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Physical address

Meaning & purpose

Physical address is the physical location of an activity, collection, party or service, or a physical location to which mail can be sent, or some other physical location associated with the object being described. Physical Address is contained within the Location wrapper element and contains the child element, AddressPart. Physical address parts contain descriptions of addresses, either as a single string or split into separate address lines.

Use Spatial Location to record a physical address using geospatial coordinates, e.g. for an instrument.

Physical Address attributes

Physical Address Type

A Physical Address Type is optional. If used, preferably specify a type from the Physical Address Type vocabulary:




address where an entity is physically located


address where mail for an entity should be sent

Physical Address Part Type

A Physical Address Part Type is optional. If used, preferably specify a type from the Physical Address Part Type vocabulary:




an address part that is a separate line of a structured address


a single address part that contains the whole address in unstructured form


an address part that contains a telephone number, including a mobile telephone number


an address part that contains a fax (facsimile) number

Values following Australian standard AS 4590:2006 Interchange of client information can be used by contributors if preferred.

More information...

Use of this standard is not required, and this is only one possible option for content providers to follow. AS 4590 users may map an addressPart type for each element of structured address information to a more specific value from AS 4590:2006 Interchange of client information, using the following types:

  • fullName
  • organizationName
  • flatOrUnitNumber
  • floorOrLevelNumber
  • buildingOrPropertyName
  • locationDescriptor
  • houseNumber
  • lotNumber
  • streetName
  • postalDeliveryNumberPrefix
  • postalDeliveryNumberValue
  • postalDeliveryNumberSuffix
  • addressLine
  • suburbOrPlaceOrLocality
  • stateOrTerritory
  • country
  • postCode
  • deliveryPointIdentifier

When using AS 4590 values for addressPart type, if data cannot easily be parsed:

  • include flatOrUnitNumber and floorOrLevelNumber in buildingOrPropertyName
  • include houseNumber or lotNumber in streetName
  • include postalDeliveryNumberPrefix and postalDeliveryNumberSuffix in postalDeliveryNumberValue.

Telephone and fax numbers:

Telephone number maps to AS 4590-2006 6.4.6 element 'Telephone number'. Fax number maps to AS 4590-2006 6.4.6 element 'Telephone number' where the AS 4590-2006 6.4.2 element 'Telephone standard functionality code' has been encoded '02' for Facsimile (FAX).

Use in Research Data Australia

Address information supplied using AS4590 types will be sorted and displayed as follows, using whichever elements were supplied:

[ 1]    fullName e.g. Mr John Smith
[ 2]    organizationName e.g. Budawang University, Faculty of Science, Administration
[ 3]    buildingOrPropertyName e.g. Chancelry
[ 4]    flatOrUnitNumber [then] floorOrLevelNumber e.g. West Wing Floor 3
[ 5]    LotNumber [then] houseNumber [then] streetName e.g. 22 Nerriga Street
[ 6]    postalDeliveryNumberPrefix [then] postalDeliveryNumberValue [then] postalDeliveryNumberSuffix e.g. PO Box 8888
[ 7]    addressLine (this might contain unstructured address info from the perspective of AS 4590, e.g. overseas address formats)
[ 8]    suburbOrPlaceOrLocality [then] stateOrTerritory [then] postCode e.g. Morton NSW 2000
[ 9]    country e.g. Australia
[10]   locationDescriptor [then] deliveryPointIdentifier e.g. Corner office

Language attribute

The language in which the physical address metadata is recorded may be included in the Lang attribute, but is not displayed or searchable in Research Data Australia. The RDA Registry accepts language codes consistent with IETF's BCP (Best Current Practice) 47: Tags for Identifying Languages (incorporating RFC 5646). Language codes may be selected from:

Use in Research Data Australia

Physical Address is used to record street or postal addresses as part of Contact Information in Research Data Australia. All physical addresses are displayed as Contact Information even when this is the physical location of the object being described (such as in a museum). Contact Information may be used to find out more about activities or services, or to request access to collections or services. All physical address information is displayed.

Best practice

Generally, the use of electronic addresses for email addresses or web pages is preferred in Research Data Australia.

Include physical addresses if:

  • electronic addresses are not available
  • the collection or service being described is physical and can be visited e.g. an archive, museum or physical facility of some kind
  • traditional mail addressed to a person or organisation is required for accessing a collection or service. It is not necessary to include physical addresses for parties as a general rule—this information is difficult to keep up-to-date.

Address Part

AddressPart holds either a full or partial address. Multiple AddressPart elements may be used to divide the full address into meaningful fragments (for example street address, postcode, country).

Some text formatting capabilities are provided to allow for more flexible display of information in Research Data Australia. You can use XHTML formatting to ensure addresses display on different lines and with your desired formatting.

Address Line

  • Structured address information may be mapped to AS 4590:2006 Interchange of client information values (see above).
  • Use a type of "addressLine" for legacy or non-specific address information. 
  • Use of multiple addressLine types is not recommended due to problems in displaying this information - there is no method for ordering multiple address lines, and they can only be displayed in the order they are entered. Consider using XHTML formatting to support better display in Research Data Australia. 
  • Encode Australian States or Territories as AS 4590 compliant values: ACT | NSW | NT | QLD | SA | TAS | VIC | WA.
  • If a full address is not available, use the Spatial Location element to include an ISO 3166-2 occurrence with the value 'AU' and, when the state is known, with the appropriate state code.

Telephone and fax numbers

Telephone and fax numbers are most appropriate for party records where contact details for a person or organisation are provided. For collections, activities and services, this information should generally be stored in associated party records rather than in collection, activity or service records. However, physical addresses for collections, activities or service records are permitted.

No format is specified for telephone and fax numbers. Data providers may follow AS 4590:2006 Interchange of client information (see above) or use custom formats for telephone numbers and fax numbers. Spaces, hyphens, parentheses or the form +61 for Australian country code are permitted. Inclusion of the international dialling code (61) with all telephone and fax numbers is recommended to support international collaboration.

Prior to November 2010, telephone and fax information was recorded in the electronic address element. It was relocated to the physical address element with the introduction of RIF-CS v1.2.0 to accommodate partner formatting requirements.

XML encoding examples

Street address described using AS 4590-2006 elements:

    <physical type="streetAddress">
      <addressPart type="houseNumber">798</houseNumber>
      <addressPart type="streetName">Palmer Street</streetName>
      <addressPart type="suburbOrPlaceOrLocality">Townsville</addressPart>
      <addressPart type="stateOrTerritory">QLD</addressPart>
      <addressPart type="postCode">4810</addressPart>
      <addressPart type="country">Australia</addressPart>
      <addressPart type="telephoneNumber">61 07 1234 5678</addressPart>
      <addressPart type="faxNumber">61 07 1234 5699</addressPart>

Telephone and fax numbers provided alone without a street or postal address:

    <physical type="streetAddress"> 
      <addressPart type="telephoneNumber">61 07 1234 5678</addressPart>
      <addressPart type="faxNumber">61 07 1234 5699</addressPart>


Change history

Click here to view...
DateChange history
April 2010Consultation draft
26 October 2010RIF-CS 1.2.0 change information added
24 June 2011AS 4590 information removed to separate linked page
22 Nov 2011Added links to text formatting information, added advice against using multiple addressLine types
17 Mar 2017Page reviewed and AS 4590 information re-added to page using an expandable section




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