Return address while in between addresses?
January 21, 2013 8:21 AM   Subscribe

Return address quandary: I've left my old apartment but I haven't moved into a new one yet. I'm forwarding my mail to a POB in the meanwhile. When continuing official correspondence, what should I put down as my return address?

When putting my old address, I feel somewhat like a fraud because I'm not there anymore. And I don't want to use the POB address, because I'm changing it soon (and will be forwarding mail from my old address to the new POB). Is there any way I can somehow add a note under my old address that I no longer live there and mail is being forwarded? (would be great to hear there's a Latin word/abbreviation for this!)

posted by mirileh to Grab Bag (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I would use the PO Box -- the most current address is most likely to get your mail to you.

(When I last moved, I had some mail that just didn't get forwarded like it was supposed to, including a paycheck that had to get re-issued for a $30 charge. I'm pretty sure it was delivered to my old address and my ex-housemates tossed it.)
posted by DoubleLune at 8:31 AM on January 21, 2013

1.5.3 Required Use of Return Addresses
The sender’s domestic return address must appear legibly on:
[list of things that don't include regular First Class mail]
-Mailing Standards of the United States Postal Service, Elements of Addressing.

First off, assuming you're in the US, you aren't required to put a return address.

But more importantly,
1.5.1 Purpose for Return Address
The return address tells the USPS where the sender of a mailpiece wants it returned if the piece cannot be delivered.

So, again assuming you're in the US, it's not fraud to put your old address, if that's where you want it sent (and then subsequently forwarded from).
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 8:34 AM on January 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Oy, I might have mixed up my terms: I'm talking about the address I put as my own at the top of every letter I write (isn't that called the return address?), and not the one on the back of the envelope. Sorry if that wasn't clear!

About the address - I don't want to misrepresent myself to the institute I'm writing the letter to.
posted by mirileh at 8:55 AM on January 21, 2013

Best answer: I'm talking about the address I put as my own at the top of every letter I write (isn't that called the return address?)

Ha. I supposed it would be :)

So USPS regs notwithstanding, I think it's entirely reasonable to put the address that will get the mail to you.

For example, over a certain number of years, my aunt lived in Brazil (knowing it would be temporary, but for an uncertain length of time), would often spend a month in Colorado, and would occasionally spend time with her parents in Wisconsin. Rather than putting the actual current address on her mail, she just always put my grandparents' address, as it was the best way to get mail to her.

Sure, she didn't live there, but it was the way she knew the mail would sooner or later end up in her hands.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 9:14 AM on January 21, 2013

Best answer: For your letterhead, I would ask myself a couple of questions:
1, When they reply to my letter, where do I want them to send the reply? (If they send it to the old address, are you sure that it will get forwarded? Housemates can be unreliable. The post office will forward first class mail up to a year but sometimes deliver it to the old address instead)
2. If the someone at the institution doesn't update the records and uses this address in the future, which, if either, is more likely to get to you?
3. Is there something else about the address that is significant? For example, would they care if you were at your old address vs. a new one? For example if you are apply for government job, living within the jurisdiction might be significant. If not but you think an actual address looks better than a PO Box, I would not consider using the old address misleading. (In the olden days of printed letterhead, people often continued to use old stock for a while as long as using the old address wouldn't cause return letters to get lost.)
posted by metahawk at 3:09 PM on January 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I think of that as the address in your letterhead, even if it isn't strictly letterhead. I wouldn't worry too much about mis-representing yourself unless there's something unique about your former address (ie. 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue). Otherwise it really isn't their business. Technically, it sounds like you're currently homeless. Maybe you're also functionally homeless right now. That's also not your business. The address is there so they know where to direct replies. There's nothing wrong with continuing to use your old address if mail addressed to you there will reach you. Or, you can use a format like:

Mirileh Q Metafilter
47 Debevoise Street #4523
New York, NY 11111

Where 47 Debevoise is the address of your post office and 4523 is your box.
posted by amandabee at 3:15 PM on January 21, 2013

Response by poster: thanks everyone! going to go with amandabee's suggestion and mash my old address and POB together.
posted by mirileh at 6:34 AM on January 22, 2013

Response by poster: metahawk, I love the the olden days anecdote of using old stock printed letterhead! it has me and my old address feeling legitimate (hey it's just my old stock computer template ;-))
posted by mirileh at 6:39 AM on January 22, 2013

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