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    Address Standardization

March 15, 2020

Case Study: USPS Address Standardization for Non-Existing Secondary Address

How would you handle USPS Address Standardization for Non-Existing Secondary Address?

In United State Postal Service(USPS) system, there are different address types: S (street), P (PO Box), H (High-Rise), F (Firm), R (Rural), G (General Delivery). According to USPS, only “F” and “H” record types have secondary addresses. See details on USPS’s website: Address Information System Products Technical Guide (https://postalpro.usps.com/mnt/glusterfs/2020-02/AIS_Technical_Guide.pdf, page 27).

USgeocoder ran into an interesting case recently for USPS address standardization for secondary address.

Sample address:

200 Innovation Blvd, Suite 150
State College, PA 16803

According to USPS Online Lookup by Address tool, this is a “S” type of address. So it should not have a secondary address.

However according to USPS online tool, it standardizes this address to:

200 INNOVATION BLVD STE 150
STATE COLLEGE PA 16803-6602

Here is a screenshot from USPS online tool. You can see its record type is “S” and it should not have a secondary address. However USPS Online Tool standardizes the street address to “200 INNOVATION BLVD STE 150”.

USPS address standardization for secondary address


Now, if you change Suite 150 to Suite 10000000, a number that obviously does not exist, USPS online tool still returns “200 INNOVATION BLVD SUITE 10000000” as its standardized address. This shows that USPS simply changed the secondary address designator “Suite” to “STE” and added the original number to the standardized address output.

Here is the screenshot that shows the USPS result for input address “200 INNOVATION BLVD SUITE 10000000”:

USPS Address Standardization for Non-Existing Secondary Address


USgeocoder drops the secondary address if such address does not exit.

USgeocoder takes a different approach than USPS Online Tool.

As part of USgeocoder’s data service offerings, USgeocoder provides Address Standardization service using USPS and US Census standards. USgeocoder has the entire USPS address data installed in its system. However USgeocoder handles the non-existing secondary address differently than USPS does.

If an address is not a “F” or “H” record, USgeocoder considers it does not have a secondary address by USPS standards and drops the secondary address entirely. USgeocoder does not include the secondary address in the standardized address output.

In addition, for “F” and “H” records, USPS provides the number range for the secondary address. If the secondary address number is not within the range provided by USPS, USgeocoder also considers it’s a non-existing secondary address and excludes it from the standardized address output.

So for address:

200 Innovation Blvd, Suite 15
State College, PA 16803

USgeocoder standardizes it to:

200 INNOVATION BLVD
State College, PA 16803-6603

Now let’s try an address that does have an secondary address:

15001 SEARSTONE DR APT 308
Cary, NC 17513

This is a “H” record. It has different zip4s for different APT ranges:


USgeocoder standardizes it as “15001 SEARSTONE DR APT 308, 27513-8393”. As you can see, 8393 is the right zip4 for this secondary address.

If the input is “15001 Searstone Dr Apt 30800000, 27513”, USgeocoder drops “Apt 30800000” and returns “15001 SEARSTONE DR, 27513-8391” as its standardized address. 8391 is the zip4 for the primary address “15001 Searstone Dr”.

So the bottom line is if the address is not a “F” or “H” record, USgeocoder drops the secondary address and returns the zip4 for the primary address. With USPS online tool, it simply returns the secondary address from the original input if the secondary address does not exist.

Which approach would you take?

July 22, 2017

Physical Address vs. Mailing address and when it matters

Mailing address standards and physical address standards are the two address standards in the US.

In the USA, there are two standards for addresses: mailing address that address standardizationUS Postal Service standards for mail delivery, and physical location for everything else. Physical address of a location includes US Census Bureau Standardization for anything to do with advocating or interacting with any government entity. It’s the only standard for insuring delivery of services to the 15% of the US population who cannot receive mail where they live.

Mailing address and physical address are not always the same. This blog will show you how to find out if an address is a mailing address or a physical (real) address but does not receive mail, and how to know whether you need mailing addresses only, real (i.e. physical) addresses only, or both for your organization and mission to succeed.

The differences between mailing address and physical address

The Post Office names for cities are the name of the city or local name for the unincorporated area of the county in which the post offices that deliver the mail are located; not the name of the jurisdiction in which the physical address sits. But the Jurisdiction of where the address sits (also known as municipality) is the real address for all government purposes, especially advocating for your cause, all tax purposes, all land development purposes, building purposes, and all home and commercial mortgage regulation and programs.

For instance, the entirety of zip code 95033 states mail there is delivered to Los Gatos, California. But in fact, it is delivered outside the Town of Los Gatos in portions of the unincorporated areas of Santa Clara and Santa Cruz Counties in California. The real address for the mailing address 21850 Bear Creek Road, Los Gatos, 95033-9438 is 21850 Bear Creek Rd, Santa Cruz County, CA 95033, more than 3 miles away from Los Gatos.

Here is another example, for the entire zip code of Nice, California, 95464, there is no city or town of Nice. Nice was the name given to the post office at the insistence of the local chamber of commerce and realtors because they thought Nice was so nice it should become a city or town. But the people of Nice think the area is too nice to have its own municipal government. So all mailing addresses in Nice California are actually to the unincorporated area along the north shore of Clearlake in Lake County, CA. For address 3565 Beynon St. Nice CA 95464, it is actually 3565 Beynon St., Lake County, CA 95464   When you enter 3565 Beynon St, Nice CA address in google or bing maps, you only get the mailing address if the address were to get mail, which as we’ve just seen, is not always the case. If you want to confirm if that address actually gets mail, use https://tools.usps.com/go/ZipLookupAction_input, and you’ll get the message “Unfortunately, this address wasn’t found” which means the post office does not deliver to it and does not have it in its records.

If you want to get the actual, or physical address which is the address for all government purposes, including matching people to their Congress people or state representatives, determining how much sales tax you need to charge, what school district they are in, whether they are eligible for any special government sponsored lending or mortgage program, or to which planning department you need to go to pull a construction permit, just enter the address into our free live demo on https://usgeocoder.com/api_live_demo and look for the “Municipal” result. Let’s look at three examples using https://USgeocoder.com.

Sample one: 18041 Saratoga-Los Gatos Rd, Los Gatos, CA 95030

Physical Address Vs Mailing Address

What USgeocoder is telling you in the standardized address that the address is identified as being within the territory served by the USPS office in Los Gatos, CA, but the lack of a zip+4 value shows USPS does not deliver to that address. You can see at the bottom left that the address is in the county of Santa Clara in the municipality of Monte Sereno. So it’s address for all government and regulatory purposes is 18041 Saratoga-Los Gatos Rd, Monte Sereno, CA 95030. The city hall address for Monte Sereno, CA is in fact 18041 Saratoga-Los Gatos Rd, Monte Sereno, CA. If the owner needs to pull a building permit, he’ll have to go to the Monte Sereno planning department, not Los Gatos planning department.

Now let’s see what the physical address is for mailing address 21850 Bear Creek Road, Los Gatos, CA 95033:

Screen Shot 2017-07-22 at 12.22.04 PM (2)

What USgeocoder is telling you is that the address receives its mail (notice the zip+4 95033 – 9438 in the standardized address section) through the Los Gatos post office. The municipality of this address is “un-incorporated which means The physical address for all government purposes is 21850 Bear Creek Rd, Santa Cruz County, CA 95033. Los Gatos is over four miles away in the county of Santa Clara!

If you click on the map legend, and then check the boxes for State Lower House 2017, you can see that the state house district is 29, not 28 which serves Los Gatos. The deep purple line is the border between Santa Clara and Santa Cruz Counties. If the resident needs police services, he will receive it from the Santa Cruz county sheriff, not Los Gatos police department. To write his state assemblyman or state senator, he needs his physical Santa Cruz County address.

Physical Address Vs. Mailing Address

Want to find out if the mailing address is the same as physical address for a particular address? Just enter the address and the 5 digit zip code in our live demo https://usgeocoder.com/api_live_demo to find out!