|What are "Preferred and Alternate Cities"?
There are approximately 43,000 U.S. ZIP Codes as issued by the US Postal Service. Although there are 43,000 unique ZIP Codes, there are more city and town names than there are ZIP Codes. For example, the ZIP Code where our office is located is 22405. However, if you were to take a stroll down Main Street and ask people you meet some will tell you that 22405 is the ZIP Code for Falmouth, VA, whereas others will tell you that 22405 belongs to Fredericksburg, VA. Actually, around here, both are legitimate, since Falmouth's mail originally was delivered by the Fredericksburg Post Office (across the river). Besides situations like this one, a ZIP Code may cover more than one city or region. It is not unheard of to have 10 different city or town names for one ZIP Code! However, even though the USPS permits alternative city and town names for a single ZIP Code, they do have a preference; and that preference is referred to as a "PREFERRED CITY". So, this explains why we offer two different databases for our Basic, Deluxe, Pro and Platinum series: Preferred (containing approx. 43,000 ZIPs and cities) or Expanded (containing 73,000 records, which consist of 30,000 additional alternative city names)
Below is a snippet from a database containing only preferred city names, and to the right, the same ZIP Codes from an Expanded database containing alternate and preferred city names. The rows highlighted in pink are the preferred city names that the USPS has chosen for each ZIP Code.
When you purchase one of our "Expanded" databases, you will get all of the alternate city names that the USPS allows. You will be able to distinguish between preferred and alternate city names by the "Preferred" field value, which will either contain a "P", an "A" or an "N" (for not-acceptable).
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