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I'm struggling to think of an appropriate label for a specific field in an address form fieldset. We have a service that is used by both local and international customers that asks for their home address - we have an additional complication that sits on top of this;

The address is sent via API to our partner service so that our customer can complete their task. This API service requires a specific format, or the task will fail. We require the first form field of the address to include a number - if there is no number present, the task will fail. This is a government service, so unfortunately we have to play by their rules here.

Our current label is "Flat, suite, unit, building, floor, etc." - this was spotted on Amazon and trialled, but we find people are writing things like "House" in this field. We need to cater for a very wide variety of addresses from many different countries.

There are some subtle differences depending on country of residence selected. For Hong Kong and Singapore (two of our larger customer areas) we don't show "City", and for Hong Kong we don't show "Postcode" either - so we are OK with showing conditional fields.

Current address label - Flat, suite, unit, building, floor, etc.

I am preparing to suggest a new label, being "Street number" with an additional hint text that reads A flat number, building number or house number can also be used

New address label - Street number, with hint

I would love to hear any suggestions people may have.

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  • How does this program handle parts of e.g., Nicaragua, where "addresses" are given as directions from locally-well-known landmarks, e.g., "From St. Mary's Church, three blocks north, two blocks and ten meters east"? (see vianica.com/nicaragua/practical-info/14-addresses.html) Jun 16, 2021 at 10:40
  • In short - it doesn't handle complex scenarios like that. We have pretty specific customer locations - Right now they include Hong Kong, Singapore, UK, US, UAE - there are a handful (literally only a handful) of customers in places like Japan or Nigeria. Being a startup we aren't focusing on solving problems that don't exist now or in the mid-distant future. Nicaragua is a great example of a complex address collection scenario though! Thank you. Jun 16, 2021 at 11:00
  • I would recommend having the user select their country first, and then alter the form to label the fields the way they would be referred to locally (to the customer), e.g., "apartment" (residential) or "suite" (office) in the US, and note that that would be optional if a single-family house or the business owns the entire building. I would also alter the display order and fill-in order to match what the customer would normally expect, and then have your program alter the order for transmission to the partner service. Jun 16, 2021 at 11:16
  • Having said that, you may still have problems; for example, in the UK, a company's address may not have a number; my father used to work for a company whose UK address was simply «company-name» House, «roadname» Road, «city» «postcode». I wouldn't be surprised to find similar addresses in HK or Singapore. Jun 16, 2021 at 11:18
  • Yes this is all great comments, thank you. Currently the form starts with only the country of residence as the only field, and after they select their country we populate the other fields. I think you're right, we could just do a little more work on figuring out what is expected locally, and alter the field to suit that. Hyperlocalisation! And yes - there are definitely places that do not have a number at all! My in-laws live in "The village house" - for these we have to insert a number just so the partner service will accept it. Jun 16, 2021 at 11:52

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It looks like you already have a good answer in your question.

I would suggest perhaps going with "Building Number" as your main label though. It's a very broad term and it's hard to imagine somebody living somewhere that you couldn't class as a building of some sort.

It's important to have the subtext you have suggested too...

House number, flat number, etc.

Note that the key part here is that you expect a number to be entered, so make sure you mention "number" in the label. Also, make sure you are validating the field and providing good feedback. For example:

The Building Number field requires a number.

This should help to avoid confusion about what is expected.


Just an additional point in case you haven't considered it, but there are many valid addresses in the UK (at least) that do not have a number. It is not uncommon for a house to just have a name instead. This is even more common with business addresses.

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    Thank you very much. I will test out this solution and see what happens! On your additional point regarding addresses not including numbers - YES! It frustrates us a great deal that companies house requires a number to be input into the 'premise' field... It causes a lot of frustration. At the moment we have to input a number so that it won't fail. Very frustrating stuff. Jun 16, 2021 at 11:59

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