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What USPS Insufficient Address Means and How to Fix it

When I first began working in retail and shipping, I didn’t fully understand what an insufficient address was and how to fix it. Fortunately, my colleague (and now my mentor) John Lott did a great job explaining it to me.

An insufficient address means that the postal service has determined that the recipient’s address is not accurate. It usually occurs because there is no physical street address or the street name doesn’t exist. For example, a property address on a dead-end street may have a road name, but not a street name. In other words, the post office may believe that the house at that address is the residence of the owner, but the actual address is actually the driveway of the house.

Another example would be if the street name is not on the mailing label or the house number is missing. Some addresses have a zip code, but not a street name. If the street name isn’t on the mailing label, the post office won’t deliver to the house.

The reason that this happens is that the post office has the legal right to go on the property and check the mailbox and determine whether the owner lives at that residence. This is done by calling the property manager.

The process is done quickly and efficiently. The postal service wants to make sure that the recipient receives the letter and it doesn’t end up in a pile of junk mail.

The process of determining an insufficient address varies from city to city. Sometimes the post office will have a contract with the city to use the city’s database to verify the address. Other times, the post office will contact the city directly to get the address. This can be a bit frustrating for the consumer, especially if the property address on the mailing label is incorrect.

white and red van parked near bare trees during daytime
Photo by Sam LaRussa on Unsplash

What to Do About It

A simple and effective way to prevent this from happening is to verify your address before you mail.

I personally use the USPS address verification service that they provide for free. They provide a phone number that I call every time I need to mail something. When I call, the post office can verify the address that I provided. If the address is valid, the post office will confirm the address and allow me to mail it. If the address is not valid, I am asked to update it.

It’s important to note that if the post office does not have a valid address, they will return the letter to you. However, if you don’t correct the address by the specified time, the post office can send the letter back to you. In the end.

What happens if USPS says insufficient address but the Address is Correct?

In this scenario, the most practical approach is to contact USPS about the “insufficient address” problem.

How Can I Avoid This Happening In the Future?

The best method to avoid this is for senders and recipients to double-check their addresses.

If you are using an online service, you can usually enter your address in multiple ways.
You should be able to get a list of possible matches for your address. If you are sending out paper mail, it is advisable to have the recipient confirm their mailing address. If they do not respond, you may be able to obtain their new address through USPS.

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