Is there any standards out there when it comes to a mailing address form? I need to collect the following fields:

  • address line 1
  • address line 2
  • city
  • postal code (or zip)
  • province(or state)
  • country

The country and province will be drop downs. (the province one being dependant on the country)

so my question is: is it better to have the fields in a similar layout to a standard mailing form: ie:

address line 1    
address line 2    
city   province   postal code

or in a more logical order like:

address line 1    
address line 2    
city   postal code    
country province
  • 1
    Can you give us an idea of how many countries you're supporting? All of them? It can make a difference. Commented Sep 24, 2010 at 20:14
  • pretty much all of them yes. The boss has decided on the country/province being drop downs
    – Patricia
    Commented Sep 24, 2010 at 20:17
  • 1
    Not all countries have their postal code after the city. So I wouldn't put them on one line unless you know that the countries you support all have the same way of formatting an address. Commented Sep 24, 2010 at 20:23

7 Answers 7


Luke Wroblewski wrote an article at UX Matters about international address forms. I'd recommend consulting that article as it lists some best practices, patterns and conventions distilled from user research. Luke also wrote a book about web forms called Web Form Design: Filling in the Blanks which covers this topic as well.

Near the end of his article, he also highlights Amazon's form, which is generic and supports all kinds of inputs. Amazon would be a good place to do some research for your form design. Amazon's address form design

  • 2
    This is far from perfect, City and Zip is mandatory and it formats it like a US address. Most postal services will probably deliver it eventually; even if you fill in nonsense data or repetitions of valid data to satisfy the incorrect validation on the form. But its output is not a correctly formatted Norwegian address no matter how you fill in the form. Commented Mar 30, 2011 at 14:05
  • The example seems also very bad to me. For example here in Switzerland we have small villages where there are only "house names". Going even farther, there are places with no street names whatsoever. Just read medium.com/@oquidave/… for such a story.
    – cimnine
    Commented Jan 12, 2018 at 14:48

Saying you "need" these fields frightens me. You certainly don't need all these fields for a Norwegian address.

Not only does splitting address input into that many fields cause problems for the user trying to force their address into a form made for another country, but how should the address data be reformatted into a correct address?

How do you suppose a Norwegian address on this form, should be forced into these fields? And when the "city","postal code (or zip)", "province(or state)" fields are randomly assigned some of these values, how should you print the label in the correct order?

<Street-name> <house-number>
<4-digit-post-code> <uppercase place name>


Ola Normann
Karl Johansgate 13b
0599 OSLO

I'd reccommend using just:

Name:    [ text line input    ]

Address: [   multiline        ]
         [   text area        ]

Country: [select box or text line input]

Why make it more complicated than that? This should work perfectly for any type of address, and easy to use.

(If for some reason Americans are unable to write their own address properly, just make a US specific form when USA is chosen as country, and let anybody else fill out the simple name/address/country form)

  • 3
    I suggest multi-line text boxes for addresses even when all addresses will be domestic. People have been writing free-form addresses literally for centuries, and the mail gets delivered -even for Americans :-). Today, we have algorithms to extract city and region information from free-form addresses with sufficient reliability for aggregating and reporting purposes. The need for multiple address fields no longer exists. Save the user from all this tabbing and force-fitting. Commented Mar 30, 2011 at 11:51
  • @MichaelZuschlag Do you know any resource supporting this position? I'm also a firm believer that people generally have better knowledge of what needs to be written on a letter to them than some UI designer and would like to have something to point those UI designers to. Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 12:29
  • The success of Google Maps, in addition to centuries of hand-written/typed envelopes, suggests it's feasible. Luke W notes that users don't need to see separate labels for each address part to complete an address, but doesn't carry the logic through to eliminating separate fields too (uxmatters.com/mt/archives/2008/06/…). I know of no research, but a pretty simple usability test should establish that users are faster with a single field, and commit no greater number of errors. Commented Feb 10, 2016 at 19:01

These forms annoy me. Most of the time they ask for way more information than is needed. I don't know about the UK, but all that is mandatory in the UK is house number and post code. That's it. But it's different in different countries.

So.. actually how about outsourcing this whole mess to someone who has solved it and keeps it all nice and up to date for you? QAS seem to do a pretty good job -- see their interactive demo and, WOO, their UK lookup, just like I said, only needs house number and postcode.

  • 1
    that is a pretty cool tool! though it came up with about 20 options for the 2nd address i tested, and having to search a list and the extra clicks isn't really any less annoying then having to fill out a form with a couple text boxes and 2 drop downs. it also failed on my own address. not allowing for my unit # in a townhouse complex.
    – Patricia
    Commented Sep 24, 2010 at 20:37
  • 2
    Indeed. By relying on just number/postcode without a backup method you will exclude people with fresh postcodes (new postcodes come into existence, and the Royal Mail PAF database released to the rest of the world isn't always up to date - depending on what subscription servcie they choose.)
    – user597
    Commented Sep 25, 2010 at 9:10
  • 1
    The problem with consulting external services is that you're introducing a dependency into your form that can have accessibility problems as well as be unintuitive compared to just filling in your address. LukeW talks about his research into this area a bit in his book.
    – Rahul
    Commented Sep 27, 2010 at 9:07
  • You don't need to restrict the form. Keep all fields available. But you can put ZIP right after street address and then auto fill the rest if applicable. (BTW, why are there always 2 lines for address...does anyone ever use that second line?)
    – DA01
    Commented Sep 27, 2010 at 14:20
  • Actually this is not true; Royal Mail specifies the "locality" element as mandatory. Still, mail addressed to "123 / AA1 1AA" will probably get there. But they do want you to specify the town.
    – RomanSt
    Commented Aug 21, 2013 at 16:59

1: Adress line 1

2: Postal code and city

3: Country and providence (only show providence if supported)

Under line 3 put a link "Set a secondary address", and if it's pressed, you get a replicated form like the one on line 1, 2 and 3, but with a headline á "Address line 2".


If you are not supporting more than one country, best way to show the country default selected, as Luke shown in his solution.

Once again keep it in mind that the address format not necessarily same in all countries.
That’s why I must probe which countries my app will be supporting.

If it is limited to single country, for example India, I will keep country as default selected and design as following:

Now first understand how zip functions in India: Zip code in India is 6 digits.

The first digit of the PIN code indicates the region (total 9 regions, each covering min 3 and max 12 states). The second digit indicates the sub-region, and the third digit indicates the sorting district within the region. The final three digits are assigned to individual post offices.

So obviously I cannot select state based on zip code, or I may have to look for such services or develop in-house to support my thought, so without such services, max I can apply filter to minimize the selection options in state drop-down menu .

Once this is clear, I will put my fields as following:

Address line 1 (This is the popular way we Indian start writing our address, free text)

Address line 2 (is it really necessary, if yes, make these labels specific like Street details, area, landmark, etc.-I will say avoid )

State (this will help me reducing the next field’s options)

City (Select/free text - depends on your research, for example - if services are limited to metro or top cities in state)


Country (Auto-populated)


I like the idea of Stein G. Strindhaug, but there are two issues with a multi-line text area for international addresses.

  1. Users often forget to enter a part of their address, for example a house-number, or a postal code. Separate inputs for each part of the address helps the user to enter all required address information.
  2. A multi-line address text area can only be used if you print the address on a package or invoice and don't need separate parts of the address. It is often very difficult to see which part of an foreign address is the street and which part is the region. So if you need to enter the address into the database of for example a forwarder you have to separate the multi-line text field into street/ area/ postal code again which is difficult with a lot of foreign addresses. This issue makes it also impossible to check whether the address is correct if you don't have extensive knowledge about the foreign address format.
  • If the user "forgets" part of their address, the postal service in their country is forgiving or they're not really interested in getting mail delivered. The Norwegian postal service is quite forgiving, I (eventually) received a Scientific American that was essentially addressed to my name; oslo; norway; and this was BECAUSE of an overly detailed address form that discarded "invalid" inputs. Commented Mar 30, 2011 at 13:42
  • It would indeed be hard to extract nonexistent information from an address, such as "state" or "region" from my address that does not include such info (hint: Norway don't have states, and the administrative subdivisions is not used in the address). Adding such info (as American forms often do) to a Norwegian address will cause confusion and probably delays in the delivery. Why would you need to split such info up in the database anyway? A big string field for the address would be sufficient. Commented Mar 30, 2011 at 13:46
  • If you insist on splitting the address into several fields, you really need extensive knowledge of the address format of all countries to be able to string it back together in the correct format. Having a free form field requires no knowledge from the developer about address formats, because the user formats it like they know it's supposed to be formatted. The only thing you need to do is make sure there is enough space for the pre-formatted address on the shipping label/envelope window. Commented Mar 30, 2011 at 13:51
  • 1
    >> If the user "forgets" part of their address, the postal service in their country is forgiving or they're not really interested in getting mail delivered. Or the package is sent back to it's origin on the other side of the world. Most international forwarders need specific data to send a package, which you need to enter in their system.
    – user4386
    Commented Mar 30, 2011 at 15:47
  • 1
    If I mess up my own address in a free form text area so bad that the package is returned, I should pay; if the address is split up into lots of irrelevant fields and then reassembled into something that is messed up beyond recognition its not my fault! International mail needs just ONE piece of information: the name of the country, when the mail is in the correct country the local part should be formatted in the local fashion. Commented Mar 31, 2011 at 11:58

This is not a rigorous nor theoretical answer, but if you're after a practical and quick answer, go to ebay -> account info -> addresses -> edit. You'll get a nice address input screen like this to base your form off:

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Also, the article recommended in @Rahul's answer shows some more examples which are also screengrabbed from ebay (although they're from a few years ago). Here they are for convenience:

United States

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