Tue. Aug 9th, 2022
how-to-write-an-apartment-address

An apartment address is a tricky thing. You can spend your whole life writing them one way and still have your doubts. Have you been doing it wrong all along?

This is where the United States Postal Service (USPS) swoops in to rescue mailers from confusion. When it comes to mail, their recommendations are as good as gold.

green apartment mailboxes with apartment numbers

The USPS apartment address format

USPS asks senders to write an apartment address on three lines like you would for many other standard addresses. The apartment number goes on the second address line:

  1. Recipient’s legal name
  2. Street number, street name, apartment number
  3. City, state, ZIP code

For example, the address format for an apartment in Tampa, FL would look like this:

JIM HAWKINS

1099 TREASURE ST APT 600

TAMPA FL 33602

If you can’t comfortably squeeze all that information onto the second line, you can write the apartment number on the third line. Then, move the city, state, and ZIP code to a new fourth line, like this:

JIM HAWKINS

1099 TREASURE ST

APT 600

TAMPA FL 33602

You might need to clarify which apartment building the unit is located in. Add the building number or letter like this:

JIM HAWKINS

1099 TREASURE ST BLDG E APT 600

TAMPA FL 33602

That second line is getting crowded. Remember, you can move any secondary information down to a new line if you can’t fit it all on one line. That’s the building and apartment information in the example above.

You may also need to address someone who’s part of a company based in an apartment, room, suite, or another type of rental home unit. In that case, you’d add the company name to its own second line, then shift the last two lines down.

JIM HAWKINS

SEAWARD OUTFITTERS

1099 TREASURE ST APT 600

TAMPA FL 33602

outdoor apartment mailbox with address labels

General apartment address guidelines

Wondering why these addresses are written in all caps? Capital letters give postal sorting machines a near guarantee of recognizing an address. That’s especially true when they’re printed, but it applies to handwritten addresses too.

Using caps lock isn’t the only recommendation USPS has. Try to stick to these guidelines next time you write an apartment address:

  • Say goodbye to most punctuation: This might come as a surprise if you’ve spent your entire life adding commas and periods to addresses, but punctuation doesn’t do the post office’s sorting machines any favors.
  • Stick to the left side: When you write an address, the first letters of each line should align with each other. Avoid centering each line when you can.
  • Read it from a distance: Hold your envelope or package at arm’s length. You should be able to read the apartment address easily.
  • (Don’t) return to sender: Make sure to add a return address to the top left corner. Use the same format if the return address is also an apartment address.
  • Stick with dark ink on light paper: Black ink on white paper is best. If you want to add a little color, make sure there’s plenty of contrast between the two. Can you still read it at arm’s length?
  • Pencils are out: USPS recommends using a pen or permanent marker for handwritten apartment addresses.
  • Boring fonts are best: As tempting as that regal, ornate font may be, simple fonts like Helvetica or Times New Roman are more sorter-friendly. The same goes for handwritten addresses — the simpler, the better.
  • Abbreviations are your friend: The abbreviation Apt for apartment is preferred. That also applies to words like street or road (use St or Rd). And remember, you don’t need to add periods after abbreviations.

What should be abbreviated?

Some of the most common USPS-approved abbreviations are:

  • APT (apartment)
  • BLDG (building)
  • FL (floor)
  • RM (room)
  • STE (suite)

The word unit isn’t abbreviated, so you’d just write UNIT or Unit. If you use a pound sign (#) instead of a designator like the ones above, add a space before and after the pound sign.

As always, capital letters are preferred. If you opt for the alternative, only capitalize the first letter of the abbreviation, and again, don’t use punctuation.

  • Apartment number 600 should look like this: APT 600
  • You could also write this: Apt 600
  • Or this: # 600 (remember the extra space)

Do I really need to use capital letters and no abbreviations?

You don’t need to capitalize and abbreviate. Personal mail guidelines are more relaxed than business mail rules, so the post office isn’t going to send you angry letters if you ignore their suggestions. But they might send your mail back to you.

That said, capitalizing and skipping punctuation still reduces the risk of a mishap, which means a more seamless experience for your mail and the postal employees who handle it. If you decide to skip these guidelines, a letter to an apartment in Pittsburgh, PA might be addressed like this:

Jane Bennet

1795 Pemberly Drive, Apt. 227

Pittsburgh, PA 15212

This envelope or package will probably still reach its destination. But you’re taking a small risk that a sorting machine reads it the wrong way.

postal delivery truck delivering mail to an apartment address

Should I include the ZIP+4 code?

If you know the complete nine-digit ZIP code or want to look it up, adding it to the apartment address never hurts. Add it if you have it, but the standard five-digit ZIP code is usually fine too.

A full ZIP code, complete with ZIP+4 code would be formatted like this:

JANE BENNET

1795 PEMBERLEY DR APT 227

PITTSBURGH PA 15212-9713

The ZIP+4 code specifies a driver’s exact delivery route. Adding it to the final line can reduce the chance of mishaps en route, and it might even shave a day or two off your delivery time.

Apartment addresses are flexible

So you sent mail to an apartment address but didn’t follow one of the recommended methods above. Don’t sweat it. As long as you include the essential elements of the complete address, the postal service will almost certainly get your mail where it needs to go.

But next time you need to mail a last-minute birthday card, try to follow USPS guidelines as closely as you can. It could make the difference between “happy birthday” and “happy belated birthday.”

The post How to Write an Apartment Address appeared first on Redfin | Real Estate Tips for Home Buying, Selling & More.

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