From purchasing your favourite fashion item to paying for your streaming subscription, ecommerce makes it easy to buy what you want.
Ecommerce wouldn’t work, however, without billing addresses, which serve as a vital checkpoint for both consumers and businesses.
What is a billing address?
A billing address is an address on your card, bank account, etc. that is used to identify you when you make a transaction.
Typically, your billing address is where you live, but this is not always the case.
For instance, if you own a summer home, you might live there in the summer but not use the address as your billing address.
Side note: If you spend significant time at your summer home, it’s probably a good idea to update your billing address temporarily during that period.
» MORE: What is recurring billing?
What is your billing address used for?
Your billing address is where you receive credit card statements and bank statements.
It’s also used to validate your identity and protect against fraudulent transactions.
This is partly why, when you buy something online, you nearly always have to provide your billing address.
Merchants frequently require you to provide both your billing address and your billing postcode.
The billing postcode is an added measure of security since UK cards don’t typically display the postcode on the card itself.
This forces thieves to find other ways to obtain this code, which of course, is a hurdle that disincentivizes card information theft.
Address Verification Service (AVS)
The UK also uses the Address Verification Service (AVS), which verifies your billing address during card-not-present transactions.
The system checks the numeric portions of the address, such as the street number and postcode, against the information on file with the card issuer.
What should be your billing address?
Your billing address should probably be your home address, although this can vary.
For instance, a company’s billing address would be its corporate office address. It may also be the address of their finance department.
How is a billing address structured?
In the United Kingdom, a billing address typically includes the following information:
Recipient’s full name
Building number and street name
Locality or area (if applicable)
City or town
County or administrative region (if applicable)
An example of a UK billing address would look like this:
Flat 4, The Elms
12 Oak Road
Note about counties
Although not always necessary for postal purposes, it is common to include the county (e.g., ‘Greater London’) to further specify the location.
But this is used most often in rural areas, such as Surrey.
What is the difference between a billing and shipping address?
The billing address is linked to your bank account and is primarily used for identification and verification purposes. It’s also where you receive your financial correspondence.
The shipping address is where your products are delivered.
Unlike a billing address, your shipping address can be any location of your choice.
It could be your own home, a friend’s house, or somewhere else. Its main purpose is to ensure you receive your purchase.
What happens if you provide an incorrect billing address?
Providing an incorrect billing address can lead to several issues.
When you buy something, financial institutions and merchants use your billing address to verify your identity.
If the billing address does not match what’s on record, the transaction might get declined.
Payment processing delays
If discrepancies in the billing address raise concerns, the payment could be held for further verification.
This could lead to processing delays and impact the speed at which your order is completed.
Unsuccessful subscriptions or account setup
Many online services require a valid billing address to set up an account. Not putting the right address could cause your account setup to fail.
Increased risk of fraud
Using incorrect billing addresses too many times can make it harder for financial institutions to protect you from fraud.
Likewise, you may be incorrectly flagged for fraudulent activity.
What happens if you provide an incorrect shipping address?
Providing an incorrect shipping address has the following drawbacks.
An incorrect shipping address will likely cause incorrect routing of your package, leading to delays in the delivery process.
The package will then need to be rerouted.
If the address you put in is incorrect but valid, your purchase may be delivered to the wrong person.
If the shipping address is incomplete, incorrect, or undeliverable, the package may be returned to the sender.
It may also be held by the courier until they receive further instructions.
Additional shipping costs
A package sent to the wrong address will either need to be returned or rerouted.
Either way, it might end up costing you more money. Some companies charge you for resending packages.
Loss of package
If the package can’t be delivered to the right address, it may be deemed undeliverable and discarded.
Common mistakes when entering a shipping address
Shipping errors are a little tricky to spot, and sometimes, they are caught too late.
The most common mistakes customers make when entering their shipping address are as follows.
Typos and misspellings
Customers may inadvertently misspell street names, city names, or other address components.
Customers might accidentally leave out essential address details, such as apartment or unit numbers, building names, or floor numbers.
Incorrect postal code
Entering an incorrect postal code can lead to packages being misrouted or delayed.
Switching billing and shipping addresses
Customers may accidentally enter their billing address as the shipping address or vice versa.
Not providing a recipient’s name
Not including the recipient’s name, especially when shipping to a business or an apartment building, makes it harder for the delivery person to find the correct recipient.
Failing to update old addresses
Customers who have recently moved may forget to update their shipping address, resulting in packages being sent to their previous address.
Using abbreviations inconsistently
While using abbreviations for street names, building names, or directions is common, inconsistent use of abbreviations can cause confusion and delivery issues.
Types of shipping address errors
Shipping errors can occur for different reasons, leading to a variety of issues. Here are some common types of shipping errors.
Incorrect shipping address
An incorrect or incomplete shipping address can result in delays, misdelivery, or return of the package.
The best way to avoid this issue is simply to double-check the address before placing an order.
Order processing errors
Mistakes can happen while processing an order, such as selecting the wrong item or product variant.
These errors may require additional effort and expense to fix.
Improper packaging can cause your items to get damaged during transit.
Incorrect labelling can cause problems during the sorting and delivery process.
Common errors include mistakes in the shipping address label, missing or incorrect barcodes, and incorrect customs documentation.
On occasion, shipping companies will misroute an item, lose a package, or damage an item through mishandling.
Customs and import errors
For international shipments, errors in the required customs paperwork can lead to problems. These include delays, additional fees, and even the shipment getting seized.
The tracking information provided by shipping companies isn’t always accurate. Incorrect tracking information can cause confusion, both for the sender and the recipient.
How to ensure your orders get billed and shipped correctly
There are some common sense steps you can take to ensure your orders are shipped correctly.
Verify your billing information
Make sure your billing address is accurate and matches the information you have on file with your bank.
Double-check the shipping address
Carefully review the shipping address before placing an order to ensure it’s accurate.
Select the correct items and quantities
When shopping, it’s helpful to double-check that you have chosen the correct product variants, number of products, and so on.
Review your order summary
Before finalising the transaction, review the order summary to confirm the details. This includes your billing and shipping information and the item details.
Choose a reliable shipping method
Not all shipping is made equal, so pick a method that offers tracking!
Keep track of your order
Once you’ve placed an order, you can monitor its progress. Delays that run beyond the estimated delivery date should be addressed to the merchant or shipping company.
Update your information as needed
If your contact details change, definitely update them as appropriate. This will reduce the likelihood of billing and shipping errors.
How to check the billing address for a credit card
To check the billing address for a credit card, here’s what to do.
Check your credit card statement
Your billing address is usually listed on your card statement as the “Billing Address” or “Statement Mailing Address.”
Log in to your online banking or credit card account
Like most banks, your bank probably offers online account management services.
If so, you can probably log in to your account and navigate to the account settings or profile section to find your billing information.
Check your bank or credit card mobile app
If your bank or card issuer has a mobile app, you can log in to your account and find your billing address that way. It should be under account settings or profile.
Call customer service
If none of the above methods work, you can always find your billing address by calling your bank or card issuer.
Once they verify your identity, they will provide you with the billing address.
Visit a local bank branch
Finally, you can always visit your bank’s local branch and ask a representative for your billing address information.
How to change your billing address
To change your billing address, follow these general steps.
Online banking or credit card account
Log in to your online account and navigate to the account settings, profile, or personal information section.
You should see an option to edit or update your billing address.
Bank or credit card mobile app
If your bank or card issuer has a mobile app, you can log in and change your billing address that way.
All you have to do is navigate to the account settings or profile section and find the option to update.
Call customer service
Your bank or card issuer’s customer service hotline will be able to help you change your billing address.
Visit a local bank branch
Just like you would when finding a billing address, you can change your billing address by visiting your bank in person.
Send a written request
Some banks and card issuers may accept written requests to change your billing address. You can always check with your financial institution to see if they offer this option.
How to help your customers if you run a business
It may be helpful to add helpful tips next to the billing and shipping forms on your website to assist your customers.
You can post something like:
How to find your billing address
- You can find your billing address in your online banking account. Go to the settings or profile page.
- Your credit card statements should contain your billing address.
- You should also be able to find your billing address on your online statements.