Created: 2008-12-10 07:22
Updated: 2016-05-08 18:58


What is it?

Despite the long name, this is a tiny Ruby library to quickly standardize a postal address, either via the Google Geocoding API or MelissaData. So if you have an online store and you need to verify a shipping address, then you might consider using this library.

What is it not?

This is not a library to geocode addresses or locations. In other words, you won't get world coordinates back for a location. If you need this information, then there are other libraries that will do this for you, such as graticule or GeoKit.

How do I install it?

gem install address_standardization

How do I use it?

Right now this library supports two services: the Google Geocoding API and MelissaData. All services work the same way: you call a standardize_address method with a hash of address data. If the address exists (according to the service), you'll get back a full hash of address data. Otherwise, you'll get back nil.

Both Google and MelissaData have benefits and drawbacks. First, in terms of postal addresses there are three kinds of addresses you are probably concerned with: US addresses, Canadian addresses, and then international addresses.


Google is pretty great in that in knows about all sorts of addresses. So if you're trying to verify an address in France, then Google probably knows about it. However, it is not very useful in terms of standardizing US addresses, because it doesn't know what to do with P.O. boxes.

That said, here is how you'd standardize a US address:

addr = AddressStandardization::GoogleMaps.standardize_address(
  :street => "1600 Amphitheatre Parkway",
  :city => "Mountain View",
  :state => "CA"
addr.street      #=> "1600 AMPHITHEATRE PKWY"        #=> "MOUNTAIN VIEW"
addr.county      #=> "SANTA CLARA"
addr.state       #=> "CA"         #=> "94043"     #=> "UNITED STATES"

By default, the standardize_address method will leave it up to the service to decide which country to scope the address query to. Google may be able to figure it out based on the address you provide, but you can always narrow it down by providing a :country key. So for instance, to standardize a Canadian address:

addr = AddressStandardization::GoogleMaps.standardize_address(
  :street => "55 East Cordova St. Apt 415",
  :city => "Vancouver",
  :province => "BC",
  :country => "Canada"
addr.street       #=> "55 E CORDOVA ST"         #=> "VANCOUVER"
addr.province     #=> "ON"
addr.postal_code  #=> "V6A 1K3"      #=> "CANADA"

Note that province is an alias for state, district is an alias for county and postal_code is an alias for zip.

And to standardize a French address:

addr = AddressStandardization::GoogleMaps.standardize_address(
  :street => "Parvis de Notre Dame",
  :city => "Paris",
  :country => "France"
addr.street       #=> "PLACE DU PARVIS NOTRE-DAME"         #=> "PARIS"
addr.region       #=> "ÎLE-DE-FRANCE"
addr.postal_code  #=> "75004"      #=> "FRANCE"

Finally, note what happens if we attempt to standardize a bogus address:

addr = AddressStandardization::GoogleMaps.standardize_address(
  :street => "abcdef"
addr  #=> nil


If you want to simply verify US addresses, then MelissaData is a better bet, as it not only understands P.O. boxes, but it is also able to tell whether a unit or apartment number is left out of the address (although currently this information is not used; there is an open ticket to do this).

Standardizing a US address works much the same way as with Google:

addr = AddressStandardization::MelissaData.standardize_address(
  :street => "1600 Amphitheatre Parkway",
  :city => "Mountain View",
  :state => "CA"
addr.street      #=> "1600 AMPHITHEATRE PKWY"        #=> "MOUNTAIN VIEW"
addr.county      #=> "SANTA CLARA"
addr.state       #=> "CA"         #=> "94043-1351"     #=> "UNITED STATES"

As mentioned, you can also do P.O. boxes:

addr = AddressStandardization::MelissaData.standardize_address(
  :street => 'P.O. Box 400160',
  :city => 'Charlottesville',
  :state => 'VA'
addr.street      #=> "PO BOX 400160"        #=> "CHARLOTTESVILLE"
addr.county      #=> "ALBEMARLE"
addr.state       #=> "VA"         #=> "22904-4160"     #=> "UNITED STATES"

How do I hack on it?

  • Run bundle install to ensure you have all dependencies.
  • Add your changes.
  • Write some tests! Tests are written in RSpec, so rspec FILE to run a single test, and rake test to run all of the tests.
  • Want me to merge your changes? Fork the project and submit a pull request. I'll take a look at it when I can.



If you need help, you can get in touch with me here:


(c) 2008-2011 Elliot Winkler. All code in this project is free to use, modify, and redistribute for any purpose, commercial or personal. An attribution, while not required, would be appreciated.

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