Hi, My use case is to do forward geocoding using on premise Nominatim/OSM API for US region. So far, we have discovered about 2600 post codes that OSM does not recognize, but the same set of post codes return a valid response from other commercial APIs like Bing, USPS etc. Post codes 10043, 36685, 99711 are such examples. Also, if I do reverse geocoding with lat/long obtained from other sources for the list of 2600+ post codes we have, Nominatim returns a different post code.

Please let me know if :

  • this is an expected behavior?
  • there was a reason why these post codes were dropped - like they are not valid anymore; invalid codes etc.?
  • there is a process within OSM community to drop/update such data regularly based on any rules (and what those rules are, if any)?


asked 20 May '19, 09:26

globetrotter's gravatar image

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edited 21 May '19, 11:21

TZorn's gravatar image


Usually it's missing OSM data, sometimes addresses have been mapped wrong (typos). Just last week I added a missing 5 digit US postcode, specifically I added a postcode to an elementary school. Commercial providers often license data from the US Postal Service which includes PO boxes or postalcodes assigned to companies, that licensed data cannot be imported into OpenStreetMap. Can you share your list of missing 5 digit postal codes, e.g. on https://pastebin.com/ ?

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answered 20 May '19, 15:02

mtmail's gravatar image

accept rate: 29%

@mtmail thank you, for the details. the list of missing zip codes that we discovered is available here: https://pastebin.com/wwbcPJqN

(21 May '19, 09:35) globetrotter

In the US OSM is lacking a lot of post codes (they just haven't been mapped yet). Nominatim (i.e. the Nominatim hosted on the OSM web site) draws on TIGER data additionally to the OSM data to find post codes and house numbers in the US. If the postcode is not found it seems to be not present in the TIGER data. I have no idea if Nominatim constantly updates this data set or if a snap shot from some point in the past is used.

Looking up 10043 it appears to me this is an individual post code for Citibank. It's likely that only geographic post codes are used to pinpoint objects but not post codes designated to entities.

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answered 20 May '19, 14:49

TZorn's gravatar image

accept rate: 15%

@TZorn does it mean that data like Citibank's would not be available in TIGER? I have imported TIGER 2018 data, which is the latest, into our on-premise OSM database.

(21 May '19, 09:39) globetrotter

I have no clue. It was just a hypothesis seeing your issue. Maybe someone else here has more insights.

(21 May '19, 11:20) TZorn

TIGER doesn't have USPS zip codes, but rather "Zip Code Tabulation Areas" (ZCTA) which aggregate zip codes by block for Census purposes. This makes them somewhat useful for zip codes that cover large areas, but otherwise of limited use. (See also the wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ZIP_Code_Tabulation_Area)

The wikipedia page about zip codes has a good reminder about their limitations for other purposes: "Despite the geographic derivation of most ZIP Codes, the codes themselves do not represent geographic regions; in general, they correspond to address groups or delivery routes. As a consequence, ZIP Code "areas" can overlap, be subsets of each other, or be artificial constructs with no geographic area"

(21 May '19, 16:04) neuhausr
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question asked: 20 May '19, 09:26

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last updated: 21 May '19, 16:04

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