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Use of Alternative Addressing

General Information


Alternative addressing formats may be used as described in through .

Prohibited Use

Alternative addressing formats may not be used on:
  1. Express Mail pieces.
  2. Mail with any ancillary service endorsement under through .
  3. Periodicals intended to count as subscriber or requester copies to meet the applicable circulation standards.
  4. Mail addressed to an overseas military Post Office under .
  5. The following extra services:
    1. Registered Mail.
    2. Certified Mail.
    3. Insured mail.
    4. Return receipt.
    5. Restricted delivery.
    6. Return receipt for merchandise.
    7. Signature Confirmation.
    8. Collect on delivery (COD).


Mail with an occupant or an exceptional address format is delivered as addressed and is not forwarded. Such mail is treated as undeliverable only when the address is incorrect or incomplete or when the mail cannot be delivered for another reason related solely to the address (e.g., a vacant building), as shown in . Periodicals publishers are notified when mailpieces with the occupant or exceptional address formats are undeliverable for solely address-related reasons. Mail with a simplified address format is distributed to all deliveries on a route or to Post Office boxholders. Undeliverable mail with any alternative addressing format is disposed of as waste under .

Simplified Address

Use—Rural and Highway Contract Routes, P.O. Boxholders

The simplified address format ("Postal Customer") may be used on mail only when complete distribution is made to each family (household residence) or boxholder on a rural or highway contract route at any Post Office or to all Post Office boxholders at a Post Office without city carrier service. The following also applies:
  1. Mailers may use a more specific address, such as "Rural Route Boxholder," for mail intended to all boxholders on a rural route, followed by the name of the Post Office and state. The word "Local," instead of the Post Office and state name, is optional; however the Postal Service recommends using the Post Office and state name for mail not dropshipped directly to a destination delivery unit.
  2. Mailers may use "Residential Customer" to indicate that delivery is desired to residential addresses only.
  3. See for congressional mail.

Use—City Routes, P.O. Boxholders

When distribution is to be made to each active possible delivery on city carrier routes or to each Post Office boxholder at a Post Office with city carrier service, the addressee's name; mailing address; and city, state, and ZIP Code may be omitted from the address only on pieces mailed as official matter by agencies of the federal government (including mail with the congressional frank prepared under ); any state, county, or municipal government; and the governments of the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and any U.S. territory or possession listed in . The requirement for distribution to each stop or Post Office boxholder may be modified for congressional mail under . The following also applies:
  1. Only these forms of address may be used instead of the addressee's name and address:
    1. "Postal Customer" (delivery desired at all addresses).
    2. "Residential Customer" (delivery desired at residential addresses only).
    3. "Business Customer" (delivery desired at business addresses only).
  2. At least 10 days before the mailing date, the mailer must submit a sample mailpiece and the following information to the entry office postmaster (in response, the mailer receives a mailing schedule that must be followed):
    1. Proposed mailing date.
    2. Total number of pieces being mailed.
    3. Method of postage payment.
    4. Names of all city delivery Post Offices to receive any of the mailing and the number of pieces for each.

Mail Preparation

Mailers must prepare letter-size pieces in trays. Mailers must prepare flat-size pieces and irregular parcels in carrier route bundles in sacks or directly on pallets. Bundles, sacks, or trays may be placed on 3-digit, 5-digit, or 5-digit scheme pallets under . In addition to the required simplified address, each bundle must bear a facing slip showing the desired distribution (for example, 5-digit ZIP Code and route number) or the top piece of each bundle must include the route number and ZIP Code. Mailers may obtain delivery statistics for routes as described in . The following also applies:
  1. All pieces must be in the same processing category.
  2. Mailers must mark pieces according to , , , or .
  3. Mailers must prepare all pieces for the same carrier route in bundles of 50, so far as practicable. If the pieces are bundled in quantities other than 50, mailers must show the actual number of pieces on the facing slip or on the top piece of the bundle.
  4. If selective distribution is desired, the mailer must include enough pieces to cover the routes selected.


Postage must be paid with permit imprint, meter indicia, precanceled stamps, or other authorized methods not requiring cancellation, according to the standards for the class of mail.

Address Designation

Only the address designations in or may be used. Other designations (e.g., "Food Buyer," "Voter") are not permitted.

Occupant Address

Use of Occupant Address

The occupant address format ("Postal Customer" or "Occupant," "Householder," or "Resident") may be used to address mail selectively to a rural route and box number, a specific street number, or a specific Post Office box number without using the addressee's name:

WASHINGTON DC 20008-5036

Exceptional Address

Use of Exceptional Address

The exceptional address format ("Jane Doe or Current Resident" or "Jane Doe or Current Occupant") may be used on any mail except mail types listed in . The word "Current" is optional. The order of the words may be reversed (e.g., "Current Resident or Jane Doe" rather than "Jane Doe or Current Resident").


The exceptional address format must be placed in the address block, with the following exceptions:
  1. If all the current resident/occupant information cannot be placed on the first or second line of the address, the exceptional address format may be placed no more than 3/4 inch above the address block.
  2. If an optional endorsement line (OEL) is used, the mailer may elect to place the exceptional address format above the OEL. In these cases, the exceptional address format must be at least 1/2 inch, but not more than 3/4 inch, above the optional endorsement line. If a window envelope is used with an OEL, the exceptional address information may be printed either in the area on the insert showing through the window or on the envelope above the window.
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