What To Do If Your Address Is Not Valid

Understand the root causes of an invalid address and learn how to navigate the USPS address recognition process.

4 minute read

If you’re having trouble with an address being marked as invalid, there is a process you should follow. In this article, we explain the process of address verification, walking you through the things you should double-check about your address. Finally, we explain the process of gaining recognition for your address from your local USPS AMS office.

Understanding Valid Addresses

A valid address is one that matches an entry in the official USPS address database. This database is the cornerstone of the address validation process, accessible through USPS APIs. The validation process is multifaceted, involving several key steps: address standardization and parsing, checking against the USPS database, and returning a validation status.

Address Standardization and Parsing

The journey begins with address standardization and parsing. This step rectifies incorrect formatting, ensuring that details like house numbers, street names, cities, and more are organized, spelled correctly, and abbreviated according to postal standards. The goal is to present the address in a format that matches the USPS database.

Moreover, parsing dissects the address into its distinct components, allowing for more accurate validation. Proper identification of address elements can help fill in missing data and correct minor errors, enhancing the chances of successful validation.

Checking Against the Database

Once an address has undergone standardization and parsing, it’s compared against the USPS database. This authoritative database is maintained by the USPS and contains addresses that are recognized as valid and deliverable. If the address matches an entry in the database, it’s marked as valid. However, failure to validate can occur due to various reasons, each of which merits its own explanation.

Why Addresses Fail to Validate

Several factors contribute to an address failing to validate:

Input Errors: Human errors, such as typos and flipped numbers, can render an address invalid.
Incorrect Information: Inaccurate street names, city names, or postal codes can lead to validation failure.
Missing Information: Essential details like house numbers or street names might be missing, making validation impossible.
Falsified Information: Deliberate falsification of address details can result in invalid addresses.
Unrecognized Areas: Addresses in areas not directly serviced by the postal system, such as PO box-only ZIP codes, may not validate.
Unregistered Addresses: An address must be registered with the postal service to receive mail. Otherwise, it’s considered invalid.
New Addresses: Newly established addresses might not have had the opportunity to register with the postal service, leading to validation failure.
Unoccupied Addresses: If an address isn’t actively used, it won’t be registered and will be marked as invalid.
Non-Existent Addresses: Addresses that don’t exist due to demolition, condemnation, or non-existence are naturally invalid.

Gaining USPS Recognition for Your Address

So, what can you do if your address doesn’t validate? The process varies based on the reason for the validation failure:

Double-Check Data: Review the address data for any mistakes or inaccuracies.
Look for Common Errors: Be vigilant for common errors like reversed numbers or misspelled words.
Verify PO Box Status: Check if your address falls within a “post office box only” area, which may require a box number.
Fill in Missing Data: Provide as much information as possible to improve validation accuracy.

For those seeking USPS recognition for their addresses, there’s a path to follow:

Contact AMS: If you’re in the United States, the Address Management System (AMS) allows you to submit address changes. Addresses managed by the United States Address Management System (AMS) allows the public to submit address changes. You can find your local AMS office on the USPS website by entering your city and state or ZIP Code into the Address Management System Office Locator. Once you receive the contact information for your local AMS office, contact them to initiate the process. The process itself is not difficult; the AMS office will work with you to either correct your address or add your address to their system. It may take several months for the changes to fully go through.

Private Carriers and Validity

Private carriers like UPS, FedEx, and DHL operate differently from USPS when it comes to validation. While they may deliver to locations not recognized as valid by USPS databases, it doesn’t necessarily mean these addresses are genuinely valid. Private carriers cater to unique scenarios such as physical location delivery for PO box-serviced areas, delivery to locations that don’t receive regular mail, and addresses outside USPS service areas.


The journey of achieving a valid address involves understanding the intricacies of address validation, recognizing the potential pitfalls, and taking steps to rectify validation failures. The USPS serves as the backbone of this process, utilizing comprehensive databases and sophisticated algorithms to ensure the accuracy of addresses. By navigating the validation process and collaborating with postal authorities, individuals and businesses can enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing their addresses are recognized and valid.