Address quality is a critical component of controlling shipping costs, both for shippers themselves and for service providers such as the United States Postal Service. A package that is addressed incorrectly is not only less likely to find its way to its intended destination, but delivery services may accumulate a lot of additional, avoidable expenses by trying to deliver it. That's where Delivery Point Validation comes in.

    Common examples of little things that might invalidate an address include leaving off apartment numbers or direction indicators like N, S, E or W on street names. Thus, the USPS is implementing new Delivery Point Validation and File Quality Requirement standards in 2016 that will require all packages shipped in the United States to include a complete address that electronically validates prior to delivery. What that means is that the address will be scanned into the USPS system before delivery is attempted to determine if that address is a viable delivery destination. The system checks the address against every known house, apartment, Post Office box, rural box, mail drop, and commercial address and ensures that the address has been filled out correctly, eliminating delays and postal mix-ups before they happen.

    Currently, only about 87% of the packages shipped in the United States each year are compliant with Delivery Point Validation standards. Beginning in 2016, the USPS will begin assessing fines for every package shipped without a valid address, which will be based on a threshold that is still to be determined. With 13% of packages currently out of Delivery Point Validation compliance, that could mean big costs for shippers who handle large volumes of packages.

    These new rules will affect products including:

    ·1st Class Package Service

    ·Priority Mail Express

    ·Priority Mail letters, flats and parcels

    ·Parcel Select irregular and machineable parcels

    ·Parcel Select Light Weight

    As part of these new File Quality Requirements, affected products must adhere to the following rules beginning in July 2016, or be subject to a fine:

    ·Manifest Quality: Accurate information must be provided within the manifest file.

    ·Address Quality: Street addresses must meet Delivery Point Validation standards.

    ·Barcode Quality: Barcodes must be properly constructed, and barcode readability will also be validated.

    How can a shipper verify which packages have valid addresses and meet File Quality Requirements and which don't before they find their way into the USPS system? There are two options: 1) Purchase the database from the USPS and create a software to run addresses against the USPS system or 2) find a qualified domestic shipping partner who can ensure that your addresses are compliant and that your manifests and barcodes meet File Quality standards. Some shipping providers also partner closely with the USPS, which can help shippers to find the best deals, ensure compliance, and avoid additional fees.

    Currently, the USPS is stating that the new Delivery Point Validation requirements will go into effect in July 2016. This gives shippers a few months to adhere to the new requirements, but it's never too early for shippers to take the importance of address quality into account, and to start taking steps to ensure compliance.

    Aaron Lechlak of OSM Worldwide can be contacted at OSM Worldwide is a leading provider of domestic and international package delivery solutions, and a recognized preferred shipping partner of the USPS.