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.
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:
|1||ISO 3166-1||Country Codes – defines codes for the names of countries, dependent territories, and special areas of geographical interest.|
|2||ISO 3166-2||Country subdivision code – defines codes for the names of primary subdivisions of a country, such as a state or a province.|
|3||ISO 3166-3||Code 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 Codes||Description|
|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 numeric||Defines a country as a three-digit country code.|
ISO 3166-1 Country codes – Australia
|Country Code Type||Country Code|
|ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 code||AU|
|ISO 3166-1 alpha-3 code||AUS|
|ISO 3166-1 numeric code||36|
ISO 3166-2 Codes
The ISO currently lists codes for Australia’s six states and two of its territories.
|ISO 3166-2 code||Subdivision Name||Subdivision category|
|AU-NSW||New South Wales||State|
|AU-ACT||Australian Capital Territory||Territory|
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.
|First line||Recipient||The name of the person, company or organization.||Use common abbreviations in titles and distinctions. Also,avoid unnecessary punctuation.||Required||Issac Nichols|
|Second line and third line if necessary||Reference Details||When necessary, the name of the person’s job/position and/orthe name of the company, organization or department.||Optional||Postmaster Australia Post|
|Second to last line||Thoroughfare||The 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.||Required||111 Bourke St|
|Last line, first component||Locality or Delivery office||The 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.||Required||MELBOURNE|
|Last line, second component||State or Territory||The abbreviated format of the state or territory.||The abbreviation of the state or territory and not the fullname. Also, no punctuation allowed.||Required||VIC|
|Last line, third component||Postcode||A four-digit numeric code used to identify the postal deliveryarea.||Do not omit leading zeros. Also, no punctuation allowed.||Required||300|
|New South Wales||NSW||1000—1999 *|
|Australian Capital Territory||ACT||0200—0299*|
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.
|Cocos (keeling) Island||WA||6799|
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.