The right way, the wrong way and the creative way to address an envelope

When a letter or a parcel goes missing it can be seriously frustrating. It has been reported that an estimated 500,000 letters go missing per week, which is a lot by anyone’s standards. A way to try and ensure that your letter or parcel gets to the correct destination is to ensure that you address your item to be sent correctly.

This post explains how to address your envelopes correctly, what happens to mail that has failed to reach its destination and what happens to letters simply addressed to ‘Santa’ and what happens if you don’t follow the envelope addressing guidelines.

Guidelines for sending mail in the UK are as follows;

  • Use a full and accurate address complete with the postcode.
  • You do not need to include a county name, as long as the post town and postcode are used.
  • Avoid using commas or full stops and do not centre or stagger your lines.

Here is an example:



So, what happens to items, which fail to be delivered? Different couriers will have different protocol however standard procedure usually follows this pattern.

If the letter or parcel has not been delivered then a process begins where the carrier will try to return the letter or parcel back to the sender- so it’s important to write or print a return address on the back of your envelope.

If no return address was provided then the item would be forwarded to the return depot and opened to identify a sender, as long as the contents are not newspapers, advertising materials or magazines they may be returned to the sender if one is identified after opening the mail.

As a last resort, if there is no return address available and the contents meet storage criteria, they may hold the items for up to four months pending claims via Customer Services. If the item is not claimed within that time, unfortunately the carrier would more than likely dispose of the item. It is definitely worth noting that this is merely an example and you should check the procedure with your own mail service provider.

Now we come to the burning question on everybody’s lips, what happens to letters to Santa, how do you address your all important Christmas list to make sure you won’t be disappointed on that special morning?? Where do you even go to find the big man’s full address and postcode? Isn’t ‘Father Christmas – The North Pole’ enough details to make the delivery?



There are many companies who offer the service where you can write to Santa and receive a reply; in this digital age there is even an email option for the tech savvy little ones out there, however there’s nothing like receiving a real letter.

To ensure you receive a reply it’s advised that letters should be sent no later than 6th December in order to get a reply back. There are many different companies that offer ‘write to Santa’ services some of which you can write to throughout the year.

To receive a reply back you must include a stamped self-addressed envelope and remember to include your full name and address either on the envelope or on the letter itself, and of course you must remember to be good!!

However there are times when you might not know the full postal address and rather than using Capture+  the sender will improvise and hope that the clever postal delivery person receiving the envelope will know exactly where to deliver the item. It is highly advisable to use the full postal address and not address an envelope in any other way than is detailed by the postal service used or you risk your post not arriving at its hopeful destination.



Surprisingly the above item of mail did actually make it’s recipients without a house name, number or even a postcode being included.

Puzzles for Postmen

Artist James Addison is quite possibly the post man’s biggest challenge where he writes his addresses on his letters in a cryptic, puzzling or just delightful manner. All his letters are beautiful whether a hand written trivia or a pen drawing, James claims to be fascinated by the possibility of sending an item from one end of the country to the other for less than the cost of a chocolate bar, I do wonder  if all the envelopes make it to their destinations.






You can find more information on James’s puzzles for postmen on his website.

If you’ve seen some interestingly addressed envelopes or work for Royal Mail and have seen some crazy or cool addressed envelopes then it would be great if you could let us know in the comments below, but please bear in mind the busy postmen who might not always have time to decipher your address and if you want to guarantee your mail gets to its destination then use the tips for correctly addressing your letter.



  • Parke Brown

    I have read your post, thanks for providing such good information about Business envelopes.