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3 Tips for Addressing International Letters and Packages

February 4th, 2011

Properly addressed mail ensures that your letter or package will encounter the fastest delivery to its destination. And since international mail requires the help of the international host country’s postal carrier, proper addressing is even more important than ever. Stamps.com has put together this list of 3 tips for addressing international letters or packages.

Tip #1 – Make sure the delivery address is properly formatted
A properly addressed envelope or package will make all the difference in whether or not your mailpiece arrives at its destination on time, or if at all.   The USPS has the following suggestions for addressing your letter or package:

  • USPS suggests printing your delivery addresses in all UPPERCASE letters.
  • When possible, delivery addresses should have no more than five lines.
  • The last line of the delivery address should include only the full spelling of the country name – do not use abbreviations!
  • Foreign postal codes, should be placed on the line above the destination country.
  • Make sure you include a Sender’s Return Address in the top corner of the package.  Due to recent security concerns, many packages that don’t have return addresses are subjected to additional security screening and some packages are not delivered at all.
  • Print the delivery address information, using a pen or permanent marker, so the address will stay legible even in poor weather conditions. 
  • Names and delivery address info should be printed in English.  You may also include a foreign language spelling of the city, province, and country, but that would need to be in addition to the English spellings.   

Tip #2 – Include Card with Delivery Address and Package Contents Inside Package
While this is a common tip that you may have seen previously, the USPS states that it rarely is followed. Improperly wrapped packages can fall apart during the shipping process.  The USPS employees will try to pair together open boxes with its contents, but that can be like finding a needle in a haystack.  If the USPS finds a card that includes the contents of the package and delivery address, it is much easier to match the contents with the empty box and send the package on its way to its destination.

All package contents that are not matched along with misaddressed letters are sent to the USPS Mail Recovery Center in Atlanta for auction. 

Tip #3 – Natural Disaster? Check the USPS International Service Updates web page
This tip is a hidden gem for ecommerce sellers trying to avoid negative seller ratings.   The USPS has a web page called the International Service Updates that includes real-time info on the current mailing conditions worldwide.    

When political changes happen (like we’re seeing in Egypt) or natural disasters occur (such as the recent flooding in Australia), mail delivery can be disrupted and slowed down considerably.    This USPS web page provides info on the country and postal codes that are being affected by that natural disaster.

This International Service Updates page provides ecommerce sellers valuable info so you can communicate to your buyer their package will encounter delivery delays due to the natural disaster or for other reasons that are out of your control.

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