This is a list of U.S. state abbreviations. Abbreviations and codes for the states and possessions of the United States are used for postal addresses, data processing, general abbreviations, and other purposes. Also included in this list are abbreviations for three independent nations related to the United States through the Compact of Free Association.
As early as October 1874, the United States Post Office recognized common abbreviations for states and territories. However, abbreviations were accepted only because of their popularity; the Post Office preferred all names spelled out in full to avoid confusion.
The traditional abbreviations for U.S. states and territories, widely used in mailing addresses prior to the introduction of two-letter U.S. postal abbreviations, are still commonly used for other purposes (such as legal citation), and are still recognized (though discouraged) by the Postal Service.
The modern two-letter abbreviated codes for the states and territories originated during the Post Office's introduction of ZIP codes in 1963. The purpose was to make room for the ZIP codes in the address, rather than to standardize state abbreviations per se.
The postal abbreviations, consisting of only two letters, are complicated by the fact that there are eight states whose names begin with M, and another eight whose names begin with N. Some of the resulting abbreviations, instituted to avoid duplication, are not intuitive and can be confusing.
Prior to 1987, when the U.S. Secretary of Commerce approved the two-letter codes for use in government documents, the United States Government Printing Office (GPO) suggested their own set of abbreviations, with some states being left unabbreviated. Today, the GPO supports United States Postal Service standard.
|State or Territory
|California||CA||Calif.||Calif.||Ca. or Cal. or Cali., CFUSCG||06|
|District of Columbia||DC||D.C.||D.C.||Wash., D.C. (Federal district)||11|
|Florida||FL||Fla.||Fla.||Fl. or Flor.||12|
|Idaho||ID||Idaho||Idaho||Id. or Ida.||16|
|Illinois||IL||Ill.||Ill.||Il. or Ills. or Ill's||17|
|Iowa||IA||Iowa||Iowa||Ia. or Ioa.||19|
|Kansas||KS||Kans.||Kan.||Ks. or Ka., KAUSCG||20|
|Kentucky||KY||Ky.||Ky.||Ken. or Kent.||21|
|New Mexico||NM||N. Mex.||N.M.||New M.||35|
|New York||NY||N.Y.||N.Y.||N. York||36|
|North Carolina||NC||N.C.||N.C.||N. Car.||37|
|North Dakota||ND||N. Dak.||N.D.||38|
|Ohio||OH||Ohio||Ohio||O. or Oh.||39|
|Pennsylvania||PA||Pa.||Pa.||Penn. or Penna.||42|
|Rhode Island||RI||R.I.||R.I.||R.I. and P.P.||44|
|South Carolina||SC||S.C.||S.C.||S. Car.||45|
|South Dakota||SD||S. Dak.||S.D.||Sodak||46|
|Washington||WA||Wash.||Wash.||Wa. or Wn., WNUSCG||53|
|West Virginia||WV||W. Va.||W.Va.||W.V. or W. Virg.||54|
|Wisconsin||WI||Wis.||Wis.||Wi. or Wisc., WSUSCG||55|
|American Samoa||AS||A.S.||(Insular area) ASUSCG||60|
|Guam||GU||Guam||(Insular area) GUUSCG||66|
|Northern Mariana Islands||MP||M.P.||(Insular area) CMUSCG||69|
|Puerto Rico||PR||P.R.||(Insular area) PRUSCG||72|
|Virgin Islands||VI||V.I.||(Insular area) U.S.V.I., VIUSCG||78|
|U.S. Minor Outlying Islands||(Insular area) 'UM' is the FIPS alphabetic code for the entire group. Each individual has a separate numeric FIPS state code listed here. The U.S. Postal Service does not employ the term U.S. Minor Outlying Islands, as mail for any of these islands is routed indirectly (use PR, HI, AA or AP)|
|Federated States of Micronesia||FM||(Freely associated state)||64|
|Marshall Islands||MH||(Freely associated state)||68|
|Palau||PW||(Freely associated state)||70|
- Americas (except Canada)
|AA||(US Military mail)|
- Middle East
|AE||(US Military mail)|
|AP||(US Military mail)|
|Canal Zone||CZ||C.Z.||(Obsolete code)|
|Philippine Islands||PI||(Obsolete code)|
|Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands||TT||(Obsolete code)|
|Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands||CM||(Obsolete code) Changed to MP in 1988 to match ISO 3166-1 and FIPS Alpha Code.|
Current use of traditional abbreviations
The Associated Press Stylebook, the usage guide for most United States newspapers, counsels the use of abbreviations for most state names, when appended to a city name (for example, "Santa Ana, Calif."). AP suggests spelling out "Alaska," "Hawaii," and all state names with five or fewer letters; and, unlike the old GPO recommendations, AP suggests spelling out the names of all non-state territories, with the exception of the District of Columbia (D.C.). Legal citation manuals, such as The Bluebook and The ALWD Citation Manual, typically use these "traditional abbreviations" as well.
The United States Postal Service has established a set of uppercase abbreviations to help process mail with optical character recognition and other automated equipment. There are also official USPS abbreviations for other parts of the address, such as street designators (street, avenue, road, etc.).
These postal abbreviations are distinguished from traditional abbreviations such as Calif., Fla., or Tex. The Associated Press Stylebook states that in contexts other than mailing addresses, the traditional state abbreviations should be used. However, the Chicago Manual of Style now recommends use of the uppercase two-letter abbreviations, with the traditional forms as an option.
The postal abbreviation is the same as ISO 3166-2 subdivision code for all fifty states.
Other abbreviations and codes
The Federal Information Processing Standard establishes numeric and alphabetic state codes for each state and for many outlying areas. The FIPS numeric code is marked 'FIPS' on the table above. The FIPS alphabetic state code is the same as the USPS code except for U.S. Minor Outlying Islands which have a FIPS code (UM) but no USPS code, and the U.S. Military Mail locations which have USPS codes (AA, AE, AP) but no FIPS code.
The U.S. Coast Guard uses a set of 2-letter prefixes for vessel numbers, marked (USCG) on the large table above. The other 39 states and the District of Columbia have the same USPS and USCG abbreviations. USCG prefixes have also been established for five outlying territories, all of which are listed above, though they differ from the USPS code only in the case of the Mariana Islands. The small table below shows the 11 states that are different plus the Mariana Islands.
- ^ a b c d USPS Postal History: State Abbreviations Accessed November 7, 2011.
- ^ USPS Postal News, "It's Okay to Say 'I Don’t Know,' So Long As You Find Out!" January 9, 2009 
- ^ Printable State Postal Abbreviations . Accessed 2011.01.10.
- ^ Federal Information Processing Standards Publication 5-2, May 28, 1987  Accessed April 21, 2009.
- ^ U.S. Government Printing Office Style Manual, 30th Edition  Accessed April 21, 2009.
- ^ AP Stylebook
- ^ "Ioa." or (more typically) "IOA" found in Iowa post office cancellations from the 1870s.
- ^ search on WN
- ^ United States Postal Service Publication 28 - Postal Addressing Standards. Accessed February 4, 2007.
- ^ State Abbreviations
- ^ Major Rule Changes in The Chicago Manual of Style, Fifteenth Edition Accessed May 23, 2009
- ^ 33 C.F.R. Pt. 173, App. A
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