If you have ever run into a unique ZIP code while doing address lookups or validation, then there is a good chance that they may have caused some confusing results for you. Take the following address as an example:
123 Not a Real Street
Schenectady NY, 12345
To most users, this address looks like it is fake. But if you send it to an address checker like DOTS Address Validation – US, to be validated and standardized, then you will get a response like the following.
Our service indicates that this is a valid mailing address. So what gives? This might lead one to believe that something went wrong in the address checker or validation engine. But there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for cases like this. If we take a look at the DPV Notes returned by our service, we will see Code 3, which indicates that the ZIP code provided is a unique ZIP code.
What are unique ZIP codes?
In short, unique ZIP codes are high volume mail receivers that receive mail at one location and then distribute the mail internally. Unique ZIP codes generally are used by large organizations, government buildings, universities or large medical facilities. For these cases, the USPS would drop off all the mail at one single location, and then the mail recipients would distribute it to the necessary parties internally. Since all that mail is distributed internally, the USPS and our services by extension will mark every address with a unique ZIP code as valid and deliverable.
How should we handle unique ZIP codes?
Great question! These are cases that would certainly require some type of additional logic to process. If you have a user submitted form, perhaps you could process this by asking the user to double check the postal code entered. This could help ensure that the unique ZIP code was not entered by mistake.
If you are cleaning up a database and find a number of unique ZIP codes in your data, this might be a case where you would want to contact the owner or operating organization of the ZIP code to ensure that the addresses obtained are valid.
Each use case is different. If you want some assistance or suggestions on how to best handle unique ZIP codes for your case, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re always happy to make recommendations and help customers get the most out of their data.
Understanding unique ZIP codes before you encounter them can be key to preventing any hiccups that may occur when using Address Validation – US and address checking in a production environment. Preparation and knowing different scenarios like this are key.
We strongly recommend reviewing our developer’s guide and all the possible DPV Note codes that the service can return. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask us; we’re always ready to help educate our customers to be their own data experts.
In case you were wondering, the ZIP code 12345 belongs to the world headquarters for General Electric.