At Shipvine, all requests that are shipping to places within the United States get validated against the USPS Delivery Point Validation (DPV) database. This automatically fixes common errors (such as a ZIP code that's off by a digit), standardizes the address formatting (turning "Boulevard" into "Blvd"), looks up the ZIP+4, and most importantly, ensures that mail can be sent to that address. Not only does this greatly reduce the chance that you'll have to pay an address correction fee to UPS or FedEx, it helps ensure that you won't waste money on a parcel that gets returned as undeliverable.
The USPS is extremely serious about DPV and requires commercial mailers (like Shipvine) to include the ZIP+4 on each package that is sent out in an effort to reduce the volume of undeliverable mail.
Sometimes, the address is just very badly formatted, such as the customer inserted some extra spaces or left some out. You might try tweaking the address on the candidate request page and saving the request to see if that clears the issue. If it doesn't, then there might really be a problem with the address, such as a typo in the house number.
OK, this address might be wrong. But is it really that accurate?
The USPS address database has a bit of a bad reputation, mainly because it wasn't updated with great rigor in the late 90s and early 2000s, but it's remarkably accurate now since the USPS started really pushing DPV around 2007. There are only a few common exceptions to its accuracy:
- Military addresses (APO/FPO/DPO) tend to not be very accurate, as they are constantly shifting, and the USPS doesn't interact with them directly. It's usually not a problem to override these. Just clear the "Validate the address against the USPS address database" checkbox on the candidate request screen, and then save the request.
- Puerto Rico can be tough as well due to the addressing system used there, and the fact that the USPS address database is meant for English-language addressing and word order, and shoehorning Spanish words in there doesn't work so great.
- When shipping to a college or university, it's common for a single hand-off point between the USPS and the student mail system to be designated, but students don't always know what that is. You can usually figure out the hand-off point by looking at the university's website.
- New addresses (such as a new house) tend to take about 60 days to appear in the USPS address database. It doesn't happen very often.
I can find the address on Google Maps. What gives?
There's a few things to check. First, Google Maps tends to guess when it can't find an exact location. For example, you can search for 2199 Floyd Ave, Richmond, VA 23220
and Google Maps will happily drop a pin right on the end of the block. But there's no such place as 2199 Floyd Ave—Google just figures "well, 2200 is the next block over, so I guess it's in here somewhere". So, the USPS would definitely return this package as undeliverable.
But I can get +4 code for the address in [My Other Shipping Software]. What gives?
The first 5 digits of a ZIP code are typically tied to a particular post office. The +4 code on a ZIP code narrows things down to a block or building. The +4 is based on a delivery route, and they can change over time as a result. Some software packages will just dump the maximum +4 code on the address database record when it can't find a match.
Fine. I can find the address on Google Maps, and I'm certain it actually exists. What gives?
The USPS does not deliver to the doorstep of every address in the United States. It's a common misconception that it does. The USPS does have a "universal service obligation"
, but it's broadly defined: the USPS has to provide universal access to its service, but that's not the same thing as saying that the USPS has to deliver to every doorstep.
You will frequently encounter address validation errors for residences in rural areas because they mail simply doesn't go there. If you try to mail a package to these places, it will be returned. In rural areas where the USPS does not provide carrier delivery point of service, they offer free PO boxes known as "Free Group E"
. If you contact the customer, you'll commonly find that they have a PO box that the receive their mail at. Otherwise, you'll need to switch a shipping method that doesn't include the USPS, such as FedEx Ground or UPS Ground, and be prepared to pay an extended delivery area surcharge. I am absolutely convinced that you're wrong. How do I override this?
Just uncheck the "Validate the address against the USPS address database" on the candidate request page, and save the candidate request.