How good is your mailing address quality?
One of the many things I do in my job is work with new customers in converting their data to our Utilities Management System.
In the process of doing this, I see a wide range in the quality of mailing addresses – from excellent to not so good. Let’s take a look at some steps you can take to improve the quality of your mailing addresses.
Postal addressing standards call for no periods or commas in the address line. For example, P.O. BOX 123 should be PO BOX 123 and RALEIGH, NC should be RALEIGH NC.
Street name suffixes should always use standardized abbreviations. For example, RD in place of ROAD and ST for STREET.
Apartments and suites should always be listed at the end of the address. For example, 101-B MAIN ST should be 101 MAIN ST APT B.
The primary delivery address should always be immediately above the city, state and ZIP code. This is not an issue for most addresses, but can be in the case of long street names with a suite or apartment that won’t all fit on a single address line. In this case, the mailpiece should be addressed like this:
1234 VERY LONG STREET NAME
RALEIGH NC 27609
Looking up a ZIP code
Every address should have a ZIP code, preferably including ZIP+4. The US Postal Service website, www.usps.com, makes it easy to find a zip code. In the Quick Tools section at the top left of the home page, click Find a ZIP Code.
Enter the street address, city and state of the address you want the zip code for and click the Find button. This will display the address (in standardized format) with the ZIP code and ZIP+4. If you want additional address information, such as Carrier Route or Delivery Point Code (which is required for Intelligent Mail barcodes), click the Show Mailing Industry Details link. The full mailing industry details screen is then shown.
Are you familiar with USPS Publication 28? If you’re not and you are in any way responsible for being sure your bills get delivered to your customers as efficiently as possible, I recommend reading it.
It’s available from the Postal Service website, either as a PDF document (be forewarned – it’s 210 pages) or as interactive web pages with an index.
One of the features of Publication 28 is Appendix C1 which lists the standard abbreviations for most street suffixes. This is helpful if you’re unsure how to properly abbreviate a street suffix. For example, I live on Scouting Trail and, for the first few years I lived here, I thought Trail was abbreviated TR, but it’s not. According to Appendix C1, it should be TRL.
CASS certification software
If you use CASS certification software or an outsource printer to print your bills, you probably don’t worry about the quality of how your addresses are entered because the CASS certification software will correct the addresses. However, I would caution against this because the better your addresses are going into the CASS certification process, the more accurate the output will be.