What is DPV? A Primer on Delivery Point Validation

Not all address cleansing software includes DPV. Learn why that matters.

3 minute read

Mailers and marketers standardize and correct postal addresses with software. Many organizations are mistakenly under the impression that this process assures the deliverability of their mail. That’s not exactly true.

Address standardization software improves addresses by correcting spelling, constructing approved abbreviations, and adding missing details like directionals (NW, SE, etc.). This process will assign a ZIP+4 code if the address falls within the range of addresses defined for a given street. If you have addresses in your database with missing or incorrect address elements, address standardization and correction will definitely help ensure your addresses meet all the USPS specifications. It won’t, however, keep you from sending mail to a vacant lot, a park, or some other location lacking a mail receptacle. To verify deliverability, you’ll need DPV® (delivery point validation).

What is DPV?

DPV does not add missing data or correct address elements. It verifies:

  • An address has accurate primary and secondary data (apartment numbers, suite numbers, etc.)
  • An address has accurate primary data but not secondary data
  • An address cannot be verified as a known address

DPV software inspects postal addresses and compares them to the USPS database of delivery points. This process issues a DPV confirmation indicator that tells you the USPS confirmed the delivery point, or an indication the software detected a problem with an address. DPV confirmation indicators communicate the results of the DPV process to the mailer.

Beware of services that only standardize and correct postal addresses. Without DPV, the software won’t issue the documentation necessary to qualify your mail for postage discounts.

Delivery Point Codes

The US Postal Service assigns a two-digit number to every delivery point. This number, combined with the ZIP+4 code, identifies a unique location that can receive mail. An address lacking the delivery point code is undeliverable, even if it has a ZIP+4 code. If you send mail to such addresses, the US Postal Service will return or destroy it, depending on the mailing class and the ancillary services you select.

Delivery points and street addresses are not the same thing. A street address could have several delivery points. A large apartment building is a good example. The ZIP code, ZIP+4, and delivery point code are included in the Intelligent Mail Barcode (IMb) printed on envelopes or packaging. The USPS uses this barcode to sort and deliver the mail. Valid IMbs are necessary for mailers to qualify for postage discounts offered by the USPS.

Benefits of DPV

Obviously, DPV can help you trim mailing costs by allowing you to eliminate undeliverable addresses from a mailing file. Verified delivery point codes can also be helpful in detecting fraud.

DPV allows companies that ship merchandise to lessen the expense of returned items, which include courier return fees, restocking, spoilage, and re-shipping. Verifying delivery points before shipping helps companies reduce the frequency of unsuccessful deliveries, which contribute to negative customer relationships and critical reviews.

Undeliverable mail pieces reduce the return on investment (ROI) of a mailing. Ensuring your addresses are accurate and deliverable via delivery point validation keeps you from wasting time and money on mail and packages that will never reach the intended recipients.