122 Addressing

122.1 Destination Address

  1. At least the entire right half of the address side of the envelope, package, or card should be reserved for the destination address, postage, labels, and postal notations.
  2. Addresses must appear in ink or be typewritten. Pencil is unacceptable.
  3. The name and address of addressee must appear legibly with roman letters and arabic numbers, all placed lengthwise on one side of the item. For parcels, addresses should also appear on a separate slip enclosed in the parcel.
  4. Addresses in Russian, Greek, Arabic, Hebrew, Cyrillic, Japanese, or Chinese characters must bear an interline translation in English of the names of the post office and country of destination. If the English translation is not known, the foreign language words must appear in roman characters (print or script). See 292.41 and 293.41 for an optional addressing procedure that applies only to direct country sacks of International Priority Airmail (IPA) or International Surface Air Lift (ISAL) mail, respectively.
  5. Mail may not be addressed to a person in one country “in care of” a person in another country.
  6. The name of the sender and/or addressee may not be in initials except where they are an adopted trade name.
  7. Mail may not be addressed to Boxholder or Householder.
  8. The following exceptional form of address, in French or a language known in the country of destination, may appear on printed matter: the addressee’s name or Occupant.
  9. Example: Mr. Thomas Clark or Occupant

  10. The house number and street address or box number must appear when mail is addressed to towns or cities.
  11. The address of items sent to General Delivery must indicate the name of the addressee and the country of destination. The use of initials, figures, simple given names, or fictitious names is not permitted on articles addressed for general delivery.
  12. All lines of the delivery address should appear in all capital letters. The city destination must appear in capital letters together with the correct post code number or delivery zone number, if any. The last line of the address must show only the country name, written in full (no abbreviations) and in capital letters. If possible, the address should have no more than five lines. For example:

    mr thomas clark
    117 russell drive

    Ms C P apple
    apartado 3068

    Exception: To Canada, there must be two spaces between the province abbreviation and the postal code, as shown below between “ON” and “KIA 0B1”:


    Ms Helen Saunders
    1010 Clear Street

122.2 Return Address

122.21 General

Due to heightened security, many foreign postal administrations require complete sender and addressee information in roman letters and Arabic numerals on postal items. All outbound international mail should bear a complete return address of the sender. Only one return address may be used, and it must be located so that it does not affect either the clarity of the address of destination or the application of service labels and notations (postmarks, etc.).

122.22 Required Use of Return Address

In the case of bulk mailings, all mailpieces must bear a U.S.-origin return address visible on the outside of the mailpiece. For the purpose of this section, a “bulk mailing” is any IPA or ISAL mailing, or any other mailing paid with an advance deposit account and presented to the U.S. Postal Service for acceptance.

122.23 Return Address Elements and Placement

For U.S.-origin mailpieces, minimum elements must include a complete street number and name (or Post Office box number), city name, state name (or authorized two-letter state abbreviation), and the correct 5-digit ZIP Code or ZIP+4 code. The return address should appear in the upper left corner of the address side of the envelope, card, flat, or package. It is also recommended that U.S.-origin mailpieces include “United States” on the last line of the return address.

Unregistered items bearing a return address in another country are accepted only at the sender’s risk. Items authorized to bear a return address in another country must include the proper return address elements (including the country name) to ensure the proper return of the mailpiece. The return address should appear in the upper left corner of the address side of the envelope, card, flat, or package.