Every German household should have an immensely impressive and voluminous book somewhere: the official Postleitzahlenbuch. If your household doesn't, you should contact your nearest post office and ask them if they'd like to give you one. While you're waiting for all the red tape to clear use one of the methods listed below to look up a PLZ.
Straight from the horse's mouth: the search engine of the German postal service ( English version). The quantum server lets you search not only for PLZ's but also for phone numbers, bank routing numbers (BLZ) and similar information about Germany. If both of those servers don't satisfy your fancy, try NADS' server.
Arthur Teschler's server gives you not only the PLZ's but also information about municipal government, about topological maps for the area, and more. See Internet/Search Engines for more. 1996-02 Send email:
To: Arthur.Teschler@uni-giessen.de Subject: _GEO_ 1st line: INFO
Directory services such as 11880 can tell you zip codes, too. Be careful though since directory services can be extremely expensive, like 2 DM per minute, depending on which one you call. There is competition in this area, too. 1999-11
The old 4 digit zip codes should still work. (Even letters with no zip code at all should -in principle- make it through.) No guarantee, though! Letters will definitely take longer compared to those that use the new code -- if they arrive at all. Some people have already lost mail because of this. 1994-3
Up until July of 1993, zip codes consisted of one letter, a dash and four digits. The letter was a W for former West Germany and an O for East Germany.
O-1155 Berlin W-1000 Berlin 33Many bigger cities in the West had a number following the city name to differentiate further.
If you have an old address with a four digit zip code, you should try and get the new zip code. Your love letter addressed with the old zip code, or without any zip code, will still be delivered, but might take a long long time; and who knows if your love can wait for so many weeks.
In July of 1993, all zip codes were changed to a new system: the new zip codes consist of 5 digits only. They designate areas of cities down to individual carrier routes. Post office boxes (Postfach) in most cities now have their own Postleitzahl as have large companies that receive more than 1000 letters a day. It seems that the Postleitzahlen for large companies were initially kept secret, for reasons that are entirely beyond me.
The German Mail service distributed a big book containing all new zip codes for each German household in May 1993. But this book neither contained PO boxes nor the big companies' zip codes...
To find the Postleitzahl for an address, you usually need the name of the city and the street address, including house number, since longer streets are often split into several zip codes. In some large cities there might even be two different streets with the same name; in this case, the old zip code together with the post office designator after the city name can be a tremendous help in figuring out the new zip code.
If you absolutely can't figure out the new zip code of an address, you can use whatever address you have. The Deutsche Post is usually pretty good at figuring out where you wanted to send your letter, but they will take their time delivering to incomplete addresses. 1999-08
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