Verify Home Address: Post Office Guide

how to verify a home address with the post office

Verifying a home address with the post office is a process that allows you to check the authenticity and deliverability of an address. This process is especially useful for companies that send out bulk mail to customers or employees. It helps to ensure mail reaches its destination in the shortest time possible, reducing the number of returned mails and increasing accuracy.

The United States Postal Service (USPS) offers address verification services directly on their website, where addresses are processed one at a time. They also license their services to third-party companies that can provide CASS certification in bulk. These third-party providers typically allow processing of address lists in CSV or Excel format and may offer an API for address verification services.

Before an address can be certified as deliverable, it must first be standardized. Standardization involves converting an address into a standard format, correcting any errors, and adding missing information, such as a ZIP code, to produce a complete address. This includes the street address, city, state, and ZIP code.

There are also third-party address checker tools that utilise USPS capabilities to verify mailing addresses. These tools often offer additional features and a more user-friendly interface, making address verification faster and easier.


Using the USPS Address Verification tool

The USPS Address Verification tool is a free and simple-to-use web tool that can help you verify US postal addresses. This tool is especially useful if you need to verify addresses occasionally and don't need to process a large number of addresses at once.

Here's a step-by-step guide on how to use the USPS Address Verification tool:

  • Go to the USPS website: Visit the official USPS website at
  • Navigate to the Address Verification tool: Once you're on the USPS website, look for the "ZIP Code by Address" lookup tool. You can find it by searching for "Address Verification" or "ZIP Code lookup" on the site.
  • Enter the address details: In the designated fields, enter the street address, city, state, and ZIP Code. It's important to provide as much information as possible to increase the chances of successful address validation.
  • Review the results: After entering the address details, examine the results provided by the tool. The tool will indicate whether the address is accurate and conforms to USPS formatting rules. If the address is not recognized, the tool may offer suggestions for rectifying it.
  • Access additional information: If needed, you can access more information about the address by clicking on the "⌄" icon next to the address. This will expand the result to display Delivery Point Validation (DPV) information, indicating whether the address is a valid delivery point according to USPS standards.
  • Update your records: If the USPS tool provides corrections or suggestions, update your address records accordingly to ensure accuracy.

It's important to note that the USPS address verification process does not confirm the residency or business operation at a specific address. Instead, it ensures that the address exists and can receive mail.

Additionally, the USPS tool has some limitations, such as a slow user experience, lack of address autocomplete, and inability to verify international addresses. Therefore, if you require more advanced features or bulk address verification, you may need to consider third-party address verification tools.

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Verifying addresses in bulk

There are several ways to verify addresses in bulk. Here are some options:

  • Use a bulk address verification service: Several companies offer bulk address verification services, such as PostGrid, Smarty, and Xverify. These services allow you to upload a file (usually in CSV, Excel, or text format) containing the addresses you want to verify. The service will then process the addresses and provide you with a file containing the corresponding results (corrected, verified, or failed). This option is generally fast, efficient, and user-friendly.
  • Use the USPS Address Verification tool: The United States Postal Service (USPS) offers a free address verification tool on its website. However, this tool only allows one address entry at a time, which can be time-consuming for bulk verification. Additionally, it is limited to US postal addresses.
  • Use CASS-certified software: CASS stands for Coding Accuracy Support System. This software can be used to check the accuracy of your addresses against the Postal Service's database. You can process your address list through CASS-certified software to ensure it complies with USPS formatting rules.
  • Address List Correction Service: The Postal Service offers an Address List Correction Service where you can submit a printout of your address list, and they will mark any changes for a fee. This service is available through your Address Management System Office.
  • NCOALink: This is a licensed vendor service that will run your mailing list through special software that updates addresses for customers who have filed a change of address with the Post Office. This option allows you to clean up your list before mailing and know the cost in advance.
  • Address Information System (AIS) Viewer: An interactive application that provides the ability to retrieve, view, and print accurate and current ZIP Code information for all 50 states on demand.

It is important to note that address verification is crucial for maintaining accurate records, reducing mailing costs, and ensuring timely delivery. By using one or a combination of these methods, you can efficiently verify addresses in bulk.

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Address parsing and address standardization

Address parsing and standardization are crucial steps in the address verification process. They ensure that addresses are accurate, complete, and conform to the postal service's requirements. Let's delve into the details of these processes and understand why they are essential.

Address Parsing:

Address parsing involves breaking down an address into its individual components, such as the street number, street name, city, state, and zip code. This step is necessary because address fields are often entered as open text, leading to missing or unstructured data. By parsing the address, we can identify and isolate each component, making it easier to validate and standardize the information.

Address Standardization:

Address standardization, also known as address normalization, is the process of formatting addresses according to the postal service's requirements. In the United States, the United States Postal Service (USPS) sets the addressing standard. According to USPS, a standardized address consists of three lines: the first line contains the name of the receiver, the second line contains the street address, and the third line includes the city, state, and zip code.

Here's an example of address standardization:

Before standardization:

150 west avenue st. 901 SPRINGFIELD CAL 28643

After standardization:

150 W MAIN AVE STE 900 SPRINGFIELD CA 28643-7923

In the standardized format, all abbreviations are used, street directions are abbreviated (e.g., "W" for West), and all letters are written in uppercase.

Address standardization is essential for several reasons:

  • Cost Savings: Inaccurate addresses lead to returned mail, resulting in significant costs for businesses and postal services. Standardization helps ensure mail is delivered to valid addresses, reducing these costs.
  • Duplicate Record Removal: Standardized addresses are easier to compare, making it simpler to identify and remove duplicate entries in a database.
  • Improved Householding Precision: Standardized addresses enable companies to group customer accounts by household, sending a single copy of mail to each household instead of multiple copies to individual customers.
  • Operational Efficiency: Standardized addresses facilitate efficient data management across various business operations, including product, marketing, sales, and finances.
  • Enhanced Delivery Time: Standardized addresses are easier to comprehend, reducing the time required to locate the correct address and improving delivery times.

To achieve address standardization, the following steps are typically followed:

  • Select a Standard: Choose the appropriate standard based on the country of operation, such as USPS for the United States or Canada Post for Canada.
  • Profile for Errors: Analyze the current address data to identify errors and inconsistencies against the selected standard.
  • Parse Address Data: Identify and isolate the necessary components of each address, such as street number, street name, city, state, and zip code.
  • Clean and Standardize: Correct invalid or missing information, apply the appropriate abbreviations, and format the addresses according to the chosen standard.
  • Append Geocodes and ZIP+4 Code (Optional): Use address verification tools to obtain geocodes (latitude and longitude) and compute the ZIP+4 codes for added precision.
  • Reformat Addresses: Finally, reformat the addresses according to the postal service's guidelines, ensuring they conform to the required structure.

Address standardization software, such as CASS-certified tools, can automate and streamline this process, improving the accuracy and efficiency of address verification.

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Using third-party address checker tools

Third-party address checker tools are an excellent alternative to the USPS address verification tool, offering additional features and a more user-friendly interface. These tools are especially useful for businesses that need to verify addresses in bulk and require a more advanced and intuitive system.

  • Bulk Address Verification: Third-party tools like PostGrid offer easy bulk address verification, which can be a major advantage for companies, saving them time and reducing errors. With just a few clicks, you can verify multiple addresses by uploading a CSV file.
  • Misspelling Correction: Advanced third-party tools can read through and auto-correct minor misspellings, something that the standard USPS tool cannot do. This feature can save time and improve the user experience by reducing the need for re-entries.
  • Auto-fill Address: Some third-party tools, like PostGrid, offer an auto-fill feature. Users only need to enter the street address and zip code, and the city and state data are automatically filled in, making the process more convenient and faster.
  • Easy Integration: Third-party address checkers can be easily integrated into your website or landing pages, providing a smoother user experience for your target audience and making it more convenient for them to take the desired action, such as filling out a contact form.
  • High Deliverability: Third-party tools offer significantly higher deliverability rates for direct mail. For example, PostGrid offers a 99.99% deliverability rate, ensuring that your mail reaches its intended destination.
  • Additional Features: Third-party tools often come with a range of additional features aimed at making address verification faster and easier. For instance, they can automate a company's entire direct mailing process, not just address verification.
  • User-Friendly Interface: Third-party address checkers typically have a more user-friendly interface than the standard USPS tool, making them more accessible and efficient to use.

When choosing a third-party address checker tool, it is important to ensure that it is CASS-certified, especially if you need to verify billing and shipping addresses. Reliable tools follow postal address verification standards and obtain a Postal Service license to access official databases like NCOALink.

Some of the popular third-party address checker tools include PostGrid Address Verification, Smarty, Xverify Address Verification, Lob, Melissa Data Quality Suite, and WinPure Clean & Match. These tools offer a range of features, including address validation, standardization, autocomplete, and parsing, to ensure accurate and efficient address verification.

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Understanding address validity

Address validity is the process of checking the validity and deliverability of a physical mailing address. An address is valid when it exists within the comprehensive list of mailable addresses in the United States Postal Service's (USPS) Address Management System. This system is different from the credit card Address Verification System (AVS), which authenticates ownership of a credit card by matching the card with the billing address on file.

To be certified as deliverable, or CASS-certified, an address must first be standardized. Standardization converts an address into a standard format by correcting it, if possible, and adding missing information, such as a ZIP code, to produce a complete address containing a street address, city, state, and ZIP code.

The USPS provides an address verification tool called "ZIP Code™ by Address," which standardizes and verifies address accuracy, allowing one address entry at a time. To use this tool, enter the street address, city, state, and ZIP code in the designated fields. The more complete address information provided, the higher the chances of successful validation.

The USPS address verification tool has some limitations. It requires users to enter each part of the address into a separate field, which can be time-consuming, especially for multiple addresses. Additionally, it does not include an autocomplete feature, increasing the likelihood of typos and missing components. It also does not verify non-postal addresses serviced by private carriers like FedEx, UPS, and DHL, and cannot validate international addresses.

Third-party address checker tools often build upon USPS capabilities and can offer additional features and a more user-friendly interface. They may provide address auto-completion, correct minor misspellings, and support bulk address verification, making them more suitable for businesses sending out mail in large volumes.

Address validity is based on several factors, including address renumbering and address completeness. If an exact match is not found, an acceptable alternative may be used. For example, if an apartment number is not specified, the default address (lobby) is used for delivery. An address with a ZIP+4 code (a nine-digit ZIP code) is considered valid, but if the USPS lists it as "VACANT," it will not be delivered.

It is important to verify addresses before mailing to reduce the chances of mail being returned to the sender and to ensure timely delivery.

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Frequently asked questions

The United States Postal Service (USPS) offers an address verification tool on its website. You can enter the address details, and the tool will validate the address for you.

You can also use third-party tools that use USPS data to verify addresses.

Additionally, the USPS provides an Address List Correction Service. You can submit a printout of the address to the Postal Service, and they will mark any changes for a fee.

CASS stands for Coding Accuracy Support System. It is a certification system developed by the USPS. An address that is CASS-certified means it matches the records in the USPS Address Management System and includes all necessary details like ZIP codes and street suffixes.

Address verification helps confirm address accuracy, reduces mailing costs, and aids timely delivery. It can also help businesses avoid wasting money on undelivered mail and maintain good relationships with customers.

Written by
  • Lara Beck
  • Lara Beck
    Author Home Renovation Professional
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