US Street Address question
August 15, 2009 4:04 PM   Subscribe

If you have a unit letter in your street address, is it proper for it to go after the street number, or after the street name?

What is the correct way to include a unit letter? Is it 125B Main Street or is it 125 Main Street Unit B? Or does it not really matter one way or the other? I'm moving and want to pick the correct one as I change everything. The lease does say 125B Main Street, but I feel like it is more appropriate to put Unit B. The USPS zip code lookup doesn't seem to like 125B that much.

The apartment contains two units A and B that share the same front door (numbered 125) and mail slot.

posted by gatorbiddy to Grab Bag (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Normally, you would write it after the street name. If you go to this USPS Zip code lookup page, it should let you know what the post office considers to be your correct/official address. The address should also be on your lease, if you're a renter.
posted by paulg at 4:10 PM on August 15, 2009

That's my question. The USPS says: "The address you provided is not recognized by the US Postal Service as an address we serve. Mail sent to this address may be returned." when I put in 125B Main Street. But the lease says 125B Main Street. So the two are at odds with each other.
posted by gatorbiddy at 4:13 PM on August 15, 2009

The USPS Domestic Mail Manual says that the preferred format is an all-caps, sans-serif font, at least 8 points in size, with the following structure:

posted by RichardP at 4:23 PM on August 15, 2009

The lease probably wasn't checked by the USPS.
posted by ocherdraco at 4:25 PM on August 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

Oops, that should have been:


I accidentally put the ZIP+4 on its own line.
posted by RichardP at 4:26 PM on August 15, 2009

Either will work but USPS prefers the long way.
posted by rokusan at 4:26 PM on August 15, 2009

USPS says it goes after the street name.
posted by Emanuel at 4:33 PM on August 15, 2009

Go with the address recognized by the post office. It wouldn't hurt to call your property management company, and have them correct the address in their database. Sorry I missed those details in your question.
posted by paulg at 4:35 PM on August 15, 2009

On my lease, my apartment name is spelled 123B 3rd Avenue; according to the post office I live at 123 3rd Avenue, Apartment B. That being said, I've successfully received mail both ways--but then, my mailman is awesome.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:40 PM on August 15, 2009

Thanks everyone, guess I'll go with the long version.
posted by gatorbiddy at 4:49 PM on August 15, 2009

I once lived near the ocean in San Francisco and I preferred using 101A Sutro Heights. I always got my mail.
posted by VC Drake at 5:12 PM on August 15, 2009

The short version is what you would find in phone books and other directory-type materials. It has some problems in modern data-entry systems, such as the B being mistaken by human or computer readers as an 8. There are similar problems, which the USPS system does not solve, with addresses like 12½, which is the address on a lot of mail delivered to our number, which is 121.

I would imagine that the likelihood of your mail being delivered to 125B remains pretty high. At the point of the spear, so to speak, the letter carrier will themselves sort the mail for their route.

When I lived at a 225½ address -- a coach house -- I used different strategies including "225A" and "225 REAR". The ½ stuff only got delivered properly when printed as a fraction glyph (rare). Stuff printed as "225 1/2" or "2251/2" (frighteningly common, that) would get delivered to the house in front, which was my dad's work (a non-profit). "225A" also tended not to be recognized, but would go in front. "225 REAR" was actually rejected by our stickler of a postmaster. So when I followed what the USPS directions were, there remained a high probability of mail ending up at the wrong place. I didn't get it.
posted by dhartung at 5:23 PM on August 15, 2009

oh HELL with preview
posted by dhartung at 5:24 PM on August 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

Unless your landlord is the postmaster general, I'd ignore what is written on your lease and use the format that the post office recommends. It's annoying that the P.O. is not showing more flexibility here. That seems unusual, and you could complain to your local postmaster. But in the mean time, if you want to get your mail I'd say that what's written on your lease is completely irrelevant.
posted by alms at 5:50 PM on August 15, 2009

I live in a duplex where there are just A and B. My USPS formatted address is 1234A Main St. (No, not really that address, but that's how it's formatted).
posted by ishotjr at 6:08 PM on August 15, 2009

The apartment contains two units A and B that share the same front door (numbered 125) and mail slot.

Have you tried Unit B or Apt B?

It might be that the problem is that the USPS doesn't recognize two units at that address, and as far as they're concerned you're just

125 Main St
San Francisco CA 12345

and the person in the other unit is just

Someone Else
125 Main St
San Francisco CA 12345
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:10 PM on August 15, 2009

BLAH BLAH BLAH, BL 00000-0000

(That is, if you're fancy enough to know your +4 zip. Which I, personally, am not.)

Or, what everybody else said. I guess to add some "flavor" to this answer, my former employers lived at 100 Blah St. #1, and I think it would be neat to use 100 Blah St. #B. The USPS doesn't really care if you use "Unit" or "Apt" as long as the sub-mailbox is at the end, so I think #B would be swell. But I'm kind of weird.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 6:13 PM on August 15, 2009

The USPS says: "The address you provided is not recognized by the US Postal Service as an address we serve. Mail sent to this address may be returned."

It seems to do this for any address that has a letter in the number, not just your address. Providing the +4 of the ZIP requires they identify the actual house, and it prints the message you gave if it can't, and doesn't provide the +4. Honestly, I think the message is more for the cases where you provide #152 and the numbering only goes up to 150, not where you provide 150A and there is a house 150.
posted by smackfu at 7:23 PM on August 15, 2009

Honestly, it depends on how dense your postal carrier is. If they are a jerk, they can send almost anything back. If they are nice, you can get almost anything delivered, as long as you put enough info on the envelope to get it in their mailbag.

(This is one of the inconsistancies in the mailing address scheme- normally, it goes from most "granular" to least.

City, State, Zip, Country

In the case of appt numbers, it goes slightly backwards. I presume there's a reason for

Building Unit
City, State, Zip

Rather than

City, State, Zip

but I can't see what it is.)
posted by gjc at 6:39 AM on August 16, 2009

It's also possible that they're rejecting the address because the unit is illegal. I once lived in a fourplex that was actually only recognized as a duplex. People I know who work for Canada Post say sometimes the City tells them to only accept mail for the number and not for any suites -- or that all the mail has to just go to the main mail box. YMMV.
posted by acoutu at 8:20 AM on August 16, 2009

My address uses a letter to indicate the unit as there are two condos at this street number. The post office lists us as 123 Main St Unit A, but the number on our house is 123A. We get mail at both versions of the address. We are currently petitioning the city to let us have 121 Main St, because that number is unused and we find the A/B thing confuses a lot of people (Google maps too).
posted by Dragonness at 8:02 PM on August 16, 2009

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