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ZIP Code tabulation areas (ZCAs/ZCTAs) are approximate area representations of U.S. Postal Service (USPS) five-digit ZIP Code service areas that the Census Bureau creates using whole blocks to present statistical data from censuses and surveys.  The Census Bureau defines ZCTAs by allocating each block that contains addresses to a single ZIP Code tabulation area, usually to the ZCTA that reflects the most frequently occurring ZIP Code for the addresses within that tabulation block. Blocks that do not contain addresses but are completely surrounded by a single ZIP Code tabulation area (enclaves) are assigned to the surrounding ZCTA; those surrounded by multiple ZCTAs will be added to a single ZCTA based on limited buffering performed between multiple ZCTAs.  The Census Bureau identifies five-digit ZIP Code tabulation areas using a five-character numeric code that represents the most frequently occurring USPS ZIP Code within that ZCTA, and this code may contain leading zeros.


The USPS makes periodic changes to ZIP Codes to support more efficient mail delivery.  The ZIP Code tabulation areas process used primarily residential addresses and was biased towards ZIP Codes used for city-style mail delivery, thus there may be ZIP Codes that are primarily nonresidential or boxes only that may not have a corresponding ZCTA.


ZIP Code Tabulation Area Codes—The Census Bureau identifies 5-digit ZCTAs using a five-character numeric code.  For ZCTA codes that reflect the 5-digit ZIP Code, the last two characters of the ZCTA code will be numeric.  For example, the ZCTA code "00601" represents the 5-digit ZIP Code 00601.  The ZCTA delineation process did not recognize ZIP codes ending in "00", such as "29000", as valid 5-digit ZCTA codes.


5-Digit ZIP Code Tabulation Area (ZCTA5) National Shapefile Record Layout (2010 Census)
ZCTA5CE105String2010 Census 5-digit ZIP Code Tabulation Area code
GEOID105String2010 Census 5-digit ZIP Code Tabulation Area identifier, 2010 Census 5-digit ZIP Code Tabulation Area code
CLASSFP102String2010 Census FIPS 55 class code
MTFCC105String MAF/TIGER feature class code (G6350)
FUNCSTAT101String2010 Census functional status
ALAND1014Number2010 Census land area
AWATER1014Number2010 Census water area
INTPTLAT1011String2010 Census latitude of the internal point
INTPTLON1012String2010 Census longitude of the internal point

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