C/O Address: Meaning, How To Use It, Significance, Benefits & Errors To Avoid

The meaning of C/O in a letter, mail, or package is “care of.” It is one of the most effective ways to send parcels to someone without knowing their home address. However, you must execute it correctly to get the desired result. 

For example, you need to know the address of someone related to the addressee or receiver of the mail. This way, when they get the mail, it is forwarded to the appropriate personnel or individual. 

Let’s find out more about the meaning of C/O in a mailing address, its importance, benefits, and writing practices you can employ to avoid a failed delivery.

Meaning of C/O in Mailing Address?


The term “C/O” in the address section of a mail or parcel means it is meant for someone you are unsure of where they live or is not a legal occupant of the destination address on the mail. 

When such a letter arrives at the appropriate mailbox, the “C/O” in the address ensures that it will be opened by you (the original recipient). In other words, it confirms that the sender is confident that the mailbox owner knows your location. 

How to Use C/O in Mailing or Shipping 

As I said earlier, to use a C/O while addressing a letter, you must be sure you are sending it to someone who knows the whereabouts of the original recipient. To do this, you need to include the following details in the address section of the mail: 

  • The original recipient’s name or the person who should open the letter
  • Name of the mailbox owner or the person who should deliver the mail to you
  • The street address of the mailbox owner 
  • City and zip code of the mailbox owner

Here is a practical example: 

If Laura James stays with Joe Jones and you want to send a letter to Laura. Since Laura might not be a legal occupant of the residence, you can address the envelope as follows: 

  • Laura James
  • C/O Joe Jones 
  • 24 Sutton Street 
  • New York, NY (34567)

This addressing format can be used formally and informally. It is safer to avoid sending a  letter to the wrong address or a failed delivery from the post office or a private carrier. 

Why is C/O Important in a Mailing Address? 

C/O in a mailing address helps you: 

  1. Mail someone in a workplace or hotel, especially when it is your only address. In this case, your letter will be in the “care of” the office or a receptionist. 
  2. Send parcels to locations with security risks to avoid theft or failed delivery. Using C/O can help you redirect your mail to someone in a safer location, closer to the original recipient. Once your mail gets to the alternate address, it will be delivered to the original recipient in person or via a safer channel. 
  3. Send important and time-sensitive documents. With C/O, you can send urgent mail to offices and redirect it to the original recipient. You don’t have to waste your time searching for the recipient’s address when their business address can be easily verified online.

Benefits of C/O in Mailing or Shipping

1. Simplifies mail forwarding and redirection 

A C/O in a shipping address ensures that the correct recipient or business receives the mail, regardless of their current address. 

There are instances where organizations change their address but still intend to receive mail at the previous address until customers become familiar with the new address. 

2. Enhances security and privacy 

Most importantly, C/O can help you send sensitive mail to another person without revealing their identity or other vital information. It also reduces the likelihood of interceptions or wrong deliveries. 

Errors to Avoid When Using C/O

1. Provide a return address 

While including a C/O in a mailing address, you should also include a return address on the left corner of the package. This is because the USPS may need to return your mail and will need this information. 

2. Affix the appropriate postage 

By now, you should know that there will be no mailing without the appropriate stamp or postage. Feel free to check the USPS postage calculator or contact the customer service department of the mailing company to know the proper postage for your mail. 


Can you forward letters to the correct address?

You must contact the post office or mailing company first to get the correct address for the letter. However, post office employees prefer to deliver such packages themselves. 

How do you address a formal letter? 

Address it to the recipient’s or company’s name. If you are unsure about their address but know where they work, you can mail them using C/O. 

Are the S/O, D/O, and W/O details still relevant? 

The S/O, D/O, and W/Oh are no longer in use. They have been combined into a single field called C/O (the current standard).

Conclusion: Meaning of C/O in a Mailing Address

Using C/O in a mailing address is easy, provided you follow the format I shared earlier in this guide. The abbreviation places your mail in the “care of” an alternate recipient, who will be responsible for its last-mile delivery. 

To use this mailing option, you need to know the personal or office address of the mailbox owner. You should also affix the appropriate postage and include a return address in case of a failed delivery (which is rare.)

Lastly, ensure you take one last look at your mail and double-check all the information for accuracy before submitting it at the post office. 

I hope you found this guide helpful. If you did, please see where you can mail a parcel aside from the post office

Thanks for reading.