Knowledge -
Postal Considerations

Address Standardization | Address Updating | Presort | Mail Distribution

When an application requires the use of a database, which contains mailing addresses, the database will need to be maintained to ensure that the addresses will be valid. There are also other processes that can be performed on a database to make it more efficient for mailing. Some of the maintenance and processing options that can help in obtaining the best postal rates are described below.

Address Standardization

The USPS requires that an address be accurate and complete to allow an exact match to the current Postal Service ZIP+4 and City State Files to obtain the finest level of ZIP+4 and delivery point codes for the delivery point address. The address must be correctly spelled or be abbreviated according to the standard abbreviations set up by the USPS. There is CASS (Coding Accuracy Support System) certified software available to convert addresses into a format that is acceptable by the USPS so that a mailing will classify for automated mail rates.

Coding Accuracy Support System

CASS is a service offered by the USPS to improve the accuracy of address
matching software used by mailers, software vendors and service bureaus.

Address Updating

It is important that the addresses in a database are kept up to date. The most popular technique used today to verify addresses is the postal system's National Change of Address (NCOA) Service. Large processing firms are licensed by the USPS to perform this service. It allows the processor to match its address list against the post office's active recipient files for address changes and move notices. Having addresses matched with the NCOA service will update a database with any address changes that are found. This process also allows carrier route codes to be added, which results in faster handling of the mail and possible postage savings.


A database can be run through a postal sortation process, which will result in the addresses being presorted for addressing a mailing. There are different levels of sortation that can be accomplished. The amount of discount that is received is affected by the level of presort used. Some of the basic levels are explained below.

Basic Presort Levels
3-Digit Presort The addresses are sorted in groups that begin with the same first three numbers in the ZIP code. The first three digits represent a Sectional Center Facility, which delivers to the unique 5-digit ZIP codes.
5-Digit Presort The 5-digit presort will sort the addresses down to the unique 5-digit ZIP code areas. If only a 3-digit presort is performed, the Sectional Center Facility will sort them to the 5-digit level when they receive them.
Carrier Route The Carrier Route code represents the address that is served by an individual mail carrier within the individual 5-digit ZIP code areas. The Carrier Route type of presorted mail receives a substantial discount, but must meet all requirements to qualify.
Bar Coding POSTNET bar codes can be added to each record so that they can be imprinted along with the rest of the address. Adding the POSTNET codes eliminates the USPS from having to do this when they receive it, which results in savings for the mailer. The POSTNET bar codes can be a 5-digit ZIP Code, a 9-digit ZIP+4 code, or a Delivery Point Bar Code (DPBC).


Note: The DPBC is a POSTNET bar code that is formed by adding 10 additional bars (2 digits) to the ZIP+4 barcode. The DPBC will sort the mail to the carrier level in walking sequence.

Mail Distribution

Before the mail can be distributed to the proper postal facility, it must go through a USPS verification. The verification can be performed by a DMU (Detached Mail Unit) or at the local US post office. For more information on postal verification, see Direct Mail - Mail Preparation & Distribution.

Once the mail has been verified it is ready for distribution. Arrangements can be made to have postal trailers pick up the mail or it can be delivered by the mailer's trucks to the proper postal facility. The mail could be delivered to the local post office that services the area where the mailer is located, or it could be delivered to one of the destination postal facilities to receive a destination entry discount. Standard Mail and Periodicals are the only mailings that are eligible for the discounts. There are three destination entry discounts available for Standard Mail. They are explained below.



DBMC (Destination Bulk Mail Center) Discount

The DBMC discount is obtained when the mailing is properly prepared and delivered by the mailer to the BMC (Bulk Mail Center) that is designated to service the delivery address (ZIP code range) on the mail. A bulk mail center is a highly mechanized postal processing facility that distributes Standard Mail (Bulk Mail).

DSCF (Destination Sectional Center Facility) Discount

The DSCF discount is obtained when the mailing is properly prepared and delivered by the mailer to the SCF (Sectional Center Facility) that is designated to service the delivery address (ZIP code range) on the mail. A sectional center facility is a postal processing and distribution center that services the post offices in a designated geographic area. The post offices serviced by each center are determined by the first three numbers of the ZIP codes the post offices service. The SCF can service more than one 3-digit ZIP code range.

DDU (Destination Delivery Unit) Discount

The DDU discount is obtained when the mailing is properly prepared and delivered by the mailer to the DDU (Destination Delivery Unit) that is designated to service the delivery address on the mail (carrier routes). The destination delivery unit is the postal facility that is designated to deliver the mail to the address on the mail piece.

To be eligible for destination discounts, the mail has to be verified and prepared according to USPS guidelines and have all the proper documentation provided.

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