Tackling the Complexities of Chinese Addressing

Addressing is complex, and in China, between the nuances of local address formatting and language script challenges, verifying addresses, onboarding, and delivering goods and services can be an arduous task. Without an address specialist, businesses based overseas will find it difficult to reach their Chinese consumers due to constant failed deliveries, poor customer experience and compliance issues.  

With the help of verified address data, cross-border organisations can enjoy benefits such as lower costs, increased operational efficiency, enhanced data analytics, and improved customer journeys. 

To illustrate the necessity of verified and enhanced Chinese addresses, let's consider the various problems that global address verification software can solve: 

The Challenges of Addressing in China 

China’s street name and numbering systems baffle businesses time and time again. Mistakes in address formatting could lead to mail that is undeliverable as addressed, requiring a costly return to mailers in other countries as well as unsatisfied Chinese recipients.  

One of the more obvious issues you are likely to face when dealing with Chinese addresses is the logosyllabary system used to write them. Fortunately, China uses a standard system (pinyin) to transliterate between these Chinese characters and Latin script, so the variance in written address strings transliterated from Chinese is much lower than when they are transliterated from other script such as Cyrillic or Hellenic. However, the order in which those strings are written varies. Commonly addresses written in Chinese symbols are shown in the reverse order to those same addresses written in Latin script. For example, the address: : 



李小方 (先生)收 

where the country, province and city are on the top line; the building and street information are on the second line; and the recipient’s name and title are on the last line; will most commonly be found written in reverse (and on more lines) in Latin script: 

Mr. Li Xiaofang 

Apartment 8, Building 5, 

No. 6 Hongkong East Road 

Qingdao City 

Shandong Province 

People’s Republic of China 

As in the example above, Chinese addresses often contain tags to designate what each string indicates, and these find their way into the Latin script versions. The suffix –qu (), for example, means district, Shi () means "city" ,  sheng () means "province" and xian () means “county”. Lou () means “building” and shì ( or) means “house”, “flat” or “apartment”. 

China has a six-digit postal code system (also used from China for Hong Kong and Macao addresses), usually written in front of the name of the city or province, like this: 

100050 Beijing 

Within Chinese philosophy, the cardinal compass points have great significance, and this is reflected in the street addressing system, which can see street names within cities change as many as 16 times, with the building numbering recommencing when the name changes. Streets may be divided into east and west or north and south, such as Nanjing dong lu (Nanking Street East), Nanjing zhong lu (Nanking Street Central) and Nanjing xi lu (Nanking Street West). The Chinese also attach great meaning to numbers, with some being considered to bring good fortune and others regarded as the bringers of bad luck. Whereas some apartment blocks in some Western countries may drop floor number 13, for example, the unlucky number 4 is regularly dropped from numbering systems in Chinese addresses. Colours are also important, so don’t print an address in red ink! 

Once you get past the language script issue, Chinese addresses tend to follow patterns Western eyes are used to, albeit reversed, and, though often very descriptive outside urban areas, tags within addresses are very helpful to identify each address element. 

The Most Comprehensive Premise Level Address Data in Mainland China 

At Loqate, we’re helping cross-border businesses effectively deliver goods and services to the 140 million Chinese consumers looking to purchase from brands overseas. 

Loqate’s new China Premium Data Set is the most effective way to capture, verify, standardise and enrich address data from customers in China. Integrated into Loqate’s existing Capture and Verify solutions for easy use within their business applications, our customers will now be able to: 

  • Reduce failed deliveries: Access the most comprehensive premise-level address data possible for mainland China. 
  • Enhance the customer experience: Auto-populate any Chinese address field in three keystrokes or less, reducing data entry time by 78% and errors by 20%. 
  • Meet regional compliance requirements: Ensure Know Your Customer (KYC), anti-fraud regulations and address data quality requirements are met. 

Learn more about capturing Chinese Addresses