Character Limits in address lines for USPS, UPS, and FedEx

Most common US mailing addresses fall within the character limits of an address label used for mailing across delivery services. FedEx offers up to 30 characters for address lines 1 and 2, UPS offers up to 35 characters, and the USPS goes up to a whopping 46 characters. The numbers slightly vary for other components of the address, like name, company, city, ZIP code, and state info.

That said, you may still fall victim to accessory fees from these providers in the form of “address correction” or ultimately sunk costs with undeliverable mail. Knowing address character limits and acceptable abbreviations and formatting options can limit your risks of costs and surcharges – so let’s explore the guidelines from three of the main mail service providers.

USPS, FedEx, and UPS Address Character Limits, Fees and Formatting Guidelines

UPS and FedEx may charge an accessory address correction fee, which is an additional charge issued for deliveries in which the original ship-to-address does not match what the carrier determines it should be. Per each carrier’s shipping guidelines, these are the up-to-date character limits for address lines for these top three mail providers:

USPS:

Name (First and Last combined)46
Company name46
Address line 146
Address line 246
City50
State50

FedEx:

First/Last Name35
Company35
Address line 135
Address line 235
City30
State/Province30
Email address50
Address correction fee 2020:$17.00 per package

UPS:

Name (First and Last combined)35
Company name30
Address line 130
Address line 230
City30
State30
Address correction fee 2020:$17.00 per package

 

All these providers adhere to the United States Postal Service address formatting guidelines and use standard abbreviations for state/province, street suffix, and apartment or unit designations, which is handy in case of the need for address compression. A free tool to check whether your desired delivery address complies with these standards is the ZIP Code™ Lookup tool provided by the USPS.

As an address validation web service provider, we are quite familiar with situations where our customers experience failed delivery and delivery charges as a byproduct of shipping labels being truncated due to character limits. The following are some of the most common cases of issues that arise with character limits, and solutions that we can provide with our DOTS Address Validation-US that adhere to the USPS Address Data Element Compression Guidelines.

USPS Approved Compression Procedures and Standard Abbreviations

The USPS acknowledges that the number of characters allowed per line may be limited by the database used to record the address list, or by the envelope or address label used for mailing, and offer compression solutions to work around these issues if they come up. Recommended steps and options per the USPS are to:

  • Use standard business and address word abbreviations for address data elements wherever necessary
    • Street Abbreviations
      • Boulevard > BLVD
      • Avenue > AVE
      • Street > ST
    • Business Abbreviations
      • Incorporated > INC
      • Engineer > ENGR
    • Remove or delete any characters or symbols irrelevant to address info
      • Special characters like *:;() and double spaces can be omitted as they do not add anything to address validation
    • Remove or replace certain words aside irrelevant to address info
      • Replace and with a space
      • Replace a double space with a space
      • Remove ATTENTION, ATTN
      • Remove etc., i.e., in care of, and et al
      • Remove Gender words like MS, MRS, MISS, MR, SIR
      • Remove titles like DR, PHD, DDS, RN
      • Replace numbers with numeric symbols: first with 1ST

The more information the better, especially in the case of additional address information useful for delivery, so the USPS only recommends these solutions when recommended formatting does not meet your business needs.

How DOTS Address Validation can help

The most common case in extra delivery fees for undeliverable mail is due to address lines being truncated, cutting off address information key for delivery. Being very familiar with this use case, our Address Validation API provides a solution for clients to parse unit information in the second address line as needed.

Per the USPS Address Formatting Guidelines, typically suite or apartment information is intended to be included in the first line of the delivery address. The Address 2 line is intended to be for additional delivery information, such as “Deliver to dock 23” and should only be reserved for this type of information. However, compression techniques may be applied in the case where all of the appropriate address information does not fit within the character length requirements. Consider the address:

305 Dr Martin Luther King Jr Street South Apt 1303
St Petersburg, FL 33705

Our API will return the properly formatted address as:

Even with standard abbreviations being corrected (“Street” to “St”; “South” to “S”), the Address 1 line is 42 characters long, exceeding the limits for both the UPS and FedEx, which could result in either an accessory address correction fee or the cost of undeliverable mail.

To avoid this, our Address Validation solution provides parsed out address information that you can use to wrap address information when standard abbreviations do not meet character limits. In the case of this address, the parsed-out elements look like this:

By using a combination of these fragment fields, you can circumvent the character limitations imposed by delivery service providers and parse out the unit and number component into the Address 2 lines, effectively maintaining the character limit. Further, our service utilizes the standard address data abbreviations per the USPS guidelines automatically in the service output. Standardization in conjunction with utilizing the parsing provided by the service can be implemented as an easy solution to your existing workflow.

Interested in trying out Address Validation? Grab a free trial key and test up to 500 addresses.

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