USPS Address Confirmation

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March 25, 2024

The United States Postal Service delivers an estimated 700 million mailpieces daily. However, according to USPS, the chances of a package getting lost during shipping is 1 in 20,000. 

One reason for delivery problems like lost or missing mail is the incorrect address on the package, which USPS address confirmation helps resolve. 

What is USPS address confirmation, and how does it help a person whose package is lost

This article explains USPS address confirmation via the company’s validation and verification process. It also details how USPS helps check and correct the address customers use before they place it on a shipping label.

Furthermore, this write-up advises customers on addressing problems like fraud and theft experienced while using USPS services. 

If you need access to contact information for over 31,330 post offices in the country, visit FindPostOffice.org. Our website can help get the address of your local post office. You can visit these USPS retail offices when you have to handle address confirmation, validation, or verification personally.

Verifying a USPS Address

USPS provides an address verification service (AVS) to ensure that the address a customer places on a package is correct and error-free. Aside from verifying a USPS address, the AVS also standardizes the mailing address information format used for its vast address database. 

At a Glance: USPS Address Overview

According to data provided by USPS, there are over 165 million addresses in the United States, and each of these addresses is a potential recipient of packages sent via the USPS courier service. 

USPS uses automation to speed up the delivery process. This process uses machine scanners (optical character readers) that sort and distribute mail according to the shipping addresses placed by customers on the package’s label.

Why It Matters

USPS address verification matters because invalid addresses can lead to delayed deliveries. Shipping delays can affect customers, especially online businesses that deliver packages regularly.

The Postal Service strives to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its delivery service. However, the parcel not having a valid address can bog down the automated process. 

USPS can’t process parcels with invalid addresses. The system may not recognize the address on the package as it doesn’t match with those in the USPS database. 

The automated sorting machines may reject the parcel so a postal employee can manually check it. USPS returns parcels with invalid addresses to the sender.  

How Does USPS Address Verification Work?

A USPS address includes specific elements that follow a definite format to make mail processing easier. 

USPS address verification works by checking that all addresses placed on a package have all the elements and follow the format of a valid address accepted by the Postal Service

Furthermore, address verification is an automated process where the scanner checks the address data from the city, state, and ZIP (Zone Improvement Plan) code. 

The basic components or elements of a valid USPS address are the following: 

  • The Sender’s Name
  • Company
  • Delivery Address
  • City
  • State
  • ZIP Code

Here’s an example of a correct address format:

JANE DOE
JD MERCHANTS
1960 BAKER AVE STE 2007A
ALLENTOWN PA 18104

Note that the address lines are written in uppercase letters. USPS prefers this kind of formatting, though it’s not a requirement. 

What Is USPS Address Validation?

USPS address validation is the process where a customer can check whether the address they’re putting on a shipping label is accurate and valid.

You can verify your customer’s address through the address validation tool provided by USPS. Enter the address into this tool, and it finds a match from the USPS address database. 

Once the validation process finds a matching address, this tool will apply address correction and format the address, making it readable by the character scanners used to process mail for delivery.  

However, say there’s no matching address in the database. In that case, this tool will notify you that the address you entered is invalid. 

Benefits of Address Validation

Here are the benefits of address validation, which USPS provides:

  • Additional security when the address database is updated
  • Less time spent on data management and analysis
  • Accurate profiling of existing and potential customers (if applicable)
  • Best route calculation for deliveries 
  • Customer satisfaction by ensuring packages arrive securely and on time

Informed Delivery – Change of Address

If you have signed up for Informed Delivery but have to move to another address, you can request a change of address to update the USPS address database. 

Using address verification and validation, you can ensure that the address format you’re using is valid and the information is updated. 

Informed Delivery is a free service that provides photographs of your packages ready to be delivered to your address before it’s shipped out. 

How Does USPS Address Validation Work?

USPS address validation is a service that you can use to ensure your package is shipped to the right address. It helps you correct any errors in a recipient’s address, saving you from the hassle of delayed deliveries. 

How Do You Confirm the Address?

USPS address validation begins when the address you enter on an online form provided by USPS is subjected to parsing and standardization. These two processes correct and update an address, making it valid for processing. 

Address Parsing and Standardization

  • Address parsing: The parsing tool divides the address into components and then corrects for errors.
  • Address standardization: After parsing, the address is formatted according to the standard USPS sets. 

USPS uses the services of the Coding Accuracy Support System or CASS. The Postal Service relies on CASS-certified providers to address inconsistent formatting, spell-check, and complete missing data. 

The result of address parsing and standardization is a valid address that USPS can use to ensure packages are shipped swiftly, safely, and timely.  

Checking the Database

After parsing and standardization, the “cleaned” address is compared to the vast database of USPS addresses in the United States. If the address has a match, then it’s valid and real. 

Aside from the notification, you may also get a brief explanation of why the address is invalid. You can then make the necessary changes to correct it. Once done, you can recheck the address and finally get the correctly formatted address. 

Upon getting the correct address, you can use it when creating a shipping label for your package. 

Receive Immediate Validation

The automated nature of the address validation process allows you to get immediate feedback and the correct address format you should use. You should maximize the tools provided by USPS for address correction and validation before creating a shipping label

Reach Your Customers

Ensuring your packages have labels with the right address before shipping can help reach your customers consistently and improve their user experience. Address validation and verification can improve how your business handles orders and ensure customer satisfaction. 

What Is Address Checker Tool for USPS Postal Verification?

USPS uses an address verification tool to check the correctness of the address a customer plans to write on a shipping label. You can access this verification tool via USPS.com.

Standard USPS Address Checker for Address Verification

Many third-party websites offer their address verification tool based on what USPS provides. In particular, third-party websites model their tools on the official USPS address checker available on its website. 

Limitations of Standard USPS Address Verification

Despite the continued improvement in the address verification tools provided by USPS, there are still limitations. 

One of the limitations of the USPS address verification tool is how customers input the information. Also, the verification tool can miss some errors, especially spelling mistakes. 

So, customers should first review the address they’re inputting before placing it on a shipping label. 

How Do You Get Proof of Address From USPS?

In states like Indiana, a change of address confirmation from USPS can be considered proof of address. Though in some places, this USPS document is accepted as proof of address, it’s best to confirm first with the establishment.

How Long Does It Take for USPS to Recognize an Address?

USPS doesn’t specify how long it takes to recognize and add an address to its database. However, USPS address validation or verification provides instant feedback on whether the address information you’ve submitted is valid or invalid. 

Why Can’t USPS Confirm an Address?

There are many reasons why USPS can’t confirm an address. Firstly, the address information may contain incorrect data. For instance, the street name may be misspelled, or there are errors in the specific street address, or the ZIP code is wrong.  

The second reason is that the address you’ve used is marked as “Vacant” by USPS. According to USPS, a vacant address is an address where no mail has been collected for 90 days or longer. 

The third reason is that USPS sometimes can’t confirm an address when it’s new or unregistered or an address in an area previously serviced by a P.O. (Post Office) box

Why Do Addresses Appear As Invalid? Reasons for Receiving Invalid Addresses:

As mentioned, a valid address is when the address data receives a match from the USPS address database. However, if the results come back invalid, the reason for this could be any of those enumerated below. 

Imaginary Address

Customers may input a made-up or imaginary address to hide their real location, or they might want to avoid receiving anything from you. The verification or validation tool will not recognize an imaginary address and will return an “invalid” notification.  

Incorrect Address

The verification or validation tool will also deem an address invalid when the entered postal address contains incorrect information. A wrongly spelled street, incorrect house number, erroneous abbreviations, and an inaccurate ZIP code can result in invalid feedback.   

Address Not Occupied

An address may appear invalid because it’s vacant or unoccupied. USPS may not have included the house or building address in its official database. Businesses may have outdated address information, which may result in invalid addresses. 

Address Not Registered

An unregistered address may include new buildings, new residents, newly built subdivisions, or new addresses in urban areas. If the address is unregistered, it isn’t part of the address list that forms the database used in address matching for verification purposes. 

Missing Information

Finally, invalid feedback may result when the address you’ve listed has missing information. For instance, you’ve forgotten to include a ZIP code, street address, house number, or any of the required components of a valid USPS address mentioned in this article (see How Does USPS Addresses Verification Work?).

Your Area Is Not Within the USPS Service Area

Sometimes, an invalid address result may be caused by living in an area previously known as a “P.O. Box only ZIP code” or one where couriers don’t typically deliver mail. 

What to Do When Your Address Is Invalid: Here Are Ways to Handle Invalid Addresses

The straightforward way to ensure that the address you’ve inputted into the system is valid is to double-check all information provided. The names or numbers included in the address may be misspelled or outright wrong. 

You may also have used the wrong state, the wrong abbreviation of the state, or the wrong ZIP code. Also, ensure that the location you’re mailing to is not a P.O. Box Postal Area. 

Change Your Address

One workaround for an invalid address is for you to request a change of address. Changing your address via USPS may update your address information listed in the NCOA (National Change of Address) database. 

So, if you want to use this option, here are ways to change your address with USPS. 

How Do You Change Your Address With the Postal Service?

There are two ways to change your address with USPS. The first way is to request a change of address via the online form provided on the website. 

USPS warns customers that the service fee for a change of address is only $1.10. Some dubious websites may scam people into paying more than the actual pricing for this service.

The second way is to visit the local post office and request your address change. You can visit FindPostOffice.org when you need to find the nearest postal office in your area. 

How Do You Change Your Address With Other Government Agencies?

When you change your address, you may need to update your address with other government agencies separately. For immigration purposes, it’s best to notify the government of your new address to prevent misunderstandings with immigration officials. 

Remember that a green card holder must inform the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services of an address change. Otherwise, they may face misdemeanor charges, leading to fines, jail time, or even deportation. 

Forward or Hold Your Mail

If you think there’s a problem with your residence or business address, you can do the following:

  1. Request the post office to forward your mail to the correct address. This request will instruct the post office to send all packages to your current address. 
  2. Request the post office to hold your mail so you can pick up your packages in person.

File a Complaint With USPS

The U.S. Postal Service is a permanent fixture of the U.S. federal government. In that sense, this agency is subjected to the same level of accountability as any public office managed by the government. 

Suppose you think that there are issues that you’ve experienced with USPS that require much-needed attention. In that case, you can file a complaint via the following methods. 

Complaint About Mail Service

Here are the following phone numbers you can use for mail service complaints:

  • 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777) 
  • Teletypewriters (TTY) 1-800-877-8339 (for customers with hearing difficulties)

You can file a complaint via email by completing the online form provided by the USPS website. You can also visit your local post office and file a complaint with the station manager. 

Alternatively, you can mail your complaint to USPS’ Consumer Advocate office at:

United States Postal Service
Office of the Consumer Advocate
475 L’ Enfant Plaza SW
Washington, D.C. 20260-0004

Theft, Fraud, or Waste by USPS or a USPS Employee

Let’s say you suspect any theft, fraud, or waste done by any USPS employee or with the USPS as a whole. In that case, you can contact the USPS Office of the Inspector General (OIG) via the following methods:

  • File a complaint via the online form provided by the OIG website
  • Call 1-888-USPS-OIG (1-888-877-7644)

Mail Fraud or Theft by a Person or Company

If you suspect any mail fraud or theft done to you by anyone who uses the postal service, you can do the following:

  • For mail fraud, complete the online form the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) provided.
  • You can file a theft report for mail theft by selecting “Where is my Package” from the tracking page if you have a tracking number.

However, if you don’t have a tracking number, you can select the “Where is my Mail” option and complete the online form provided.  

  • For personal mail theft, vandalism, and other property-related offenses, USPS advises calling your local police department. 
  • USPS also advises you to report the theft incident to your local post office and have your mail deliveries put on hold. 

Comment or Complain About a Policy Change

If you want to complain or comment about the recent policy changes implemented by USPS, you can file it via the online form provided by the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC). The PRC oversees the policies implemented in the USPS. 

Find ZIP Codes and Post Offices at Find Post Office

FindPostOffice.org is a handy website with a vast database of contact information from over 31,330 post offices in the United States. Likewise, you can get other information about any post office, like its ZIP code, opening and closing hours, and available mailing services. 

References

  1. Postal Facts
    https://facts.usps.com/size-and-scope/
  2. Chapter 4 Our Operations
    https://about.usps.com/strategic-planning/cs07/chpt4-007.htm
  3. Delivery Address
    https://pe.usps.com/businessmail101?ViewName=DeliveryAddress
  4. Real ID Documentation Checklist
    https://www.in.gov/bmv/files/BMV_Documentation_List.pdf
  5. Address Changes
    https://www.irs.gov/faqs/irs-procedures/address-changes
  6. About the United States Postal Service
    https://about.usps.com/who/profile/
  7. File a U.S. Postal Service complaint
    https://www.usa.gov/postal-service-complaints
  8. The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006
    https://www.everycrsreport.com/reports/R40983.html