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Can You Put the Return Address on the Back of an Envelope?

You can put a return address on the back of an envelope. However, the United States Postal Service (USPS) advises against doing so. If you place the return address on the back flap, there is a chance that sorting machines will read it as the delivery address instead. 

Keep reading to learn more about why addressing the back of an envelope isn’t always the best idea. 

Envelope with Generic Name and Address on the Back

Why You Shouldn’t Put Your Return Address on the Back of an Envelope

Suppose you have a long return address or want to ensure that your recipient knows what your return address is. In that case, you may feel tempted to place it on the back of the envelope instead of the typical upper-left-hand corner. 

However, the return address on the envelope is not just for your recipient; it is for the USPS. The true purpose of the return address on the envelope is to inform the USPS who to send the mail back to if they cannot deliver it. 

The USPS sees 425.3 million pieces of mail every day. To sort this, they use machines that read the information placed on the card to send it to the correct location. That is why it is essential to follow the guidelines provided by the USPS; the machine will target specific areas to get certain information. The information will not get processed if it is in the wrong place. 

Suppose the return address is in the center of the back of the envelope. In that case, it could be mistaken for the delivery address. If this happens, your mail will be sent back to you before your recipient even gets it.

If you wish to notify your recipient on how to get in contact with you, there are other ways to inform them. You could include the address in your letter to them or place it on the inside of the envelope. Please keep reading to find other ways to add the return address to your mail and whether you need to include it. 

How to Address RSVP Return Envelopes

You may be concerned about your return address because you want your recipient to send something back to you. In this case, include the return address as usual on the envelope and pre-addressed RSVP return envelopes in the letter you send them. 

RSVP return envelopes should include the mailing information of whoever is in charge of the RSVPs or guest list. If this is you, for example, it should include your name and address in the center of the envelope. 

It is good to include it pre-addressed, so you ensure that all your RSVPs go to the same and correct location. It also makes things easier for both your guests and the post office. 

You should also consider pre-stamping these envelopes as a courtesy to your recipients, so they do not have to find or pay for postage. You should not put anything in the return address area of these envelopes, as this will be unique to each guest. 

Whose Name Goes on the Return Address for Save the Date or Wedding Invitation?

If you send a save the date or wedding invitation, you may not know who to put on the return envelope, especially if you and your fiance have different addresses. 

The name of the person in charge of organizing the guest list should be used for the return address for invitations. When planning an event like a wedding, decide early on who will be in charge of RSVPs; this could be a wedding planner, a family member, or the bride or groom.

It may feel funny putting your parents’ names on the return envelope if they are in charge of the guest list, for example, but it is for the best. This would ensure that all the RSVPs get to the people who need that information the most. If you are worried about confusing your guests, you can add a note in the invitation about who is in charge of RSVPs for your event. 

If you plan on including a return envelope, or a note with a return address inside of your envelope, you may wonder if you even need to have one on the outside. Keep reading to learn more about the technicalities of return addresses.

Related Can You Mail Something With a Different Return Address?

Do You Have To Put a Return Address on Mail?

Running the risk of mistaking your return address for the delivery address may cause you to wonder if it is even worth the trouble of adding a return address. Do you have to include one if you don’t want to?

Most types of mail require a return address. However, it is not necessary to include a return address on unofficial domestic mail. You may still want to include a return address, though, just in case the mail cannot be delivered to the intended recipient.

According to USPS, a return address must be present and readable whenever return services are requested. This makes sense, but it is also necessary on other types of mail, even if you do not need anything returned.

A return address is necessary on any mail that requires extra payment, including:

  • Priority mail
  • USPS Retail Ground
  • Registered mail
  • Insured mail
  • Mail paid with precanceled stamps

Other mail items that require return addresses include:

  • Official mail
  • Mail that requires customs forms
  • Mail with a company imprint
  • Periodicals

It is generally good to include a return address, especially if the mail is essential. This ensures that your mail will not be lost forever if it cannot be delivered for some reason. 

Do You Have To Put a Return Address on a Package?

Woman working from home writing address on a package

While some letters or paper mail do not require a return address, this is not the case for packages. 

All package services with the United States Postal Service require senders to include a return address on the package. This should go on the upper left-hand corner of the package. 

It can be easy to address a square package, but sometimes shipping is not that simple. Here I will explain some of the ways you can make sure you label your parcel correctly. 

How Do You Put a Return Address on a Package?

For all types of mail, regardless of the shape, the USPS requires return addresses to go in the upper left corner of the mail. This may be harder to configure on a package, but the general concept still applies.

To put a return address on a package, offset the return address upwards and to the left of the delivery address. It is easiest to ensure correct placement by printing a shipping label with designated spaces for both addresses. 

Do not try to scribble the return address in some corner of the package, especially if it is an odd shape. You will have the most success in effectively placing your return address by using an official shipping label. Not only does this ensure that your information is clear and legible, but you can pay for your package when you fill out and print your shipping label online

Suppose you do not print out an official label or receive one from your post office. In that case, it can still be possible to hand-write your delivery and return information. Ensure the delivery address is in large print in the middle of the package. Then write the return address in smaller print upwards and to the left from the delivery address, on the same side of the package. 


Not all mail requires a return address, but if you need to include one for postal reasons, make sure to include it in the top left corner of your package or letter on the same side as the delivery address. 

If you want to make it clear to your recipient where to send a response, you can include this inside the letter or even provide a pre-printed return envelope. The address on the return envelope should correspond to whoever is in charge of the guest list for the event.

For more, check out Can You Use a PO Box as a Physical Address?