USPS Address Format
January 20, 2023
Do you need help with the USPS address format? Knowing how to format the address properly is a must if you want your package delivered without a problem. Errors with the address format can cause confusion and delays.
This article serves as a guide on address formatting when sending a package via USPS. The article also discusses the standardized delivery address line and last line.
Correctly addressing your mail is one of the most important and final steps before you take it to the post office. Read on as we tackle how to write addresses in USPS packages or mail.
If you are looking for a local post office to send your mail, visit FindPostOffice.org. We provide information on all 31,330 post offices in the United States.
Introduction: Addressing Your Mail
A well-written address can help your mail arrive more quickly and efficiently.
What Is USPS Address Standardization?
A standardized address includes all required address elements and uses the Postal Service’s abbreviations or extracted from the current ZIP+4 file. Address standardization is performed through address normalization using validation software.
It is essential to note that address standardization does not guarantee the validity of addresses. Address standardization is the first step in validating an address by correcting its format.
Once standardized, an address will contain all the necessary information in its proper order. All the address components will be spelled correctly according to USPS guidelines.
Street names may be abbreviated in the approved United States Postal Service (USPS) or applicable international address format. After normalization, the address can be validated.
A standardized address is validated by comparing it against an authoritative database of known addresses to see if they match.
If the address is found in the database, it is valid. Address validation, as the name implies, is the process of validating an address.
What Is CASS Address Standardization?
CASS stands for the Coding Accuracy Support System, which standardizes address data. The USPS developed this certification program for standardization and address verification.
Address validation or verification, also known as address lookup, compares addresses with an authoritative database to verify their accuracy.
A CASS-certified software can help your business standardize mailing lists, update outdated addresses, and verify that addresses are complete and valid.
Address standardization is similar to CASS but with some key differences.
Address standardization ensures that an address follows USPS guidelines. CASS certification guarantees that a particular service has standardized addresses according to USPS guidelines.
Standardized Delivery Address Line and Last Line
The delivery address line and the last line of the addresses should be standardized and complete. The ZIP+4 file validates the delivery address line, while the City State file validates the last line.
A complete address contains all necessary elements to match current ZIP+4 and City State files. Mail requiring a complete address will be sent at automation rates.
A standardized address must include all the required elements and use standard abbreviations of the United States Postal Service.
General Principles: How Do I Write My Address With USPS?
To ensure that your mailpieces are delivered to the correct locations, include these elements in every delivery address:
- Name or attention line
- Delivery address
- City, state, ZIP code
The destination address is the first thing an automated mail processing machine reads from a mail. Then, the machine searches for the delivery address.
If the machine cannot find either address, your mailpiece could be delayed or misrouted.
Note that any information below the delivery address line, such as a logo or slogan, could confuse machines and misdirect your mail.
Here are some guidelines you can follow:
- Always place the address and stamp on the same side of a letter or package.
- Addresses on letters should parallel the envelope’s longest side.
- Print in capital letters.
- Do not use any punctuation.
- Use simple or common types of fonts (left side justified).
- Use a text size of 10 points.
- Place a space between the city and the state.
- Place two spaces between the state and ZIP code.
- Use black ink on white or light-colored paper.
- Avoid white printing on a black background.
- Leave at least ⅛ inch of space around the address.
Sometimes parts of an address on a mail can be obscured. Covered addresses are due to the design of a parcel or the way it is placed in a private mailbox.
- Make sure you get all the important information when printing labels.
To ensure that your labels are read correctly by mail processing machines, apply them straight onto the envelope.
Order of Presentation
In the U.S., addresses are written in minor-to-major order. A person’s name (the smallest or most specific item) is usually at the top. The country name (the largest or most general item) is at the bottom.
This order is used for all addresses but may differ in other countries like Iran and Russia.
We usually leave out the country name when sending domestic mail in the U.S. The country name is written at the end of each listing in all capital letters for all other countries.
Postal sorting machines in the USA and many other countries sort by country name. The country name list should be well-known and standardized for each country.
International mail from the USA to any destination can be sorted and separated at a single location in that country. When sending mail from the US to another nation, we can format addresses as required by that foreign country.
The cost of postage for letters depends mainly on weight and size. You can weigh your letter at home using a kitchen scale, travel to a post office for a postal scale, or use the self-service kiosk.
You can mail one ounce of items for $0.60 using a Forever stamp, the current cost of mailing First-Class Mail parcels over one ounce. The postage for a flat envelope weighing one ounce starts at $1.20.
The rates given are as of December 2022. You can check https://www.usps.com/ship/letters.htm for updates on rates.
Suppose you use Priority or Priority Express mail to send a large envelope. You can print your postage and pay for it online with the Click-N-Ship service.
You can also purchase additional ounce stamps if your parcel weighs more than one ounce.
Write the Sender’s Address and Delivery Address
When sending mail, write your address in the envelope’s upper left corner and your delivery address in the bottom center.
Postcards have different formats, where you must write the delivery address in the provided space.
When you write your home address (“return” address), include these on separate lines:
- Your complete name or company name
- Your suite, apartment, or house number
- Your complete street address
- Your city, state, and ZIP+4 code
When you write your delivery address (“recipient” address), include these on separate lines:
- Recipient’s complete name or company name
- Their suite or apartment number
- Their complete street address (Some addresses have numeric street numbers, so ensure to print that out.)
- Their city, state, and ZIP+4 code
You can only use one address at a time, either your street address or post office box, but not both.
When an address includes a direction, such as NW for Northwest, be careful to include all of the main streets, as there may be more than one.
Apartment or Suite Number
The correct apartment or suite number ensures that a package is delivered to the proper location.
City, State, and Zip Code
It is essential to visit www.usps.com or call 1-800-ASK-USPS to ensure that you spell the city name correctly or get the correct ZIP code. Using the correct ZIP code helps to efficiently and accurately route your mail.
Special U.S. Addresses
Some U.S. addresses follow other formats, and here are some of them.
The delivery address line for all military mail sent to APO/FPO addresses must include the appropriate type of address and PO box number.
APO (Army Post Office) is used when referring to Army or Air Force installations. FPO (Fleet Post Office) is used with Navy installations. DPO is short for Diplomatic Post Office.
Many countries have specific mailing address regulations connected to their diplomatic and military addresses:
- When mailing something to an APO, FPO, or DPO address in another country, do not include the base camp city or country name. Including the city or country name keeps your mail out of foreign mail networks, so the post office cannot forward it to other countries.
- Include the unit and box numbers if the recipient is assigned.
SEARGENT JOHN DOE
UNIT 1010100 BOX 3433
DPO AA 1111
Some Puerto Rico addresses include a second line with an urbanization or community code. Addresses use an urbanization code abbreviated to URB, usually written on four lines:
MR. CARLITO GOMEZ
URB PLUMB BRANCH
320 STR LAJAS
ANGELES PR 00835-4343
U.S. Virgin Islands
The format of addresses in the Virgin Islands is similar to that used by other U.S. states and territories. The correct abbreviation for this territory is “VI.”
MRS. JANE DOE
RR 2 BOX 3329
SUNNY HILL VI 00961-8913
The U.S. postal service has guidelines for addressing letters. How people handle, their email has changed dramatically over the past 20 to 30 years. Humans have been replaced by computers or Optical Character Readers (OCRs).
It is crucial to check the format and block location of your address on an envelope before mailing it so that you know it will arrive at its destination.
Online Shipping Labels
Using the Click-N-Ship service, you can buy and print Priority Mail Express or Priority Mail postage online. The US Postal Service offers free tracking for Priority Mail shipments within the United States.
For Global Express Guaranteed, Priority Mail Express International, Priority Mail International, and First-Class Package International Service, the Click-N-Ship website can purchase international labels with postage. You can arrange a pickup online if you want to pick up the package.
Addressing a Package
On a package, write the address parallel to its longest edge and along the largest side. When you ship to an address, be sure it is written in the following format:
- The recipient’s name
- The recipient’s business’ name
- The delivery or street address, including the apartment or suite number
- Designated city, state, and ZIP code
- Country of origin
The return and delivery address must be written on the same side of the envelope. Ensure your address is written parallel to the longest side of the envelope.
Be sure to type or print clearly, so the address is easy to read from a distance, and remember not to use periods or commas.
Address Format Tips
Here are some tips you can apply when addressing your envelope or letter.
- Make sure you print the addresses neatly in capital letters, preferably with a permanent marker.
- Use no commas or periods, and always include the ZIP+4 code.
- Ensure an inch of space is at the bottom right corner for barcode placement.
- The rural route base record must be used when missing box number information.
What Is an Example of a Postal Address?
[CITY, STATE, ZIP CODE]
MR JOHN DOE
123 MAIN ST HILLS
HUMPHREY TX 34687
How Do You Standardize (or Normalize) Address Records?
Address standardization, also known as address normalization, is an easy process for most addresses. Address standardization and address normalization are two terms that describe the same process.
There are two main ways to standardize addresses. You can use the software or do it manually.
1. Address Standardization Software
Address normalization software will make standardizing addresses easier whether your business has to deal with one address or millions. The software will automatically correct any address with a wrong format.
Manually processing this many addresses could take you several days. Fortunately, many address data verification software tools are available at no cost.
2. Manually or DIY
You can also standardize addresses on your own. Here are tips for addressing a letter or package mailed in the US.
- Get the address you would like to standardize.
- Check all spelling of city and street names. Confirm that all address information for the recipient is correct.
- Correct any incorrectly spelled words. According to the postal service, there is only one correct version of each abbreviation.
In the address, the suffix should conform to standard abbreviations listed in the ZIP+4 file. You can look up an online list of street or state abbreviations online.
Priority Mail Express
You must use a USPS-produced address label to get your Priority Mail Express package delivered by the post office.
Place labels for extra services above the recipient’s address, to the right of your return address, or on the left side of the postage.
When Sending International Mail
The country line must be clear enough for the post office to read. You should use the English name of the country instead of its local name.
The city line must conform to the format required by postal authorities in the destination country. Refrain from translating the more specific elements of this address.
Never put a person’s name or other notations below the city or country line because this can interfere with the sorting mechanism and slow delivery.
Do not refer to other countries’ postal codes as ZIP codes. Also, do not refer to other countries’ administrative subdivisions as states.
What About Casing and Capitalization?
Uppercase text is not required to standardize addresses with the US Postal Service. The text should be printed clearly and meet the postal addressing standards. However, uppercase lettering in an address format is still valid.
Upper and Lower Case
U.S., Canadian and British postal authorities recommend writing the city line of a letter in all uppercase. In the UK, capital letters are used for the city line and postcode.
The remainder of an address can be in mixed case or uppercase, depending on its context within that line.
The rules governing punctuation in city lines vary from country to country. The only punctuation required by the delivery address block is a hyphen in the ZIP+4 Code.
Do you need help standardizing a USPS address for an international parcel or package? Visit FindPostOffice.org and inquire at your local post office.
- 2 Postal Addressing Standards
- Delivery Address
- How to send a letter or postcard domestically
- Addressing your mail
- Postal Addressing Standard