Return Addresses

Sometimes Mandatory...Always Wise!

Although putting your return address on your outgoing mail isn't always required, sometimes it is - and it can save your mail.

Last year, most of the mail that ended up in the mail recovery centers was sent there because it couldn't be delivered to its addressees OR returned to its senders.

Did you know that the reason most of that mail couldn't be returned is simply that it had no return address?

There are several important reasons to use a return address. For some kinds of mail (like regular First-Class letters), it simply tells the Postal Service where to return the piece if it can't be delivered.

The return address is also used with ancillary service endorsements - such as "return service requested." It says where a piece is to be returned and where the mailer is prepared to pay return postage fees if they apply.

When a piece is endorsed for an ancillary service, the return address must appear in the upper left corner of the address side of the piece.

In some cases, the return address must include the sender's name. And any specifics - like a department, name, apartment number, or room number - must be included so the piece can be returned to the person who sent it.

When It's Required
A domestic return address is required on:

  • Mail of any class, when return and/or address notification service is requested.
  • Official mail.
  • Mail paid with pre-canceled stamps.
  • Mail with a company permit imprint.
  • Priority mail.
  • Periodicals in envelopes or wrappers.
  • All Standard Mail.
  • Registered mail.
  • Insured mail.
  • Collect on delivery (COD) mail.
  • Certified mail if return receipt is requested.
  • Express mail if return receipt is requested.

Although return addresses are required in these cases, it is a good idea to put return addresses on all your mail. Then, any piece that can't be delivered can be returned when it's appropriate.

So use return addresses. Your mail is important to us - as it is to you - and return addresses help us make sure we treat it right.