What are ZIP/postal code and address verification (AVS) checks, and how should I use them?

For each card payment where we have an address supplied, Stripe checks to make sure that the ZIP/postal code matches the address for the customer on file with their bank. Stripe can also perform an address verification (AVS) check using the billing street address. Support for either of these checks is dependent on the bank or card issuer:

  • ZIP/postal code checks are supported by many banks around the world, though some do not, and some countries do not use postal codes
  • AVS is primarily supported in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States, though banks in other countries can also support them

You can collect all of the information you need for this check by using:

If you’re using a third-party plugin or marketplace, check with its developer or support team to see if they support providing address information.

What should I do if the ZIP/postal code or AVS verification fail?

If either of these check fail, there’s a higher chance that the person making the payment is not the legitimate owner of the card. However, it’s worth noting that there are situations where these checks can fail on legitimate transactions (e.g., the customer has entered their street address incorrectly or has moved house and not yet updated their address with their bank). Either of these checks can pass or fail independently, so while verification of the provided ZIP/postal code might be successful, the AVS check might not be.

Stripe provides you with all the information available from the banks to tell whether a payment is legitimate, so if you have any doubt then we recommend that you contact the customer and ask them to provide additional confirmation to verify their identity. In particular, we recommend all users who are shipping physical goods perform additional verification or reject orders where the customer’s address cannot be verified.

If you are uncomfortable accepting a payment, we recommend refunding the payment and canceling any product or shipment. This will prevent you from being liable for the payment and additional chargeback fee if the cardholder later disputes the charge as fraudulent. We return all fees for refunded payments to you, so you never lose out by choosing to cancel and refund a payment.

Can I block payments that fail either ZIP/postal code or AVS verification?

If your business is often affected by suspicious payments where you are unable to verify the customer’s identity our fraud prevention toolset, Radar, includes a built-in rule to block all payments that fail the ZIP/postal code verification check. Note that this setting will only apply to charges where a ZIP/postal code has been provided and it fails verification. There is not an option to block payments that fail AVS verification.

What if the AVS checks show as “unavailable”?

If a bank does not support the check, the verification result is shown as Unavailable. Although widely supported, not all banks support ZIP/postal code verification or AVS checks, and some countries do not use postal codes. Seeing this value means that the bank that issued the credit card used cannot check the billing address provided to see if it matches the cardholder’s, and you should take extra care to review the order and charge details. For example, if you see a charge to a card issued in Germany - which doesn’t support the address checks - and the customer has provided a billing address in the United States, this means something isn’t quite right - the billing address should be located in Germany, even if the bank can’t check it.

Radar’s built-in rule can only be enforced if the ZIP/postal code verification check fails. If a bank does not support the check, the rule cannot take action against the payment.

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