USPS Approved Mailing Address Standardization

Hello -

Our (mailing) address consists of three 30-byte alphanumeric fields, a 20-byte alphanumeric city-state field and a 9-byte numeric zip-code+4 field. The address may be updated by several external sources via batch procesing as well as an on-line map. As a result we have to contract with an outside vender to perform a NCOA (National Change Of Address) lookup to qualify for bulk rate postage.

Does anyone have a process to standardize their addresses according to the US Postal Service standards?


Sorry for my stupid question: Don’t you have separate fields for surname/name and street?

Another stupid question(s): doesn’t the outside vendor have to standardize the address before validating; if so, won’t the vendor provide you with same ?

I would agree with thespin’s comments regarding the outside vendor. There may be a possibility of a return file from the vendor with standardization as well as their move file (NCOA) at which point it would be a good idea to make use of it.

I’m going to assume that your three 30 byte fields do not include the person’s name (first, middle or last) because, if they do, then these need to be stripped from any address verification process you put in place; especially any that are CASS certified since the USPS does not deliver to people but to physical addresses so what is being verified is that the address is deliverable and meets US PS standards not that the person lives there.

Since you mention an online screen as well as a number of external sources then relying on your sources to verify is not sufficient as you will at least have missed your online screen address application. A google search of words like address verification, deliverable, and maybe throwing in mainframe if that is a restriction should provide you with possibilities.

One question you’ll have to answer is realtime versus batch. What we implemented was realtime communication from mainframe via EntireX to MapPoint - a Microsoft supplied service for address verification. We implemented a week or so ago but not yet turned on pending completion of some final documentation so I cannot speak to how it works in the real world but in testing it was reliable and consistent though we had trouble with PO Boxes and addresses that begin with a first line like ‘C/O my aunt Betty’. We also restricted this iteration initially to US Postal addresses and to those entered online via our own internal staff since another consideration was the user interface and how the person entering the address was to respond to the suggestions from MapPoint.

As to batch - one we considered for this purpose was Finalist from Pitney Bowes but have postponed that for now.

One more question; How many addresses are you planning to standardize? A manual procedure with online screens might be okay for a file with 10,000 records, but not 10 million records.


I guess I need to make some clarifications.

  1. I did not mention name because what we wish to do has nothing to do with names, just the addresses.
  2. Yes, the current vendor does supply an ‘update’ file which is applied to our records. However, these updates quickly become ‘out-of-date’.
  3. We would like to determine if there is a process to do the NCOA standardization ‘in-house’. I don’t know if this was ever considered or if it was what were the determining factors on using a vendor.
  4. We are maintiaining 350K addresses, but expect that number to rise significantly over the next several years.

Thanks for the information posted so far. I’ll do some research on MapPoint and Finalist.