Get addresses right the first time

Physical Address Validation

Postal address validation, physical address validation, and address geocoding all grouped together in this important enterprise address management technology

In Australia the authoritative address index for physical addresses is called the Geocoded National Address File (G-NAF). Pitney Bowes was the first organisation in the world to licence the G-NAF for physical address validation and geocoding in 1994. G-NAF is used in our enterprise address management technology to facilitate either batch or interactive physical address validation from any business system through a web services architecture.


The G-NAF is updated on a quarterly basis for the country and is essentially the result of matching address record updates from the Australian Electoral Commission, Australia Post and each State/Territory Government in Australia. Each address is scored with a confidence indicator so that a user can determine whether there is a high confidence or low confidence interpretation of the street address. Address validation technology from Pitney Bowes ensure that separate workflows are employed when validating a physical address against G-NAF so only high confidence data is included for validation purposes.

The interpretation of physical addresses is not as simple as it sounds. Often there is a range of errors in customer addresses that need to be dealt with through matching and scoring procedures. The sorts of errors and anomalies that need to be catered for in physical address validation technology can include:

  • Misspelled street names, like Glenferry Road instead of Glenferrie Road
  • Wrong street type, like Glenferrie Street instead of Glenferrie Road
  • Misspelled suburb names, like Que instead of Kew
  • Incorrect suburb name, like Kew East instead of Kew
  • Interpreting corner references, like Cnr Smith Street and Jones Street
  • A vanity address, like South Yarra instead of Prahran
  • Missing street number
  • Reference to a suburb name not gazetted, like Rosalie a locality within the suburb Paddington

How different technology providers deal with interpretations of the challenges above can vary from provider to provider.
In 2011 the Australian Government finalised and published a new physical address validation standard called the National Address Management Framework (NAMF). It enforces the standardization of how physical addresses are validated against the G-NAF. Pitney Bowes was the first organisation to achieve NAMF certification, globally. Find out more about NAMF.

A logical derivative of the physical address validation process is geocoding. Geocoding is the process of translating an address reference to a position on the map. Geocoding is an essential ingredient for spatially analysing your business data through Location Intelligence. The use of G-NAF is not the only way to geocode, but it does facilitate precision geocoding geocoding a physical address to within the associated land parcel for the address.  Again, it is important to understand the limitations of G-NAF. It is not perfect for every address in Australia.

Each address referenced in G-NAF contains a spatial reliability score. It specifies whether the geocode coordinate precision is highly reliable or not. The reliability classifications are:

  • Geocode accuracy recorded to appropriate surveying standard
  • Geocode accuracy sufficient to place centroid within address site boundary
  • Geocode accuracy sufficient to place centroid near (or possibly within) address site boundary
  • Geocode accuracy sufficient to associate address site with a unique road feature
  • Geocode accuracy sufficient to associate address site with a unique locality or neighbourhood
  • Geocode accuracy sufficient to associate address site with a unique region

Pitney Bowes ensures that the use of G-NAF for geocoding purposes is managed through separate workflows that are dependent on the spatial reliability of the geocodes associated to the addresses in G-NAF. When factored with the necessary interpretation of address confidence it is easy to see that validating a physical address is a process that has specific parameters that are uniquely different to those needed for precision geocoding, which are uniquely different to those required for postal address validation. Each process, postal address validation, physical address validation, address geocoding, is catered for with unique methodologies and workflow design by Pitney Bowes in its enterprise address management technology.