INTERNATIONAL ADDRESSESâ€Ś DEMYSTIFIED International addressing is a whole new game for some mailers. But with careful attention, you can be as successful with international communications are you are with domestic ones. | By Raymond Chin
ften when we work with international mailing addresses, we have such a near-focused approach to the topic that the addresses appear to be opaque and impossible to decode. As we spend more time looking at the address elements, we can see that, although the art and science of international addresses can be challenging, it can still make sense. Understanding the common elements and the international patterns is critical. Letâ€™s look at some of the general challenges that can be tackled. In domestic addresses, we are accustomed to seeing a primary address line containing the house/ business number and street type such an avenue, boulevard, or circle. If available, secondary information, like floor, suite, or unit, is presented on the next address line. Lesser-used terms (such as pier, hanger, or lot) could also appear in second20
MAY-JUNE 2017 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com
ary information. In most countries, these lesser-used terms are separate parts or address elements. In Germany, Wacholderweg or Einsteinstrasse could be presented as a compound term that includes a street name and street type. In France or Spain, the street type may precede the house/ business number, as in Rue de la Paix or Calle Rodrigue, while in the United States, these uncommon terms come after the street name. Generally, in international addressing, you run across similar elements but may see them in a different order in native or local languages. In international addressing, the matching and delivery process is strongly based upon the outlying descriptors beyond the normal street name, town, province, or postal code. The importance of final delivery also requires focus on elements such as building name, locality, or district, in whatever order the country specifies.
When it comes to postal codes, most people domestically understand the value for postal delivery. On international addresses, it is just as important. Often, people will omit a postal code or not properly format it. Not all postal codes are strictly numeric. Based on the country of the address, some postal codes have spaces or alpha characters and may contain punctuation. Proper formatting is key for machine matching and usability. The inherent knowledge to include a postal code makes sense to most people, but when you add the formatting and proper order placement, it can be daunting. Most people understand the logic of town, province, and postal code elements ordered on a city/state/ZIP line, with some countries preferring the order to be postal code, town, and then province presented in the mailing address. Varying the elements ordering can often delay or harm postal delivery.