Correcting national address databases?

I’m guessing someone in the community has experience dealing with this.

About 3 years ago my street got typo’d in some sort of national database of addresses. Two characters were transposed. i.e. “Mian St” vs “Main St”.

It’s causing no end of issues with ordering online, pretty much every shipper has picked up the bad address, and some of the mapping tools too. Google and OSM appear to be the exceptions.

Any idea where to go to get this fixed?


In the US, I believe it's the USPS which maintains that database. They
map all the addresses to the zip plus fours.

Bill Herrin

Bill is correct, you can check it at: ZIP Code™ Lookup | USPS

Visit your local post office ask for the postmaster.

They can’t fix it but should have a form to correct the database used by almost all shippers in the U.S. unfortunately may take 6 months to propagate changes.

Can also call 1-800-275-8777 but usually local postmaster is helpful.

I propose that there be a national LDAP service, with OUs for each zipcode (ou=20500,dc=us,dc=gov). A household could register at and then be given write access to a household OU (“ou=1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW,ou=20500,dc=us,dc=gov”). The household OU could then create inetOrgPersons under that, each of which would have self-write access.

This is the Internet, after all, so I will be corrected if I’m wrong.

911 is based on MSAG (Master Street Address Guide), not USPS. However, many operators are likely using the USPS system to sanitize the inputs.

According to Mike Lewinski via NANOG <>:

I propose that there be a national LDAP service, with OUs for each zipcode
(ou=20500,dc=us,dc=gov). A household could register at and then be given
write access to a household OU ("ou=1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW,ou=20500,dc=us,dc=gov").
The household OU could then create inetOrgPersons under that, each of which would have
self-write access.

Your schema is probably good for 99% of the population. I do wonder though if USPS is the right / sole agency to maintain. Having 911
dependent on an incomplete database seems unwise. Or is it ALI? Not sure if it was Verizon's front end or back end that was the real
problem there.

It's hard to imagine that anyone else would do a better job. You're in
an odd and difficult niche which is going to be a niche no matter who
handles it.

When E911 was phased in, some combination of the USPS and local
governments assigned street addresses to everyone who'd prevviously
had an RR or RFD addresss, so "RR#2 Box 27" turned into "473 Pig Burp
Road." I don't see any reason in principle they couldn't add street
addresses for non-deliverable points although there is surely a lot of
bureaucracy to wade through before that could happen.

The first time I encountered the problems of living in a place with no
postal delivery I had a related challenge which was to obtain a new
driver's license (along with updating vehicle registration and voter
registration). New Mexico requires two proofs of current residential
address which for good reasons cannot be a PO Box.

You should move to New York. My NY license has always had my PO Box
and no other address. I do have a street address, and the PO does
deliver there, but it's not on my license.

The new standard under NG9-1-1 is GIS with a standard data model. All of that is documented by NENA: Emergency Call Routing Function (ECRF) uses this data to locate the correct PSAP to route a call to.

Some states have their own additions to the NENA standards that aim to add consistency to the fields themselves (eg. Post Directional address).

There also exists a standard ( for converting from GIS to MSAG for hand off to non-NG9-1-1 applications. It specifies the conversion from PIDF-LO into a MSAG record (and the opposite way if needed).

Since I did address database software for public libraries for a couple of decades.... Addresses are complicated.

In North American (USA & Canada) there are approximately 80,000 localities, counties, states and federal addressing authorities (mostly local building and planning departments). These are the official (legal) addressing authorities. Tax and real estate records usual the legal property definition.

Because its a PITA to deal with 80,000 different authorities...

The USPS (and Canada Post)) maintains a national directory of addresses valid for mailing purposes. Not every address. The addresses they deliver based on local jurisdiction address information, but modified for postal needs.

The telephone company (formerly Ma Bell, then ILECs, now PSAPs and states) maintain the Master Street Address Guide (MSAG) for E911 purposes. Again based on local jurisdication address information, but modified for telco/cellular/PSAP needs.

The US Census maintains TIGER and Master Address File (MAF) for planning enumeration operations every 10 years. Geocodes domiciles (i.e. where people live, not work) for census workers, not necessarily postal or telephone addressses.

Several commercial (i.e. expensive) databases for various purposes, such as driving, mapping, advertising, etc; all use one of the government address databases as their base. Enhance the base information with satellites, airplane and street view mapping.

When a record is wrong, figuring out the source is a bit of an art.

Mail/Shipping/Ecommerce => start with USPS database

Telco/wireless/E911 => start with MSAG database

Politics/Gerrymandering => start with Census database

Tax, real estate, other => start with local building/planning department

Also, address validation in web forms is often “stupid”.
Imagine a system for a service that disallows PO boxes.
Now imagine the address you’re trying to input is on “Post Office Rd”
NOW imagine trying to explain that to support.
Their solution was to submit a paper form.
My solution was to input “PostOffice Rd” which amazingly worked.