How Do You Address an Envelope?

By Karen Loggia

Nothing is sweeter than hearing your own name, and on a direct mail or transactional envelope, nothing is sweeter than seeing your correct address.

But a correctly addressed envelope doesn’t only score you some brownie points - it also saves you money and hastens delivery. In the eyes of the USPS®, your envelope’s address must be complete, standardized and validated.

The USPS has specific definitions for these descriptions.

How to Address an Envelope

When addressing an envelope, your address should be:

  • Complete
  • Standardized
  • Validated

Complete Address

The Postal Service defines a complete address as one that has all the address elements necessary to allow an exact match with the current Postal Service ZIP+4 and City State files to obtain the finest level of ZIP+4 and delivery point codes for the delivery address. (Holy run-on sentence, USPS!)

Learn more about a complete address here.

Standardized Address

A standardized address is one that is fully spelled out, abbreviated by using the Postal Service standard abbreviations, or as shown in the current Postal Service ZIP+4 file.

Validated Address

Addresses must be validated with the ZIP+4 file and City State Zip file, respectively via the USPS. During validation, addresses are compared against the official USPS database to match the records between the two.

Importance of Properly Addressing a Business Envelope

Why is addressing a business envelope properly important? Why do we strive for Complete, Standardized and Validated Addresses? The answer is simple: for better mail delivery and potentially lower mailing costs. People are on the move – and an address list that is even a few months old can be out of date. You may be surprised:

  • 17% of Americans change addresses annually.
  • 45 million people move each year.
  • Approximately one out of every six families moves each year.

Source: https://pe.usps.com/BusinessMail101/Index?ViewName=CheckTheAddresses

All of those moves can cost you money in returned mail and missed opportunities. Also, you MUST check the accuracy of ZIP Codes within specific timeframes in order to claim commercial USPS Marketing Mail and First-Class Mail prices.

To qualify for You must verify By this Date
Presorted 5-digit ZIP Code Within 12 months of mailing
Automation Complete addresses Within 95 days of mailing
Carrier Route Carrier route information Within 90 days of mailing

Check out Postal Explorer and other USPS resources for the full details. Contact your local Post Office or Business Mail Entry Unit to discuss some of your best options for cleaning up your mailing list.

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