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What are Country Codes

What are Country Codes?

The International Standard for country codes and their subdivisions is referred to as ISO 3166. The ISO 3166 is a standard published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The ISO 3166 standard specifies country names, dependent territories, special geographic regions, and subdivisions. The United States Postal Service (USPS) recognizes and utilizes country codes when addressing international parcels. ISO 3166 is made up of the following three interrelated documents: 

ISO 3166–1: the country code comprises a two or 3-letter code and a numeric-3 code.

ISO 3166–2: the country subdivision code. The ISO 3166–1 two-letter element, a separator, and a string of up to three alphanumeric characters make up this code.

ISO 3166–3: the official name of a country which consists of four alphabetical characters.

The ISO 3166–1 abbreviation system for country names is the most commonly used in place. ISO offers the free usage of short country names from ISO 3166–1 and the alpha-2 codes for internal use and non-commercial purposes.

Things Included in ISO 3166

Country codes, subdivision codes, and formerly used codes (previously used codes to denote countries but are no longer in use) are the three sections that the ISO 3166 is divided into. 

The country codes can be described as a 2-letter code (alpha-2) that is recommended as a general-purpose code, a 3-letter code (alpha-3) is usually closely related to the country name, or a three-digit numeric code (numeric-3) that is handy if you don’t want to use Latin script.

The subdivision codes are composed of the country’s alpha-2 code followed by up to three characters. For example, ID-RI is the Indonesian province of Riau, while NG-RI is Nigeria’s Rivers province. Subdivision names and codes are often derived from relevant official national data sources. Subdivision names and codes are often derived from relevant official national data sources. Previously, four-letter codes known as alpha-4 were used. The reason for removing a country name can be determined by how the alpha-4 codes were constructed.

The International Standard for Country Codes and Codes for Their Subdivisions

The purpose of the ISO 3166 Standard is to establish internationally recognized codes of letters and/or numbers that may be used to refer to countries and their subdivisions. However, it does not define the names of countries; this information comes from UN sources.

Instead of using a country’s name (which will vary depending on the language being used), we may use a set of letters and/or numbers recognized worldwide, which saves time and prevents mistakes.

All national postal agencies across the globe, for example, exchange international mail in containers labeled with the corresponding country code. The codes define top-level domain names on the Internet, such as “.fr” for France and “.au” for Australia. Furthermore, the country codes detect the user’s nationality in machine-readable passports. When sending money from one bank to another, the country codes determine where the bank is located.


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Written by Austin Proctor 


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