Mail sent to sailors now must have a 9-digit zip code

Sailors sort mail aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz while on deployment. (U.S. Navy)

Sailors sort mail aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz while on deployment. (U.S. Navy)

Norfolk, Va. –  Effective immediately, anyone sending mail to Navy mobile units must use a nine-digit ZIP code to ensure delivery, according to a  message released by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus.

Mail not addressed correctly, including mail already en route, will be returned to the sender as undeliverable.

“Every mobile unit – ships, squadrons, detachments, et cetera – has a unique nine-digit ZIP code,” said Naval Supply Systems Command Postal Policy Division Director Thomas Rittle. “Commanding officers will provide the correct ZIP codes to Sailors so they can notify their correspondents about the new address requirement.”

According to the message, “The United States Postal Service (USPS) is resizing military mail processing operations from two coastal locations to one located in Chicago, Ill. to gain efficiencies in military mail delivery. As part of this effort, new procedures affecting configuration of mobile Fleet Post Office (FPO) addresses have been implemented to completely leverage automated mail sorting equipment and reduce manual sorting workload.”

USPS automated equipment is set up to read the nine-digit ZIP code separated with a dash between the first five digits and the last four digits.

The nine-digit ZIP code is required for all classes of mail.

ZIP codes are a system of postal codes used by the United States Postal Service (USPS) since 1963. The term ZIP is an acronym for Zone Improvement Plan. All U.S. addresses have a standard five-digit ZIP code that informs the postal service of the area of the country and the post office where mail is received. In 1983, the USPS added four digits to ZIP codes to help further pinpoint a recipient’s location.

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