Industry Proceeds With International Address Standard

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WASHINGTON -- The industry is moving ahead with S42, an international postal address standard first approved at the Universal Postal Union board's meeting in Brussels in February, a postal official told attendees at the Mailers Technical Advisory Committee meeting here yesterday.

The address standard lets postal systems worldwide identify whether a given address is properly formatted based on the address rules of each country of destination. The newest version of the software was approved in July.

Ruth Jones, program manager, intelligent mail and address quality at the U.S. Postal Service, said S42 would offer mailers benefits including "lowering processing costs and increasing deliverability."

Currently 25 countries, including the United States, have agreed to participate in the program.

S42 consists of three major concepts: elements, which are basic street names, numbers and ZIP codes; address templates, which are maps of where specific elements should occur in the delivery address to ensure delivery in the most economical and automation-compatible fashion for the destination posts; and rendition instructions, which govern the production of addresses on an output medium such as an address label or display screen.

Jones said the next steps include adding data from other countries, continuing testing and continuing to integrate templates into the software.

Joe Lubenow -- president of Lubenow and Associates, a postal consulting firm in Chicago, and a participant in developing the standard -- gave his perspective on S42, saying that it will improve addressing in the United States because "customer databases may be redesigned to permanently retain address elements."

Other attendees here agreed that the standard could improve addressing in the United States, leading to better response rates and increased volumes for the USPS.

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