Addressing a package: How to address a box correctly

Woman holding addressed FedEx label

Addressing a package sounds like a simple task – however, even the most minor mistake can lead to headaches down the road. Incorrectly addressing a package can cause delays since the shipping carrier will frequently return it to the sender. This is especially tough when you're shipping something that requires timely delivery. We'll help you understand how to address a shipment correctly, plus provide several address examples.

How to address a package:

There are a few essential elements to include: your recipient's full name, the delivery address, city, state (when shipping within the U.S.), and zip code. From there, the formatting may change depending on your shipment's destination.

Are you sending a package to someone who doesn't usually live at that address? Address it to the name of the business or a person who lives at the address. On the second line, write C/O (care of) or ATTN (attention) followed by the recipient’s name. Then, finish the rest of the address as usual.


Domestic House Address:
Addressing a package to a house within the U.S. is straightforward. Always include a directional with the street address when applicable.

  1. Ms. Fiona Williams

  2. 2119 S Jackson St.

  3. Chicago, IL 60609


Business Address:
When sending a package to someone at their place of business, write the company’s name on the first line followed by the recipient's name on the second. Alongside your recipient's name, add their department, if you know it.

  1. Creative Agency NY

  2. ATTN Mr. John James

  3. 1271 Sixth Ave.

  4. New York, NY 10020


International Address:
International address formats vary from country to country, so research online to determine the exact formatting for the country of your package’s destination.  The destination country will always be the last line on the address. Write the destination country in all capital letters and in English.

  1. Ms. Susan Holmes

  2. 4 Princeton

  3. Little Whinging

  4. Surrey KT18 5DA

  5. UNITED KINGDOM

 

Apartment Address:
An apartment address follows the standard U.S. address format with the addition of a unit number. Place the apartment number next to the street address. If you're tight on space, you can also write in the apartment number in a line below the street address and above the city.

  1. Ms. Kelley Gellar

  2. 904 Bedford St Apt 24

  3. New York NY  10014

Additional tips for addressing a package

Man applying label to FedEx box

Once you know how to format your address, follow these steps to help ensure your package’s quick arrival.

 

  • Print a shipping label when possible. Computers typically scan packages and analyze the address to determine where they are being sent. They have an easier time with printed labels than handwritten ones, which could help speed up your delivery process. You can design and print your shipping labels with FedEx.

  • Include a return address. Use your full name and one of the address formats laid out above. In case something goes wrong with the delivery, the shipping carrier should return it to you.
Man applying label to FedEx box
  • Use correct placement. Write the recipient's address prominently on the largest side, and be sure to include the return address in the upper left corner.  If you are using a shipping label, place it on the largest side.

  • Write with a pen that won't smudge. A black Sharpie is an excellent option if you’re writing directly on a package but use a pen when filling out a label. Always avoid using a pencil as it can easily rub off or fade in transit.

  • Keep handwriting legible. Write your information as clearly as possible. It should be easily readable from an arm's length away.

  • Don't punctuate. Punctuation can throw off the computers that scan packages. Leave out periods, commas, and symbols.

  • Double-check before sending. Look everything over once more before you ship, just to make sure everything is correct, legible and properly formatted.

What happens when a shipping address is formatted incorrectly?

If you ship a package with incorrect information, you may be able to fix it if you act quickly. Contact the shipping carrier and ask about updating the address. If the package is already in the delivery network, it may be too late. If a package fails to be delivered, the shipping carrier should send it back to the return address or the shipper’s address. If this happens, rewrite the address making sure every detail is correct, and try again.

 

Once you've figured out the best way to address your package, head to your nearest FedEx store to ship. FedEx offers various shipping options, including FedEx Overnight, FedEx 2Day®, FedEx Ground, and FedEx Express Saver. Be sure to also check out FedEx Delivery Manager® to track, reroute, place a temporary hold, sign for a package and more.