If you are planning on sending out a piece of mail or package with the USPS, a part of the process will include addressing the mail item correctly. A simple error, is capable of sending it to an entirely different location. For example, if you do not make out the state to be clear, you can be sending a package to Columbia, SC but there is also a city with the name Columbia in Maryland. Knowing how to address a mail item and most importantly, how the USPS is able to use that information to make the package delivery, will help you avoid quite a few hurdles and issues with misdeliveries.
First things first, you will need to make sure that you have added the name of the recipient at the top of the address. If there is any legal or professional title that needs to be added, make sure that is included. Also, if it makes sense to add a “care of” forwarder, add the name of that person underneath the recipient using the abbreviation “℅”
Second comes in the street address. If applicable, you will want to make sure that you are adding the apartment number or unit number as well as any additional missing information (such as NE, NW, SE and SW.)
Finally, the name of the town/city will come in last along with the state and zip code. If that gets too crowded for it to fit on 1 line, feel free to split it into 2.
To visualize it, it will help to bring up an example of an address below:
123 MAIN STREET RD NW #7313
TEXAS CITY, TX 77008
A few more details that are worth mentioning on the sample address above:
- Ideally, you write out the address in all caps, in order to make it more visible for the mail carrier. When you try and write out an address in small letters, there is more room for error.
- Make sure to not exclude important NW or SW information from the address. Any small error like that can send your mail to the wrong address or even just have it being sent back to you.
- The state should always be abbreviated in a 2 letter format. You would not write out the state in its full length.
- The zip code that you add, usually will be a 5 number code. There addresses however that can have up to 9 numbers. If that is your case, make sure to write out the longer version.
Another note that will be important for you to keep in mind, is that if you decide to ship an item from overseas, you will need to add a final line that says USA or UNITED STATES.
If your mail or package is not intended to be sent to a person but rather an organization or company, you will want to make sure you include the company name as well as the name of the recipient’s work title and the name of the department they work in. This information will be helpful in the case where you are sending mail to a larger organization and where there are some possibilities or multiple people with the same name. If you need to contact that company in advance to confirm the details, that would be a good way to ensure you have all the information you need as well.
How To Address International Mail
Depending on the country you are sending mail into, you will have a few different variations of the address you are writing out. For example, if you are intending to send mail to the UK, usually you will be required to add the county or metropolitan area prior to adding the zip code. So a format for mail that needs to be sent to the UK, would be something like this:
38 Manchester Road
If you wanted to send mail to France, then this would be the following structure of the address:
123 MAIN STREET
As you will note, the zip code precedes the actual name of the city. So that is the only main difference for French addresses.
How To Address Military Mail
Military Mail runs through the USPS system, but it also has its own unique way of addressing. Simply put, mail that is sent overseas to active military personnel, is done with domestic rates in mind, that split up into 4 main postal categories:
- APO: Army Post Office
- MPO: Military Post Office
- FPO: Fleet Post Office
- DPO: Diplomat Post Office
As for the regions where military mail is sent to, there are 3 main regions:
- AA: Armed Forces Of The Americas
- AE: Armed Forces of Europe
- AP: Armed Forces of the Pacific
Ultimately, the USPS will send in all mail into 3 main distribution centers, via which mail is then sent out to each individual location.
So the distribution regions are as follows:
- AA: Miami, FL
- AE: New York City, NY
- San Francisco, CA
Therefore, if you wanted to send mail to a military address, here would be an example of its format:
MSGT JOHN SMITH
UNIT 1234 BOX 7151
DPO AE 77008-1234
How To Address A Return Address
If you are sending out mail, it may make sense to add a return address on your envelope or package, to ensure that you are able to retrieve it in the case of misdelivery or in the case of the mail never reaching its destination.
The format of your return address, will look like any other address within the US.
An example would be:
123 MAIN STREET RD NW #7313
TEXAS CITY, TX 77008
How To Address A PO Box Address
If you are intending on sending out mail to a PO Box address, it will look a bit different compared to your typical street address.
Here is an example of what it will look like:
PO BOX 770123
TEXAS CITY, TX 77008
Final Tips To Ensure Proper Addressing Of Mail
- Go over the address you are intending on sending a piece of mail or package to, and double check it. Any slight mistake can cause major issues with misdeliveries and non deliveries of your mail. If you need to confirm with the recipient their address or if you need to even look it up online, those are both great options to confirm that mail will be sent to the proper destination.
- If you are intending on sending mail overseas, it will help for you to make sure the format you have is proper. Do a little bit of research or even visit the Universal Postal Union directory to ensure that you have the proper format on your mail or package.
- If you are sending on military mail, make sure to not include any city or country information, to make sure it is not mixed up with domestic or international packages that are sent to non military addresses. Reference again the format listed earlier, and if needed, contact your recipient make sure there are no mistakes.
A Virtual Mailbox Alternative
When it comes to receiving packages or mail, it helps to be able to view it online and have it stored at a secure facility, until you are ready to receive it at your location. As mentioned before, porch pirating is on the rise, and a rising number of people are switching to virtual alternatives to receiving mail.
With a Virtual Mailbox, you would get all your mail and packages digitally. So for any letters, you can simply request a mail scan, and have a copy of the letter on your phone. If you need us to send you the actual letter, we can ship it to you with up to 80% off what typical retail shipping would cost.
When it comes to packages, it is a similar idea: you would preview your package online (i.e see in your account what packages have arrived for you with a picture of them,) and then request them to be shipped only when it is convenient for you. Same shipping discounts apply for packages.
To learn more about our virtual mailbox and to get started free, click here.