Understanding Addresses in Australia

The country of Australia, officially known as the Commonwealth of Australia, consists of six states and two territories. There are over 13 million known deliverable addresses in Australia. This article breaks down the standard format used for Australian addresses, and what to check for in each field of these addresses.

Postal Services

Mail in Australia is handled by Australia Post, formally known as the Australian Postal Corporation. Australia Post is a government-owned corporation that was founded in 1809.

International Country Code

First, let’s look at how Australia defines its country codes, as well as its states and territories. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) published the ISO 3166 standard, officially known as Codes for the representation of names of countries and their subdivisions.

The ISO 3166 standard consists of three parts:

Part
ISODescription
1
ISO 3166-1Country Codes – defines codes for the names of countries, dependent territories, and special areas of geographical interest.
2
ISO 3166-2Country subdivision code – defines codes for the names of primary subdivisions of a country, such as a state or a province.
3ISO 3166-3Code for formerly used names of countries – defines codes for country names that have been removed from ISO 3166-1.

ISO 3166-1, which defines country codes, contains three sets of country codes:
ISO Country CodesDescription
ISO 3166-1 alpha-2:Defines a country as a two-letter country code, commonly referred to as the ISO, ISO2, or ISO-2.
ISO 3166-1 alpha-3:Defines a country as a three-letter country code, commonly referred to as ISO3, or ISO-3.
ISO 3166-1 numericDefines a country as a three-digit country code.

ISO 3166-1 Country Codes – Australia

Country Code TypeCountry Code
ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 codeAU
ISO 3166-1 alpha-3 codeAUS
ISO 3166-1 numeric code36

ISO 3166-2 Codes

The ISO currently lists codes for Australia’s six states and two of its territories.

ISO 3166-2 codeSubdivision NameSubdivision category
AU-NSWNew South WalesState
AU-QLDQueenslandState
AU-SASouth AustraliaState
AU-TASTasmaniaState
AU-VICVictoriaState
AU-WAWestern AustraliaState
AU-ACTAustralian Capital TerritoryTerritory
AU-NTNorthern TerritoryTerritory

Address Format

Now, let’s look at how delivery addresses are constructed. The address format for deliverable mail in Australia is defined by Australia Post, where an address is made up of several components.

PositionAddress ComponentDescriptionFormatRequirementExample
First lineRecipientThe name of the person, company or organization.Use common abbreviations in titles and distinctions. Also,avoid unnecessary punctuation.RequiredIssac Nichols
Second line and third line if necessaryReference DetailsWhen necessary, the name of the person’s job/position and/orthe name of the company, organization or department.OptionalPostmaster Australia Post
Second to last lineThoroughfareThe street address, Box number or Locked Bag number. If athoroughfare is not available, then include thebuilding/complex name in its place. Include building subunitand floor/level when necessary.Use common abbreviations where applicable. Also, no punctuationallowed.Required111 Bourke St
Last line, first componentLocality or Delivery officeThe full name of the city, suburb, placename or Post Office-Delivery Centre (DC) or a Business Centre (BC). Note that thedelivery locality may not necessarily be the same as thegeographic locality.Must be in UPPER CASE. Also, no punctuation allowed.RequiredMELBOURNE
Last line, second componentState or TerritoryThe abbreviated format of the state or territory.The abbreviation of the state or territory and not the fullname. Also, no punctuation allowed.RequiredVIC
Last line, third componentPostcodeA four-digit numeric code used to identify the postal deliveryarea.Do not omit leading zeros. Also, no punctuation allowed.Required300

States

NameAbbreviationPostcode Ranges
New South WalesNSW1000—1999 *
2000—2599
2619—2899
2921—2999
QueenslandQLD4000—4999
9000—9999 *
South AustraliaSA5000—5799
5800—5999 *
TasmaniaTAS7000—7799
7800—7999 *
VictoriaVIC3000—3999
8000—8999 *
Western AustraliaWA6000—6797
6800—6999 *
* Reserved for PO Boxes and Large Volume Receivers (LVR)

Territories

NameAbbreviationPostcode Ranges
Australian Capital TerritoryACT0200—0299*
2600—2618
2900—2920
Northern TerritoryNT0800—0899
0900—0999*
* Reserved for PO Boxes and Large Volume Receivers (LVR)

External Territories

Australia has three inhabited external territories. They do not use their own name and abbreviation in Australia Post’s postcode system and are instead assigned the name of another state.

NameAbbreviationPostcode
Norfolk IslandNSW2899
Christmas IslandWA6798
Cocos (keeling) IslandWA6799

Postcodes

Australian postcodes are four-digit codes that are used to help sort and route mail. The first two digits often represent which state or territory the postcode belongs too, with the exception of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) which is embedded in New South Wales (NSW).

The postcode is the third and final address component in the last address line, following the Locality and State/Territory components. However, if the envelope being used includes four postcode squares in the bottom right corner then Australia Post prefers that you fill those boxes in with the postcode instead.

Postcode vs Geography

Some postcodes may cover two or more states or territories. For example, the postcode 0872 is currently used to cover 87 localities located in West Australia (WA), South Australia (SA) and Northern Territory (NT). Australia Post sometimes finds it easier to send mail through a post office located in one state/territory for an address geographically located in another state/territory. So, it is not uncommon to find an address with a mailing address that does not match its physical address or geographic location.

Postcodes do not always correspond to a geographic location. Many postcodes are reserved for post office (PO) boxes and some are reserved for large organizations. Some large companies, government agencies, and organizations are classified as Large Volume Receivers (LVR) and will have their own unique postcode. For example, the postcode 0200 corresponds to the Australian National University

Address Validation International: Overcoming Cultural Idiosyncrasies and Postal Format Variables

The above content provides a general overview of Australia and the address format specified by Australia Post. Overall, there are more than 18 different address components, elements and fragments to consider when working with Australian addresses. There are also monthly data updates published by Australia Post to stay on top of.

As with most countries, Service Objects’ Address Validation International (AVI) is capable of processing and validating deliverable addresses in Australia. By understanding this country’s very structured address format, including specific idiosyncrasies such as required upper-case municipality addresses, state and territory abbreviations, and four-digit postal codes, you can automate much of the process of ensuring your contact data quality for this important international market.

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