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How to Write an Apartment Address: 7 Steps

By: Justin Chaplin
January 15, 2020

If you brush up on your knowledge of the United States Postal Service, you may remember Benjamin Franklin was appointed as our first Postmaster General in 1775. 

It would seem that nearly 250 years of letter writing would make us experts in formatting our addresses, right? Unfortunately, the USPS would say otherwise.

It turns out we've all been doing it all wrong for centuries. But is it really that important? 

Well, you may not get your mail if it’s not correct. You may also have issues filing a claim for package theft if the apartment address format isn’t correct.

Here's how to write a perfectly-formatted apartment address like a pro. Make sure your mail gets delivered!

Before you start writing your apartment address, make sure to use your legal name. If you're in a new apartment building, your mail and packages might not arrive if you're using a nickname that isn't associated with your address. 

Keep in mind the USPS also requires a valid ID to pick up your mail from the post office.

Did you recently change your address? It's also wise to use your legal name. That way, they’ll send any forwarded mail to the correct location. You can use this change of address checklist to make sure you’re ready to go.

Write the Address on One Line

If you talk with USPS, they'll tell you that using multiple address lines for your apartment address format is incorrect. Your name goes on the top line. 

Then, your entire street number, apartment address, and apartment number go on the second line. You can use the third line for your city, state, and ZIP code.

Remember to add a comma after the street address when you address a letter to an apartment. 

For example:

Jane Doe
123 Main St, Building E, Apartment 2
New York, NY 11111

What the Second Line of an Address Field is Really For

We'll talk about what to do if your address line is too long in a moment. Most people don't use the second line for its intended purposes. 

The USPS says people should reserve the second line for special designators like "care of" or special handling instructions. 

Here's an example:

Jane Doe
123 Main St, Building E, Apartment 2
c/o John Doe
New York, NY 11111

When to Use a Second Line in Your Apartment Address

Chances are, you'll need an additional line on an envelope if your name, street name, or building name is long and tedious to write. So what do you do if the second line is supposed to be for a particular designation?

The USPS has lots of examples of how to format a long address. However, the general standard is to wrap an address line with similar components. 

For example, your name should be all on one line and your street name on another. 

Need more space? Then you should drop down to an additional line and put your building or apartment number there. 

The last line always should always include your city, state, and ZIP code.

You can also use approved abbreviations to shorten up your address. For example, the correct apartment abbreviation is "APT" 

Here's how to use the apartment address format:

Jane Doe
123 Main St
BLDG E, APT 2
New York, NY 11111

Use Secondary Address Unit Designators

The abbreviations of BLDG for building or APT for apartment are called secondary address designators. You may think they're unnecessary, or you can skip formatting them correctly. However, doing so can delay your mail and packages without the right designation. 

Here are some of the most common designators for the US postal service: 

  • Apartment - APT
  • Building - BLDG
  • Floor - FL
  • Suite - STE
  • Room - RM
  • Department - DEPT
  • Unit - Unit

In the case of "Unit," there is no abbreviation. However, it still serves as a critical address designator.

Try a Number Sign

Some apartment renters use a number sign (#) in their address. This is also acceptable, but there is a caveat. 

The USPS requires you to add spaces between the pound sign and the secondary number. Here's an example: 

Jane Doe
123 Main St, BLDG E, APT # 2
New York, NY 11111

The pound sign comes in handy when writing a suite number for your condo or apartment.

Mind the Details

Remember, your address works the same way when writing your return mailing address. 

Follow the instructions above to format your return address for your apartment correctly. It could mean the difference between getting a bounced letter back and wondering why no one ever responded to that housewarming invitation.

Congrats!

Now that you know how to write an apartment address, you can finally impress the USPS. They'll love your new-found knowledge of that second apartment address line and everything in between. 

Or they’ll just deliver your mail to you in a timely fashion. That’s reason enough to master the art of the apartment address format!

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