Monday, August 20, 2012

Address Standards and Address Standardization

tags: address formats, address standards, address hygiene, international addresses, Universal Postal Union (UPU), S42

There is continuing confusion and misunderstandings about address standardization and address standards and how they differ.

Address standards, for purposes of this discussion, is the correct definition of the address formats used on postal mail.  They are developed by individual countries and each country may have a number of different formats for different types of addresses (building delivery, post office box delivery, military mail, etc.)  To define the addresses for the standards, the address elements are assigned terms and those terms are used to describe a correct address.  (See Address Standards: What they are and What’s happening.)   

(Address standards is a term that is used in more than one way.  The term might, for example, refer to how a particular company defines what is acceptable practice for its database entries.  XYZ Co. may require an entry in the city name field for all database address records or may require an entry in the state field only for U.S. and Canadian address records, using the correct 2-character abbreviations.)  

Address standardization is the process of confirming address to a particular set of fields so that the identical elements in each address are in the same place.  All the postal codes in the postal code field, all the states in the state field and so forth.  If a particular country has no postal code, that field would be blank for address in that country.  If each item is in the proper field in every address, the addresses can be more easily checked for errors and inconsistencies.  The addresses can then be compared and deduplicated, selected by various criteria, and properly sorted or printed.  The advantages of standardized addresses are many. 

In short, address standards describe addresses using consistent names for the elements in addresses.  Address standardization places address elements in their proper fields within a database.  Both help in the process of maintaining correct, deliverable addresses.

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