the class of mail requires a ZIP Code or Zone to be entered, your system will prompt you to enter one.
  2. Go to USPS Postal Zone Charts and enter the first three digits of your ZIP code to get your updated Zone chart.
  3. Find the destination ZIP Code (the first three digits of the ZIP Code you are mailing to) on the chart in order to determine the Zone.
  4. Enter the single digit Zone (1-8) you found on the chart into your meter when prompted for a ZIP Code or Zone.