Are there standardized city codes?

There are ISO standard abbreviations for countries and languages. Are there similar codes (standard or ad-hoc) for major cities?

For example, if I want to abbreviate New York, Chicago, Tokyo, London, and Paris.

You could go by, as city names are standardized for air travel.

Don’t know if it’s ISO or not.

Never mind standardising abbreviations, what ‘city’ itself means depends on the jurisdiction. The city generally referred to as London is made up of a bunch of local authorities, two of which are named as the City of Westminster and the City of London. The latter has a population of under ten thousand. On the other hand, there are conurbations elsewhere in Britain of a quarter-million without the designation ‘city’.

Thanks phouka. I was thinking about airport names too. The only troubles are that they are not mnemonic and big cities often have multiple airports.

True and an interesting point. It would make an official standard very difficult, but I thought there might be something ad-hoc.

I need to deploy computer equipment in several remote offices and I’d like to have abbreviations to use. Obviously since it is a private network, I can pick anything I want, but the over-orderly side of me would like to use an existing scheme if possible. I’ll probably just pick the first three letters of the city’s name (in English), but I am curious if there are any defacto standards.

Not only do some cities have multiple airports within city limits, but some airports are several miles away. SFO is 8 miles from the closest part of San Francisco limits.

As someone who works in the mapping industry, I can tell you that outside of certain specific areas (such as aviation, which has already been mentioned), there are no such standards. Use whatever you want.

To be specific, there is an ISO scheme for indicating countries, but not for cities. We have our own in-house scheme for uniquely identifying cities with a code, but it’s just a long number.


Go to accounting and see how they identify the sales/busiess offices on the chart of accounts. If they have a usable code, that would keep you in coordination with the business, itself. In fact, two separate divisional offices in the same physical location could still be identified . (If you only establish one set of equipment, use the ID of the politically more powqerful unit and if they move, have the ID follow them while establishing the lesser office’s ID for the remaining equipment.)

When I worked for the state we used Airport codes to describe our satelite officers, SFO, SMF, LAX, OAK, SCK

Well, there are some city codes as well as airport codes. LHR, LGW, STN, BQN and LCY are airports, but there’s also LON, which in many systems will associate with all those airports plus sometimes QQS (St Pancras International, for international trains) and various domestic rail terminals, if you’re interested in that sort of thing. But generally it’s an absolute dogs breakfast.

From what I’ve seen in terms of e.g. hotel data, there is are actually two informal standards.
[ol][li]Adapt an existing system (e.g. airport codes) but in the most misleading way possible. i.e. tag a location on the east coast of england LHR or some place in New Jersey with JFKMake up some random coding system that looks nothing like any other and which is completely incomprehensible without four days of study.[/li][/ol]

No standards. I used to work for a company with a customer database of in the 15M range and we used (or talked about using, can’t remember) an address clean-up service. No standards for city names. International standards just go to the country level, and those were established for mailing purposes.

Which leads me to the suggestion that you use postal codes. Many cities have multiple postal codes, but if you have two offices in Manhattan that have different postal codes, is there any real need to identify them as being in the same city? As an IT guy I advise against making up requirements that serve no actual business purpose.

I don’t think you can just use the first 4 digits because sometimes that will be the same city and sometimes not, depending on population density.

There may be some countries that don’t use postal codes but I couldn’t name one and I’ll bet you’re not going to deploy equipment in one.

It’s all very weird. The postal system is different again - it seems every man and his dog has LONDON as their address, followed by a postal code. In Australia, this is much different, with SYDNEY being strictly the relatively tiny city centre/downtown/CBD/call-it-what-you-will. It has a population in the thousands only. Most people in the sprawling milti-millions population metropolis known informally as “Sydney” have no reference to SYDNEY in their address. You use your suburb name, and that’s in the same format as folks in the outback using their town or village name. If you weren’t familiar with the suburb name, you’d have no way of knowing it was in a big city or in a tiny hamlet.

Well, Greater London covers about 7.5 million people. It’s one of those Great British Oddnesses that London acts sort of like a county and sort of like a town at the same time for postal purposes.

Greater London was created as a county in 1889 out of the urbanised bits of Middlesex, Surrey and Kent, with the rest of Middlesex and a chunk of Essex being added in 1965. Since it’s a county for postal purposes it gets mentioned a lot in postal addresses. Curiously, its administrative boundaries are different from its postal boundaries - for example, Dagenham is in Essex postally but London administratively. Another one of those Great British Oddnesses.

How far out do you need to go?

A friend of mine had Croydon as her postal address. But what if you’re a ten minute walk from Trafalgar Square? A half hour? A forty-five minute Tube ride?

Apologies, Alive. Please disregard my last post, as yours above answered more than adequately.

As some of the answers suggest, a big part of the problem here is, What is a city? There are at least three possible meanings:
(1) An incorporated local government area called a “city”;
(2) A metropolitan area, consisting of continuous urban areas around some city centre(s); or
(3) A postal address between the national/state/provincial level and the local/street level.

In the US, meaning (1) and meaning (3) almost always are the same. For example, the postal address “New York NY” corresponds with New York City, even though there are 5 named boroughs within NYC, and smaller areas within the boroughs, such as Greenwich Village. If you addressed mail to “Manhattan NY” or “Greenwich Village NY”, I’m sure the Post Office would send it on to the right place, but that’s not how it’s supposed to be done.

In the UK, there’s less of a match, so that the postal address “London” does not exactly match the incorporated Greater London (and certainly does not match the City of London, which is much smaller). In Australia, there’s almost no matching at all: postal addresses are almost always unincorporated localities, and do not cover the same area as the cities/municipalities with the same name (e.g., “SYDNEY NSW” is a much smaller area than the City of Sydney, even though the City of Sydney is in turn a relatively small part of the Sydney Metropolitan Area).

So, if you are coding for “cities”, and you give London, England, the code “LON”, you still have to decide whether London means the City of London, Greater London, the postal area named “London” or the London Metropolitan Area. The differences between all of these are not trivial.

Some cities have abbreviations acceptable to the US Postal Service, and some don’t. For example, Rancho Santa Margarita maybe Rancho Sta Marg, Rcho Sta Marg, or RSM. Los Angeles is commonly abbreviated LA, and New York City is commonly abbreviated NY or NYC.

Ugh. This drives me nuts. Either you’re in San Francisco or you’re not. If you’re in Daly City or Berkeley or Fairfax, you’re in Daly City or Berkeley or Fairfax, not San Francisco. You might be near San Francisco or just outside San Francisco, but you’re not in San Francisco.

This is why people think LA=Southern California minus San Diego. Everyone west of Phoenix says they’re “from LA.”

New York City is a poor example of (1) and (3) being the same. The city is indeed a single local governmental entity. However, a postal address of “New York, NY” corresponds specifically to the borough of Manhattan. If you live in an outer borough, your mail would be addressed as “Brooklyn, NY”, “Staten Island, NY”, or “Bronx, NY” as the case may be. Queens is even more complicated; the USPS divides the borough into “Long Island City, NY”, “Jamaica, NY”, “Flushing, NY”, “Far Rockaway, NY”, and “Floral Park, NY”. Regardless of their postal address, all residents vote for a single mayor of the City of New York.

In the Buffalo area, it’s even odder.

If you’re in the City of Buffalo, or some of its suburbs, the municipality name is your postal address; Buffalo, Tonawanda, Cheektowaga, and so on.

In a few suburbs, though, your address is the 1800s-era unincorporated hamlet name. Go to the town of Amherst, and you’ll find relatively few people with an Amherst address; it’s Snyder, Eggertsville, Bowmansville, Getzville, East Amherst, and so on. The incorporated Village of Williamsville is in the Town of Amherst, but the postal area is much larger, incorporating the village and parts of Amherst and the Town of Clarance. There’s a similar situation in Hamburg, with many having addresses for places that were never cities, towns or villages; Athol Springs, Wanakah, Woodlawn and so on.

I believe thhat in NYC, nobody living in the borough of Queens has a simple “Queens” postal address; neighborhood names are used instead, such as Rego Park, Jamaica, and so on.