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5 - Addressing the World - An Address for Everyone. Document submitted by Merry Law of WorldVu LLC


Submitted by Merry Law, President, WorldVu LLC and Editor, Guide to Worldwide Postal-Code and Address Formats to the Advisory Committee on International Postal and Delivery Services


Recently the UPU announced an initiative "Addressing the World – An Address for Everyone". At the UPU's 2010 Strategic Conference in Nairobi, a number of proposals on the addressing and addresses were made.


As the editor of the Guide to Worldwide Postal-Code and Address Formats and a consultant to businesses on international addressing, the importance of correct and up-to-date address information to businesses is very clear to me. Addresses are big business. The five largest U.S. companies in the business of maintaining and correcting address databases held by government agencies and private business of all kinds have a total market capitalization of $5 billion. These U.S. businesses are processing global address information for global companies.


Three proposals were particularly related to better access to international address information:

  • opening of a debate in the UPU on whether it should be a Member State obligation to make all address data globally available,
  • undertaking a UPU study and possibly a Congress resolution on the scope of responsibility of destination country posts to mailers in origin countries, including what services posts should provide to foreign mailers into their countries and to domestic mailers mailing abroad and what penalties should be imposed for failure to assist, and
  • convening an international meeting of postal and privacy and data management experts to discuss the important issue of respecting privacy while permitting appropriate access to address information.


I urge this Advisory Committee to determine the State Department's position on these initiatives calling for the establishment of better and more complete address databases and for fair access to international address databases.


A "bad" or undeliverable address is of no value. Mailed items cannot be delivered and resources – both private and public – are wasted. Bad addresses create undeliverable mail which is a significant cost to postal systems and their users who pay for their services. Undeliverable mail costs the USPS and its customers about $1.6 billion per year, with some
3-4% of the mail undeliverable. In the U.K., 5.8 million items a year are misaddressed. A badly addressed e-commerce package costs a merchant over 25 British pounds in refunds, redelivery, and replacement, as well as the possibility of losing the customer. One Austrian delivery company reports that 5-10% of all parcels are incorrectly addressed, requiring return or redelivery attempts. But addresses and address databases in some countries are the subject of stringent laws on their use and export, continuing and compounding these problems.


The international mailing market in the U.S. has significant and growing economic impact. Some estimate the current U.S. international mail market at $2.1 billion annually. The international parcel-delivery market is growing due to increasing international sales, particularly through the Internet. To make the international market more accessible, better access to international addresses and address corrections is imperative.


I believe it is in the best interest of U.S. businesses for the State Department to back the initiatives calling for the establishment of better and more complete address databases and for fair access to international address databases.


I appreciate this opportunity to bring this issue before this Advisory Committee and look forward to a thoughtful and informative discussion from its participants.

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