Surprising Facts about ZIP Code Boundaries

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A variety of companies rely on ZIP Code boundaries - from online real estate portals, to direct marketers, to search engines. Although their applications are all a bit different, one aspect remains the same for every business: using current ZIP Code boundaries is critical. The older the ZIP Code boundaries, the more companies suffer in terms of efficiency, business intelligence, reputation and much more. You might think staying up to date with ZIP Code boundaries is simple enough. How much do ZIP Codes change, anyway? The answer might surprise you.


Changes to ZIP Code Boundaries in 2013

In fact, the US Postal Service expands and consolidates ZIP Code boundaries on a monthly basis - leading to thousands of changes throughout the year. Our statistics show that in 2013, over three-quarters of a million people were affected by ZIP Code boundary changes (782,080, to be exact). Here's the breakdown...

  • Number of ZIP Codes added: 793
  • Number of ZIP Codes deleted: 1376
  • Number of ZIP Code boundaries that were modified: 34,254


Sources of Updated ZIP Code Boundaries

Clearly, any business that relies on ZIP Code boundaries must be careful to stay updated. Even a few months without updates can leave you significantly behind. But you can't get the updated boundaries from the US Postal Service (USPS). Although the USPS creates, modifies and manages ZIP Codes, they do NOT provide ZIP Code boundaries. So, where do you get them?


ZCTAs from the US Census Bureau One option is to use ZCTAs, or ZIP Code Tabulation Areas, provided by the US Census Bureau. These are polygons created from tabular postal data. The problem with ZCTAs is that they are only released every 10 years. Furthermore, the most recent release - 2010 - does not cover the entire United States. Using ZCTAs means using outdated, incomplete postal data. Commercial Providers Another option is to use a commercial provider of ZIP Code boundaries. The nuances in this option lie in frequency and cost. More expensive providers offer monthly updates - which keeps you covered with current data, but requires a relatively large investment. Less expensive providers only update every year or twice a year, which isn't enough to be confident in the currency of your data.


Maponics ZIP Code Boundaries

Maponics is the industry standard in many areas of spatial data – including ZIP Codes. In fact, Maponics is so trusted that the USPS refers customers looking for ZIP Code data directly to Maponics. Maponics is the only provider of postal map data that is listed on as a resource for postal data, ZIP Code maps, carrier route reports, and other postal maps and reports. Maponics ZIP Code Boundaries are updated every quarter, with a change log for the data in every release. This keeps the cost reasonable, and it ensures that there is added value with each release. Maponics also offers previous releases of the ZIP Code Boundaries product, so historical ZIPs can be used in tandem with the most current data. Maponics also offers Maponics Context™, the first-ever suite of lifestyle and behavior analytics. Context products, such as Context Demographics, Context PRIZM, Context Walkability™ and Context Real Estate Sales and Inventory, can be projected onto Maponics ZIP Code Boundaries, for unprecedented insight into local character.

Read Our ZIP Code Boundaries Report Today

To learn more about ZIP Code boundaries and why it's vital that businesses maintain updated ZIP Code data, check out our free report: Is Your ZIP Code Data Delivering?