Do You Need a Postal Code to Mail an International Package?

Do You Need a Postal Code to Mail an International Package? Getting the recipient’s address right is important when you’re mailing any kind of package, but it is especially crucial when it comes to international packages because international shipping is expensive and the probability of your package getting lost en route is higher. One of the questions that people often ask when addressing international packages is, “Do I need a postal code to mail a package?”

First things first, let’s figure out what a postal code is and why it is important. A postal code (also known as a post code, postcode, or PIN or ZIP Code in some countries) is a series of letters, digits, or both that is included in a postal address for the purpose of sorting mail and facilitating delivery. Postal codes are usually assigned to geographical areas (villages, towns, delivery zones in big cities). In some countries, special postal codes may be assigned to institutions that receive large volumes of mail.

The development of postal code systems began in the second half of the 19th century due to population growth and urbanization. The predecessors to modern postal codes were postal district/zone numbers that were first introduced in London and then in other large English cities. By World War I, many European cities adopted postal district/zone numbers. The first attempt to introduce postal codes as we know them today was made in the Ukrainian SSR in 1932, but the system was abandoned seven years later. The first country to introduce postal codes after that was Germany in 1941.

Today, most countries have a postcode system to facilitate mail sorting and delivery, but some don’t. Here is a list of countries that do not require a postal code in the recipient’s address: Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Cook Islands, Côte d’Ivoire, Dominica, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, former Netherlands Antilles (Aruba, Bonaire, Saint Eustatius and Saba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten), North Korea, Qatar, Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Sao Tomé and Principe, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Sudan, Suriname, Syria, Togo, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, United Arab Emirates, Vanuatu, Yemen, and Zimbabwe.

A couple dozen countries and territories use a single postal code for the whole country/territory, and the rest of the countries and territories have a system of postal codes which indicate the delivery zone or post office. When you send a letter or package to a country that has a postal code system, you must include the postal code in the recipient’s address.

What you need to understand whem mailing a package to a foreign country from the United States is that the United States Postal Service does not need a postal code to have your package delivered overseas; only the name of the destination country is needed. It is the postal service of the destination country that needs a postal code to deliver your package to the recipient. Because of this, the USPS does not keep information on foreign postal codes in its database and has no way to verify if a specific foreign postal code is valid.

This means that it is up to you as the sender to verify the recipient’s postal code and make sure the address is correct. If you don’t know the postal code, you should reach out to the addressee, check out the website of the destination country’s postal service (it may have a postal code lookup tool), or try Googling the postal code for the recipient’s address. Verifying the postal code with the recipient whenever it is possible is the best course of action.

Where should you place the postal code when addressing an international package? The rule of thumb is that foreign postal codes should be placed above the country name. However, you should keep in mind that some countries have specific requirements as to where the postal code should be placed. Some prefer that the postal code precede the name of the destination city/town, while others prefer that it follow the addressee’s name. Therefore it is highly recommended that you check out the requirements of the destination country’s national postal service before addressing the package.