With customers from potentially hundreds of countries buying from your online store, it's no surprise that it can be hard to format international addresses. While purchasing postage online can greatly simplify the process, digitally generated Customs Forms are also subject to strict character limits from carriers. The combination of varying formats and character limits can make troubleshooting international address issues tricky. Fortunately, we have some resources to help!
IMPORTANT: when formatting international addresses, consider the following.
- Address formats can vary by country.
- Each address line is subject to character limits and these vary by carrier.
- Some countries require a province. Learn more.
- Military mail is subject to unique address formatting. Learn more.
- Special characters such as ñ é í ó ú ü ¿ ¡ cannot be used. These will need to be replaced with the Roman alphabet. To allow for additional space, we recommend abbreviating when you can. Using Google Translate can be a great tool in factoring what changes can be made.
Melissa DATA - International Address Validation Tool
ShippingEasy validates your international addresses through Melissa DATA, an international delivery validation tool, provided courtesy of our parent company Stamps.com. If your international address cannot be validated, you can use the Melissa DATA tool here for address suggestions.
Understanding Melissa DATA address results:
- Address results indicating Verification to the Premises level, should validate in ShippingEasy.
- Address results indicating Partial Verify to Thoroughfare (or other) level, may not validate in ShippingEasy. In these cases we would recommend confirming the address with your buyer, and/or attempting to use "00000" for the postal code. Learn more here.
More Resources for Formatting International Addresses
Ask the Buyer
Customers can help verify their address too. When in doubt, it never hurts to check with your buyer to see if they can recommend any address changes.
Bitboost - International Mailing Address Formats
This site provides details about standard address formats, by country, and includes common abbreviations for those countries. Explore Bitboost's address formatting tools.
Character counters can be helpful to determine if an address line meets the carrier's character limit requirement. These limits vary by carrier. Find carrier-specific limits via the links below:
In order to meet character limits, it's best to abbreviate where you can. Many of the tools above provide suggestions on abbreviations for provinces and street addresses.
Then, use an online counter to verify if your edits meet carrier character limits. Some online counters include:
Search engines, such as Google, Yahoo, or Bing, are great resources, too.
- Search a complete address to reveal format errors or elements that can be removed.
- Search by province to find 2-letter abbreviations.
- If shipping B2B, look up the company's website to verify the address on their contacts page.
This general reference is an excellent resource to verify provinces, postal codes, and abbreviations. Here are some places to get started:
- Abbreviations of Country Names with quick links to province and state data
Universal Postal Union
UPU is dedicated to collaboration between postal sector players. It has a number of resources on their site. For detailed descriptions of addressing systems, by country, follow these steps:
- Navigate to the UPU Postal addressing systems page.
- From the Addressing Area menu, select the destination country.
- Then click the Display button.
- A new window will open with a detailed description of how addresses should be formatted for the destination.
Other useful tools on UPU include: