Whether you’re trying to get food delivered from Uber eats, providing an address to your parents, or trying to order a free SIM card, it’s important to understand how to input a US mailing address to ensure all packages, mail, and late night food cravings arrive at the right destination. Though it might seem obvious, US mailing addresses are a little different than those in your home country. Understanding each component needed for an accurate address will prevent delays or returns of your parcels, which is why we’ve outlined the requirements below for your reference.
US addresses are written based on most specific information to least specific information. Addresses consist of:
- The recipient’s first and last name
- Street number and name (address line 1)
- Apartment or unit and its number (address line 2)
- City, state and zip code (include all of this on one line with a comma between city and state, but not zip code)
We’ll share what each component of an address means so you know why you need it and where to find it.
Okay, this one is easy. Who will be receiving the package or delivery? Make sure to include first and last name. If you’re sending the package or delivery to more than one person, include both first and last names of the recipients.
The first address line should include the number of the house or building where you live, and the name of the street you live on. The second address line is only applicable if you live in an apartment or building with multiple units, in which case you should include the specific apartment, suite, or unit number.
Think of it this way: are there other apartments in the building? Are there individual mail boxes for your neighbors? If you live in a house at 123 First Street with your family, you’re the only inhabitants so the mail will likely make its way directly to you. However, if you live in an apartment at 123 First Street that has other units inside, you are not the only inhabitant so you’ll need to include “Apartment #1” or “Unit 3” depending on how your building identifies individual units for its inhabitants.
Another easy one! See, it’s not so hard. You’ll need to include the name of the town or city you’re living in.
On the same line as the city, you’ll want to include the name of state to which you’re addressing the letter or parcel. There are 50 states in the United States. You can spell out the entire state name or use its abbreviation, which you can find a list of here on the United States Posal Service (USPS) website: https://pe.usps.com/text/pub28/28apb.htm
Zip codes are really important in ensuring proper mail delivery. A US zip code is at minimum five digits long, with an optional four-digit add-on (that provides extra detail but is not required for delivery.) You can find the right zip code for your address using this link from the USPS website: https://tools.usps.com/zip-code-lookup.htm
And yes, the numbers do actually mean something. The first digit represents a part of the country, the second and third digits represent a region within that part of the country or in that section of states, and the fourth and fifth digits represent a group of delivery addresses within that region. The zip code provides the deliverer with that specific yet crucial information to ensure successful delivery; without it, you’ll risk non-delivery or even having your mail returned to you.
If you’re sending mail to a US address from an international location, don’t forget to list the US as the final line in your address.
A few more tips
- According to the USPS, “Automated mail processing machines read addresses on mailpieces from the bottom up and will first look for a city, state, and ZIP Code. Then the machines look for a delivery address. If the machines can’t find either line, then your mailpiece could be delayed or misrouted.” This is why it’s crucial to have every part of the address (and ensure each part is accurate).
- If you’re sending a letter or package, you can include a “return address” on the top left-hand corner of the parcel or envelope. A return address is simply the address of the person sending said letter or package. If there is an unsuccessful delivery, the post office or other delivery service may return the letter or package to your return address.