Address (geography)

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An address is a collection of information, presented in a mostly fixed format, used for describing the location of a building, apartment, or other structure or a plot of land, generally using political boundaries and street names as references, along with other identifiers such as house or apartment numbers. Some addresses also contain special codes to aid routing of mail and packages, such as a ZIP code.


Addresses have several functions:

  1. Providing a means of physically locating a building, especially in a city where there are many buildings and streets,
  2. Identifying buildings as the end points of a postal system,
  3. A social function: someone's address can have a profound effect on their social standing,
  4. As parameters in statistics collection, especially in census-taking or the insurance industry.


Until the advent of modern postal systems, most houses and buildings were not numbered. Streets may have been named for landmarks, such as a city gate or market, or for the professions of their inhabitants. In many cities in Asia, most minor streets were never named. This is still the case today in much of Japan. When postal systems were introduced, it became necessary to number buildings to aid in mail delivery.

Current addressing schemes

House numbering or naming

In most English-speaking countries the standard is an alternating numbering scheme progressing in one direction along a street, with odd numbers on one side (usually west or south) and even numbers on the other (usually north or east), although there is significant variation on this basic pattern. Cities in North America, particularly those planned on a grid plan, often incorporate block numbers, quadrants (explained below), and cardinal directions into their street numbers, so that in many such cities, addresses roughly follow a Cartesian coordinate system. Some other cities around the world have their own schemes.

Although house numbering is the principal identification scheme in many parts of the world, it is also common for houses in the United Kingdom and Ireland to be identified by name, rather than number, especially in small towns. In these cases, the street name will usually follow the house name. A fictional example of such an address might read: "Smith Cottage, Frog Lane, Barchester, Barsetshire, BA9 9BA" or "Dunroamin, Emo, Co. Laois, Ireland".


In cities with Cartesian-coordinate-based addressing systems, the streets that form the north-south and east-west dividing lines constitute the x and y axes of a Cartesian coordinate plane and thus divide the city into quadrants. The quadrants are typically identified in the street names, although the manner of doing so varies from city to city. For example, in one city, all streets in the northeast quadrant may have "NE" prefixed or suffixed to their street names, while in another, the intersection of North Calvert Street and East 27th Street can be only in the northeast quadrant.

Street-naming conventions

Street names may follow a variety of themes. In many North American cities, such as, San Francisco USA, and Edmonton, Canada, streets are simply numbered sequentially across the street grid. Washington, D.C. has its numbered streets running north-south and lettered or alphabetically named streets running east-west, while diagonal avenues are typically named after states. In Salt Lake City, and many other Utah cities, streets are in a large grid and are numbered in increments of 100 based on their location relative to the center of the city in blocks. A similar system is in use in Detroit with the Mile Road System. In some housing developments in North America, streets may all follow the same theme (for example, bird species), or start with the same letter. Streets in Continental Europe and Latin America are usually named after famous people or auspicious dates.

Postal codes

Postal codes are a relatively recent development in addressing, designed to speed the sorting and processing of mail by assigning unique numeric or alphanumeric codes to each geographical locality.

Postal alternatives to physical addresses

For privacy and other purposes, postal services have made it possible to receive mail without revealing one's physical address or even having a fixed physical address. Examples are post office boxes and poste restante (general delivery).

Address format

In most of the world, addresses are written in order from most specific to general information, starting with the addressee and ending with the largest geographical unit. For example[1]:

Example Format
Mr. G. A. Payne
30 Commercial Rd.
Company Name
City Area/District
Postal Code

In English-speaking countries, the postal code usually comes last. In much of Europe, the code precedes the town name, thus: "1010 Lausanne". Often, the country code is still placed in front of the postal code: "CH-1010 Lausanne". However, this is no longer demanded by postal authorities.[2]

If a house number is provided, it is written on the same line as the street name; a house name is written on the previous line. When addresses are written inline, line breaks are replaced by commas. Conventions on the placing of house numbers differ: either before or after the street name. Similarly, there are differences in the placement of postal codes: in the UK, they are written on a separate line at the end of the address; in the United States and Canada, they often appear immediately after the state or province, on the same line; in Austria, Belgium, Germany and The Netherlands they appear before the city, on the same line.

East Asian addressing systems, including Chinese, Japanese and Korean addressing systems, when written in their native scripts, use the opposite ordering, starting with the province/prefecture, ending with the addressee. However both have the same order as western countries when written in the Latin alphabet. The Hungarian system also goes from large to small units, except the name of the addressee is put into the first line.

The Universal Postal Convention strongly recommends the following:

"The addressee's address shall be worded in a precise and complete manner. It shall be written very legibly in roman letters and arabic numerals. If other letters and numerals are used in the country of destination, it shall be recommended that the address be given also in these letters and numerals. The name of the place of destination and the name of the country of destination shall be written in capital letters together with the correct postcode number or delivery zone number, if any. The name of the country of destination shall be written preferably in the language of the country of origin. To avoid any difficulty in the countries of transit, it is desirable for the name of the country of destination to be added in an internationally known language. Administrations may recommend that, on items addressed to countries where the recommended position of the postcode is in front of the name of the location of destination, the postcode should be preceded by the EN ISO 3166–1 Alpha 2 country code followed by a hyphen. This shall in no way detract from the requirement for the name of the destination country to be printed in full."[3]

Mailing address format by country


In Argentina, an address must be mailed this way:

Format Example
Streetname, number
Complements, Neighbourhood (if needed)
Postal code, Municipality
Luis Escala
Piedras 623
Piso 2, depto 4
C1070AAM, Capital Federal

The postal code has been changed from a 4 digits format to a 8 digits format, which is showed at the example. The new format adds a district or province letter code at the beginning that allows to identify it. As the system has been recently changed the 4 digits format still can be found or used, in that case is needed to add an explicit reference regarding the province or district intended to reach.

Old Format (4d) New Format (8d)
Luis Escala
French 392
Banfield (1828)
Lomas de Zamora, Pcia Buenos Aires
Luis Escala
French 392
B1828HKH, Lomas de Zamora


Australian address are based on the same system used in the UK and USA.

If the location is a flat or unit, then the street number should be preceded by "Flat" or "Unit" and the flat or unit number, e.g. "Flat 4  201 Broadway Ave" or "Unit 2  203 Broadway Ave". Another common way of expressing a flat or unit number is to write the flat or unit number and then the number of the street address, separated by a slash (/), e.g. "4/201 Broadway Ave" or "2/203 Broadway Ave". The street number and name line are replaced by "PO Box", "GPO Box" or "Reply Paid" and a number when applicable, e.g. "PO Box 123" or "Reply Paid 123". GPO Boxes are always in the state or territory capital city.

Some large organisations such as universities do not use a street name or suburb, although the postcode is generally the same as the surrounding suburb.

The suburb, city and state/territory, should all be written in capital or block letters without punctuation. The state or territory is typically abbreviated to the conventional two or three letter form (i.e. ACT, NSW, NT, QLD, SA, TAS, VIC & WA). Handwritten mail should use the postcode boxes on the envelope if they are present.

Note that "suburb" in Australia refers to a geographical subdivision of a metropolitan area. This portion of the address does not usually correspond to any political division, but is generally used by Australians for identifying parts of cities. If a suburb is part of a larger city you can put the city's name on a new line after the suburb with the state and postcode. These are nevertheless quite different from British postal towns (see below).

Examples: John Citizen
15 Sample St
­ John Smith
123 Imaginary Ave
PERTH  WA  6014


The address can be written in Dutch or in French. When unsure of the recipient's language, it can be better to write it in both languages.


In Brazil, an address must be mailed this way:

Format Name
Streetname, number, complements (if exists)
Municipality - State
Postal code


Canada uses a similar system to the United States (below), but there are key differences.

  • Only Canada Post can deliver to a P.O. Box. For this reason, the recipient may choose to insert their physical (also known as street) address as line two, expanding the complete address to four lines. Providing both allows a sender to ship via the Canada Post or via a private carrier. Some locations have special drop-off points for couriers, such as a local convenience store. This is most common in small communities of around 30 people.
  • Mail will be delivered to the line immediately above the city, province, postal code line.
  • The province and type of street, e.g. Lane, is often abbreviated as shown in the PO standard.
  • Do not use periods or commas. Cardinal directions like North, North West, etc. can be abbreviated in either English or French, and appear after the street name. Ordinal numbered streets (e.g. 6th, 2nd) can be written in either English or French.
  • The postal code is used in the same way as the US Zip code. Postal codes come in a letter-number-letter-space-number-letter-number format, for example: A1A 1A1. There should be two spaces between the province abbreviation and the postal code.
  • If sending a parcel from outside Canada, the word "CANADA" must be placed at the very bottom.
  • See Canada Post's Addressing Guidelines for accurate, up-to-date information.


Chilean urban addresses require only the street name, house number, apartment number (if necessary) and municipality; however, more information is frequently included, such as neighbourhood, city, region, and postal code. All postal codes have eight digits, the first three indicating the municipality, the next five identifying a block or in large and scarcely populated areas a quadrant within the municipal territory.

The territories of most of the larger cities comprise several adjacent municipalities, so it is important to mention it.

Format Example
Recipient name
Street and number
Apartment (if needed)
Postal code (rarely used)
City (not needed)
Sr. Rodrigo Domínguez
Av. Bellavista N° 185
Dep. 609

Smaller cities often consist of only one municipality with several unofficial neighbourhoods that are usually mentioned even for official addressing purposes.

Format Example
Recipient name
Street and number, Apartment number
Sra. Isidora Retamal
Nelson N° 10, Dep. 415
Cerro Barón

Several large and mostly rural municipalities contain more than one small town, in such cases, the recipient address must mention either the town, the postal code or both.

Format Example
Recipient name
Street and number
Town or village
Postal code
Inversiones Aldunate y Cía. S.A.
Los Aromos N° 12185

People's Republic of China

The postal address in the People's Republic of China, when written in Chinese characters (preferably Simplified Chinese characters), has the order of the largest unit first, ending with the addressee, i.e. country, province, municipality, town, street or road, building name, floor/level, house/flat number, company name, addressee. This is the most common language used when posting within the mainland China.

P.R. China 528400

P.R. China 528400
Guangdong Province, Zhongshan City, East District, Hengda Garden, 7th Building, Room 702
To: Mr Xiaoming Zhang
Country, Postal Code
Province, City, District, Building Name, House Number

The whole address is commonly written as a string of characters with no particular format regarding where a new line would start, similar to one long sentence, with any new lines appearing depending on the space available on the envelope. Generally, the country is omitted when posting within PRC.

Hong Kong, which became a China in 1997, maintains its own postal system and has a slightly different address format. See the Hong Kong section of this article for detail.

However, when written in English, the format is similar to English-speaking countries, with smallest unit first, ending in the largest.[4]

Example Format
Mr. Zhimin Li
62 Renmin lu, Qingdao Shi
civil status, first name and family name
thoroughfare name and number, city
postcode and province
Mrs. Jiaying Chen
6 Xujiazhai, Huaqiaocun
Xinzhong Xiang, Tiantai Xian
civil status, first name and family name
locality name and number, village
county’s subdivision and county city
postcode and province
Postal Science Research and Planning Academy
65 Jiancaicheng Xilu, Haidian Qu
100096 BEIJING
company name
thoroughfare name and number, district
postcode and province

Czech Republic

Common format in Czech Republic:

Format Company
Name or Department
Street name + number
Postal code + Town

Postal code is in format "### ##" (i.e. 158 00 = Prague 58) or "CZ-### ##".


Format Example
Name or Department
Street name + number
Postal code + Town
Arvoisa Puhemies
Mannerheimintie 30
FIN-00102 Eduskunta

If person's name is before the company's name, the person is considered to be the recipient. For example in case of letter, nobody else in the company is allowed to open it but the person the letter is addressed to. If company's name is before the person's name, then company is the recipient and any person in the company is allowed to open the letter, though the name implies preferred person to handle the letter.

Finland uses a five-digit postal number. Note that some of the larger companies and organizations has own postal number.


In Germany, the address is generally formatted as follows:

Example Format
Firma ABC
Hauptstr. 5
01234 Musterstadt

Addressee (Natural person/Organization)
More detailed description of addressee (optional)
Streetname + number
Postal code + town
Country (if other than Germany)

The postal code is unique, and always consists of five numbers.

Hong Kong

The official languages of Hong Kong are English and Chinese. For a domestic mail within Hong Kong, the address may be written entirely in either English or Chinese. For an overseas mail going out from Hong Kong, the address may be written in the language of the destination country, provided that the city name and the country name are in English [5]. However, for an overseas mail from Hong Kong to China, Macau, Taiwan or Singapore, the address may be written entirely in Chinese. While traditional Chinese characters are commonly used in Hong Kong, simplified Chinese characters are also understood by Hong Kong's post officers.

An address written in English should begin with the smallest unit and end with the largest unit, as in the following example for a domestic mail within Hong Kong.

Example Format
Mr. Jackie CHAN
Flat 25, 12/F, Acacia Building
150 Kennedy Road
Name of addressee (with surname in CAPITAL LETTERS)
Flat number, Floor number, Name of building
Street number and street name
Name of village, town or district (in CAPITAL LETTERS)
"HONG KONG" for Hong Kong Island / "KOWLOON" for Kowloon Peninsula / "N.T." for the New Territories

Note that this format is very different from what is used in the United States. First, the term "flat" is used instead of "apartment", as in the United Kingdom, Ireland and most Commonwealth countries. Second, the flat number and floor number is written before the name of the building.

An address written in Chinese should begin with the largest unit and end with the smallest unit, as in the following example for a domestic mail within Hong Kong. Traditional Chinese characters are used in this example.

Example Format
灣仔堅尼地道 105 號
雅佳大廈 12 樓 25 室
"香港" for Hong Kong Island / "九龍" for Kowloon Peninsula / "新界" for the New Territories
[Name of village, town or district] [Street name and street number]
[Name of building] [Floor number] [Flat number]
[Name of addressee]

For mails to Hong Kong from overseas, "Hong Kong" should be added at the end of an address in English, and "香港" should be added at the beginning of an address in Chinese. Although Hong Kong has become a China in 1997, the postal services of Hong Kong are still handled by Hongkong Post, which is entirely separate from China Post. It is not recommended to include "China" in the address of any mail to Hong Kong, or the mail would have to go through China Post before being transferred to Hongkong Post, and this would cause unnecessary delay in delivery.

Hong Kong does not use postal codes , and is not included in the postal code system of China.


In Hungarian mail addresses, the town name precedes the street address.

Format[6] Addressee (name or company name)
City or town
Street name and number or P.O.Box number
Postal code


Format Example
Streetname + number
Postal code + town
Jón Jónsson
Bárðagata 5
860 Hvolsvöllur


An internal address, in Italy, must be composed of three to five rows. Up to six rows can be used if the mail is sent abroad:

Format Addressee's name and surname
Optional - Additional information about the addressee
Optional - Additional information about the building (building number, floor, apartment number)
Street name and number (via/viale/corso/piazza...) or CASELLA POSTALE (P.O.Box number)
Postcode Town (Province abbreviation)
Foreign State name

Line ordering may not be changed.


In Indonesia, the address format is like this:

Format Name
Street name, number
Building name (if needed)
Municipality, Postal Code

Generally "Jalan" or "Jl." means 'street' and should go before the street name, e.g. Jalan Cemara.


Name of Province + Name of Town
Street Name + Alley Name/Number + Building Number + Floor Number + House Number + Name of Addressee
Postal Code


Japanese addressing system

Republic of Korea

Addresses in South Korea


Addresses in Malaysia

Format Example
Company name (if any)
Building name (if any)
Number Street address
Postcode Town/city
Zack Ahmad

44, Jalan Bunga,
Pasir Puteh,
31650 Ipoh,
Perak Darul Ridzuan.

New Zealand

New Zealand Post recommends the following format:

Example Format
Mr J Smith
ABC Limited

888 Queen Street
East End
Waikikamukau 0000
Personal Name
Company Name
Floor number
Flat number/House number Street address or
Suburb or RD Number or PO Box lobby name (if not the same as the town/city)
Town/City Postcode
COUNTRY (if other than New Zealand)

Note that no space or full stops exists between P and O in PO Box or R and D in RD. One should put only one space between the town/city and the postcode.

Note for Auckland and Wellington metropolitan areas, you should use the city name (i.e. Auckland, North Shore, Waitakere, Manukau, Wellington, Lower Hutt, Upper Hutt, Porirua), not the metropoitan area name. For example:

Incorrect Correct
Great North Road
Auckland 0610
Great North Road
Waitakere 0610

One oddity about this system is the Wellington Mail Centre, which is addressed as Wellington Mail Centre, Lower Hutt 5045 - not Wellington as many people would think.


In the Netherlands, the address is generally formatted as follows:

Example Format
Thomas van der Landen

Boschdijk 1092
(Businesspark name etc.)

Streetname + number
Postal code + town
&Country - Optional

The postal code is unique, and always consists of four numbers followed by a space and then 2 capital letters. TNT Post, the descendant of the Dutch state-run PTT, recommends putting two spaces between postal code and town, and also printing the town in capital letters.

It is also possible to replace the street name line with a PO box (e.g. "Postbus 1200") or freepost number (e.g. "Antwoordnummer 150"), which have their own postal code.


In Norway, the address is generally formatted as follows:

Format Name
(Businesspark name etc.)
Streetname + number

Postal code + town

The postal code is unique, and is a four-digit number. It is also possible to replace the street name line with a PO box (e.g. Postboks 250).


In Poland, the address is generally formatted as follows::

Format Example
Surname & name
or Company Name & Department
ul. Streetname + House (building) number / Flat number
or al. Boulevardname + House (building) number / Flat number
or pl. Squarename + House (building) number / Flat number
or Little city name + House number
Postal code + town
Country "(optional)"
Jan Kowalski

ul. Polna 24 / 15

00-630 Warszawa

ul. = Str. (Street)
al. = Blvd. (Boulevard)
pl. = Sqr. (Square)
The postal code is unique, and it always consists with five figures (in format "XX-XXX"), i.e. 00-486 (00=Warsaw); 20-486 (20=Lublin), etc.

Russia, Belarus

Some neighborhoods may be planned in such a way that some, or most, apartment buildings don't face a named street. In this case, a number of expedients can be used. In older neighborhoods, such as the historical center of Moscow, a "main" building may have the same number as one or more "subsidiary" buildings accessible via driveways behind the main building. They will be addressed as e.g. ul. Lenina, d. 123, i.e. 123 Lenin St) An address may also cover one or more subsidiary buildings behind the main building, addressed as ul. Lenina, d. 123, str. 2 (123 Lenin St, unit 2, where str. (abbreviation for ѝтроение, stroenie) means a '(subsidiary) building'. In newer areas with more regular street plans, apartment buildings that don't face a named street may be designated with Cyrillic letters appended to the building number, e.g. 123-а, 123-б, etc., in alphabetic order.

In some microraion neighborhoods, with few, if any, buildings facing named streets, the name (or more likely number of the microraion (planned housing development)) would be used instead of the street name; thus someone may live at 4-th microrayon, d. 123, kv. 56, i.e. 123 - 4th Microraion, apt. 56.


SingPost recommends the following format for addresses:[7][8]

Example Format
Ms. Tan Bee Soo
16 Sandilands Road
Name of addressee
Street number and name
Name of town + Postcode
Mr. M. Rajendran
Blk 35 Mandalay Road
# 13–37 Mandalay Towers
Name of addressee
Block number and street name
Floor – Apartment number + Building name
Name of town + Postcode

Generally, the last line SINGAPORE is omitted when posting within the country. Addresses are usually written in the English language.


Format Company
Name or Department
Street name + number
Postal code + Town

Slovenia uses a four-digit postal number.


In Sweden, the address is generally formatted as follows:

Format Name
(Businesspark name, c/o-address etc.)
Streetname + number
Postal code + TOWN

The postal code is unique, and is always a five-digit number divided into groups of three and two (e.g. 414 73). Town (or village) name should be written in CAPITAL letters. It is also possible to replace the street name line with a PO box (e.g. Box 51).

United Kingdom

The minimum required format for an address is:

Format Addressee's Name
Number + Street Name

This is the format preferred by Royal Mail. The locality is required only where its absence would be ambiguous. Post towns rarely correspond to political boundaries and often group places that for all other purposes are quite separate. The Royal Mail asks that postal towns be written in block capitals, but in practice they rarely are. Sometimes the local authority or postal county is included after the post town. The postcode should be on its own line and should be the last line unless the country is also included.

United States

Example Format
Jeremy Martinson
455 Larkspur Dr.
California Springs, CA 92926
Name of addressee
Street number and name
Name of town + State abbreviation + ZIP code
This is the most commonly encountered address format.
Name of addressee
Street number and name
Name of town + State abbreviation + ZIP code
This is the government-recommended format.

Format Variations:

  • Only the United States Postal Service (USPS) can deliver to a P.O. Box. For this reason the recipient may choose to insert their physical (aka street) address as line two, expanding the complete address to four lines. Providing both allows a sender to ship via the USPS or via a private carrier.
  • Mail will be delivered to the line immediately above the city, state, zip code line.
  • The state and type of street, e.g. Lane, is often abbreviated as shown in the PO standard.
  • The USPS discourages the use of periods and commas.

See also


  1. Addressing your mail: Guidelines, Royal Mail
  2. Formatting an international address: International Addressing, Universal Posting Union
  3. Universal Postal Convention, Article 12, RL123. In: Universal Postal Union – Letter Post Manual, page D.5
  4. Universal Postal Union: China Guide
  5. Post Office Guide (Section 6) of Hongkong Post
  6. Mail address schemes. Hungarian Post Office
  7. SingPost Webpage
  8. Universal Postal Union: Singapore Guide

External links