Sending mail to USA without recipient's last name

Hi! So, I’ve send mail numerous times to USA with only the recipient’s first name and never had a problem. Until I had an envelope returned with a note from USPS asking me to add the recipient’s last name. I was surprised! I had to contact the person, who was also surprised, and ask her to inform her last name. Of course I had to pay postage again.
Another Postcrossing member who works at USPS explained me that postal workers are not supposed to deliver mail if the recipient is not addressed fully by name. Even if many carriers usually don’t check the name, it’s still against the rules.
The problem is that many people don’t include their last name along the address, and when you ask for it, they simply answer they don’t feel confortable giving you this information (?) I particularly don’t care to know their full name, it’s an USPS requirement. And apparently many USA residents don’t even know this.

What would you do in this situation?

I’ve seen it’s not necessary to include the last name along your address on Postcrossing website, so maybe some of the postcards we sent to USA will never be delivered if the carrier follows this rule.


I would omit the return address, so USPS cannot return the mail. I think USPS is not allowed to withhold or to bin mail just because the last name is missing.
On the other hand it is strange somehow that postcrossers feel uncomfortable to share their last name but not to share their address.


So interesting to hear this. I also don’t give out my last name, and mail is usually delivered to me without a problem. Although there is the occasional lost card, which I usually just attribute to the pandemic, rain washing away the address, etc. Now I’m wondering if some are as you say, that the postal worker realized there was no last name and so did not deliver it.

On the other hand, it’s kind of nice to know someone in USPS is well versed on the rules and follows them. :+1:

Unfortunately, I don’t have any advice to give you on what to do. If the recipient doesn’t want to give you their last name, it’s not like you can force them. :woman_shrugging:t2:

1 Like

I hope they don’t throw the mail away in this case, or else a lot of postcards we sent without the person’s last name are lost forever. Some people use PO boxes. But anyway, if this is a USPS requirement, they should provide this information. :expressionless:


I have sent few mails to the U.S without complete last names. For example just like : John M, Catherine C etc. And gladly all of them arrived.

Perhaps name doesn’t matter much if the address is accurate (house number/apartment room, zip code, city, state) ?

Thanks for sharing your experience, shame that the card was returned to you and you had to resend it again

1 Like

Yeah! I believe many people don’t know about this rule. But on the other hand, if this is a USPS requirement to deliver the mail, the person who doesn’t want to give thelast name is not including a main part of the address. It’s like not including the city where you live, for example. The postal workers may find you using the postal code, but we still know it’s an essential part of our addresses.

1 Like

I thought it was not necessary, as well, but a USPS postal worker told me it’s against the rules deliver mail without the recipient’s whole name. What happens is that many carriers only look at the address and don’t check this information.

1 Like

I see. I’m not from the U.S but maybe if there’s written rule from the USPS that they have to include their last names, you can send the file to your postcrossing partner in the U.S. to remind that it’s a necessary thing to do.

Or make terms, like if the letter/card is lost or returned because of this issue, you won’t resend it. Whatever might work between you and your postcrossing partner. Hope it helps :pray:t2:


Thank you! That’s what I did. I explained this rule to the person and told it’s ok for me if she still wants to take the risk. :expressionless: The only thing that worries me is that some of our official postcards to USA may not be delivered to people who don’t include their last names, as well.


This is what I’ve found on the requirements for writing an address in the USA. It doesn’t say explicitly that the name must be real or complete and if you look at the requirements for business addresses, a name isn’t required. However, if you’re sending registered mail or the address is a military address, a complete name is required. In my personal experience, I’ve been able to send mail to people in the US with just their first name or a pseudonym. And I’ve sometimes gotten cards from people who have forgotten to write my real name and used my username instead.

Anyways, despite all the official rules, it may end up depending on the individual postal worker anyway. Some of them are still unaware of the correct amount for stamps so I wouldn’t be surprised that some may interpret addresses one way or another.


There might also be several new hires that are new to delivery routes, don’t know the recipient as “this is the one that gets all the postcards” or stick more to the rules in order not to do anything wrong.


I did not know of this rule but the link shows this:

“1. Intended recipient’s name or other identification.”

If someone does not want to give a last name, I think if you were to use something like “Sharon, Postcrosser” or similar, that would meet the rules.

I do think it is odd that someone would not give you their full name, since you have their street address and could find information using that. Unless someone is using a post office box.


I also have checked USPS requirements and didn’t find this rule, but it was said to me by a USPS postal worker.

Take a look on what he told about it in another topic:

Yes! Sadly, as it is part of the rules, we can’t complain when it happens. They’re doing their job afterall.

1 Like

Very interesting. I have lived at the same address for 17 years and I still occasionally get mail addressed to a previous owner so I think some postal carriers do not know this rule or do not exactly follow it.

I do not mind of course. Postal workers are usually overwhelmed with letters and packages so if they leave me mail addressed to someone else, it is no big deal.


I’ve definitely had mail returned to me within the US due to a missing last name. I ended up having to resend with fresh postage.

I don’t give out my last name, but I do give a last initial, and I have a P.O. Box. I don’t know how that affects it at all.

Any thoughts, @cabanafred ?


I wonder how it would work if the name was written like this:

Mr. J. Smith
Mrs. A. Beach


1 Like

How does the post office even know who lives at an address anyway? Do you have to tell them before you’ll receive any mail?

1 Like

It shouldn’t matter who lives there. What’s important is that the postcard or letter or package are delivered to the correct address.


Well, apparently it’s important, since it’s in USPS rules that the carrier shouldn’t deliver mail to someone who doesn’t live in that address. It’s inconvenient, but at the same time I understand why this rule exists. If someone writes an incorrect house number, for example, and send an envelope with sensitive information to the wrong address, it could cause a lot of problems.