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If you’ve sent mail to a ship or other mobile Navy unit in the past few days and didn’t include the full nine-digit ZIP code, keep an eye on your mailbox — it’s coming back.
The Navy announced Friday via a fleetwide message that the entire code — the traditional 5-digit ZIP and the “+4” numbers, separated by a dash — must be included for mail to reach any mobile fleet post office.
“Mail not addressed correctly, including mail already en route, will be returned to sender as undeliverable,” according to a Navy news release put out Monday.
The change comes as a result of new U.S. Postal Service procedures regarding military mail processing, according to the release. The nine-digit ZIP on all correspondence will be read by “USPS automated equipment,” the release said — anything without all the numbers gets sent back.
Affected commands received notice of the change via a February memo from the USPS and were asked to pass the information along to sailors, according to a NAVSUP spokeswoman. That memo mentions Marine and Coast Guard mobile units, as well, though neither service has put out a similar news release.
“Commanding officers will provide the correct ZIP codes to sailors so they can notify their correspondents about the new address requirement,” Thomas Rittle, postal policy division director of Naval Supply Systems Command, said in the release.
The Navy maintains a list of ship ZIP codes, organized by home port. Other mobile commands have been asked to “promulgate this policy change” and provide their nine-digit codes “via plan of the day notes, site TV announcements, family-grams, and/or any other media means available,” according to ALNAV 047/13.