What is a billing address? | Why does it matter?
When you’re ordering online – especially if you’re not already registered – you’ll be usually asked for two addresses. Your shipping address and your billing address. For the majority of people, these addresses are the same. But they actually are two very different things.
What does billing address mean?
A billing address is the address that is assigned to your form of payment – usually your credit or debit card.
If you use a platform like PayPal, your billing address will still be the address associated with your payment card registered at PayPal.
There are usually two main types of billing addresses:
- Personal billing address: This will be your home address if you’re buying items for personal use. Some people might have a different billing address to their current living address, such as students who are still registered at their parents home.
- Business billing address: This is your business address.
What is the difference between billing and shipping address?
Often, the two address are the same. But they can serve different purposes to both you, as the buyer, and the company from which you are buying from.
- Shipping address: This is where the product is to be delivered. This is important as it helps them work out how much shipping will be, whether they actually ship to that location, and the accurate location of where to send it.
- Billing address: The billing address is used to verify you are the card holder. Using the postcode, they can verify you are who you say you are. This can help prevent fraud and identity theft.
Does billing address matter when ordering online?
Yes, a billing address matters as it's used for person verification. A billing address is often used to show you are the account holder and that your payment method is valid.
It’s also key to make sure your details match, as closely as possible, the details you have stored with your bank.
While most websites use the postcode as the verifier, there can sometimes be confusion if the address you have registered with your card is not in the same format as the billing address you supply. This is especially important when you’re talking about business purchases. And why it’s important to write your business address correctly and consistently.
How to write a billing address
If you have a credit or debit card already, it’s best to always follow that format when buying goods online. If you’re setting up a new bank account and are inputting your billing address, here are a few things to consider:
What is the first line of a billing address?
The first line of a billing address is usually the building number and street name. For example, 221B Baker Street.
But it can sometimes be the name of the building, such as ‘The Old Vicarage’.
What is billing address line 2?
The second line of your billing address depends on the form. It’s usually used to add context and often isn’t required. It could be:
- ‘Area’ – a suburb or area of a city.
- Village name
- Flat number
- Unit number
Again, this depends on your address. It could be:
- Line 1: 5 Address Street,
- Line 2: York
Or it could be:
- Line 1: 5 Address Street
- Line 2: Flat 2b
- Line 3: Fulford
- Lime 4: York
Get the postcode right
This is the key area. A lot of online forms now have automatic form filling, so once you’ve put in the correct postcode, you can choose your billing address. But without that postcode, you’re stuck.
Check your postcode matches your address with our Postcode Finder search.
What happens if you put the wrong billing address?
It does matter if you put the wrong billing address - but the impact depends on the website you’re using.
Some sites will reject the payment if the billing and shipping addresses don’t match. Some might process the order and then cancel it.
For businesses, if it happens for high value items or repeatedly, it could trigger fraud issues and lead to the card being cancelled.
Alternatively, it could just ask you to re-input the billing address. Or, with low value items, it might not flag it at all. Verification of users often sits with the retailer. And if the delivery address is fine and the payment goes through, they might not worry so much about the billing address.