Holiday happenings

Naughty & nice guide to addressing packages

By Jonathan Castillo

A photo of a woman writing shipping address with the USPS logo overlayed.

Making sure your holiday packages and mail land on the right doorstep

The holiday season can bring challenges. Shipping and mailing shouldn’t be one of them.

Customers who ship and mail with the United States Postal Service® (USPS) can rest assured that they are using a reliable organization that values each package and mailpiece that passes through its network.

USPS prepares for the holidays early, leveraging investments in its people, infrastructure, transportation, and technology — made possible by the Delivering for America plan – to ensure the smooth, timely delivery of seasonal mail and packages.

One thing customers can do to help is to address their items properly.

Let’s start with the recipient’s address.

This is the central most important step, which should help you remember: the recipient’s address goes in the center.

  • The recipient’s complete name goes on the first line.
  • On the second line, indicate the Post Office Box (PO BOX) or street address, for example: 123 Anyplace Avenue. Additional information, such as an apartment, suite, or room number, can be added on the same line.
  • Directional words such as north, east, south, west may be required. Abbreviations are acceptable.
  • You can use the shortened form for street, road, drive, avenue, etc.; but writing the words out is encouraged.
  • On the following line, be sure to add the city, state, and ZIP Code, ideally the ZIP+4 Code. The Look Up a ZIP Code tool on will easily locate the proper ZIP+4 Code.

That’s it. The recipient’s address is complete. But we’re not done.

Next is the return address.

It is a requirement to include the sender’s address or return address.

  • The return address should go in the northwest corner of the letter or package, above and to the left of the recipient’s address.
  • It’s very important to write everything legibly. While the Postal Service uses highly sophisticated scanners that can decipher most handwriting, writing neatly will help prevent your mailpiece from becoming undelivered due to an illegible address.

Avoid red pen or ink that smears. If possible, type and print your labels.

Now that you’ve addressed your package, all you need is postage.

Check out our “Master shipping with the U.S. Postal Service for holiday joy” article for more information on how to ship with USPS.