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9.1. Addresses

9.1.1. Addresses: general principles

Analysis of the ways of writing addresses is a difficult and complex task as there is no unique system for all countries. Also, the presentation of addresses is different for national and international mail. In principle, the international format is always used in the works of the European Union institutions.

For precise details on the presentation of addresses, please refer to the individual websites of the national postal services. Links to these are available on the Universal Postal Union (UPU) website (https://www.upu.int/en/activities/addressing/postal-addressing-systems-in-member-countries.html).

The UPU also makes various recommendations of a general nature, but for the works of the European Union institutions an additional constraint to take into account is whether the work concerns unilingual or multilingual documents.

Useful links

UPU, addressing systems (EN, FR):
https://www.upu.int/en/resources/postcodes/addressing-systems.html

UPU, postal addressing systems in member countries (EN, FR):
https://www.upu.int/en/activities/addressing/postal-addressing-systems-in-member-countries.html

UPU, Universal POST*CODE® DataBase (EN, FR):
https://www.upu.int/en/resources/postcodes/universal-postcoder-database.html

Languages and characters to use

The part of the address indicating the destination country must be written according to the recommendations of the dispatching country (preferably in the language of the dispatching country or in an internationally recognised language).

The name of the destination country must appear in capital letters on the last line of the address.

Because the national recommendations vary with regard to the use of capital letters on the final / final two / final three lines, it has been decided to harmonise the presentation: only the country name appears in capital letters.

If the destination country uses an alphabet other than Roman or is insufficiently expressed, the name of the destination country and possibly the name of the town should be repeated in an internationally recognised language to avoid problems while in transit through intermediate countries.

The remainder of the address must follow the recommendations of the destination country.

Postal codes

The former postal codes used for transferring international mail (specific codes in Europe following a recommendation in 1965 by the Conference of European Postal and Telecommunications Administrations, and ISO 3166 alpha-2 codes for other countries) have been withdrawn, or modified, in many countries.

On 1 January 2019, seven EU Member States still used a country code: Croatia (HR), Latvia (LV), Lithuania (LT), Luxembourg (L), Slovenia (SI), Finland (FI) and Sweden (SE).

NB:
For Latvia, the code comes after the name of the town, following a comma and space:
Riga, LV-1073

The former country code must not be used for the other Member States. In Germany, an item could be delayed by a mail-sorting machine if the former country code is present.

For more information on postal codes in the Member States, please see Section 9.1.5.
Last updated: 22.11.2019
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