There is a right way to address a letter and a wrong way… See if you can spot all the mistakes on the letter above!

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve had a few letters sent back to us marked as ‘undelivered’, so we got on the phone to Royal Mail to try and figure out what was going on (we send a lot of letters!). And they sent us a handy booklet…

…I’ve just read the 54-page booklet on how to send letters through the Royal Mail. The rules are so that their automated systems will ‘read’ the address, and then print the correct orange barcode on the front of the envelope.

This is some of what I’ve learned…

  • Don’t include the County or any blank lines in the address.
  • The Town/City and Postcode should both be in CAPS.
  • No commas or full stops in the address.
  • Postage goes in the top right.
  • Always write a return address on the back and label it “Return Address”.
  • If sending a coloured envelope put the address on a white label.
  • Use a clear font, ideally one of their approved ones like Arial size 12 (or write clearly).

Find the right address every time

Use the Royal Mail lookup too, simply enter a postcode and click on the address and they’ll show you the correct address to use

I’m not going to link to the full 54-page booklet, or cover every niche rule (like having a 5mm white space around the address) as quite honestly, at the point they started talking about how to glue the envelope together… I lost the will to ever send a letter again!

If you want to know how to address a letter in more detail (in the UK and to most international destinations) you can read a simplified version here.

If your letter to a UK address looks like this then you’re doing it right

If it looks like the one at the top then you’re doing it wrong!

PS The 54-page booklet is available upon request!

PPS But, maybe don’t worry too much, an artist put the Royal Mail to the test by creating puzzles for them to solve so they could deliver the letter, dot-to-dot, crosswords, drawn maps and more! Read more and see some fun example here (click the left/right arrows on the top image to cycle through the postcards). It’s also a book called Envelopes. A Puzzling Journey Through the Royal Mail.

PPPS I now also know that, should you need to, you can’t ship “radioactive elements or of isotopes” to your aunt in the Ukraine. It’s just not allowed, I’m sorry.

Hope you have a lovely weekend and send lots of well-addressed postcards to everyone you know, and us!

Mike =)

PPPPS this is only for sending a letter within the UK, overseas rules are different…


PPPPPS Postman Pat theme tune added by popular demand: