Return Address on Envelope


January 5, 2023

If you want to get your letter back in case its delivery fails, you will need to include your return address. Including your full name and address and where to place them in your letter is essential.

If this is your first time sending a letter or a package, you may have questions like: how do you write the sender’s return address? Where do you put the return address on an envelope, and whose name goes on the return address? How many stamps should you use?

This article answers these questions and gives you a guide on how to write a return address on your letters of packages.  

Are you planning to send mail or packages, but you are not sure where the post office is in your area? 

Visit to find USPS offices near you. Our website has access to approximately 31,330 post offices across the United States.  

Addressing an Envelope

Even with technology emerging today, handwritten letters are still one of the popular modes of communication. 

What is inside your letter envelope is entirely under your control. However, you need to consider what information is on the outside of your letter and follow the proper guidelines in addressing the envelope. 

The specific information on the outside of your letter can ensure that the person you intend to send the mail to will receive your message.

How to Address an Envelope

In addressing envelopes, you need to write two inputs outside of the letter. It is a requirement that you print or write down the recipient’s address. 

Write the recipient’s address on the center bottom half of the envelope.

Print the recipient’s full name on the first line. On the following line, write their street address, city, state, and ZIP code in this order. You can use a second line if needed.

Afterward, you write your address on the envelope’s upper left corner as the return address. Even though the return address is not required, it is encouraged by the postal service.

If the postal employee fails to deliver your mail, it would be impossible for the post office to return the letter and fix the problem if you do not provide a return address.

Mark the stamp on the top right-hand corner of the envelope. The stamp is essential whether the item needs to be internationally or domestically delivered.

You can also write the address and names in capital letters. Do not use periods or commas. 

The post office will place a barcode on your envelope so remember to leave blank space around half an inch across the bottom.

When sending mail to a married couple, you can write each individual’s first and last name. You can also write both of their first names alphabetically and add one last name at the end if they share a surname.

When sending mail to a whole family, like an invitation, you can write their shared surname, such as “The Miller Family.” 

However, you should send out separate invitations to adults as a courtesy.

How to Write the Sender’s (Return) Address

Write your full name before the address on the envelope’s upper left corner. For the sender’s address, write down your full address as the return address after your name.

Input your street address, the city and state you reside in, and the ZIP code. You can write the full name of the state or its abbreviation.

Do You Have to Put a Return Address on an Envelope?

Technically, it is not required to include a return address on an envelope. However, the postal service encourages the sender to input one.

If your letter has a mistake, and the postal service cannot deliver your mail to the recipient’s address, there will be no way for the mail courier to bring the letter back to your home address.

Can I Put the Return Address on the Back of the Envelope?

It is customary that you put the return address on the top left corner of the envelope. Putting the address at the back of the envelope is also acceptable, right in the middle of the flap.

Where Do I Put the Return Address on an Envelope?

On the top corner of the left envelope is where you write the return address.

Sample Address

When sending a letter to a specific business, you should input the business’ name instead of writing it in the first line. 

In a particular order, write the company’s address in the following line, including their street address, city, state, and ZIP code. Use the third line if needed.

The sample address for a business letter is as follows:

Sydney Johnson, Creative Director

Smith & Co.

800 Ocean Avenue 10th Floor

Los Angeles, CA 90021

This follows the standard guidelines for regular and business addresses and if you need to send mail to a military address internationally. 

However, when sending mail to a military address, you do not employ traditional names for street addresses, cities, and states and full ZIP codes. You also have to include the recipient’s rank before their full name.

Instead of writing the city, you can use their abbreviation, such as APO or Air/Army Post Office, DPO or Diplomatic Post Office, and FPO or Fleet Post Office. Whichever applies to the intended recipient.

The state depends on the recipient’s residence’s duty station—AA for Armed Forces America, AE for Armed Forces Europe, and AP for Armed Forces Pacific. 

Sometimes, there is an extra four numbers in the ZIP code for delivery to military addresses.

Here is a sample format when sending a letter to a military address:

SGT Marcus Rosa

Unit 345 Box 21

APO AA 92136

If you are sending international mail, the address format is the same for regular and business recipients. 

The difference is that you have to put the country name at the end of the recipient’s address. Moreover, the ZIP code placement varies depending on the country you send the letter.

Here is a sample address format when sending to other countries:

Andrea Jimenez

Carrer de la Pau 15

46001 Valencia (Alicante)


If you are paying a bill or filing a paper for taxes, you may have to address an envelope to a post office or P.O. box. 

Companies send paper bills with a print of their P.O. box address on the part of the invoice that you can remove and mail back to the company with your payment.

If you do not have the return envelope, you can copy the address to your letter. 

When sending an envelope to a P.O. box, the name and address should be printed or written on the top left corner of the envelope.

On the half-bottom center of the envelope, write or print the recipient’s name and address. You may add the name of the company below the recipient’s name. 

If applicable, you should also add the department below the company name.

After the name, company, and department, input the P.O. box number. Do not use any punctuation. Finally, at the last line of the address, input the city, state, and ZIP code in the same order. 

The stamp is placed on the top right corner of the envelope.

Here are sample address formats for P.O. Boxes:

Sydney Johnson, Director of Accounting

Smith & Co.

Billing Department

PO Box 12345

Los Angeles, CA 90021

Smith & Co.

PO Box 12345

Los Angeles, CA 900021

How to Mail a Card

You need to add a stamp on the envelope to mail a card. Place the stamp on the upper right corner of the front of the envelope.

A few factors can determine what kind of stamp you need for your mail. 

These factors are the destination of your mail, the size and shape of your envelope, and when you want your mail delivered.

If you are sending your standard-size envelope around most of the areas in the U.S., you can use the Forever Stamp, which costs 55 cents. 

You can expect the delivery of your mail in 1 to 3 business days.

Sending a square-shaped package or irregular-shaped envelopes can cost you 70 cents for the stamp. 

As your package gets bigger or more complicated, and as the mail’s destination gets farther, the rate of the stamp gets higher.

You can get accurate information about postage and where to buy stamps at the U.S. Postal Service.

To mail your card, you can leave it in your mailbox, and the mail carrier will pick it up. If you are wary about the transaction speed and security, you can go to your local post office or drop the mail into any blue USPS box.

Do you need help locating the nearest post office to your home? Visit our website and browse through 31,330 retail post offices across the United States. 

How to Find a Mailing Address

You must input the accurate address of the recipient of the mail. If you are unsure of their place of residence and do not have their address on your contact list, there are still several ways to get this information.

You can directly ask the recipient for their address. You can never go wrong with doing this method, unless the mail you intend to send is a surprise.

If the letter is a surprise, you can check the map on your phone. If you have been to their home before, there may be a stored history.

Suppose you are sending mail to a family member or a friend. In that case, you can ask another family member or a mutual friend for the information.

You can also try to search the recipient’s address by their full name together with their city and state and the word “address.”

How to Find the “Zip+4” Code

If you need the extra four-number code of the recipient’s zip code, you can go to the United States Postal Service or USPS website and check for the code. 

Click “Find by Address” to look up a particular ZIP code. 

Fill in the required information, press “Find,” and you will see the ZIP+4 code you are looking for.

How Many Stamps Should You Use?

While it is not difficult to place a stamp on your envelope, what you need to consider is which specific stamp and how many stamps you should use.

If you are sending a 1oz standard envelope around the United States, you can use Forever Stamps since you can use them any time even if the price of future stamps changes.

Additional Ounce stamps are added for every ounce of extra weight. If you go over an ounce, it will cost you 15 cents for every additional one. You may also avail of Two-ounce stamps. 

You do not have to use Forever stamps if you send a postcard since it will cost you more. Postcards have their own stamps, which are cheaper.

Return Address Envelope Etiquette

It would be best to communicate all the details of your invitation to the recipient of the letter to avoid misunderstanding or miscommunication. 

If you follow the proper envelope etiquette, the letter’s recipient will have all the necessary information upfront.

Whose Name Goes on the Return Address?

Envelopes or cards’ return addresses should be the name and address of the person hosting the event or the one who manages the invitations.

Where Does the Return Address Go on the Envelope?

Return addresses are written or printed on the top left corner of the envelope or the back flap. 

What Is the Etiquette for Writing Letter Addresses?

Everything about a wedding must be perfect, including the wedding invitations. 

Details in the envelope should be written or printed in the full name. Do not write or print the street names, titles, and states in the abbreviation to avoid people from getting confused. 


Here are some tips when writing addresses to your letters correctly: 

  • Write the names and addresses clearly to ensure that the recipient receives the mail
  • Avoid writing or printing the details in cursive or other fancy fonts
  • When printing on light or white paper, use black or blue ink to write 
  • Do not reverse-print the details on black paper
  • It may not be a requirement, but it is a sign of respect to add a title or salutation to the recipient’s name
  • Use Mrs., Mr., or Ms., or when sending to a doctor, spell out the word “Doctor” and not the abbreviation “Dr.”
  • You may write “Attn:” if you are unsure of the name you are sending to a particular company. For example, “Attn: Marketing Director.” 
  • To mail a letter to the Internal Revenue Service, visit the IRS website. P.O. box addresses vary depending on the state you are residing