The S42 address standard

The unified framework for national postal address standards

S42 is a postal address framework developed by the Universal Postal Union (UPU). It’s a unified framework for national postal address standards, and is flexible enough to support the most complex of requirements.

Who can benefit from S42?

  • Postal authorities who want to develop or promote their existing national address standard
  • Organisations who send out large volumes of mail, both nationally and across international borders
  • Businesses who have both domestic and international addresses in their database
  • Solution providers involved in the mail industry

5 reasons to use S42

  1. Reduce operational costs of processing mail
  2. Increase postal revenue by successfully processing a higher volume of international mail
  3. Reduce undeliverable mail, saving time and money
  4. Simplify your database by storing international addresses within a single database structure
  5. Provide a standard interface between disparate mail processing systems


Rendition rules, constructs, segments, parts A and B are all concepts carried by the S42 Address Standard. But in its simplest form, S42 can be explained in terms of just elements and templates.

S42 elements

Elements define the smallest meaningful parts on a piece of mail. Common examples of elements include:

Delivery point thoroughfare
→ street where the mail will be delivered

Delivery point street number
→ house number

Addressee surname
→ surname of person receiving the mail

Mailee organisation name
→ organisation to which the mail is delivered, responsible for ensuring it reaches the addressee

Each element is associated with a first and second-level identifier.

First-level identifiers

The first-level identifier associated with an element defines:

10 Addressee specification
→ details about the person / entity receiving the mail

20 Mailee specification
→ details about the person / entity responsible for ensuring the mail reaches the addressee

30 Recipient dispatching information
→ additional info, such as floor in a block of flats

40 Delivery point specification
→ where the mail will be delivered

Second-level identifiers

The second-level identifier associated with an element defines:

00 Organisation Name
01 Legal Status
02 Organisational Unit
03 Function
04 Addressee Role Descriptor
05 Form of Address
06 Given Name
07 Surname Prefix
08 Surname
09 Name Qualifier
10 Qualification
11 Mailee Role Descriptor
12 Defining Authority
13 Postcode
14 Country Name
15 Region
16 Town
17 District / Sector
19 Delivery Service Identifier
20 Alternate Delivery Service Identifier
21 Thoroughfare
24 Street Number or Plot
26 Building / Construction
28 Extension Designation
29 Wing
30 Stairwell
31 Floor
32 Door
33 Supplementary Despatch Information
34 Supplementary Delivery Point Data
35 Delivery Service Qualifier
41 Country Code
43 Multi-Country Region
44 International Routing Information

Example elements

The S42 elements for the examples can be defined as follows:

Delivery point thoroughfare → 40.21 Delivery point specification - Thoroughfare

Delivery point street number → 40.24 Delivery point specification - Street number

Addressee surname → 10.08 Addressee specification - Surname

Mailee organisation name → 20.00 Mailee specification - Organisation name

S42 templates

Elements allow you to define the smallest meaningful parts on a piece of mail. This is useful if you want to store the individual elements in a database or process them in a mail sorting system. But often, we need to be able to reassemble the original lines of the postal address. S42 makes provision for this through the use of templates. Templates define where specific elements should appear in an address. They support much more than just the simple ordering of elements, but rather specify the arrangement of elements in all scenarios. Each template is specific to a country, and carries all the rules and nuances relevant to that country. They support all types of presentation as well, including:

  • line breaks
  • abbreviation
  • punctuation
  • spacing
  • capitalisation
  • text direction

Templates are written by address experts within a country, and expressed using an XML-based language called PATDL. PATDL stands for Postal Address Template Description Language.

S42 in action

Where can I find out more about S42?

Allies has over a decade of experience in developing S42-capable technology and solutions. With a wealth of knowledge and expertise on the subject, we are well-placed to help you better understand how it can benefit your organisation. To find out more, please get in touch and ask to speak to Dan.

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