10th anniversary of five-digit postcodes
Tracing a success story - special stamp marks the anniversaryBonn , 06/11/2003, 11:30 AM CEST
1 July 2003 will mark the tenth anniversary of the introduction of the five-digit postcodes in Germany. The anniversary, just like the introduction, will be celebrated with a special stamp. It will be available at all Deutsche Post retail outlets from 12 June 2003.
Deutsche Post introduced the new system in order to complete national unity also in the postal area and at the same time to speed up delivery services.
Up to 1 July 1993, Weimar and Bonn, for instance, had the same postcode, namely 5300, the only difference between them was a provisional O (O for "Ost" = East) or W (West) in front of the 4-digit postcode. 800 other places in Eastern and Western Germany shared the same fate. In addition to this adjustment, the five digits facilitated more precise orientation to the newly established logistics system comprising 83 highly automated letter mail centres. The postcodes were an important prerequisite for increased automated sorting and thus contributed greatly towards improving the mail delivery service. In 1992, for instance, less than 80 percent of letters reached their addressees the following working day as opposed to over 95 percent in 2002.
At the time, Deutsche Post informed its customers about the new five-digit postcodes by launching a comprehensive advertising campaign. "Rolf" the cartoon finger figure was the mascot used in the campaign. It is commemorated on the special stamp. The advertising campaign was a tremendous success. Despite initial scepticism it took only a few months for 95 out of every 100 letters, small packets and parcels to display the correct postcodes. Today over 99 percent of items have postcodes on them.
At present, 29,630 different postcodes have been allocated in Germany, 8,259 to towns, cities and communities, 17,373 to P.O. boxes and 2,235 to key accounts.
Before the introduction of postcodes, addresses in Germany did not contain figures but used the postal route instead: village A via town B. The former Deutsche Bundespost broke new ground by international standards when it introduced four-digit postcodes in 1961. Postcodes spread not just through the postal service but through the entire transport industry and the sales organisations of many companies. According to information provided by the Universal Postal Union, 115 countries have meanwhile introduced postcodes.
Customers can check routing data conveniently online from their PC. An online postcode search can be conducted free of charge at www.deutschepost.de (Online Services).