How to Address a Package

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July 10, 2023

The United States Postal Service (USPS) serves more than 165 million addresses in the United States. With this coverage, the Postal Service provides everyone within the U.S. and its territories access to postal products.

If you’re sending a package, having the correct address helps ensure the courier can deliver your item to your recipient. On the other hand, a wrong delivery address can lead to a failed delivery, and your package will be returned to you.

With these outcomes in mind, how do you address a package correctly? How do you format your address if you’re sending a parcel outside the U.S.? Where do you place the address on the package?

This article discusses the steps to writing addresses on your package and how to format your addresses when sending domestically or internationally.

This article also explores the elements in each address line and how to address your package to a Post Office (P.O.) box.

FindPostOffice.org can help you locate a post office to send your package by providing an online search platform that lets you search for post offices by city, state, or ZIP code.

How Do You Properly Address a Package?

Addressing a package correctly ensures that your shipment arrives at your recipient’s address. Hence, you should follow a few guidelines for addressing your package.

A package is usually larger than an envelope. However, if you have addressed and sent envelopes, you can write package addresses in the same format.

Here are the steps to address packages:

Step 1

Place the box on a flat surface and ensure the top side faces upward. If your package is a cardboard box, position the taped tab lines horizontally.

Step 2

Write “From” followed by the sender’s name on the package top’s upper left-hand corner using a permanent marker.

Write the sender’s address starting with the number and street address below the name. Next, write the city, state, and ZIP code below the address line.

Step 3

Write “To” followed by the recipient’s name under the tape line on the box top’s center. The recipient is the individual or company receiving the package.

Write the house or building number and street address below the recipient’s name. Next, write the city, state, and ZIP code under the address line.

If your package is not taped on the top side, write the recipient’s address on the center of the box’s top surface.

USPS

When addressing a package that will ship with the United States Postal Service (USPS), you can handwrite the return address and destination on the box or use a label or printed paper taped to the box’s surface.

Handwritten Addresses

If you decide to handwrite the mailing and return address on the package, find a clean surface on the box to write to ensure your writing is readable.

Clear handwriting can help the carrier delivering your package read the address correctly and avoid misdeliveries.

The area where you write the address should also be large enough for the sender and recipient addresses to fit on the same face of the box.

How to Write a U.S. Mailing Address

When addressing packages and mail to a recipient within the United States, use the following mailing address format:

  • First line: Write the recipient’s name, including their professional or legal title, if any.

When sending to organizations, write the recipient’s job title and company name. If you know their department, include its name.

  • Second line: Write the recipient’s street address, including the apartment number and directional information.
  • Third line: Write the recipient’s town or city followed by the state abbreviation and five-digit ZIP code on one line if they fit. Otherwise, separate this information into two lines.

An example of this format is as follows:

John Doe
47 Anytown Rd. N.W.
Anyville AL 01234

How to Write an International Address

International address formats can have a similar structure as domestic addresses, but there are minor format variations among countries. As a rough guide, the following sections discuss these variations based on selected countries.

The United States

As discussed earlier, the U.S. address format includes the recipient’s name in the first line, the street address in the second, and the city, state, and ZIP code in the third.

You must also add the country name in the fourth line, especially if you’re mailing from another country to the U.S. 

For example:

John Doe
52 Whereville St.
Wheretown KY 56789
United States

Canada

To write the Canadian address format, enter the recipient’s name in the first line, the street in the second line, and the municipality, province, and postal code in the third line. 

The following example shows this format:

Jane Walker
10-456 1/2 Main Avenue
Montreal, QC H32 2Y7
Canada

Australia

The proper shipping address format in Australia is similar to the U.S. format. The first line contains the recipient’s name, while the second has the house or apartment number and street name.

In the following line, you write the town or suburb name followed by the state abbreviation and postal code. The last line contains the country name. 

An example of this address is as follows:

Jane Walker
7/3 Waitara Avenue
Waitara, NSW 2077
Australia

China

Chinese address formats start with the country name in the first line and the province, city, and district names in the second.

The third line contains the street name, community or building, and apartment number. The last line contains the recipient’s name.

The following is an example of this address format:

People’s Republic of China
Guangdong Province, Guangzhou City, Tianhe District
Xinshi Road, No. 1234 Fuli Garden, 15th Building Room 52
Tao Mao

The United Kingdom

The United Kingdom’s addresses start with the recipient’s name in the first line, followed by the building or flat number in the next line.

The third line contains the street or road name and number, while the fourth has the county or city name and postal code. The last line includes the country name.

An example of the U.K. address format is as follows:

John Doe
Flat 5
24 Bucket Road
Essex, SS5 3DD
United Kingdom

How to Write a P.O. Box Address

You must replace the street address with the P.O. box number when addressing packages to a domestic P.O. box. The following sections show how different countries format addresses with P.O. boxes.

The U.S.

Start with the recipient’s name followed by the company name, if any. Write the P.O. box number in the next line, followed by the city, state abbreviation, and country. 

The example below demonstrates this format:

John Doe
Images Inc.
P.O. box 5678
Los Angeles, CA
USA

The U.K.

For the U.K. P.O. box address format, you must write the name followed by the company and department names.

Write the P.O. box number in the next line. Then, write the city followed by the postal code and country. 

An example of this address is as follows:

Jane Walker
Images Inc.
Information Technology (I.T.) Department
P.O. box 5678
London
W5 5YZ
United Kingdom

Canada

In Canada, the first line of P.O. box addresses contains the recipient’s name followed by the P.O. box number and station information.

The following line contains the recipient’s city, province, and postal code. The last line mentions the country. 

The following example shows how to write a Canadian P.O. box address:

John Doe
P.O. box 5678 STN A
Victoria, BC V8X3X4
Canada

Australia

For Australian P.O. boxes, write the recipient name in the first line, the company name in the second line, and the P.O. box number in the third line.

The fourth line contains the suburb, state abbreviation, and postal code. Then, write the country name in the last line.

The example below demonstrates how to format an Australian P.O. box address:

Jane Walker
Images Inc.
P.O. box 90
Fremantle, WA 6160
Australia

How to Write a Return Address Correctly

When you’re in the U.S. and sending a package domestically, your return address should follow the following format:

Sender’s name

47 Newville St. N.W.
Maintown, GA 56789

If you’re sending internationally, write your return address in your country’s format. Place your return address in the upper-left corner of the envelope or package.

Where Should You Write the Return Address on a Package?

Suppose you placed the shipping label and wrote the package’s destination address.

As mentioned earlier, you must write the return address in the upper-left corner on the same side as the recipient’s address.

“How Do I Label a Package Box?”

You must use a shipping label if you send a package and need to label it.

Shipping companies like Federal Express (FedEx), USPS, and United Parcel Service (UPS) have mail services using these labels containing essential information like names, addresses, weight, and tracking codes.

How to Write a Shipping Label

A shipping label is usually printed and contains a barcode you can use to help track your package. 

Place the label on the package’s largest flat side. You can also put the label in a pouch to help avoid damage.

Because shipping labels are printed, you cannot write them yourself because they must have a carrier barcode. Instead, you can only write the package’s destination and return address.

Can You Write the Address on a Package?

Although you cannot write on the shipping label, you can still write the address on your package. Doing so ensures the carrier can find the recipient’s delivery address even when the address label becomes damaged or unreadable.

Having labels damaged during transit isn’t uncommon, mainly when adverse weather conditions occur, and the shipping label isn’t in a pouch.

What to Write When Mailing a Package

Suppose you need help determining what details to write when sending a package. Start by writing the following delivery information:

  • The recipient’s full name
  • The recipient’s address
  • The recipient’s town and ZIP code
  • The recipient’s country

Student Mailing Address

If you need to send a package to a student in a university, determine the specific mailing address format of the school.

For example, Elizabeth City State University (ECSU) follows this format:

Student’s first and last name

ECSU
XXXXX Campus box
1704 Weeksville Road
Elizabeth City, NC 27909

What Is Address Format, and Why Is It Important for Shipping?

An address format is a collection of information that directs the courier to a physical destination. Countries can have different address format standards, so this information can be presented in various ways.

Courier staff usually have the training and skills to read and understand shipping information, especially the address format. If you’re unsure what information to write, you can ask them for help.

Address information usually includes the following:

  • Recipient name
  • House or flat number
  • Street name
  • City name
  • State
  • Postal code
  • Country

When you send a package, the success of its delivery depends largely on the correctness of its shipping details. If those details have any mistakes, your item may end up in the wrong place or get sent back to you.

Additional Tips for Addressing a Package

After knowing how to format your address, consider following these other tips to help ensure your package’s quick and safe arrival at its destination:

  • Print a shipping label whenever possible.
  • Provide a return address.
  • Ensure correct address placement.
  • Write with a non-smudge pen.
  • Keep handwriting legible.
  • Double-check before sending.

Which Address Goes Where on a Package?

USPS recommends placing the address, return address, and postage on the same side of your package.

As mentioned earlier, have the return address printed or written in the upper-left corner of the package’s top side and the recipient’s address on the center of that side.

What Happens When a Shipping Address Is Formatted Incorrectly?

Suppose you ship a package with incorrect shipping information. You can still fix the mistake if you act quickly by contacting the shipping company and asking about updating the address.

If the package is already in transit, it may be too late to make corrections. If the carrier cannot deliver the item, you must wait until the carrier sends it back to the return address.

Upon receiving the item back, rewrite the address, ensure the details are correct, and send the package again.

Printed Labels and Paying for Postage

When sending packages through USPS, you have multiple ways to pay for your parcel’s postage:

  • Bring the package to your local post office and have the employee calculate the postage cost.
  • Go to a self-service kiosk, also called an automated postal center (APC), located in many post offices. You can measure and weigh your package at the machine and buy postage using your credit or debit card.
  • Register for an account with USPS Click-N-Ship, which lets you purchase labels online from the Postal Service.
  • Calculate the postage cost and count the correct number of stamps.

UPS, FedEx, and DHL

Many private carriers like UPS, DHL, and FedEx use pre-printed shipping labels. If you take your package to a UPS or FedEx store, they will often have you handwrite your shipping address onto a waybill form.

A waybill form contains shipment information, such as the origin, destination, transportation route, and the shipper and receiver’s contact information.

A courier staff will then take that form and type the information you wrote down into their computer and provide you with pricing options.

Key Takeaways When Writing the Address on a Courier Parcel

When you write an address, having the correct information can help ensure successful delivery. 

You can follow these guidelines when placing the address on your package:

  • Avoid using full stops (punctuation at the end of a sentence).
  • Start each line on the left unless a country’s address format specifies otherwise.
  • Consider writing the address information in capital letters to help make reading easier.
  • Include the recipient’s full name, address (including the apartment or suite number), city, state abbreviation, and ZIP code in your address details.

FAQs

  1. How do I know how many stamps to use?

The number of stamps you need to send a package will depend on the parcel’s weight and size. For example, a large box containing a heavy item may require postage of $10 worth or more.

If you are unsure how much postage you need, visit your local post office to get your package weighed.

  1. How do I write a P.O. box address?

Suppose you’re sending an item to a P.O. box address. After writing the recipient’s name, write the P.O. box number in the following line instead of writing the street address.

Afterward, write the city, state, and postal code in the following line.

  1. How do I write an abbreviation for the address?

When formatting a shipping address, you can use some common abbreviations like “St.” for street, “Ave.” for avenue, and “Bldg.” for building. If you don’t know what words you can abbreviate, ask a post office employee for assistance.

If you’re writing to a U.S. destination, you can abbreviate state names in the address. USPS has a list of territory and state abbreviations, which you can access on the Postal Service’s website, to help shorten the state name in your address.

References

  1. Postal Facts
    https://facts.usps.com/
  2. University Mail Service
    https://www.ecsu.edu/business-and-finance/mail-services.php
  3. State abbreviations
    https://about.usps.com/who/profile/history/state-abbreviations.htm