Address Standardization | What it is and how to do it.

address standardization

(If you're only wanting to standardize a USPS or international address, use this free address standardization tool.)

Address standardization is the process of formatting an address so that it matches the approved format of the national postal authority. The USPS determines the official format for addresses in the United States.

The USPS defines a standardized address as "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."1

The process of standardizing an address (whether USPS or an international address), is most often performed through an address standardization service using address validation software.

It is important to note that standardizing an address does NOT guarantee validity or deliverability of an address. Address standardization is just the first step in validating an address.

Once standardized, an address will be complete, including the addition of any missing city, state, or ZIP Code information. And, all of the individual address components will be formatted with USPS-approved spelling and abbreviations. The address can then be compared against the official database of known addresses to see if it matches an address in that database. If a match is found, the address is determined to be "valid". This process is known as address validation.

Aside from mail delivery, a fully standardized address is a first step in address de-duplication (finding and removing duplicate addresses from a list or database).

Examples of standardized addresses

Remember, an address is first standardized and then verified. We have demonstrated this in the following table.

Address as typed by someone Standardized version
121 jones street
montgomrey, AL
121 Jones St
Montgomery AL 36104-4945
2993 Johnson
Wantagh New York state 11793
2993 Johnson Pl
Wantagh NY 11793-2836
2701 phillips Ave., charlotte, N.C. 2701 Phillips Ave
Charlotte NC 28208-7029
616 ivory
rio rancho NM, 87124
616 Ivory Rd SE
Rio Rancho NM 87124-3042

What about casing/capitalization?

We're all used to seeing addresses like this:


Uppercase text, however, is not a USPS requirement.2 If the text is clearly printed and meets USPS OCR standards, it does not have to be all capitalized. So this would be just as valid:

772 W Rolling Rd
Springfield PA 19054-1132

SmartyStreets returns address results in Proper Case rather than UPPERCASE. Transforming text to ALL UPPERCASE is much easier than proper casing and is something you can do in any spreadsheet program, database application, or programming language.

Address Standardization Software

Whether you have only one address to standardize, or whether you have millions, using address standardization software will make your job a lot easier. The software will automatically correct a malformed address, a process that that would probably take you quite awhile. And, a lot of address validation software is free to use.

To easily standardize one address or many, simply try SmartyStreets Address Validation services for free.

The leader in location data intelligence

Ready to get started?