Postal Addressing Standards

Mail that is prepared properly will get processed and delivered the fastest. All of these tips help the Postal Service's computer character readers identify and recognize addresses.

  • Type or machine print all address information. Handwritten addresses slow down delivery because these pieces must be processed manually.
  • Make sure print is clear and sharp.
  • Ensure address characters do not touch or overlap.
  • Maintain a uniform left margin.
  • Use all capital letters.
  • Omit all punctuation except for the hyphen in the ZIP+4 code.
  • Black ink on a white background is best. Do not use a red background as meter postage is printed with red ink.
  • When using window envelopes, make sure the complete address is always visible.

A complete accurate address is essential. An incorrect address can cause a 2-3 day delay in delivery, and can result in your mail piece being returned to you.

  • Always use complete address information, such as the suffixes Ave, Blvd, and St.
  • Always use the correct directional (i.e. N, S, NE, etc.)
  • Always include locators such as apartment or suite numbers.
  • Always use the two-letter state abbreviations.
  • Use standard street abbreviations.
  • Do not place an attention line below the city, state and ZIP Code line.
  • Do not include telephone numbers in the address block. These can be mistaken for ZIP Codes and can cause your mail to be misdirected or delayed.
  • Don't let an incorrect ZIP Code delay delivery of your mail. Check the USPS ZIP Code look-up link, or call Mail Services for assistance.
  • When both a post office box number and a street address are used, make sure that the place where you want the mail delivered appears on the line immediately above the city, state, and ZIP Code line. Make sure that the ZIP Code corresponds to that address. Normally, a P. O. Box does not have the same ZIP Code as a street address.

The delivery address should be located within the following boundaries on your mail:

  • Sides of rectangle - 1/2" from the right and left edge
  • Bottom of rectangle - 5/8" up from the bottom edge
  • Top of rectangle - 2 3/4 " up from the bottom edge

Make sure no portion of the return address appears in this area.

International Addressing Standards:

The complete delivery address must be typed or legibly written (with ink) in English, using all upper case Roman letters and Arabic numerals, and should appear lengthwise on only one side of the package. The last line of the address must include only the complete country name (no abbreviations) written in uppercase letters. Foreign postal codes (numeric and/or alpha), if used, should be placed on the line immediately above the country name.