What Are ZIP Codes and USPS Zone Charts Matrix?

If you’re an individual who regularly ships packages or are a business that requires a lot of interstate shipping, you probably come across terms like Shipping Zone or Postal Zone–and you may be wondering what they mean to you.

A shipping Zone or Postal Zone is The United States Postal Services’ way of determining the distance a package will travel.

Learning the ins and outs of shipping or postal zones and how shipping rates are calculated can be very helpful to you or your business through the shipping process. 

What are Postal Zones and Shipping Zones

Postal zones are fundamental in e-commerce and online order-fulfillment businesses. If you’re a business owner or an individual who regularly sends packages, it’s important to understand Postal Zones and Shipping Zones in order to properly calculate the cost of shipping for your packages.

Postal Zones are also referred to as Shipping Zones; the terms are usually used interchangeably. But what do they mean? Well, in short form, Shipping Zones or Postal Zones are based on distance; this means the Zones are determined by the distance a package needs to travel between its originating location to its final destination

Postal Zones, or Shipping Zones, are defined geographical areas that are used by shipping companies to calculate the shipping costs of packages. Note that Shipping Zones are measured in ZIP codes, with areas within 50 miles of the starting ZIP code being known as Zone 1.

Shipping Zones are based on the distance from where a package is mailed (its point of origin) to the package’s final destination

Package carriers use shipping Zones to define individual shipping prices as well as the prices of any special packages the carriers may offer, such as speedy delivery or overnight delivery services. The United States Postal Service offers a variety of packages to choose from, and most offer to send your items at a quicker rate for higher fees.

The United States Postal Service, otherwise known as USPS, is the United States national delivery service that reaches every address in the nation–160 million businesses, private residences, and Post Office Boxes.

But remember the initial shipping cost is based on the distance from the point of origin of a package to the ZIP code of its destination

    Understanding USPS Shipping Zones

    In the United States, many popular shipping services such as The United States Postal Service (USPS), FedEx, and UPS, use an 8-tier system to determine the shipping or postal Zone, which sets the base price for shipping all across the United States. 

    USPS Zone Charts are manufactured by The United States Postal Service showing coordinates that have been reviewed to determine the distance between a package’s origin and its destination.

    The tiers of the USPS Zones are defined as the distance from the point of origin to a package’s destination. A detailed explanation of the Zone system is as follows:

    • Zone 1: A distance less than or equal to 50 miles from the point of origin. 
    • Zone 2: A distance of 51 to 150 miles from the point of origin. 
    • Zone 3: A distance of 151 to 300 miles from the point of origin. 
    • Zone 4: A distance of 301 to 600 miles from the point of origin. 
    • Zone 5: A distance of 601 to 1000 miles from the point of origin. 
    • Zone 6: A distance of 1001 miles to 1400 miles from the point of origin. 
    • Zone 7: A distance of 1401 to 1800 miles away from the point of origin.
    • Zone 8: A distance of 1801 or more miles away from the point of origin.
    • USPS Zone 9:  The United States Postal Service classifies Zone 9 as US territories such as Puerto Rico and Guam, as well as some military addresses. FedEx, UPS, and other popular shipping companies have separate zoning regulations when it comes to the prices for shipping to these places.

    Understanding all of this information may seem a little overwhelming at first, but once it’s broken down it’s easy enough to understand.

    For example, anything a company or individual ships within a 50-mile radius of their shop, home, or fulfillment location would fall under Zone 1. 

    Packages shipped within a 1455-mile radius would be considered Zone 7. Keep in mind that the shipping Zone determines the base shipping cost for USPS and many other carriers; any extras such as overnight delivery or speedy delivery would cost more. Also, remember that international shipping rates can vary by the shipping company as well. 

    Understanding what shipping zone you’re in can help you ultimately calculate your shipping costs. Remember that for some packages, flat rate shipping may be a better option because the price isn’t dependent on zones.

    The price for flat-rate shipping is, as its name states, a flat rate. This can be a better option if you have a package that is of significant weight that needs to be delivered farther away, such as Zone 7 or Zone 8. You or your business may find it cheaper to use flat-rate shipping for items such as these

    What is the USPS Zone Charts Matrix?

    Shipping Zones play an important role in the delivery of packages all across the United States. The USPS Shipping Zone Charts focus on the postage price depending on the residential area, as well as the delivery speed.

    The National Zone Charts Matrix helps businesses who are sending packages to calculate the most accurate rates for their packages.

    Zone charts are produced by The USPS using geological survey files to determine the distance between the point of origin and destination ZIP Codes, and they are updated on a quarterly basis.  These points of distance make up The USPS Zone Charts Matrix

    The USPS Zone Chart Matrix is used to assist mailers in determining the distance a package travels based on the ZIP code it originated from to its destination.

    Note that along with the starting prices found in The USPS Zone Chart Matrix, postage rates for certain types of mail and packages can incur additional costs based on their weight

    The term Local Zone refers to the origin zone of your shipment, or Zone 1. Any mail being delivered in the area with a matching ZIP code as its sender is considered “local.” Non-local zones are Zones that can’t be classified as local and are broken down into the 8 tiers that we spoke of earlier

    How to Use the USPS Zone Charts Matrix

    Using USPS’s website to help figure out your shipping Zone is a quick and easy way to help you calculate the cost of shipping. To use it, go to Domestic Zone Chart (usps.com) and follow the simple steps we’ve listed below. 

    • After reaching Domestic Zone Chart (usps.com), select the tab titled “Get Zone for ZIP Code Pair”.
    • First, you’ll need to enter the ZIP Code you are mailing the package from.
    • Next, enter the ZIP code that you are mailing to. 
    • You’ll also need to enter your prospective shipping date. Remember that the shipping date can also affect the total cost of shipping. 
    • Once you’ve entered the required information, it will reveal your Shipping Zone, and it will explain whether it is a local or non-local Zone. 

    Remember that Zones differ according to the package’s originating ZIP code. For example, someone in North Carolina who is shipping a package to Iowa would be a Zone 8, while someone shipping from South Dakota to the same address would be a Zone 6. So again, the Zone is determined from where the package originates, so Zone charts can show differences for different locations. 

    Shipping rates are also affected by package weight and/or dimensions. Heavier packages usually cost more to ship, which is a good thing to know if you are shipping to higher Zone numbers, such as Zone 7 or 8. When it comes to calculating costs the Zone is the base price for shipping. 

    Note that the total shipping costs are calculated on whichever number is higher–the physical weight of a package or the dimensional weight.

    Physical or actual weight is the exact amount that a package weighs, including all the packaging. The dimensional weight refers to the amount of space your package takes up or the volume (length x width x height) of a package. 


    Sending packages through USPS is a cost-efficient way to send packages, whether you’re a business owner or an individual. They offer great security measures and deliver at efficient times to addresses throughout the entire United States.

    It’s vital to understand what the different USPS Shipping Zones mean in order to utilize them for your shipping needs, especially if you’re an individual or small business that ships frequently.

    Shipping costs should be taken into account if you own an online store or fulfillment agency, or if you frequently ship items. Being able to accurately calculate shipping costs can help save you or your business money in the long run. 

    Originally posted 2023-02-10 22:32:41.

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