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Changes Under Way in Postal Address System

Correos de Costa Rica S.A., the company that manages the country’s postal service, has been plotting changes to the national address system for some time – and the first step toward modernization got under way this month.

The company now requires anyone sending mail to add a five-digit postal code to Costa Rican addresses in an effort to make the mail system faster and more reliable.

The first digit of the code corresponds to the province: San José 1, Alajuela 2, Cartago 3, Heredia 4, Guanacaste 5, Puntarenas 6, and Limón 7. Digits two and three denote the canton, and the final two digits denote the district.

For example, an address in District 1 of the canton Aserrí, in the province of San José, would have a code of 1 for San José, 06 for Aserrí and 01 for the district: 10601.

To determine your code, call 800-900-2000 or visit one of Correos de Costa Rica’s 120 branches nationwide. Geovanni Campos, the company’s distribution director, told The Tico Times that while corporate clients have already received training to prepare them for the new system, the company will work to inform the general public through radio announcements and the distribution of informational pamphlets later this month.

Next up: postal addresses that use street numbers rather than the classic Tico “200 meters west of the Escuela de Monterrey” system. A team of consultants from Brazil’s postal service, one of the world’s largest and most modern systems, will visit Costa Rica March 19 to help Correos de Costa Rica plan for this step, Campos said. One of the goals of the meeting is to decide when to implement the change.

The new addresses, which have been in the works since 2003 as part of a $1 million overhaul of the address system, will include the avenue, street and number of meters from the corner where those roads intersect to the front door of the building (TT, July 8, 2005). The country’s 81 municipalities have been charged with ensuring their streets and avenues have names, and more than 432,000 addresses have already been determined in the Central Valley, according to Campos.

Campos told The Tico Times last year that it will probably take Costa Rica more than a decade to adjust to the new system, given the cultural attachment to informal addresses based on landmarks (TT,May 26, 2006) – even landmarks that no longer exist, such as an higuerón tree in the eastern suburb of San Pedro that has been gone for years but is still used in directions.

A previous attempt to impose street addresses in 2001 was discarded in favor of the new plan, leaving Santo Domingo de Heredia, the northern Central Valley city where a pilot program was implemented, peppered with now-unused numbered signs above the doors of homes and businesses.



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