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COA Resources
  • Driver's License - You must make sure you change your address with your State's department of motor vehicles (DMV).
  • Magazine Address Changes - We have collected some great information on how to change your address to keep getting the magazines you love at your new home.
  • Name Change Checklist - If you have recently gotten married, divorced, or changed your name for any other reason, then this list of resources will help you make sure you notify organizations that need to know your new name.
  • Driver's License - You must make sure you change your address with your State's department of motor vehicles (DMV).
  • USPS COA Site - You can pay a small fee to change your address here OR you can use our FREE service.
  • USPS Options for Receiving Mail - This is an interesting page where you can see what your options are for receiving mail. Did you know you had any?
  • Call to Change Your Address - This is an FAQ entry on how to change your address over the telephone.
  • USPS State Abbreviations - This is a real quick table for looking up State abbreviations.

Archive for April, 2010

U.S. ZIP Codes: Addresses 101

Addresses are actually more complicated than most people ever take the time to realize or appreciate. The concept of keeping track of where everyone lives in order to be able to send items via a courier to each other sounds simple but when you evolve from a small community to millions of people, the complications quickly get compounded. One of the basic elements of a U.S. Address is commonly known as a ZIP code (aka zone improvement plan, zipcode, zip, etc.). The ZIP code is used mostly for sorting purposes so that the mail going to someone can at least get to the nearest post office branch for distribution by a carrier.

ZIP Codes are numbered with the very first digit representing a group of U.S. States, the second and third numbers together represent a region in that group (a city or town for instance), and the final 2-digits more narrowly define the location (area or part of the city/town). ZIP Codes are often divided and/or changed in fact some minor monthly changes are actually very normal.

If you look at ZIP codes from a geographic perspective you will notice that the lowest numbers are in the Northeastern U.S. and then they first increase as you go South down the east cost and then go up as you move Westward (so Boston, MA is 02107, Atlanta, GA is 30303, Des Moines, IA is 50309, and San Francisco, CA is 94111). These are all just example ZIP codes but they help you understand the flow of ZIP codes quite a bit.

As was mentioned above, the first digit of a ZIP code represents a group of States. Here is a quick table which defines the actual state groupings:

First Digit of ZIP CodeGroup of States
0Connecticut (CT), Massachusetts (MA), Maine (ME), New Hampshire (NH), New Jersey (NJ), Puerto Rico (PR), Rhode Island (RI), Vermont (VT), Virgin Islands (VI)
1Delaware (DE), New York (NY), Pennsylvania (PA)
2District of Columbia (DC), Maryland (MD), North Carolina (NC), South Carolina (SC), Virginia (VA), West Virginia (WV)
3Alabama (AL), Florida (FL), Georgia (GA), Mississippi (MS), Tennessee (TN)
4Indiana (IN), Kentucky (KY), Michigan (MI), Ohio (OH)
Iowa (IA), Minnesota (MN), Montana (MT), North Dakota (ND), South Dakota (SD), Wisconsin (WI)
Illinois (IL), Kansas (KS), Missouri (MO), Nebraska (NE)
7Arkansas (AR), Louisiana (LA), Oklahoma (OK), Texas (TX)
8Arizona (AZ), Colorado (CO), Idaho (ID), New Mexico (NM), Nevada (NV), Utah (UT), Wyoming (WY)
Alaska (AK), American Samoa (AS), California (CA), Guam (GU), Hawaii (HI), Oregon (OR), Washington (WA)

There are other “special” ZIP codes for some of the U.S. territories as well as for some of the places in the country that get a lot of mail. For example, the Federal Citizen Information Center (FCIC) gets a lot of mail and accordingly has it’s own 5-digit ZIP. It is also true that the President of the United States also has his own personal ZIP code which is secret (the secret ZIP code is reserved for the First family to use as they see fit).

So the basic anatomy of a 5-digit ZIP code is pretty easy to follow and fortunately for everyone the digits do have a meaning. These aren’t just random numbers thrown together by a massive number-generating software program.

So the next time a clerk at a cash register asks you for your ZIP code you can now have a little better appreciation for the value they are most likely receiving from you. In general, not too much. But now you at least know a little bit more about 5-digit ZIP codes. If nothing else maybe you will think of this article… So that’s all for 5-digit U.S. ZIP Codes and their contribution to the basic anatomy of U.S. addresses.

7 Tips for Packing Your Car or SUV

I was traveling recently and enjoying a pleasant stay in a quaint, reserved hotel.  As I was packing my own car I couldn’t help but hear a wife just tearing into her husband for not knowing how to pack their SUV.  Apparently, he was doing it all wrong AGAIN!  She would just have none of it and was genuinely a wreck over the whole ordeal.  So it was with this in mind that I decided to write an article about packing your trunk be it for a car or SUV.  These tips work for vacations as well as moving since there are at least a few things that usually get taken by car with every move (at least that has been my personal experience).

Tip 1

Collect all of the items that you are going to be taking and place them around the back of your car so you can size them all up and prepare them for sorting.

Tip 2

Sort your items by placing heavy items together, medium weight items, lighter items, malleable items (pillows, garment bags, etc.), and then things that are odd shapes (not square or easily stackable).  The last pile should be things that you need to be able to get to quickly (emergency supplies, medicines, etc.).

Tip 3

All those odd shaped items are the first to go into the trunk.  Try to keep them isolated to one area so only one portion of the trunk’s space is underutilized.  Examples might be balls (basketball, volleyball, etc.) and/or beach equipment (buckets, shovels, etc.).  NOTE:  if the items are delicate save them for Tip 5.

Tip 4

After the odd shaped items are in, put the heavy items into the trunk being sure to try and place them as far into the trunk as possible and as tightly fitting as possible.  Stack heavy suitcases and other square or rectangular items to form layer after layer of heavy items.

Tip 5

Next you should add your medium weight items forming the next layer of items in the trunk.  In addition, now is when you place any odd shaped but delicate items as well.  As you go along on these steps if you see a hole developing make sure you take one of the malleable items and fill the hole as you try to fully utilize the space.

Tip 6

Now you put in the lightweight items for the final layer and continue filling in the gaps with the remaining malleable items.

Tip 7

The last items to go into the trunk are the items that you need to be readily accessible.  For instance, medicines and first aid kits as well as some tools in case they are needed before or when you get to your final destination.

So these are some really simple tips that you can use as a general guideline for packing your car.  Interestingly, this is the same thought process for any type of moving or packing.  So if you rented a U-Haul and intend to fill it up and make efficient use of that space, then you can use these tips as well.  I’m not sure whether these tips would have helped that married couple fighting in the hotel parking lot, but they certainly wouldn’t have hurt.

10 Fun Facts About Stamps

Many people use postal stamps without putting a whole lot of thought into them at all. However, there are a lot of interesting facts about postage stamps that you might find eye opening if you spend even a little bit of time researching them. Here are 10 fun and quick facts about postage stamps:

  1. The first postage stamp was released in England on May 1, 1840.  So the modern postage stamp is about to celebrate its 170th birthday.  Not bad!
  2. The first stamp released was a 1 penny stamp which bore the image of the young 15 year old Queen Victoria.  The stamp was called the Penny Black and as you might have guessed was printed using black ink.  You can see a picture of the first stamp to the right.
  3. The size of the first postage stamp was 3/4″ by 7/8″.  The size of the normal U.S. postal stamp now is 7/8″ by 1″.  So the stamp has grown a little bigger over time.
  4. So we now know that England was the first country to have postage stamps.  It might surprise you to find out that Brazil was the second nation to have postage stamps (the U.S. wasn’t far behind though).
  5. In 1847 the United States issued their first 5 cent postage stamp.  So even though it’s quite a bit younger than England as a country not surprisingly it wasn’t very far behind in issuing stamps.
  6. In 1855 prepayment of postage became required in the U.S. making it the first country in the World with that requirement.
  7. The first perforated stamps were released in England in 1854 followed by the U.S. in 1857.  This made it a lot easier to distribute stamps and to buy them in advance for later use.
  8. The first U.S. pictoral stamp was released in 1869.  One great 1869 pictoral stamp is called Post Horse and Rider it was a 2 cent stamp.
  9. First U.S. commemorative stamp was released in 1893 and they depicted scenes from the American colonies.  Here is one titled Columbus in Sight of Land:
  10. New Zealand was one of the first countries to have a penny universal stamp (January 1, 1900).  The idea of that stamp was for all countries to charge the same amount for postage.

These are just 10 fun facts that can get some conversations started.  You might be surprised how fun stamp trivia can be even for your friends and family.  Give it a try!

40 Million People Changing Addresses

About 1 in 6 Americans will be filling out a change of address card every year according to the U.S. Census Bureau..  That’s a mind blowing 42 million Americans and growing annually (the last measurement on their site was 1992 can you imagine where we are now).  I guess with the 2010 census well under way we will get a more current snapshot very soon.  It will be very interesting to see if this trend of frequent moving continues.

One interesting statistic from the U.S. Census Bureau is that two-thirds of the people moving actually stay in the same county.  So a vast majority of the moves are local moves.  That most likely bodes well for moving truck rental companies like U-Haul and Ryder.  At the same time that means that the remaining 1/3 of the moves are long distance moves benefiting moving companies like North American Van Lines and other interstate movers.  People moving locally already are well aware of their utility providers (electricity, gas, water, telephone, internet, etc.).  This makes the move go a lot smoother but each of those utility companies still needs to be contacted to connect the utilities at the new address and disconnect the old address.

Moving appears to be for the young at heart.  Over two-thirds of all movers (66.7%) are people that are between the ages of 20 and 29.   This is a time in life where job changes are more frequent and when a lot of young adults aren’t tied down with families, homes, and other commitments that tend to make people move less.  To support that you can look at the number of movers that rent versus those that own homes.  Over 1/3rd of the people that are renting will move each year while only 1/10th of the people that own a home will move in that same time period.

Over the average life span of an American they will move 12 times (11.7 but it’s hard to make a fractional move).  As noted above the majority of these moves come at a younger age.  Once the average American reaches the age of 44 they average only 3 more moves in their lifetime (so that means they have already moved an average of 9 times).

Seeing as you will be moving up to 12 times throughout the course of your life and you most likely will want to continue getting mail delivered to your home, it seems like you should get used to filling out the USPS Form 3575 – Change of Address. We hope that all 40 million Americans that move this year will utilize Change of to simplify changing all of their addresses not just with the USPS.

Cost of Postage versus Movie Tickets

We are huge movie buffs at Change of and like most people we are generally pretty shocked every time we go to the movies with our families and spend $50 to $75 to see the latest blockbuster. Given how much we study and appreciate the United States Postal Service we decided to pit the price of postage over time versus the average cost of a movie ticket.

So just for fun we considered stamps (the postage for a standard letter) to be our currency and decided to calculate over time how many stamps it would take for us to be able to see a movie.  So for example in 1948, it would have cost us 12 stamps to see our favorite movie Red River starring John Wayne.  Contrast that to 2009 when it would cost us only 5 stamps more to see  Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.  That doesn’t really sound too bad at all until you translate that back into actual USD currency and realize that the cost of a movie went from 36 cents to $7.50.

The results surprised us because in fact, it didn’t change all that much over time. I’m not sure if that news is positive for the USPS or the movie industry, but I am positive that I would not want to go get 17 stamps before making a trip to the movie theater.

Here are the full results:

Stamps & Movies

Historical Cost: 1948 to 2009

YearMovie TicketStamp# of Stamps

Well, I guess the United States Postal Service is pretty locked in with overall inflation after all. If anything I guess the USPS could justify raising the price of stamps a bit more to keep up with the movie industry.  Let’s just keep that between us, okay?

Source of USPS Postage Rates

Source of Average Movie Ticket Prices