Direct Mail

How to Use C/O In Mailing Address

By 10 May 2024May 17th, 2024No Comments
c/o in mailing address

How To Use C/O In Mailing Address

To use “℅” (care of) in a mailing address, write “℅” followed by the name of the person or organization who will receive the mail on behalf of the primary recipient. Place this line just above the mail address line. For example, address it as “John Doe ℅ Jane Smith” followed by the rest of the address. This format indicated that the mail should be delivered to Jane Smith, who will then pass it on to John Doe. This is commonly used when sending mail to someone at a business address, a temporary location, or through a third party.

Key Takeaways

  • A postal mail with a C/O in the mailing address is dedicated to someone who is not the legal occupant of the address.
  • Refer to an example to learn what a CO mailing address looks like.
  • ℅ in mailing address helps in addressing a specific person, department, or people living in temporary addresses.
  • The senders must ensure compliance with legal and contractual requirements, especially while sending official mail pieces.
  • Use the correct address format after adding the name of the business or resident owner ℅.
  • Individuals use ℅ to send postal mail when they don’t know about the receiver’s home address.

What would you say if we told you that you could send direct mail to someone without knowing their home address? It sounds like a sweet deal, isn’t it? Well, that's what C/O in mailing addresses lets you do.

c/o in mailing address

However, that doesn't mean that C/O in mailing addresses is some magic trick that lets you reach out to anyone anywhere. The effectiveness of C/O in mailing addresses depends on how well you can execute it and the specific situations you use it. Hence, it is vital that you learn how C/O in mailing addresses works.

The details we discuss below will help you understand C/O better and help you streamline your business communications. Not only will we explain how to use C/O in mailing addresses, but we also discuss the various instances where you can use them.

What is C/O in the Mailing Address?

The C/O or “℅” you see in the mailing address is the abbreviated form for “care of.” It means that the postal mail with a C/O in the address is for sending mail to someone who is not the legal occupant of the address. Hence, using C/O in the mailing address lets the person who receives the letter know that it is not for them.

The recipient of a C/O letter is entrusted with the mailpiece, assuming that they will give it to the addressee. You can use C/O in an address in different contexts or situations. For example, you can use C/O to send an official letter to an employee or even the company's CEO.

The postal delivery person can then hand over the mailer to the company's front office. Using C/O is common in business communication, especially when someone's address is unknown. It is an effective way to ensure that your mailer reaches the recipient instead of getting returned.

Similarly, you can also use the C/O in the mailing address to send a letter or package to children. Here, the C/O or “in care of” would be addressed to the parent.

Also Read: How to Write an Impactful Payment Demand Letter?

How To Use C/O In Mailing Address Efficiently & Accurately

The best way to understand how a C O mailing address looks is to look at an example, which is why we have provided one for you below.

Jane Smith
c/o Blueberry, Inc.
619 Street St.
City, ST 35242

The example above should give a broad idea of how a C/O address should look. However, the proper use of CO in the address is not confined to how or what you write on the envelope. You can take a few steps to ensure the deliverability of your mailers with a C O mailing address, including the following.

Step 1: Ensure You Have The Right Information

When it comes to business correspondence, the C O mailing address is often used when the recipient's primary address is unavailable. Hence, you must ensure the secondary address is accurate unless you want the USPS to return your mail.

Everything from the business's name to its ZIP code must be accurate if you want your mail delivered without delays. To make it easier, you can use an address verification tool like PostGrid to verify the address.

Step 2: Ensure You Are Using The Right Format

After you get the address for the mailer, you need to ensure that it is in the standardized format defined by the USPS. You must write C/O or “care of” before the name of whoever is responsible for delivering the mail to the addressee.

For example, let's say that you are sending direct mail to someone at their workplace using a C O mailing address. Here, the company is responsible for delivering the mailer to its recipient. Therefore, you should follow the C/O with the company's name.

Similarly, when sending the mailer to a home address, the C/O should be followed by the resident's name. The person who receives your mailer with the C/O address can then pass it on to the actual recipient of the mail.

Step 3: Ensure You Provide The Return Address

The chance of your mail getting returned is relatively low when using a CO mailing address. However, you still need to provide a return address on the envelope. Use the left-hand corner of the envelope to write your return address.

The USPS will return your mailer if they cannot make the delivery to the address you've provided. Additionally, you can use the return mail to identify postal addresses so that you can't send direct mail and avoid unnecessary expenses.

Related Article: Direct Mail Examples

Step 4: Attach The Necessary Postage

Everyone knows you need to attach the necessary postage to send any postal mail. However, most people have no idea what postage they need to stick to their mailpiece. The USPS will return the mail if the postage is not enough, and if it is more, you will waste money.

It is hard to keep track of your postage attachments, especially regarding business communication. However, you can save yourself the trouble by employing a direct mail automation tool like PostGrid. Advanced tools like PostGrid automate your entire direct mail management process, including postage.

Step 5: Review And Send Your Mail

The final step in the proper use of CO in the address is taking one last look at the mailer. Review all the information on the direct mail envelope and ensure that everything is in order. Check if you have the right name for the recipient and their address.

In addition to this, you should also check the return address you have provided on the mailer. Once you have made sure that everything is in order, you can send the mailer. However, an easier way to send the mailer is to use an automated direct mail system like PostGrid.

Also Read: Bulk Or Mass Mailing Services

Importance of Using C/O in Mailing Addresses

C/0 or ‘%’ in mailing addresses stands for ‘care of.’ People may not see it as crucial at first glance, but it holds a lot of importance when used in an address. Hence, we must understand its necessity if we want to indulge in mail marketing for our business needs or personal mailers.

C/O Helps PeopleAddress a Specific Person or Department

Individuals in a company or any shared workspace generally work under a single address. Someone might want to address a specific mailer to someone in a company. Thus, you may use ‘in care of’ followed by a particular person’s name or department. It will ensure that your mail reaches the recipient without any confusion.

C/0 Provides Communication possibilities to People Who Are Living in Temporary Addresses 

There are various types of residences where you can ship mail pieces. These residence types include hotel rooms, college dormitories, company accommodations, business trips, naval ships, etc. In such cases, businesses must ship mailers to people at their temporary addresses.

℅ Or ‘%’ helps route and identify the actual mail recipient. This way, by using ‘C/0’, you can ensure that people continue to receive their mail pieces even if they are not the primary addressee of the location. For example, you might use your parents’ address as your permanent address. In this case, people will use ‘C/0’ to deliver mailers for you to that address.

It Provides Mailing Services for People Sharing Residences  

You can also use C/O to target people of the same residence, such as a family member or roommate. ‘%’ enables people to send mailers to each individual separately living at the same address. It helps you avoid confusion or accidentally opening someone else’s mail pieces. Additionally, the mailer must specify the recipient's identity they wish to target.

C/O Helps Managing Mail For People Without Any Permanent Address

For someone using somebody else’s residential address as their permanent one, ‘℅’ is a boon. Mailers can use ‘℅’ to address the mail to the recipient to maintain necessary communication.

Individuals without a permanent address can use trusted addresses where mailers can ship their mail pieces. A trusted contact provided by the recipient can be anything: their parents’ address, a friend’s organization, or a trusted shelter home. It helps them stay connected and keep receiving mail pieces at a credible address.

Smoothens Mail Forwarding and Redirection

We have come across various situations where people have changed their residence but wish to keep receiving mail pieces at the previous address. In such particular circumstances as well, using C/O plays a vital role by providing mail forwarding and redirecting services.

Many companies and individuals also use C/O to ensure that people can receive mail without sending it back to a new or designated address. This step ensures, timely and timely management related to the address changes.

It Plays a Crucial Role in Improving Security and Privacy 

‘℅,’ if used correctly, helps safeguard a particular individual’s privacy and security. Moreover, it helps create an additional layer of security and identity for the recipient.

The best way to do it is by clarifying the recipient's name beforehand. The mail must be addressed to the recipient while adding the owner’s name under ‘℅.’ This additional layer is a magical step for maintaining security and mistaken ‘mail-opening.’ Organizations or individuals involved with direct mail must use such formats to maintain confidentiality.

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Use of ℅ For Adhering To Legal or Contractual Requirements 

You might encounter various situations where you must mention a specific person’s name or department. Such concerns primarily relate to official mail pieces like legal documents, court notices, contracts, etc., to a designated individual. If this scenario arises, you must use C/0 to ensure compliance with legal and contractual requirements.

Moreover, using C/O in an address ensures the deliverability of the mail pieces to the right individual. All this happens while also displaying courtesy and respect to the person or department that receives the mail piece on the individual’s behalf.

Quick Tip: We have noticed the misuse of C/O by various individuals and organizations. Please remember to use ‘in care of’ only when necessary. Its misuse or overuse might create unnecessary confusion and delays in essential deliveries.

Examples of How to Use “C/O” in Mailing Addresses

Here are a few examples of using C/O to help you avoid confusion and overuse. These examples will help you use C/O in your mail pieces effectively.

Example 1: Sending Direct Mail to an Individual Place of Business

If you wish to send a postcard to someone at work, include “℅” or ‘in care of’ before the business name. We have included the correct way of using ‘in care of’ in a direct mail piece.

Ashley Parker 

℅ White Properties

555 Jefferson Ave.

Laguna Creek, CA 5555

Example 2: Sending Correspondence to an Individual Staying with Their Relatives 

To send direct mail to an individual staying with their relatives, you must use C/O for the residential owner’s name. For example, a girl named Anna Williams is living with her aunt, Lily Roberts, while finding an accommodation for herself.

If you want to send a mail piece to Anna, the delivery address must include Lily’s name followed by ‘in care of’ since it is her residential address. Now, Lily must provide the mail piece to Anna. The below-mentioned will act as an address format example:

Anna Williams

℅ Lily Roberts

123 River Dr.

Orange Hills, CA 55555

To better understand the significance of using “in care of,” consider more examples.

  • Suppose you want to send mail to your friend who has been living in a hotel in New York for a long time. You have to write “℅” followed by the hotel name and address. Using “in care of” will inform the hotel staff that the mail is for your friend, not the hotel.
  • Suppose you want to send a parcel to a company that does not have its work address but relies on a shared workspace. You must write here, ℅ followed by the shared workspace name and address. It is possible to specify that the parcel is for the specific company, not the shared workspace staff.
  • Imagine you want to send a mail to your distant cousin who is currently living in another country with her uncle in search of college admission. Then, the mailing address will consist of “℅” followed by her uncle's name and address. It will show that you intend the mail for your cousin, not his uncle.

The Step-by-Step Guide to Formatting an Address

If you see an abbreviation c/o on letters, it means that the name on the letter is not a resident of the address, or the name on the mailpiece might not be familiar to the residents.

It is pretty simple to format an address with c/o in it:

  • Mention the recipient’s name at the top of the address line, just after “to” on the package.
  • Add the name of the business or resident owner just after c/o. For example, if you want to send a mail piece to someone working at PostGrid, you will mention “C/O PostGrid” after their name.
  • In the last step, you can fill out the rest of the address as usual, including the PO box, street, apartment number, state, city, zip code, etc.

Also Read: Direct Mail Marketing: The Ultimate Guide

When To Use C/O In Your Postal Mail?

Generally, C/O or “care of” is used in postal mail when the sender does not know the recipient's primary address. It also means that you can use such mail for addresses that don't usually receive correspondence.

In other words, you can use C/O to send postal mail to someone's business address if you don't know their home address. Furthermore, using C/O in a mailing address often grabs the recipient's attention.

There are certain instances or situations where it is ideal to use C/O in the mailing address, including the following.

Send Mailer To Workplace

As we have already mentioned, C/O in address is ideal for sending mail to business addresses. If you don't know someone's personal or home address, this strategy can come in handy for you. However, you still need to know where the recipient works for sending the mailer using a C/O address.

Send Mailer To The Hotel

Suppose you know that a person stays at a specific hotel in town, but you don't know their room number. In that case, you can use C/O before the hotel's name when addressing your mail. The hotel will receive your letter or package on behalf of the recipient and pass it to them in good time. However, this strategy has a lot of variables. For example, the recipient may extend or cut short their stay in the hotel.

Send Mailer To A Friend

You can send a mailer to someone even if you don't know their home or business address. However, you would need to know the address of someone they are friends with or even an acquaintance. Such mailers are better suited for personal communication, especially if you invite someone to an event. However, using the same strategy for business communication is not entirely out of scope.

Send Mailer To Areas With Security Risks

Postal mail can be subject to unwanted eyes or attention. It is not rare to hear about cases where people did not receive crucial letters and packages. The risk of someone stealing your mailer in some neighborhoods may be higher than in others.

In that case, you can use “care of” in your direct mail to send it to another person. It enables you to ensure that no one steals or destroys the letter or package you send. However, you would first need to get the alternate address from the recipient before sending the mailer using C/O.

Send Important Documents

Sending important documents, especially time-sensitive ones using postal mail, is often considered risky. There are chances that the postal delivery can get delayed unless you are using USPS services like Priority Mail.

Furthermore, the mailer could get lost if you don't have the correct address or use the wrong ZIP code. Using C/O is an easy way to avoid such mistakes and ensure that the postal mail reaches the addressee on time is to use C/O. It is unlikely to get a business address wrong, as you can easily verify it online.

Also Read: How Can Shopify Address Validation Improve Customer Experience and Shipping Accuracy?


Using C/O in mailing addresses is not complicated as long as you know the basics. The tricky part of implementing the proper use of CO in address is that you need to ensure its deliverability. If you don't have the address right, there is no point in using C/O in your mail.

In addition to this, it can become confusing to manage your direct mail process manually. There are a lot of variables in direct mail you need to consider, such as the fluctuating postage charges. Effectively managing your postal direct mail process, including the proper use of CO in address, requires a tool like PostGrid.

Also Read: Best Direct Mail Marketing Companies

PostGrid lets you personalize your mail through direct mail API and print C O mailing addresses according to USPS standards with advanced automation abilities. It even offers an address verification API that enables you to verify addresses and ensure their deliverability.

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