Despite the ease and efficiency of electronic mail, there are times when you need to communicate via postal mail. This is most often the case when you want to send documents or products, but it's also a way to make any communication seem more important and personal. Save time and money by ensuring you have the right address before sending.
Verify With the Recipient
The easiest way to make sure you have the right address is to confirm it with the recipient. If you take an order in person, print the address clearly and have the recipient look at it to ensure it's correct. You can make any needed corrections on the spot.
When verifying an address over the phone, ask for correct spellings of the recipient's name as well as the street and city names if they are unfamiliar to you. Many letters sound alike ("b" and "d" or "f" and "s," for example), so use them in easily recognizable words when confirming the spelling. For example, you might say "B as in boy" or "F as in Frank." For P.O. box verification, repeat the number to the person who gives you the information.
Use the Internet
There are several web-based sources that can help you with post office address verification.
United States Postal Service (USPS): Look under "Address Management" on the USPS website to use one or both of its trademarked services: Address Element Correction (AEC II) and DSF2. AEC standardizes addresses for accuracy, while DSF2 validates addresses from a computerized file with all addresses at USPS delivery points. There is also a ZIP code lookup that works if you know the other elements of the address.
Whitepages.com: White Pages allows you to search for individuals and businesses, though there is a limit to the information you can access for free. When searching for a person, you only see a current city and state. Otherwise, you have to pay to "unlock" current street address and phone numbers. If searching for a business, White Pages links to the company's website, if it has one, so you can find the complete address there.
United Parcel Service (UPS): Go to the "Verify Your Shipping Address" link. Fill in the appropriate boxes and use the drop-down menus to select the state and country. The address is returned in the proper format for U.S. postal mail or private delivery services such as UPS.
FedEx: When you have an account with FedEx, you can use its Address Checker from a computer, smart phone or another mobile device when preparing to send an envelope or package.
Mail Management Systems
Mail management systems such as Melissa, Pitney-Bowes, Quadient and SmartSoftDQ include address verification in their software packages. It makes sense to invest in a mail management system if you regularly send a large number of items. Depending on the software, it verifies both domestic and international addresses.
At the Post Office
Find a post office near you by using the "Tools" link on the USPS website. After typing in your own city, state and ZIP code, you get results not only for U.S. post offices but also for other authorized sites that offer USPS mailing services.
When mailing a letter or parcel through USPS, the clerk enters the address you've provided. Post office address verification works to validate a P.O. box address or street address. In most locations, you are asked to use a touch screen to accept the address shown. It will be the address you provide, correctly formatted according to USPS rules.
The Importance of Post Office Address Verification
When sending via USPS or another delivery service, address verification saves both time and money. If a letter or package is undeliverable, it is returned to you. You have to locate a correct address and pay again for your item to be delivered.
Denise Dayton, M.S., M.Ed. is a freelance writer specializing in careers, education and technology. In addition to writing for corporate clients, she has published articles in Library Journal and The Searcher.