Posts Tagged ‘CASS Certification’

Address Detective – A Deep Dive

Our DOTS Address Detective service is an address-based service looking to help clients clean up the most challenging of addresses. It works well as a secondary check to our DOTS Address Validation – US service, but is also capable of performing the same duties and can be used as a standalone service.

Address Detective is a utility service intended to house operations outside of the scope of normal address validation that can help in a number of different ways. This article will take a detailed look into its operations.

We will explore the three main operations of Address Detective:

  • The FindAddress operation uses extra datasets to link names and phone numbers to a very messy address to solve problems such as a missing house number.
  • FindAddressLines is a helper operation that can assist in cases where the user might not know what pieces of information they have, or perhaps these pieces are out of order.
  • Finally, FindOutlyingAddresses is an operation that aggregates alternative datasets to identify good addresses that are not within the USPS dataset.

First, however, let’s look at an address validation capability that serves as the foundation for Address Detective: the GetBestMatches operation of our DOTS Address Validation service.

Address Validation – The GetBestMatches Operation

It is impossible to talk about Address Detective without a brief dive into our Address Validation service. At its core, Address Detective builds off of our industry leading GetBestMatches operation, which uses a USPS CASS certified engine to validate, standardize, correct and append informational data points to US based addresses. Its response contains a corrected and/or standardized address consisting of Address, City, State and Zip that can be saved to a CRM or database, or set up for a piece of mail.

This response also contains several other outputs. One is a list of address fragments containing the various parts of the address, in case a user needs to know a specific part of the address – for example, whether it is an apartment number or the name of the street that is available. DPV and DPV Notes contain interesting information about the address from things like the deliverability of the address to if it is vacant, returning mail or is a business or residence. Corrections indicate anything that might have changed in the address from the input to the response, such as a city change, zip code change or street suffix change. A full list of possible outputs and descriptions can be found in the Operations section of our Developer Guide, under GetBestMatch.

GetBestMatches does have some ability to fix messy addresses. Some of these changes happen within the CASS engine and some outside of it. In the case of an address that has been changed outside of the CASS engine, there is a flag called IsCass that will be set to false to indicate this. Small changes are accepted by us, and these normally find their way into the next iteration of the CASS engine.

The most important thing for the Address Validation service, however, is that any address returned – whether CASS validated or not – is 100% accurate. So, rigorous testing is always done on all sides, and more likely than not drastic or dangerous inconsistencies will cause an address to fail validation. In addition, the dataset is still strictly linked to the USPS dataset.

These are the reasons that Address Detective exists. The operations below will explain how Address Detective can go beyond the capabilities of Address Validation.

Address Detective – FindAddress

FindAddress is the primary operation in Address Detective. With a reasonably clean USPS known address, it functions identically to GetBestMatches, returning a response object so similar that it is essentially interchangeable with that service. This makes it easy for clients to potentially build in a failover and call FindAddress using almost exactly the same procedure they used with the GetBestMatches operation.

Where this helps are cases where the address is either too different from the actual address or perhaps even incomplete. FindAddress has more leeway to make changes than GetBestMatches, but it also uses potential personal names, business names and/or phone numbers to cross-check against alternate datasets to make more drastic changes.

Take this address for example:

Taco Bell

821 N Milpas St

Santa Barbara, CA 93103

That will validate normally but if you only had something like:

Milpas Street

Santa Barbara, CA 93103

You would not be able to properly validate this address alone in an address validation service. However, by using extra pieces of information such as Taco Bell or (805) 962-1114 and cross-checking these against other datasets, we are able to identify that 821 N Milpas is a good candidate. In this case, FindAddress is able to move forward and successfully correct and validate the address and return that similar response as if the clean 821 N Milpas Street address had been given in the first place.

In some cases, even messier addresses will continue to be fixable. For example:

Milpaaas Str

Santa Bar

CF 93103 

This very ‘messy’ address could still be validated using the extra data points. The MatchRate score provided gives some indication of risk for addresses that need to be drastically changed, and this last example would have a lower MatchRate than the previous one.

FindAddress will continue to evolve with newer algorithms and datasets. Currently, it still tries to take a very messy address and find a clean USPS valid address from that. In the future, it should also be able to validate addresses outside of the USPS dataset as FindOutlyingAddresses does (more on that later).

Address Detective – FindAddressLines

FindAddressLines is a good operation to use if you are not sure which address components are which. There are a number of common examples, like data sloppily collected, stored incorrectly in a database, or perhaps corrupted when transfering from one system to another, to name a few. Address portions can be combined into one field or split up into their own. Instead of the normal Address, City, State, Zip Code paradigm, FineAddressLines allows for up to 10 generic address lines where data can be randomly added. The operation will analyze the components and identify the best candidates for a valid address.

For example, if you had:

Line1: Service Objects

Line2: C/O John Doe

Line3: Floor 5

Line4: 27 E Cota St

Line5: Ste 500

Line6: Santa Barbara

Line7: CA

Line8: 93101

It would correctly identify, validate and return a normal response for:

27 E Cota St STE 500

Santa Barbara, CA 93101

The response looks very similar to that returned by both FindAddress and GetBestMatches. If you were to reverse those lines, the operation still IDs the correct final address and returns a good final result:

Line1: 93101

Line2: CA

Line3: Santa Barbara

Line4: STE 500

Line5: 27 E Cota St

Line6: Floor 5

Line7: C/O John Doe

Line8: Service Objects

The operation will start to error out as data elements that cannot be properly identified are added. For example, if 123 Fake Street were added into the mix ahead of 27 E Cota St, it would identify as a candidate for a street address and cause a failure because it is not. At this point, the given data is deemed too dangerous to try and find a good result for.

That said, this operation solves a problem that is not uncommon for our users. It is not uncommon for databases or CRMs to get populated with bad data points, especially if a service such as Address Validation was not used on the front end to initially clean and parse the addresses. Extra pieces of information like C/O John Doe and 5th Floor that are not important to the validation of the address can actually confuse things if they are stored with the address. Trying to deal with these data points without the help of Address Validation can easily lead to a corruption of data.

Address Detective – FindOutlyingAddresses

FindOutlyingAddresses has the same basic core purpose as the first two operations: find and validate the given address. However, it has a very different response from the previous two operations. The addresses it serves are addresses that are not found in the USPS dataset. They are pulled from datasets aggregated from many different data sources.

Throughout the United States are pockets of areas that do not receive direct mail, such as extremely rural farm houses that would not be cost effective for the USPS to service, or even towns like Summerland and Avalon in California that are General Delivery areas. Mail goes to a central post office instead of being delivered to a door. This means that USPS does not need to service them and may not track their addresses.

Other companies like FedEx and UPS may still do deliveries to these locations, so it is important to know if they are good. It may also be important for non-shipping reasons to know if a location is likely to be good: for example, a fraudster may make up an address to get past a website checkpoint, or a valid user might be blocked because they are in a location that is more unknown. In either case, knowing more about the locations helps identify both potential cases.

FindOutlyingAddresses helps to solve these problems by dipping into datasets outside the USPS to identify these challenging locations. The data is not as complete nor necessarily as authoritative as USPS data, so the response is a best attempt validation and standardization of the given address. Address, City, State and Postal Code are returned. Level indicates how close we were able to get to the desired address.

The possibilities for a Level response are:

  • USPS
  • Premise
  • PremiseInterpolated
  • Street
  • PostalCode
  • City
  • State
  • NotFound

This is one of the most important parts of the operation, as it gives some insight into the likelihood that the address exists. USPS or Premise indicate that the actual address was found in the primary dataset or at least identified as good in one of the aggregated datasets. PremiseInterpolated suggests we did not find the address but know other addresses around that one are good. Street means we have identified the street as existing, and so on.

This kind of response provides obvious value even if the true address cannot be identified. Notes and InformationComponents allow extra information to be returned about the address, however, these are mostly future expansion fields at the moment. Two possible InformationComponents are CountyName and CountyFIPS to return some county information about the address.

This operation has the best direct synergy with our Address Validation service, as it can be a direct call after a failed address call. It does not need new pieces of information and it is not a result of corrupted starting data.

Hopefully, this blog gives a deeper understanding of the operations currently available in DOTS Address Detective. We look forward to continuing to enhance its capabilities to solve even more challenging address problems, as well as adding new operations to solve problems still to be identified.

Please contact us if you want to learn more about the service.

Address Validation’s Alphabet Soup

The United States Postal Service (USPS) has an acronym for almost everything and this leads to some pretty interesting conversations around the Service Objects’ water cooler. You might overhear our Director of Engineering saying, “I was surprised to see the RDI was ‘residential’ but SLK still returned a suite number” or “I was really happy to see their UAA rate drop below 1% with our validation service.”

Yes – we are address-validation geeks and we want to talk with everyone about it. So we put together this short primer on USPS acronyms, what they mean and why they are important. For us, it starts with being CASS-certified.

Coding Accuracy Support System (CASS)

CASS stands for the Coding Accuracy Support System (CASS). It was developed by the United States Postal Service as a certification process designed to improve accuracy in the mailing industry by helping developers improve and maintain their address validation software.

CASS evaluates and measures the accuracy of address matching software in the following areas:

  • 5-digit ZIP coding
  • ZIP+4 coding
  • Carrier route coding
  • Delivery Point Validation (DPV) 
  • Residential Delivery Indicator (RDI)
  • Locatable Address Conversion System (LACS)
  • SuiteLink (SLK)
  • Enhanced Line of Travel (eLOT)

To achieve CASS-certification, the software must pass a two-stage test and achieve a score of 98.5% or better in matching accuracy.

The Two Stages of CASS Testing:

Stage I is a self-administered and generally used to help developers test and diagnose their address matching software against a provided list of 150,000 test addresses. This is generally used to measure and see where your software can be improved before moving on to Stage II.

Stage II uses a test file supplied by the USPS with 150,000 static addresses that present more difficult use cases for correction and address matching. The results are graded by the USPS’ CASS department and certification is granted on accuracy scores above 98.5%. The USPS charges a fee for the certification process.

We are proud to say that our DOTS Address Validation – US service has achieved a score of over 99% for the past 10 years.

But don’t stop at CASS. If you really want to catch our attention, pull out some of these key terms and facts at the next Service Objects holiday party:

Zone Improvement Plan (ZIP) and ZIP+4

Although ZIP code might seem pretty ubiquitous with addresses now, you might be surprised to learn that it has only been around since 1963. The ZIP+4, which added 4 additional digits after the ZIP code for even greater address accuracy, has only been in place since 1983.  Our address validation service ensures accurate ZIP+4 coding, and when combined with carrier route coding, results in significant postal discounts and stronger delivery rates.

Do you know what each number in your ZIP code represents?

Want to bring some obscure ZIP code facts to the party, check out “Fun Facts About ZIP Codes“.  (Good luck getting the ZIP code song out of your head!)

Delivery Point Validation (DPV)

DPV is a product provided by the USPS that determines whether an address with a ZIP+4 currently exists within the USPS’ delivery dataset. Said another way, it determines if an address exists and can receive delivery from the USPS. It is one of the core elements when seeking CASS-certification.

Residential Delivery Indicator (RDI)

RDI is another product provided by the USPS and indicates if an address is classified as ‘business’ or ‘residential’. This was specifically designed for shipping packages or parcels and allows for more accurate and cost-efficient shipping practices, especially to businesses. 

SuiteLink (SLK)

This USPS product enables customers to improve their business addressing information by appending known suite information to a business address. This is used to help better sort and improve delivery ‘sequencing’, especially in high-rises and office buildings, which results in less expensive postal costs. This product cannot be used as a standalone process and must be included in CASS processing (and is part of our Address Validation – US service).


The USPS offers the Locatable Address Conversion System (LACS) product to convert rural-style addresses to city-style addresses. This is especially important for the delivery of emergency services and primarily arose from the implementation of the 911 system. The information has also benefited mailers, as it can be used to derive more accurate and deliverable addresses from rural addresses, reducing duplicate and undeliverable mail and packages. 

Enhanced Line of Travel (eLOT)

The USPS eLOT product allows mailers to sort their mailings in carrier-casing sequences. For those who do not speak USPS-ese, eLOT contains a number, which indicates the first occurrence of a delivery made within a mail carrier route, which can be used to presort your mailings. The more presorting you can do, the better your mailing rate discounts.

Commercial Mail Receiving Agency (CMRA) 

CMRAs are private businesses that accept mail from the USPS (and other delivery services) on behalf of recipients. There are both larger ones you may have heard of like, The UPS Store and FedEx Kinkos, and many, smaller, independent businesses that provide the same services. 

CMRA’s offer ‘private mailboxes’ (PMB), not to be confused with post office boxes (PO boxes), which are provided by the United States Postal Service. PMBs can also accept deliveries from non-USPS, commercial delivery services like UPS, FedEx and DHL. Our address validation service can help identify when these types of boxes are being used.

Undeliverable-as-Addressed (UAA) Mail

UAA mail is our mortal enemy and where it all got started for Service Objects!

UAA mail is all mail that cannot be delivered to the name and address as specified on the mailpiece. UAA mail must be either, forwarded, returned to sender or properly treated as waste. UAA results in substantial costs to businesses, the USPS (which ultimately get passed on to consumers), the environment, and customer satisfaction.

Although there are a number of reasons that mail may be Undeliverable-as-Addressed, over 86% of it is correctable. Our services can improve and correct insufficient address details and even help identify a vacant premise/lot.

Change-of-Address (COA)

Which naturally bring us to the last acronym of the day, COA. Besides validating and correcting bad addresses, detecting and replacing a change-of-address is one of the best ways to prevent the dreaded UAA designation. The USPS provides NCOALink, their change of address dataset, that tracks approximately 160 million permanent change-of-address records for both residential and businesses. Our DOTS NCOA Live service is a simple-to-implement API that provides secure access to this data, so you can keep your addresses up-to-date, ensuring your mail reaches your intended target, without delay.

We Speak the ABCs of Address Validation

Our flagship address validation services bring together all of the above USPS products, combines them with our proprietary AI, additional datasets and expertise, to create a simple-to-integrate API that corrects, standardizes and verifies US addresses.  We also have services for Canada and International addresses.

Want to try on your new-found address validation vocabulary or have questions about one of our services? Drop us a note or give us a call, we would love to chat!

Mailing Address vs Physical Address: What’s the Difference?

Is a mailing address the same as a physical address?

No, not always.

In general, a mailing address can often be the same as a street address, but this is not always the case. To understand why, we must first acknowledge that the two types of addresses are often defined and regulated by two separate authoritative entities that generally serve different purposes.

Different purposes

A mailing address, or postal address, is often regulated by postal authorities that are commonly associated with services related to the sending and receiving of mail. For example, in the US this would be USPS. In the United Kingdom, Royal Mail. Deutsche Post DHL Group for Germany and JP Post or Japan Post (日本郵政 Nippon Yūsei) for Japan. These postal authorities can be public government agencies, like the USPS, or privatized companies like Royal Mail, Deutsche Post and JP Post- which were sold off by their governments.

A physical address, sometimes referred to as a street address, is used to describe where a place is geographically located. It often pertains to a geographic location under the jurisdiction of an administrative area or region that has some government function. The physical address should have a set geographic boundary that is recognized and governed by an administrative area. If an address resides in an incorporated area then its municipality is generally responsible for providing some public services, such as law enforcement, public schools, sanitation, water works etc. If an address resides in a rural and/or unincorporated area, then sometimes these services are provided by the governing state, territory, province, county etc. Sometimes certain services are not available at all.

Location, location, location

Where a physical address is geographically located will often determine what public and private services it has access to. For example, a rural address may not have access to readily available public transportation or high-speed internet, whereas an address in a metropolitan area likely would.

In the US, it is the job of the US Census Bureau (USCB) to collect and produce data about the people. Both public and private agencies rely on the various datasets produced by the USCB, such as geographic and demographic data, to help make informed decisions. The USCB produces various Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing (TIGER) datasets that are designed for use with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and various mapping projects. TIGER products are spatial datasets used to describe geographic features such as boundaries, roads, address information, water features, as well as legal and statistical geographic areas.

TIGER products are widely used in many US related geolocation solutions, including our own DOTS Address Geocode US service, and are considered a standard when it comes to working with geographic locations and features in the US and its territories. TIGER data, along with other topological geographic mapping datasets, can be used to help geocode a physical address to varying degrees of accuracy.

Choosing the right route

Mailing address datasets are generally used to help facilitate and ensure the delivery of mail, and they are not necessarily one-to-one comparable with geographic datasets like TIGER. The main reason being that these datasets are intended to serve different purposes. Let’s take USPS ZIP Codes for example. USPS ZIP Codes are not geographic areas. They are a collection of mail delivery routes and they help identify individual post offices and delivery stations that are associated with mailing addresses.

ZIP Codes help the USPS determine the best route for delivering mail. It is not uncommon for a physical address, that is geographically located in one locality, to be assigned to a different locality in its mailing address. This is common for areas where a single post office or delivery station may serve multiple localities.

Not all mailing addresses are physical addresses

Here’s an interesting example of an address that is physically or geographically located in one state of the US, but the mailing address has it listed as being in another.

Physical Address:
25777 Co Rd 103
Jelm, CO 82063

USPS Mailing Address:
25777 Co Rd 103
Jelm, WY 82063-9203

Using Google Maps to inspect the address and the surrounding area, we see that the location is near a state line, but the address is clearly in Colorado and not in Wyoming.

According to Google the physical address is approximately six miles from the Wyoming and Colorado state line. When we investigated other addresses in the area we found that they too had a mailing address that said they were in Wyoming.

When we reached out to USPS to inquire about the addresses they acknowledged that they were indeed geographically located in Colorado; however, their ZIP code is associated with a USPS Post Office located in Jelm, Wyoming and that is the reason why the mailing addresses are for Jelm, Wyoming and not Jelm, Colorado. It may be confusing to base an address’ location on where it’s post office is located, but logistically it makes sense for the postal authority, USPS.

It’s also not uncommon for some rural areas to use general delivery, where mail is not delivered to a recipient’s physical address and it is instead kept at a post office that the recipient will go to and pick it up. If the post office is located in a different locality, then the recipient’s mailing address would be different from their physical address.

Other examples of mailing addresses that are not physical addresses include:

  • Post Office Box (PO Box) and Private Mailbox (PMB) – Many individuals and businesses use PO Boxes and Private Mailboxes as an alternative to their physical address. Postal Agencies like UPS offer PMBs as Personal Mailboxes, and while they do advertise that their PMBs include a street address it still is not the recipient’s physical address.
  • Centralized Mailboxes – Also known as cluster mailboxes or community mailboxes, are basically a large communal mail box made up of multiple individual boxes clustered together. The mailing address for a centralized mailing box does not have to reflect the recipient’s physical address as each box in the cluster will have its own unique identifier.
  • Unique ZIP Codes – These are ZIP codes that are assigned to some single high-volume addresses such as universities, government agencies and some large businesses. Postal carriers will deliver mail to the organization’s mail department, and it then delivers the mail to the final destination which may be in an entirely different geographic location.
  • Military Addresses – Are used to route mail for military mail services, such as the US Military Postal Service (MPS), the British Forces Post Office (BFPO) and the German Armed Forces (Feldpost). Civilian postal carriers deliver mail to military post offices which then perform the final delivery.

Which address to use

For some people, their physical address is the same as their mailing address and when asked for their address they don’t have to worry about which address to give because they are both the same. For others who don’t have matching mailing and physical addresses, some consideration is needed. If the purpose of the address is to send mail to it, then the mailing address should be given. If the address is needed to locate where a place is geographically located, then the physical address is needed.

The answer should be clear but sometimes there are misconceptions and confusion and on the behalf of the party requesting the address. The party asking for the address may simply be unaware that not all mailing addresses are physical addresses and that not all physical address have mailing addresses. If the intent on how an address is to be used is not made clear, then the person giving their address could potentially give the wrong one if the two are not the same. Sometimes the person giving the address will be sure to specifically ask if they want the mailing address or the street address, but the party asking may be unaware of the difference and inadvertently ask for the wrong one.

Shipping address and physical address

There can also be some confusing cases when it comes to the terms billing address and shipping address. Likely, the billing address will be a mailing address, but what about the shipping address? Let us suppose that a customer wants to have a package delivered to their doorstep. They want to enter their physical address, but they know that USPS does not deliver mail to their physical address. However, they do know that UPS does deliver to their door, but they are not sure about FedEx. If the site they are purchasing from gives them the option to choose the shipping carrier then that helps, but if it doesn’t then which address do they choose to give? Worse yet, what if the customer is unaware that their physical address is undeliverable?

Helpful tools

When businesses and organizations work with addresses it is important to know where they are located and if they are valid and deliverable. Otherwise, they risk making uninformed decisions that can end up wasting valuable resources like time and money and damaging customer relationships. That is why Service Objects provides various address related products to help prevent mistakes and reduce waste. Our services can quickly correct and standardize address to help determine where they are located and if they are valid and deliverable.

Test drive any of our address products with a free trial key and see how we handle these scenarios.

DOTS Address Validation vs. Google Maps: What’s the Difference?

Many of us use Google Maps to quickly verify that a location exists or give us an idea of what that location looks like. However, there is a common misconception that it will validate that the address found is correct and deliverable. So although Google Maps is an extremely powerful lookup tool, it will not validate addresses nor does it include the robust features and support included with our DOTS Address Validation-US service. To jumpstart your understanding and dispel some standard misconceptions, let’s explore some of the differences in our Address Validation service and Google Maps.

What does DOTS Address Validation do?

Although Service Objects can verify and validate many contact data points such as name, phone and email, our specialty is address validation. For us, addresses consist of business names, address fields, cities, states, and postal codes. Our USPS CASS Certified address validation service is designed to improve internal business mail processes and delivery rates by standardizing contact records against USPS data.

It’s all in the documentation

Our Developer Guide is a great place to start for an in-depth breakdown of the service and response features for Address Validation. It is extremely useful while integrating and can be used as a reference guide as well when learning more about the information each output field conveys.

24/7 Support when your business needs it most

With the amount of information provided in the results, it is common to have questions along the road to understanding each of the outputs. Our team is here to help you in this process and provide 24/7 technical support. We can be reached by phone (805-963-1700), email and even live chat on our website. “Best Practice” and “Step by Step Tutorial” blogs are also posted on a regular basis.

Deliverability is key

One of the biggest misconceptions about Google Maps and Address Validation is the ability to determine DELIVERABILITY. Beyond correcting and standardizing an address, our advanced algorithms and wide-reaching data sources allow us to determine if an address is deemed deliverable by the United States Postal Service. The service response will contain a Delivery Point Validation (DPV) indicator of 1-4 that can be used based on specific business logic. A DPV score of 1 indicates a perfectly deliverable address whereas a score of 2-4 indicates missing or incorrect inputs in the address field. The corrected address, component fields, and extra information such as the DPV indicator, residential delivery indicator (RDI), vacancy flags and more will be included and can be leveraged in your workflow.

Primarily, the locations that Google Maps will mark aren’t necessarily mail deliverable. There is a lot of leniency within the Google algorithms that allows for guesswork to be made. Although Google can put a pin on the map for a given input address, it does not mean that a postal carrier will deliver mail at that location. However, if DOTS Address Validation marks a location as invalid, you can be sure you are getting genuine and accurate information.

When is Google Maps useful for address lookup?

With all of that said, Google Maps should not be discounted in its ability to investigate a location. If the image data was captured recently it can be used to understand why our service marked an address the way it did. A prime example of this is an address marked as having a “street number out of range.” By checking Google Maps data and cross-referencing our service response, more light can sometimes be shed about that address location.

While you can use Google Maps to potentially confirm if a location exists, it is imperative to use robust validation tools like DOTS Address Validation to ensure any mail your business sends can actually be delivered, saving time and money.


If you have any questions about validating, verifying or appending addresses, or any other contact data points including name, phone, email and device, feel free to contact us.

Character Limitations in Shipping Address Fields – There is a Solution

If you are using an Address Validation service for shipping labels, then you may occasionally run into character count limitations with the Address1 field. Whether you are using UPS, FedEx, ShipStation or any other shipping solution, most character limits tend to range between 30 or 35 characters (some even as low as 25 characters). While most addresses tend to be under this limit, there are always outliers that you’ll want your business solution to be ready to handle.

If you are using a DOTS Address Validation solution, you are in luck! The response from our API not only validates and corrects bad addresses but also allows you to customize address lines to meet your business needs.  Whether you are looking to have your address lines be under a certain limit, want to place apartment or unit information on a separate line, or customize the address line in some other way, we can show you how to integrate the Address Validation response from Service Objects’ API into your business logic.

Below is a brief example using our DOTS Address Validation US 3 service to demonstrate the fragments that are returned in a typical valid response:


If you are worried about exceeding a certain character limit, you can programmatically check the Address1 line result from our service to see if it exceeds a particular limit.

Check the result – not the input

There are two obvious reasons you should check the result of the service instead of the input.   First, you want to use validated and corrected addresses on your mailing label. Second, the input address may be too long before validating but post-validation, the corrected addressed could meet the requirements and no customizations are needed to fit within the character limitations.

With this understanding, if the resulting validated street address in Address1 line is over the character limitation, then your application can go about splitting up the address in ways that best suit your needs.

For example, let’s say you have a long address line like the following:


This is obviously a fake street, but it helps demonstrate some of the different ways you can handle long address lines. In the example, the address ends up being around 45 characters long, including spaces. The service would return the following fragments for this address:

Fragment House: 12345
FragmentPreDir: W
FragmentStreet: Fake Industrial
FragmentSuffix: St
FragmentPostDir: NE
FragmentUnit: STE
Fragment: 130
FragmentPMBPrefix: #
FragmentPMBNumber: 678

With this example, one solution to reduce the character limits would be to move the Suite and Mail Box information to a separate address line, so it would appear like so:

STE 130, #678

You may need to fine tune the logic in your business application from this basic algorithm, but this can help you get started with catering your validated address information to meet different character limitations.

In most cases, the following can be used in Address line 1:

  • FragmentHouse
  • FragmentPreDir
  • FragmentStreet
  • FragmentSuffix
  • FragmentPostDir

And the following in Address line 2:

  • FragmentUnit,
  • Fragment
  • FragmentPMBPrefix
  • FragmentPMBNumber

PO Boxes

There is an important exception to be aware of – PO Boxes. It is necessary to determine if the address is a PO Box to avoid applying the above logic to this type of address. It is simple to determine if the result is a PO Box by checking the DPVNotes field returned from the Address Validation service.  PO Boxes typically will fit under character length limitations but some organizations choose to rebuild addresses from fragments regardless of field length.  If this is the case and you have a PO Box, then the fragments to rebuild the PO Box are:

  • FragmentStreet
  • FragmentHouse

Highly Customizable

The examples above may require some fine-tuning to meet your business requirements but hopefully, they have also demonstrated the highly customizable nature of the address validation service and how it can be catered to meet your address validation needs.

If you have any questions about different integrations into your particular application contact our support team at and we will gladly provide any support that we can!

CASS and DPV: A Higher Standard for Address Accuracy

If you market to or serve people by mail, there are two acronyms you should get to know: CASS and DPV. Here is a quick summary of both of them:

  • CASS stands for the Coding Accuracy Support System™. As the name implies, its function is to support address verification software vendors with a measurable standard for accuracy. It also represents a very high bar set by the US Postal Service to ensure that address verification meets very strict quality standards.
  • DPV stands for Delivery Point Validation™. This is a further capability supported under CASS, making sure that an address is deliverable.

You may ask, “If an address is accurate, why do we have to check to make sure it is also deliverable?” The answer lies in the broader definition of what an address is – a placeholder for a residence or business that could receive mail. Not every address is, in fact, deliverable: for example, 45 Elm Street might be someone’s residence, while 47 Elm Street might currently be a vacant lot – or not exist at all. Another example is multi-unit dwellings that share an address: 100 State Street, Apartment 4 may be deliverable, while 100 State Street, Apartment 5 may not exist. So you want to ensure addressability AND deliverability for every address within your contact database.

Now, here is why you need to care about CASS and DPV in particular:

Rigorous. CASS certification is truly the data quality equivalent of Navy SEAL training. The first step is an optional (Stage I) test that lets developers run a sample address file for testing and debugging purposes. Next is Stage II, a blind 150,000-address test that only returns scores from USPS, not results. To obtain CASS certification, these scores must meet strict passing criteria ranging between 98.5% and 100% in specific categories.

Recurring. CASS certification is not a lifetime badge of honor. The USPS requires software providers to renew their certification every year, with a fresh round of testing required. Service Objects has not only been continuously CASS-certified for much of the past decade, but has also forged a unique partnership with USPS to update and refresh its CASS-certified address data every two weeks.

Reliable. DPV capabilities are based on the master list of delivery points registered with the USPS, which stores actual deliverable addresses in the form of an 11-digit code, incorporating data such as address, unit, and ZIP+4 codes. While the codes themselves can (and do) change frequently, the real key in address deliverability is having up-to-date access to current USPS data. Service Objects licenses DPV tools as an integral part of its address validation capabilities.

Our CASS-certified address engine and continuously updated USPS address data are two of the critical components behind our proprietary address database. Whether you run your addresses through our USPS address validation API in your application or use a convenient batch process, those addresses are instantly compared, validated, corrected, and/or appended to provide accurate results.

If you’ve read this far, it is probably clear that CASS certification and DPV capabilities are critically important for managing your contact data quality. So be sure to partner with a vendor that maintains continuous CASS certification with full support of DPV. Like Service Objects, of course. Contact us to learn what we can do for your contact addresses and marketing leads today!

Ensuring Addresses are Accurate and Up-to-Date

“Did you know that nearly 30 million Americans move each year? Did you also know that government agencies like counties, cities, and states are required to keep accurate and up to date records of their private citizens for communication purposes?”

Service Objects is committed to helping businesses reduce waste, and identify and improve operating efficiency through data quality excellence. And according to founder and CEO Geoff Grow, you can do this using databases up-to-the-minute USPS-certified data and more to verify your contact records.

This video will show you how to use simple API and web-based tools that validate and append data to your contact information. You will learn how data quality solutions can:

  • identify change of addresses, making it easier to keep your contact records accurate and up-to-date,
  • validate addresses to maximize delivery rates,
  • geocode addresses to provide highly accurate latitude and longitude information. In addition,
  • and append census, ZIP code and county boundary data.

The Impact of Data Quality on Your Direct Mail

Some things are – sadly – a fact of life. Less than a third of people floss their teeth every day. The average US household has over $16,000 in credit card debt.  And according to the United States Postal Service, undeliverable mail costs businesses roughly $20 billion every year.

Ironically, the quality of your contact data is far and away the most easily fixed of these three things. We can’t stop people from using credits cards, and we can’t make flossing your teeth more fun. But we can easily and inexpensively automate the quality of your mailings – and in the process, save you from some very real and tangible costs.

Let’s look at some of the real costs of poor data quality for direct mail:


Direct mailing remains a labor-intensive process, where sorted physical pieces of mail are prepared for delivery. And when some of these are addressed to an out-of-date lead who has moved – or someone gave you a fake name and address, like Bugs Bunny in Rabbitville, Wisconsin – you are wasting human effort at each step of the life cycle of the process, from mail preparation to updating undeliverable addresses in your database.


If bad contact data isn’t enough of a problem, according to Biznology over 70% of it changes every year as people move, change jobs, or get new contact information. Multiply this across the sunk costs of a direct mail campaign, from printing to postage to manpower, and you are looking at a substantial drain on your marketing budget.


Is your company “green”? Not if you aren’t strategically addressing your data quality. The USPS alone estimates that it handles over 6 billion pieces of undeliverable mail annually. Multiply this by the impact on trees, energy use, water and landfill space, and you have a huge and largely preventable impact on our environmental waste stream.

Customer satisfaction.

The impact of data quality gets even worse when you don’t deliver what you promised, and your customer reputation takes a hit. Add in the costs of inventory loss, re-shipping, and bad publicity on channels such as social media, and you risk a loss of customer good will, repeat business and market share.

Missed market opportunities.

They call them leads for a reason – and if your lead is sitting in a landfill somewhere because of bad contact data, they become the customer that never happened. And then the actual costs of this bad data get compounded by the loss of potential future business.

The worst thing about each of these costs is that they are all completely preventable. Real-time contact data validation is an easy, inexpensive capability that can be built right into your applications, or used directly on your lists via the Web. Once in place, they leverage the power of continually updated contact databases from the USPS and others, and you reap the financial benefits of good data quality forever after. It is truly a situation where an ounce of prevention is worth much more than a pound of cure.

Can Google Maps be Used to Validate Addresses?

In November of 2016, Google started rolling out updates to more clearly distinguish their Geocoding and Places APIs, both of which are a part of the Google Maps API suite. The Places API was introduced in March 2015 as a way for users to search for places in general and not just addresses. Until recently the Geocoding API functioned similarly to Places in that it also accepted incomplete and ambiguous queries to explore locations, but now it is focusing more on returning better geocoding matches for complete and unambiguous postal addresses. Do these changes mean that Google Maps and its Geocoding API can finally be used as an address validation service?

No, it cannot. Now before I explain why, let’s first acknowledge why someone would think Google Maps can be used to validate addresses in the first place. The idea starts with the simple argument that if an address can be found in Google Maps then it must exist. If it exists then it must be valid and therefore deliverable. However, this logic is flawed.

Addressing a common problem

One of the biggest problems many users overlook with Google Maps and the Geocoding API is that incomplete and/or ambiguous address queries lead to inaccurate and/or ambiguous results. It is common for users to believe that the address entered was correct and valid simply because Google returns a possible match. These users often ignore that the formatted address in the output may have changed significantly from what they had originally entered.The people over at Google Maps must have realized this too as the Geocoder API is now more prone to return ‘ZERO_RESULTS’ instead of a potentially inaccurate result. However, not all users are pleased with the recent changes. Some have noted that addresses that once returned matches in the Geocoding API no longer do so.

Has the Geocoding API become stricter? Yes. Does Google Maps finally make use of address data from the actual postal authorities? Not likely.

Geocoding vs deliverability

Google Maps does not verify if an address is deliverable. The primary purpose of the Geocoding API is to return coordinate information. At its best it can locate an individual residential home or a commercial building. Other times it is an address estimator. However, not all addresses are for single building locations.

Apartment and unit numbers, suites, floors and PO boxes are typical examples of the type of address that the Google Maps Geocoding API was not intended to handle. They now recommend that those type of addresses be passed to the Places API instead, but not because the Places API can validate or verify those types of addresses. Again, none of the APIs in the Google Maps suite will verify addresses. No, it is because information like a unit number is currently superfluous when it comes to their roof-top level geo-coordinates. Google Maps does not need to know if an address is a multi-unit and/or multi-floored building in order to return a set of coordinates.

Take the Service Objects address for example,

27 E Cota St Ste 500
Santa Barbara, CA 93101-7602

The Google Maps Geocoding API returns the following address and coordinates,

“formatted_address” : “27 E Cota St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, USA”

“location” : {               “lat” : 34.41864020000001,               “lng” : -119.696178            }

Notice that the formatted address output value has dropped the suite number even though the address is valid. Let’s change the suite number from 500 to a suite number that does not exist, such as 900.

“formatted_address” : “27 E Cota St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, USA”

“location” : {               “lat” : 34.41864020000001,               “lng” : -119.696178            }

We get back the exact same response, because they are both the same in the eyes of Google Maps.

A similar thing happens if we try the same using the Google Maps web site.

This is the result for when Suite 500 is passed in:

This is the result for when Suite 900 is passed:

Notice that 900 remains in the address.

An unsuspecting user could easily mistake the Suite 900 address for being valid if they were simply relying on the Google Maps website, and its mistakes like these that often lead people to believe that an address may exist when it does not.

The right tool for the job

When selecting a dedicated address validation service here are a few critical and rich features you will want to look for:

Even with the recent updates Google Maps is still no alternative for a dedicated address validation service and choosing not to use one could prove to be an expensive mistake.

What Does Address Validation Offer?

Our USPS CASS Certified™ Address Validation service improves internal mail processes and delivery rates by standardizing contact records against USPS data and flagging for vacancy, addresses returning mail, and general delivery addresses. Our industry-leading GetBestMatches operation now combines Delivery Point Validation (DPV), SuiteLink, and Residential Delivery Indicator (RDI) into one robust API call to our USPS CASS Certified™ database engine.

Delivery Point Validation (DPV)

The DPV 1-4 codes are our way of indicating the deliverability of an address. A quick glance at the DPV code can tell you if an address is deliverable according to the USPS.

DPV can be broken down into the 4 following codes, and their subsequent descriptions:

1: Yes, the input record is a valid mailing address
2: No, the input record is not in the DPV database of valid mailing addresses
3: The apartment or rural route box number is not valid, although the house number or rural route is valid
4: The input record is a valid mailing address, but is missing the apartment or rural route box number


The DOTS Address Validation 3 service has the ability to correct and/or append suite information to an address. Through the use of business names, the service will try to find or append the proper suite information. SuiteLink provides an added level of accuracy to Business to Business relationships by ensuring the proper address and suite information is included in your validated data.

Residential Delivery Indicator (RDI)

The Residential Delivery Indicator enables you to know if an address is residential. This is often important if you are looking for targeted marketing (Business to Consumer). By knowing your target address’s delivery type you can make more informed business decisions.


The Coding Accuracy Support System (CASS) enables the United States Postal Service (USPS) to evaluate the accuracy of software that corrects and matches street addresses. It is important because it ensures that our validation system doesn’t make far-reaching changes to your input address. We comply with the CASS regulations and thus, the validated address and additional information that is returned to you actually pertains to the original input address. A company that doesn’t comply with the CASS regulations could easily take your input address and make a change to it that completely changes the intended location. In doing so, your data would be rendered effectively useless. The DOTS Address Validation 3 service is CASS compliant and any changes that may be made will pertain to the proper address.

Try out Address Validation for your business, for free.

What is CASS-Certification?

usps-address-validationHave you ever sent a letter without a stamp or with spelling mistakes or typos in the address? You know what happens: the letter comes back to you, resulting in a delivery delay or it never arrives to its recipient. A similar problem can happen with bulk business mailings. However, the adverse effects are magnified due to the volume and costs involved. Fortunately, CASS certified USPS address validation can improve deliverability dramatically.

According to the US Postal Service, a significant amount of mail — roughly 4 to 5 percent of the mailstream — is undeliverable as addressed (UAA). In our Mailing Without CASS-Certification is like Mailing Without Postage whitepaper, we likened UAA mail to un-stamped mail. UAA mail will either come back to you, often at great expense, or it will never arrive as intended.

Common address problems include ZIP code errors, typos in addresses, misspelled street names, and addresses that do not exist. To combat these problems and ensure that mailing-related equipment and address validation software are accurate, the USPS developed CASS (Coding Accuracy Support System). Address validation software developers use CASS to test the accuracy of their solutions. CASS-certified USPS address validation software and postal equipment have proven their accuracy through rigorous testing.

CASS testing consists of an optional Stage I test and a required Stage II test. Stage I testing runs a CASS test address file through a developer’s software to evaluate the software’s accuracy and performance. Test results are returned, allowing the developer to address any issues and fine-tune performance before undergoing Stage II testing.

Stage II testing involves processing about 150,000 test addresses. Test results are NOT returned, just test scores. The software must earn scores of 98.5% and 100% in specific categories in order to earn the CASS certification. Once certified, the software remains CASS certified for a full year before it must undergo the certification process once again.

Through a unique relationship with the USPS, Service Objects updates and refreshes its CASS-certified address data every two weeks. Our CASS-certified address engine and continuously updated address data work together to ensure the accuracy of our proprietary address database. When you run your addresses through our USPS address validation API, those addresses are instantly compared, validated, corrected, and/or appended.

Whether sending a single package or a mass mailing, getting the address right is essential. If you don’t get it right, your mailings may be subject to excessive delays — or never arrive as expected. With CASS-certified software from Service Objects, your addresses are instantly validated and corrected in real-time. Ensure data quality and deliverability while reducing waste and mailing expenses by choosing a CASS-certified address validation API from Service Objects today.

Get Free Trial Key

CASS Certification Explained Over Dinner

Last night I was having dinner with my wife’s friends and they asked what I did for a living. Normally I just brush those requests off and say ‘Internet Security’ or ‘Contact Validation’ and change the subject. But last night I said, “Service Objects validates contacts – we validate customers names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses for our clients.” I thought that was that; but the discussion lingered With questions like: How is that done? Can anyone validate addresses? Do you have an agreement with the Post Office? It was rather a lively discussion so I thought I’d rehash the highlights here.

In the United States the Postal Service promotes good address hygiene through its Coding Accuracy Support Systems (CASS) initiative. It is in the best interest of the postal service to receive mail with valid, genuine, and accurate addresses. The less incorrectly addressed mail they get, the more efficient they become and the less waste for mailers; everybody wins. The CASS certification program is open to mailers, service bureaus, and software vendors that have lots of addresses and want to get discounts on their mailings. To receive mailing discounts and be “certified”, participants in the CASS program must renew their certification annually. Every year, the requirements for being a certified address provider get more difficult. For example: In August of 2007, the USPS required CASS participants to include delivery point validation (DPV) to verify whether or not an address is deliverable at the street/house/apartment level.

CASS certification is the ultimate take-home test. The CASS certification test contains 150,000 bad addresses, extracted from real-world cases everywhere the postal service delivers, plus a few non-existent addresses thrown in for good fun. Test takers (like us) must evaluate and correct each address by fixing the ZIP code, the street address, the unit type, the bar code digits, etcetera. To be approved as a CASS certified vendor you must score above 98.5%; this means you can only miss 2,250 addresses in total. A passing grade is an A+ (geez).

Although the USPS CASS program requires a mere 98.5% passing rate, real-world accuracy for address standardization is much higher. Why? For the purpose of rigorous testing, the USPS skews the CASS test towards unrealistic conditions, intentionally populating the test with 150,000 of the worst addresses you will ever see. Given normal conditions, real-world accuracy of a CASS certified provider exceeds 99.99%. In my decade of experience with address validation, I have seen only a small handful of real address we couldn’t validate.

No sleep for the us though, the next set of 150,000 addresses for 2011 should be here at any time. I think my wife’s friends learned more about address validation than they ever wanted to know. I’m not sure I’ll get invited to dinner with them again any time soon. Well, they asked for it!

Posted by: Geoff G.