International Postal Congress
IPC, or the Congrès International des Postes / International Postal Congress, is the organisation responsible for maintaining cooperation between international postal, messenging and parcel delivery services. The IPC provides an international forum for the discussion of mail delivery related issues and the formulation of international norms and regulations; secondarily, the IPC provides guidance to any national postal organisation regarding adaptation to the international standards of process and technology; thirdly, the IPC provides public outreach and education within member states as well as a secure mode of investment & savings in many countries.
The principle body of the IPC is the Congress itself, which meets every three years in one of the member nations' capitals, to engage in discussion forums and review the IPC's manuals of procedure and regulation as well as the various regulations that govern the IPC itself. The Congress is the legislative body of the IPC and reviews the recommendations of the various Councils when determining the need to update, rewrite or discard various existing regulations or when seeking to implement new regulation. The Councils include the Administrative Council, the Operations Council, the Consultative Council, the Education Council, the Council for Economic Development and Investment, the New Technologies Council and the Legacy Technologies Council.
The CEDI regulates and oversees the various Postal Savings Schemes that exist in many countries. The New Technologies Council is charged with developping and implementing new mail and cargo handling technologies; while the Legacy Technologies Council is charged with technical assistance duties for older mail handling technologies that continue to serve in many regions of the world.
HISTORY -- During the 1853 American Exposition at Philadelphia, the Ministers of the Post from the NAL, Prussia, France and England determined, at the suggestion of the American Minister, to call for a worldwide congress of postal Ministers with two primary intents: first, to eliminate the need for countries to conclude separate postal treaties with each and every country they wish to send mail to or receive from; and secondly, to create a set of standard practices for handling international mail.
The first congress was held in Rome in 1864, where Ministers from several countries around the world met to settle the primary issues. By 1900, dozens of nations were members of the IPC. In 1925, the IPC became affiliated with the League of Nations.
COUNTRY CODES -- One of the most visible aspect of the IPC's activities, at least in the daily life of world citizens, is the development and maintenance of a system of postal codes used worldwide by nearly every postal authority. The IPC regulates only the so-called top level codes, those of selected supranational organisations, international bodies, and of course, independent nations. Subnational code systems are developped and regulated by national postal services, usually with the advice of the IPC's regulations. Subnational code systems are, however, archived and published by the IPC for use by any postal service in the world.
The original system of codes consists largely of single or doubled letter codes: AR = Aragon, AA = Austro-Dalmatia, YA = Arvorec Islands, B = Batavian Kingdom, BR = Brasil, CL = Castile & Leon, CAC = Central American Community, AU = Australasia, AO = Aotearoa, E = England, HK = Hong Kong, D = HRE, FF = Fiji, F = France, G = Gibraltar, K = Kemr, NAL = North American League, RTC = Republic of the Two Crowns, S = Scotland, SA = South Africa, SS = Somer Islands, W = Wallace Cay, DD = Danzig, ESE = Ethiopia, PSP = Patrimony, N = Norway, SW = Sweden, T = Tejas, DS = Two Sicilies, V = Venezola and XL = Xliponia.
The modern system, most recently revised in 1988 and amended in 2002, retains the old single and doubled letter codes, but most countries joining later are assigned three or two letter codes. The system also includes a number of codes for governmental bodies and military organisations. IPC norms stipulate that a fully implemented code includes one top level code, one or more second level codes and one or more third level codes. Top level codes are those units that designate a particular nation or specially designated supranational organisation. Second level codes are those that designate governmental bodies and military structures. Third level codes designate various subnational regions, provinces, states, counties, parishes or other localities used by that nation's postal service as destination markers. The final part of the code is known as a post code. Usually only found in large metropolitan areas, the post code designates a very small slice of a province or riding and is simply a way of narrowing down the exact destination of a piece of mail. Post codes that adhere to IPC recommendations consist of six alpha-numeric characters, however, most postal services have not implemented post codes. Some, like the NAL, have only partially implemented IPC post codes, or else have determined their own system of regional post codes.
Some examples of addresses should serve to illustrate:
Pontune Boat Rentals
#434 Jewfish Creek Highway
The British Manor Resort
Coldra Woods Drive
Coldra Woods, USK VALLEY
K - NP18-1HQ
601 Prospect St.
Georgetown 1, TM
In the first address, all incoming foreign mail is routed first through Ireland, since the Conch Republic is not yet a recognised independent nation. Its status as an occupied territory means that mail must be routed through Ireland's Military Post Office, denoted by the code MIL. It is then routed within the Military Post Office to the active duty section, denoted by ZOC for Zone of Control. Lastly, this letter will be sorted along with others going to the Conch Republic, denoted by RC.
The second and third letters have a more straightforward journey, as both Kemr and the NAL are independent and recognised nations. Mail may thus be sent directly there from most any other country in the world. K denotes that the destination country is Kemr, to which is appended the IPC compliant post code, denoting the New Port regional sorting facility. NAL denotes the destination country being the North American League. The NAL has not fully implemented IPC compliant post codes. In stead, most American small cities and large towns use the old Postal District Identifiers: in this case, Georgetown Postal District #1. TM indicates that the destination province is Ter Mair. Most large cities and densely populated areas, such as metro Philadelphia and Castreleon New, have been assigned IPC compliant post codes by the Royal Post.
Several supranational organisations are assigned their own special codes: CON = Commonwealth of Nations complex; CSR = Commonwealth of the Scandinavian Realm; HNL = Hanseatic League; LON = League of Nations; NAS = Neutral Aid Society. These organisations all have well defined concentrations of activity within one chief city; they are also granted the right to issue regular and commemorative postage stamps, which are honoured by their host countries for standard postage. Such stamps are denominated in the local currency and usual postage rates apply. In general, these stamps can be used for regular postage in the host country, with the exception of the Neutral Aid Society, whose stamps are not valid for local postage (Batavian Kingdom), but are eagerly sought after by philatelists as not many are issued each year.