FIPS Codes | What They Are And How To Use Them
Federal Information Processing Series (FIPS) codes are the numbers used to identify geographic regions such as countries, states and counties. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) designates FIPS Codes.
US States are assigned a 2-digit FIPS Code. Counties are assigned a 3-digit code that is then appended to the state code. For example 49017 is the FIPS Code for Garfield County, Utah. -49 represents Utah and -017 represents Garfield County.
Need a county name or FIPS Code for an address? We make it easy to perform a FIPS Code lookup. Choose your option below.
|Enter an address to see the specific county name and FIPS Code.||Enter a city and state to see the FIPS Codes and Counties for that city or ZIP.||Find FIPS Codes for a large set of addresses using our APIs.|
In this article, we will discuss state and county FIPS Codes.
Table of Contents:
- Lookup by Address
- Lookup by City or ZIP Code
- Are FIPS Codes the same as ZIP Codes?
- States FIPS Codes List
- How to Read FIPS Codes
- County FIPS Codes Database
FIPS Code Lookup by Address
You can find FIPS Codes by starting with a ZIP Code, city or address. Using an address is the most reliable way to get precise FIPS Codes. Because ZIP Codes and cities cover large areas, a ZIP Code or city lookup may yield several FIPS Codes. If you want more details, checkout the next section: FIPS Code Lookup by ZIP Code & City.
Ready to learn how to lookup a FIPS with an address? Great. Get your address handy.
To get a FIPS Code, visit our Single Address Validation Tool and enter an address for which you need the FIPS Code. Enter the address and click “View Results”. The county and FIPS code for the address will be displayed in the “Metadata” Section below the map.
Here is the entire process for getting the county name for an address and the FIPS Code in about 16 seconds:
FIPS Code Lookup by ZIP Code & City
Using a ZIP Code or city to find a FIPS Code is a lot like the last time I asked a girl for her phone number. When I texted 867-5309, it wasn’t Jenny. A guy named Guillermo told me I got pranked.
Entering a city or ZIP to get a FIPS may lead to similar disappointment.
You see, ZIP Codes and cities often cross one or more county lines. A particular ZIP Code or city may yield up to 5 correct FIPS Codes. The same can be said for cities. If you need a specific county FIPS code, you might be better off using a magic 8-ball than searching by city or ZIP.
Still, there are some use cases where finding FIPS Codes for cities or ZIP Codes may still be beneficial. So let's dive in a bit deeper.
Limitations with FIPS Code Lookup by City.
An example of these limitations is found with the city of Leeds, Alabama. Leeds sits right at the intersection of three counties and is served by a single ZIP Code of “35094”.
Suppose that you are an insurance salesperson and you have a customer that you know lives in Leeds. Unfortunately you don’t have their exact address. You need to know their county and FIPS Code in order to show her the health insurance plan you can offer. Even though you know her approximate location, you still can’t know her county.
Your customer could reside in Saint Clair County (FIPS Code 01115), Jefferson County (FIPS Code 01073), or Shelby County (FIPS Code 01117). The only way to know for sure is to get the address.
And Leeds is not unique. Well, actually Leeds is unique, because the city is home to the World’s Largest Motorcycle Museum! Leeds just isn’t unique in the fact that hundreds of cities are split by county lines. In fact, there are cities in the US that are split by up to five counties. This happens in highly populated areas but also suburban and rural areas.
Here are a few examples of cities split by counties:
- New York, New York with a population of 8.4 million is unsurprisingly split by 5 counties.
- Aurora, Illinois is a suburb of Chicago, has a population of 200,000 and is split into 3 counties.
- Allentown, Georgia is split into four counties despite having a population of only 158.
37 states in the US have cities that spread across multiple counties.
There are currently:
- 2 cities split into five counties
- 10 cities split into four counties
- 61 cities split into three counties
- 611 cities split into two counties
In total, there are at least 684 cities across 37 states that cross county lines. If you want to enter one city and expect to get a one FIPS Code returned, you’re gonna have a bad time.
Limitations with FIPS Code Lookup by ZIP Code
Like cities and Ferris Bueller, ZIP Codes often cross lines. In the Case of ZIP Codes, we are talking about county lines. This results in multiple valid FIPS codes for a single ZIP. Fortunately, crossing these lines doesn't result in a totaled Ferrari.
People often imagine that ZIP Codes are regions or boxes with defined boundaries. In reality, ZIP Codes are lines. More specifically, ZIP Codes are a collection of postal delivery routes that tie to a post office. ZIP Codes may be based on sparse delivery routes, so the boundary between ZIP Code areas there can be indefinite. They may look like this:
Postal delivery routes are determined by optimal efficiency. County lines are rarely considered when determining where USPS mail trucks go. As a result, as many as 20% of postal codes cross one or more county lines.
If you enter 38583 into our address validation demo, you will find that the ZIP Code spans five counties. ZIP Codes don’t only cross county lines. During the 2010 census there were at least 103 ZIP Codes that crossed STATE lines.
FIPS Code Lookup by ZIP Code & City Tutorial
Now you know the limitations of looking up FIPS Codes by ZIP Code and city. Even still, you may still need to know all the counties in a particular city or ZIP Code. Here is how:
- Visit our Single Address Validation Demo.
- Under “Lookup Type” select “city/state or ZIP Code”.
- Enter the desired ZIP Code OR City and State. For this example, we will use Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin.
- Click “View Results”
- Your results will appear. Click the “Show more details ↓” link.
- In the “Output Fields” section below the map, you will see the default county name “Columbia” and FIPS Code “55021” listed.
- In the “Alternate Counties” section, you will see “Adams, Juneau, and Sauk”. These are the three additional counties into which Wisconsin Dells divides.
- In order to see the alternate county FIPS Codes, click “Show Raw Output”.
- The additional FIPS Code will show under the Alternate Counts section of the code.
Are FIPS Code the same as ZIP Code?
ZIP Codes and county FIPS Codes look pretty similar at first glance. They are both five characters long. They are both composed of numbers exclusively. But, that is where the similarities end.
ZIP Codes are collections of mail delivery routes that the USPS uses to organize and expedite mail delivery.
County FIPS Codes on the other hand are a five-digit number used to designate a specific county. A county will always be assigned a single FIPS code but the county may contain dozens of ZIP Codes.
The FIPS Code for Orange County, California is 06059. That is the one and only FIPS Code the county has. Inside of Orange County you will find well over 100 ZIP Codes such as: 92861, 92862, 92863, 92864,92865, etc.
In the US There are currently 3241 counties and 3241 FIPS Code to match. FIPS Codes don’t change often. The last time a new County FIPS Code was added to the list was 2001. Conversely, there are 41,000+ ZIP Codes that update regularly based on the needs of the USPS.
US State FIPS Codes
Each state in the United States has been assigned a two-digit State FIPS Code. Numbers are assigned alphabetically in ascending order. You may notice in the US States FIPS code that some numbers are skipped. This was done in the 80’s to allow for inclusion of new states into the US FIPS Code system while maintaining the alphabetic and number ordering.
For example, you will notice that there is no state currently assigned the FIPS Code of “03”. This is to leave room for American Samoa should they move from being a US protectorate to a US State. There are similar spaces for Guam (14), Puerto Rico (43) and Virgin Islands (52).
Here is a list of the FIPS Codes for all 50 states. US Protectorates, and Washington D.C.
|State / Territory / Outlying Area||Alpha Code||US State FIPS Code||Status||Region||Division|
|District of Columbia||DC||11||Federal district||3||5|
|New Hampshire||NH||33||State, Counties||1||1|
|New Jersey||NJ||34||State, Counties||1||2|
|New Mexico||NM||35||State, Counties||4||8|
|New York||NY||36||State, Counties||1||2|
|North Carolina||NC||37||State, Counties||3||5|
|North Dakota||ND||38||State, Counties||2||4|
|Rhode Island||RI||44||State, Counties||1||1|
|South Carolina||SC||45||State, Counties||3||5|
|South Dakota||SD||46||State, Counties||2||4|
|West Virginia||WV||54||State, Counties||3||5|
|American Samoa||AS||60||Outlying area under U.S. sovereignty|
|Federated States of Micronesia||FM||64||Freely Associated State|
|Guam||GU||66||Outlying area under U.S. sovereignty|
|Johnston Atoll||JA||67||Minor outlying island territory|
|Marshall Islands||MH||68||Freely Associated State|
|Northern Mariana Islands||MP||69||Outlying area under U.S. sovereignty|
|Palau||PW||70||Freely Associated State|
|Midway Islands||MI||71||Minor outlying island territory|
|Puerto Rico||PR||72||Outlying area under U.S. sovereignty|
|U.S. Minor Outlying Islands||UM||74||Minor outlying island territories (aggregated)|
|Navassa Island||NI||76||Minor outlying island territory|
|Virgin Islands of the U.S.||VI||78||Outlying area under U.S. sovereignty|
|Wake Island||WI||79||Minor outlying island territory|
|Baker Island||BI||81||Minor outlying island territory|
|Howland Island||HI||84||Minor outlying island territory|
|Jarvis Island||JI||86||Minor outlying island territory|
|Kingman Reef||KR||89||Minor outlying island territory|
|Palmyra Atoll||PA||95||Minor outlying island territory|
More information about State FIPS Codes is found at Census.gov
How to Read a county FIPS Code
The first two digits in the five-digit county FIPS Code represent the state in which the county is located. For example, the FIPS Code for the state of Utah is “49” so every FIPS Code in the state of Utah will begin with “49”. The next 3 digits of a 5-digit county FIPS Code represents the county. The code Garfield County, Utah is “017”. So, the full five-digit county FIPS code is “49017”
FIPS codes are assigned in alphabetic order to counties counting by odd numbers. The first county in a state alphabetically is always 001, the second county is always 003, the third is 005 and so on.
This method leaves a space between each county for insertion of renamed or newly created counties. All while preserving the alphabetic ordering.
Download ALL US County FIPS Codes
Want to access all 3200+ county FIPS Codes? The database is too big to include in this article, but we can show you how to download the entire database in a matter of minutes.
SmartyStreets includes county FIPS codes in our ZIP Code database. In order to get all US county FIPS Codes, follow these steps:
- Create free account with SmartyStreets (no credit card required)
- Go to the dashboard
- Click “Tools” in the top navigation bar.
- Scroll down to the “Downloads” section.
- Click the “ZIP Code Listings” link and download the ZIP file.
- Once the file has downloaded, unzip or extract the file.
- You will see 3 files, the one called zipcodes.txt has all the FIPS Codes and ZIP Codes in the US.
- Edit the file name and change the “.txt” extension to “.csv”.
- You will then be able to open the FIPS Code file with your favorite spreadsheet program. The three-digit County FIPS Code will show up in Column labeled as “county_no”.
Some ZIP Codes and FIPS Codes start with a “00” or a “0” which many spreadsheet programs like Excel and Google Sheets automatically eliminate. If a county FIPS Code shows up in the list as one-digit number you will need to add two zeros to the beginning.
If the county code shows up as two-digits, you will need to add one zero. The same thing applies for ZIP Codes that show as three-digits or four-digits long.
- Once you have your three-digit county FIPS Code, you can add the code to the end of the applicable 2 digit state FIPS Code for the full five-digit county FIPS Code.
Need a fresh list in the future? You can return to your account anytime to download the most recent USA FIPS Codes list from the same spot free of charge.
FIPS Codes and county information can be a useful addition to your address data. SmartyStreets can give you all the FIPS Codes you can handle. Start getting FIPS Codes using our Single Address Verification demo, API, or Bulk address upload. Whatever the FIPS you need, we have you covered.