Note: Please also see our more recent article on Zip or Postal Code Lookup with Bing Maps and Excel.
Many of our clients use the CDXLocateMP function of CDXZipStream (available in the MapPoint, Basic, and Premium demographic versions) to look up the zip or postal code for an address, or to verify that a given code is correct for an address. Postal code format varies from country to country, and the amount of postal code information available from CDXZipStream and MapPoint varies as well.
For a detailed description on how to get missing ZIP or postal codes, see our post Getting Zip Codes for an Address List.
For a short tutorial on how to use the CDXLocateMP function, please watch the video below:
or see it on Youtube: Address Validation in Excel
All industrialized countries use postal codes; in the United States we happen to call them ZIP (Zoning Improvement Plan) codes, or ZIP+4 when an additional 4-digit identifier is used. However, ZIP codes are unique to the United States, and there is not a universal standard among countries. For example, both Canada and the United Kingdom use alphanumeric codes, which allow for more variation with fewer characters.
Since the CDXLocateMP function uses MapPoint as its data source, and MapPoint is a stand-alone desktop software, there are limitations on how much postal code data is available for retrieval. For instance, there are currently over 800,000 Canadian postal codes alone, and it is just not feasible for MapPoint North America or Europe to include them all. As a result, requesting a postal code for a given address through CDXLocateMP will in some cases (such as Canada) return only a partial code. Note that for the United States, with only about 40,000 ZIP codes (not including ZIP+4), all five-character codes are included in the MapPoint database and can be returned through CDXLocateMP.
Here is a table showing examples of the postal code format and the data returned for various countries (where MapPoint uses address find):
There are only two instances, Canada and the United Kingdom (both of which use alphanumeric codes) where the entire postal code is not returned from MapPoint. For example, for the Canadian address that contains the code “L4M 3A5” only the first three characters are returned. Note that CDXZipStream does have available for purchase a complete database of Canadian postal codes, although this database is not compatible with the MapPoint find address option. Please see our blog Canadian Postal Code Database - A New Addition to CDXZipStream for more information on use of the Canadian database option.
Remember that when inputting address data in MapPoint or CDXZipStream, it is important to follow standard address conventions which do vary slightly from country to country, as shown in the table above. In the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. the postal code is listed just prior to the country, while in most European countries the postal code is listed prior to the city.