More often than not, any mail people send is domestic rather than international. That is, it’s more likely to send a letter to the next city over than the next country. But this isn’t always true for individuals, and it’s certainly not true for businesses and other large organizations.

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How is this done? How should mail be addressed if it’s going to a foreign country? And how can individuals and businesses guarantee their mail will be delivered? These three questions are common, but fortunately easy to answer. This is thanks in part to address verification.

How to Send Mail Around the World

According to the United States Postal Service (USPS), there are 7 steps to sending international mail:

  1. Checking shipping restrictions
  2. Checking package size and weight
  3. Addressing the mail
  4. Choosing a shipping service
  5. Creating customs forms and labels
  6. Calculating and applying postage
  7. Sending the mail

One of the most important steps in this process is Step 3, which is addressing the mail.

How to Address Mail Internationally

USPS has specific standards that must be met when sending international mail, which include:

  • The addressee’s full legal name and complete address must be legibly written or typed with roman letters and Arabic numerals
  • The house number and street address must appear when mail is addressed to towns or cities
  • All lines of the delivery address must appear in capital letters, including the city destination together with the correct post code number or delivery zone number, if applicable
  • The last line of the address must show only the country name, written in full with no abbreviations

The full list of destination and return address requirements is available on the USPS website. An example of a correct international address would look like this:


And this is another example of a correct international address:


There are some exceptions to the standards listed above for international addresses, however. One of these is Canada. When sending mail and packages to Canada, there must be two spaces between the province abbreviation and the postal code.

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Challenges of Verifying Global Addresses

In turn, standardization challenges lead to other challenges. To ensure addresses meet all requirements, each address must be checked against USPS standards and the database. This process can be time-consuming and is still prone to human error.

However, merely meeting the standards isn’t enough; the address must also be correct and valid according to each specific country. This requires a working knowledge of international postage and addresses or significant time to figure it out.

But address verification APIs can solve all three of these challenges at one time. Verification services standardize, correct, and validate addresses using the USPS standards and database, ensuring addresses are deliverable and properly formatted.

How to Verify Addresses in Different Countries

The first step to verifying addresses using a postal address validation (PAV) software is to find the right service. The service should be able to meet all of your company’s postal needs, including being able to validate addresses for all countries that you ship mail and packages to. Additional considerations include the cost of the service and its included features.

The best APIs are completely programmable and scalable. They should be able to integrate with your website, database, system, etc. using SOAP or REST protocols and should be easily customizable. They should also be fast and able to able to verify addresses in bulk.

Address verification software works in three phases:

  • Standardization – This step automatically updates addresses to adhere to USPS standards and requirements, some of which are listed above. Address standardization ensures all addresses are formatted correctly.
  • Correction – This step identifies and fixes incorrect addresses, such as the ZIP code or street name. If no correct address can be found in the USPS database, it flags the address. Address correction ensures all addresses are spelled right, in proper case format, etc.
  • Validation – This step compares the standardized and completed addresses against the USPS database to ensure they exist and are currently in use. Validation ensures that all addresses included in the final mailing list are guaranteed to reach the intended destination and recipient.

These three steps are completed almost instantaneously, ensuring your international mail and packages are successfully delivered to both the right country and the right customer.

Other Benefits of Address Verification

Besides making sure you’re able to reach your customers, address verification has a multitude of other benefits. Three major benefits include:

  • Savings – One of the major benefits is saving businesses time, money, and resources, which they can redirect throughout communication and marketing campaigns. Businesses will no longer have to deal with costs from undeliverable mail and postal returns.
  • Service – Another benefit is that businesses are able to better target customers and provide customized service based on the return data from address verification. Geolocation data is just one example of the powerful information that address validation provides companies.
  • Campaigns – A third benefit is better campaigns and an increase in ROI. Businesses will be able to easily scrub their mailing lists for invalid or incorrect addresses. This allows them to focus on customers that are receptive and real.
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