If you have been a customer of the USPS and tend to receive mail, you are probably surprised to see that your new address is not being recognized by the USPS. It is a common occurrence for people that move to a new location, to suddenly realize that that location – for some reason – is not validated by the USPS.
There’s nothing worse than feeling like your mailing address is stuck in a permanent blackhole.
Unfortunately, for hundreds of thousands of Americans all over the country, the USPS treats their mailing address as though it was sucked right into a vortex – not recognizing or validating legitimate addresses, and making it almost impossible for Americans to have mail, packages, or parcels sent to them.
This is a huge problem.
Thankfully, though, it is (relatively) simple enough to fix. And that’s why we put together this quick guide.
By the time you’re done with the details below you’ll know exactly how to troubleshoot issues with your address in the USPS system. Most of the time you’ll be able to fix these issues without having to pop down to the local post office, too.
We also share an easy way to guarantee that you won’t ever have to worry about address validation issues ever again. But more on that in just a little bit!
Hopefully, in this article, we will be able to raise some of the most common reasons why that may be happening and a helpful step by step process that you can follow.
Before we get into that, it helps to understand how an address gets validated. In order for an address to be recognized by the USPS, it must match a corresponding address within the official USPS database which you are able to access by visiting USPS APIs.
This address is set up, monitored, and cleaned out (or added to) by the US government on a regular basis. Most of the time this is done in conjunction with local municipalities, property changes and transfers, and the creation of new roads or mailing routes that are done in connection with local post office departments.
Sometimes, however, addresses sort of “slip through the cracks”.
Believe it or not, it happens a whole lot more than most people would ever expect. We are talking about hundreds of thousands of times all over the country, and never intentionally.
That’s not much solace for folks that have “invalid addresses” when they go to order something online and have it sent to their doorstep, or when they find their mail simply not arriving – but instead being returned to sender – because there address isn’t recognized by USPS systems.
It’s a huge headache and hassle to have to deal with an address issue with the post office.
We are, after all, talking about a major part of our federal system. The post office is a gigantic bureaucracy, moves slowly whenever they have to make big changes like this, and usually need more than a little nudge in the right direction to help resolve your problem quickly.
Making things worse is that there are all different kinds of reasons why you might be dealing with and invalid address to begin with.
If your address includes any incorrect data, then it will not match that address within their database. That address will be labeled as “invalid.” Some of the most common reasons that may happen, is due to a vacant address, or simply a new address or unregistered address and even one that is located in a postal area that is primarily serviced by PO Boxes. Your best shot would be to verify the address prior to shipping or mailing something to it.
How To Complete Address Validation
As mentioned already, if an address is invalid then you will not be able to have that address recognized by the USPS. In order to validate or verify the address you must complete the following 3 step process.
Address Standardization and Parsing
Initially, a submitted address is standardized, which means that any incorrect format in the address is fixed. Errors within the house number, street name, city etc could all potentially be causing this issue. Therefore it is important to be able to get that data written out accurately.
During this step, other minor errors can also be corrected. A misspelled street or city name can easily be fixed and any missing information can be filled in. However, standardization cannot help with fixing straight out incorrect addresses.
For example, if there is a misspelling in which case the actual street name was “123 Oxford Park Dr” but what was listed instead was “123 Oxfrd Park Dr” then standardization can help with fixing errors like that. If however the street name itself is entirely wrong and the intended address was “456 Oxford Park Dr” but what was registered was “123 Oxford Park Dr” then standardization will not be able to help with this, but rather Parsing.
Address parsing is an effort to disassemble a specific line of data, identify its distinct parts and label them. This is something that is usually used for address validation since it will help with making both the standardizing and validating process more effective.
Checking The Database
Once the process of address cleansing has been completed, then the address itself is taken and compared against a relevant database. A search will take place to see if the address that is in question is on the official list. If that is the case, then it is marked as a real and active address.
Returning A Value
Once the validation process has been completed, then the address data is returned to the user completed with a valid or invalid status assigned to it. There may also be an explanation as to why the address was not eligible to be validated.
The response that the validation provider returns to you, may also include supplemental information that the provider gathers regarding address and that are sent to them. Some providers may even include things such as geocodes that correspond to a particular address, RDI labels or time zone information.
Why Are Some Addresses Not Recognized
There is a series of reasons why an address may not be recognized by the USPS or comes up as invalid. Below, we will be listing some of the top reasons why an address may not be recognized.
Sometimes the data from within the USPS database may have an error. People manage the addresses that are listed, so it is possible that from time to time there will be some mistake in the spelling, mixing up the order of street numbers or zip codes. Any mistake that is added into the address really, can trigger an error.
In certain cases, there is no mistake that has been made in the address itself, but rather some information that may be missing from the address. For example, it may be hard to validate an address if you do not know the house number or street name. So although you may get the general area right (city, zip code etc,) if you do not have the actual street number, it will be tough to pin point the exact location.
A False Address
In certain cases, if the actual address that is added is fake, then this would come up as an invalid address. This is sometimes done by people who intend on either hiding their identity or stealing someone’s identity.
Your Area Is Not Within The USPS Service Area
There are some locations that are known as PO Box only Zip Codes and that is where the postman will typically not deliver mail. If the physical address is not receiving mail then that means that it is probably not registered in the database. That means that any mail that is sent to that particular address will never be delivered there, but rather be sent back to the sender.
Your Address Is Not Registered
Any address that you reside or have a business in, will need to be registered with the USPS if it is not already within the USPS database. It is not under their responsibility to keep an eye out for new addresses that are created. Rather the people who reside or do business in those addresses, need to make sure they have registered their address with the USPS.
A New Address
Having a new address is very similar to the case where your address is not registered. A new address may not have had the chance to sign up for mail or maybe the mail system is still processing and adding the new address to the list. If you know that the address you are in, is new and possibly not within their system, it will be a good idea to make sure that the post office is aware of this address.
What To Do When Your Address Is Invalid
In certain cases, there is not much that you can do for invalid addresses. As an example, if there is a false address that is listed, then there is not much that you can do to track down the correct information. If the problem however was that someone made a typing error in listing the address, it is possible that someone will be able to fix the issue manually.
Here are some ways in which you can handle invalid addresses:
Double Check Your Data. It is not impossible that you missed something or that there was some mistake at some point when adding in the information. It may be a good idea to check again, if the data you added was correct.
Look for spelling errors. Sometimes it may just be some numbers that were not added in the right order, or some misspelled word is in place.
Make sure you are not in a PO Box Postal Area. Some locations are designated by the USPS as PO Box only areas, which means that any other houses in the area will not receive mail. If that happens to be you, you will need to make sure to register a local PO Box in order to receive mail.
Still Having Trouble?
If, however, that process for adding an address to the database does not work you may need to go directly to your local post office in speak to your postmaster.
They will usually direct you to the town office where you can get a copy of your property deed to confirm that your address is in fact 100% legitimate. They’ll then use that copy of the information you’ve provided to add your address to the USPS Address Database.
It will also be added during the next monthly update.
This process is pretty quick and pretty painless, too, though you may have to make an appointment to meet with your postmaster. Some local offices are little busier than others and you may not be able to meet directly with your postmaster as a “walking”.
Call ahead, schedule an appointment, and you should be good to go with no issue whatsoever.
Most of the time that copy of your property deed will be 100% free of charge (or almost free), making this a pretty inexpensive way to have your physical address added to the USPS Address Database without much extra effort on your behalf.
A Virtual Address Alternative
If you are running into issues with getting your address recognized with the USPS, whether that is because of some error that cannot be fixed or simply because you are in a PO Box only area, you may want to look at a better alternative, which is a virtual address.
A virtual address, is a real street address that receives mail. The difference with a regular address, is that all your mail will be scanned and uploaded into your virtual mailbox. So images of your mail will be sent there, and you can even request to scan the interior documents of your envelope.
This way, from the comfort of your own home or if you are travelling, you can access and stay on top of mail at any time via any mobile or computer device.
Of course, you also get to take advantage of mail forwarding and mail scanning solutions from this service, too.
The mail forwarding options are robust, secure, and speedy. They’ll work for you no matter where you are in the United States or anywhere else around the world (so long as you have a valid address to have that mail forwarded to).
The mail scanning options make digital records of every package, parcel, and envelope you have come through your Virtual Mailbox. This creates a 100% digital database of your mail or your own personal records, helping you to keep better track of mail as it comes in but also creating a paper trail should you need one moving forward.
A myriad of other big benefits are available through the Virtual Mailbox solution (including check-cashing benefits and more). There’s a reason why folks trust US Global Mail to help them when they find USPS traditional mail services a little lacking.
US Global Mail has been the leader in virtual address services since 1999, and has been a preferred vendor for US expats, frequent travelers and anyone looking for an easier way to manage mail. It is all accessible online, 24/7 within a click of a button.
For pricing and to get a free trial, click here. If you need to contact us, feel free to reach out to us with an e-mail.