ZIP Code vs Post Code

ZIP Codes vs Post Codes: How to Collect International Addresses

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Do you need to collect addresses from customers all over the world?

Collecting addresses in different international formats can be challenging because ZIP codes and post codes are different. Since different countries have different conventions, one address field format might not suit all of your customers.

In this article, I’m going to explain the postal systems different countries use and how you can collect any type of address using just 1 form.

Is a ZIP Code the Same as a Postal Code?

Yes, ZIP codes and postal codes have the same purpose, but the formatting is different depending on the detination.

If you plan to send your visitor a physical package, the format you use to capture the postal code or ZIP code is important. Some couriers or postal services will reject addresses if the fields aren’t correctly filled out.

Depending on the countries you ship to, you’ll want to account for the following post code or ZIP code formats.

United States ZIP Codes

The US is the only country that uses ZIP codes. The acronym ZIP, or Zone Improvement Plan, has been in use since 1963 when the United States Postal Service reformed the address system to cope with an increasing anount of mail. The system in the USA is similar to the PIN code system in India.

ZIP codes are 5-digit numbers. The number sequencing starts on the East Coast. As you move west, the first digit increases. (If you’re an 80s kid, you’ll remember one ZIP code in particular: 90210, which is in California.)


The remaining digits allow you to get closer to an address, but this 5-digit zip code system is not as accurate as the UK and Canadian post code system.

To combat this, the USPS added an additional set of numbers called ZIP+4. These additional digits pinpoint a specific part of a street or even a specific city block. It’s supplemented further by a 2-digit delivery point.

You don’t necessarily have to capture the ZIP+4 part or the delivery point, since those are optional, but any mail sent to the US will need the basic 5-digit ZIP.

Overall, the USPS system is very similar to that of the Phillippines, so you can use the same address field for both.

United Kingdom Postal Code System

The UK system of post codes pre-date the ZIP code. Post codes have two parts; the first is a 3-4 character string that denotes the postal region, which you can see on this postcode map. The second part is a 3-character string that pinpoints a specific street.

The UK system allows for a greater degree of accuracy than the US system using fewer characters. From the post code, you can narrow down the address to a small group of houses on one side of a road.

This means that UK mail can be sorted using the post code and the house number alone, although the full address is always used as a backup.

(Fun fact: Buckingham Palace has its own unique post code in London: SW1A 1AA.)

Canadian Post Codes

From the early 1970s, Canadian mail has been sorted using post codes. In this case, all codes lead with a letter to denote the province.

Canada post code map

The first 3 characters are the Forward Sortation area: province (the letter above), rural or urban area, and specific region. The last three are called the Local Delivery Unit and specify the exact street or block. These postal codes work in similarly to the UK’s system.

Other International Post Codes

Most countries have a post code system that’s similar to the ones we’ve talked about. If you’re building a form and you need to check the format for a specific geographic location, there’s a complete list of postal codes for geographical areas on the Wikipedia website.

Any post code or address format can be accommodated in WPForms using a custom address format, which I’ll explain next.

Collecting ZIP Codes and Post Codes On Your Forms

Note: To use the address field in WPForms, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid license.

WPForms is flexible enough to capture ZIP codes or post codes for any country, irrespective of the format that’s required by the post office.

By default, the Address field will capture ZIP codes using the regular 5-digit zip code system, without the ZIP+4 part.

WPForms default address field with ZIP code

If you need to collect an address for a visitor in the UK or Canda, click on the Address field and change the Scheme to International.

The ZIP code field changes to a post code field, and your visitor can also select their country if you use this format. This allows for different combinations of numbers and letters.

WPForms international address field

The International field is a general purpose field without any restrictions on postal address formatting. It should work for accurate postal delivery in many countries, including the UK and Canada.

But what happens if you want to collect International and US addresses? We can do that with some conditional logic.

Add a multiple choice field with 2 options: In the United States and Outside the United States.

Dropdown field to select location

Then add 2 address fields, one for each location. To make this easier to follow, I named my fields Address in US and one labeled Address Outside US.

Now I can set up smart conditional logic to show the correct address field according to the selection.

It’s difficult to see in my screenshot here, but the conditions on my first address field are Show this field if Where are you located? is In the United States.

Conditional logic field for address

For the second one, we’ll say we only want to show it if the visitor selects Address Outside US.

That’s an easy way to give your visitors more control over the address they enter, and it will allow for alphanumeric postal codes as well as numeric ZIP codes.

But what if you want to change the address field so that the fields are customized to a specific country?

For that, we can use custom address schemes.

Custom Address Schemes

The built-in International address scheme in WPForms is designed to give you an easy way to collect addresses from any country.

However, if the majority of your visitors are in a specific delivery area with a very specific post code format, you might want to adjust the address field to match.

The good news is that it’s easy to create a custom address scheme in WPForms. This is a great way to adapt the field if you’re outside the US because you can change the subfield labels at the same time. This can help make your address field more familiar to visitors in that location.

Let’s assume that you don’t want to use the International address field because all of your customers are in the UK. We can create a brand new field that’s set up specifically for UK addresses and post codes.

To do this, let’s install a code snippet using the WPCode plugin. Here’s the snippet we’re going to use:

Installing this code snippet is safe and easy.

Once WPCode is activated, connect to the library and search for the snippet called Create Additional Schemes for the Address Field.

You can tweak the snippet so that the address field, post code field, and states or regions are exactly how you want them. Just change the Label in the snippet to control the name of your new field.

WPCode custom address field for WPForms

Once it’s saved and activated, select it from the list and you’re done!

WPForms custom UK address field

I’m from the UK, and I know how tricky it is to get addresses in the right format! In addition to changing the ZIP code field, I also renamed the subfields to better reflect UK address conventions.

Address line 1 is now labeled House number and street, and Address line 2 is now Region. This won’t affect the delivery of mail, but it helps to make the field easy to read. This will guide your visitors to enter the correct information.

I also changed the States field to County. This was really easy to do. I adapted the snippet so that the relevant counties appear when the visitor clicks the dropdown.

Adding UK counties to WPForms custom address field

And now my address field is customized for UK addresses with post codes!

I used a simple ChatGPT prompt to get the list: Please list the postal counties of the UK in alphabetical order. Providing a pre-set list is a good way to ensure mail sorting is accurate. (We’ve collected a bunch of helpful ChatGPT prompts and tips if you’d like to learn more about using ChatGPT to generate lists like this.)

And speaking of countries, did you know you can also block a country from submitting a form if you need? It’s possible with WPForms.

A couple more tips before we finish up:

  • If you want to give people an example of the correct postcode format, I recommend using a placeholder. This allows you to add a value in the field as an example. It will disappear as soon as the visitor starts typing.
  • It’s best not to use this method to translate the address fields. Instead, check out our doc on how to translate field labels in WPForms.

I hope this article helped to explain how to collect post codes, ZIP codes, and custom address formats on one form for accurate delivery of mail. Reach out in the comments if you have any questions!

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Next, Customize the Post Code Field

Do you want to collect post codes or other types of numbers with a specific pattern of letters and numbers? Maybe you want to limit the number of characters that can be entered in a field as well?

It’s really easy to dictate the format for a field so you get accurate information. Check out this guide on how to limit form fields with an input mask.

Example of an input mask in WPForms

And if you’re not sure where your visitors are located, try running a demographic survey on your site. You can adapt the questions in our template to find out which geographic regions are most popular.

Ready to build your form? Get started today with the easiest WordPress form builder plugin. WPForms Pro includes 1,700+ form templates and offers a 14-day money-back guarantee.

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