Quality addressing and postcode systems are essential for national infrastructure and the socio-economic development of a country. They also form the cornerstone of quality postal services, facilitating business exchange and hence contributing to a country's economic growth.
Through its addressing activities, the UPU aims to be the international focal point for postal addresses worldwide, for member countries as well as regional and international partners. Through the "Addressing the world—An address for everyone" global initiative, the UPU's addressing activities continue to create synergies between national, regional and international stakeholders to find shared solutions to the challenges associated with addressing.
The UPU strives to assist member countries to develop and improve their addressing and postcode systems, with the goal of improving the coverage of address infrastructure globally. We provide technical assistance in the areas of physical addresses, national addressing standards, postcodes and postal databases.
The UPU also assists member countries to develop international addressing standards to facilitate interoperability of name and address data, enable address validation and provide guidelines for building and maintaining address infrastructures. This activity is coordinated with other standardization organizations like CEN and ISO.
The UPU gathers, analyzes and processes international postal data in order to improve the quality of international addressing. The UPU develops solutions suitable for cleansing, validating and standardizing international addresses, including advice for designated operators regarding addressing products and services.
Addressing the World Initiative
Addresses form an important part of the basic information needed to ensure communication (both digital and physical) between individuals, governments and organizations. As a basic global network, addresses enable individuals to be connected to everyday life, allowing them to have a legal identity, participate in the democratic process, be a part of the formal economy, receive public and private services, benefit from e-commerce and participate in the information and communication age. Addresses are the underlying threads connecting all different actors and their activities, effectively functioning as a network of networks.
In the last few decades, developing countries have witnessed an explosion in rural-to-urban migration. Because of this rapid and uneven shift in population distribution, governments are often unable to identify or locate individuals and places, resulting in incidences of poor land tenure, an increase in informal settlements and the official "non-existence" of individuals. The Commission on the Legal Empowerment of the Poor reported that as many as four billion people worldwide are unable to enjoy their full rights as citizens because they often lack an identity. These individuals are often the most poor and vulnerable.
Mindful of the fact that many countries still lack a countrywide address infrastructure, the UPU's "Addressing the world—An address for everyone" initiative aims to enlighten major addressing players of the importance of address infrastructure while helping them to better understand the challenges associated with addressing. The "Addressing the world" white paper summarizes major findings in these areas.