Resources > Glossary of U.S. Postal Units
Post Office Classifications
[Independent] Post OfficeA 'regular' post office, with its own Postmaster, also known as a main post office, or an associate office -- because it is an associate of its regional Processing & Distribution operation.
This branch of the Roanoke, Virginia Post Office lies in the town of Hollins.
Contract offices are operated under a contract with a private entity and staffed by non-USPS personnel, typically as part of another business. Such units provide only retail services; they do not conduct delivery or other postal operations.
→ In many postal listings, including the PMCC's Post Office Directory, a classified station is commonly abbreviated Sx; classified branch Bx; contract station S and contract branch B.
Contract Postal Unit (CPU)
The Express Lube and Car Wash CPU is a contract station in Brunswick, GA.
Community Post Office (CPO)CPO does not stand for Contract Post Office! A CPO is a form / subset of CPU, generally in a rural area, which has replaced a closed independent post office. CPOs represent the only postal retail operations in their communities. The term CPO replaced those of Rural Station and Rural Branch in the 1970s.
→ All CPOs are CPUs; not all CPUs are CPOs.
Village Post Office (VPO)A term for a new category of limited postal outlet; like CPOs, they are generally a replacement for a closed rural post office. However, VPOs are limited as to the services they provide: they sell stamps and prepaid Flat-Rate packaging, but cannot weigh packages, certify letters, or provide any other such common postal services. The first VPO opened in August 2011 in Malone, Washington. VPOs do not possess their own postmarks.
Distinct Mail Handling Operations
Carrier AnnexA form of classified station or branch which houses mail carriers but no retail operations. One might include customer package pick-up windows, but are otherwise generally closed to the public. Analogous terms include Delivery Distribution Center (DDC); Parcel Post Annex; and Detached Carrier Unit (DCU).
Processing & Distribution Center / Facility (P&DC / P&DF)A regional mail processing plant. Processing refers to outgoing mail, gathering of mail sent from post offices across the region, cancelling of stamps, sorting according to destination and dispatch; Distribution refers to incoming mail, receiving of mail from other areas, and distributing it to the local delivery offices in the region.
Generally, the primary distinction between a P&DC and P&DF is that a P&DC is larger.
USPS Headquarters at L'Enfant Plaza
USPS Headquarters (L'Enfant Plaza)This is the administrative heart of USPS, located at 475 L'Enfant Plaza, SW in Washington, DC. However, many of the management functions are done at lower levels.
AreasThe country is divided into seven Areas (Northeast, Eastern, Capital Metro, Southern, Great Lakes, Western, Pacific), each further divided into about ten Districts. According to the USPS Office of the Inspector General, "area offices ensure headquarters directives are implemented."
DistrictsThis level of management is responsible for most day-to-day management duties for local post offices, including "customer service activities other than processing and distribution" (OIG). There are currently 67 Districts.