How to write a German postal address

How to write a German postal address


In this age of electronic communication, writing letters is much less important
than it used to be. But it is still nice, and sometimes necessary,
to send things through the post. So in this video, I’m going to explain
how to write a German postal address. First of all, you don’t use block capitals. But you do have to write carefully: German handwriting is quite different from either
American or British handwriting, so it is best to print clearly. Be careful with digits. In German handwriting, both the 1 and the 7
have an additional stroke; and the number 9 should look like this. The simplest form of address has three lines. The first line is the name of the person
or company you’re writing to. But do get it right: if you’re writing to somebody
who lives in an apartment block, you need to know that
the mailboxes are not numbered. So if the name on the address doesn’t match with
any of the names on any of the mailboxes, the letter can’t be delivered. The second line is
the street name and house number. And they go in that order: street name first,
and then house number. If you’re writing to a PO box, it’s
the word “Postfach” followed by the box number. The third line is the five-digit postal code
and the name of the city. If you’re writing to Switzerland or Austria,
the postal code is only four digits. Any additional information goes between
the first line and the street address. So, for example, if you’re writing to
a specific person within a company, the company name goes on the first line,
and the person’s name comes next. It’s not necessary, but it is allowed, to include
the name of the neighbourhood within the city. People will tend to write that
together with the city name, but officially it’s supposed to go
just above the street name. So a German postal address can have
three, four or five lines, not including the country name
if you’re writing from abroad. And that’s it. Now, I want you all to take
a nice picture-postcard and practice writing a German address on it. I would suggest one like… this.

29 Comments

  1. Also if you want to write to someone who's living at another person's, but isn't mentioned on the postbox or doorsign, you write "zu Händen" and then the recipant's name in the second line, much like the company thing.

  2. Are you sure that postal addresses shouldn't include the country name when writing from abroad? I think I'll remember that when writing from or to abroad, international postal regulations say that as a finishing line, the country of destination should be written in CAPITALS in either English, French*, or "a language commonly understood in the destination country".

    *: Why French? See here (in German): https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weltpostverein

  3. You forgot to say that for international sendings the country name must be written in either English or French (I hate French). 😉

  4. One question: When do I say "dann" and when "denn". I'm German and I'm quite confused. Usually I prefer to say "denn".

  5. Es ist mir aufgefallen, dass man oft D-, A- oder CH- vor die Postleitzahl schreibt. Ich nehme an, das steht für Deutschland, Österreich oder die Schweiz. Aber ich habe nie wirklich begriffen, unter welchen Umständen man das schreiben muss bzw kann.

  6. The mailboxes in my student dorm are numbered because a lot of people don't put their name on the mailbox. Mostly foreign students. Or they do stuff like writing more than one name on it (it's all one room apartments here), write the wrong name (like, the Chinese write their western name on there but the post comes addressed to their Chinese name) or sometimes even in their native script so you have Chinese characters or Arabic on the mailboxes.

    We then have a list of names and room numbers next to the main door so that the delivery dude knows what's up.

  7. For writing to a specific person to his or her company-address it should be like this:
    If the letter contains business-matters and you like the letter to be received by a specific person the company-name comes before the name of the person.
    If the letter contains personal and private information to a person within a specific company, the name of the person goes before the company name. In this matter you should add »persönlich« to the name of the person. – But it is likely that the letter could be opened by the post-office of the company anyways. ^^°

  8. You should, however, add that should the sender want to address the receiver by title, he should use the dative case. (Herrn!) Also, there are some conventions on academic degrees and how they are used in either address or first line ("Herrn Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Karl Hansemann, M.A." but "Sehr geehrter Herr Professor Hansemann", etc.

  9. If you're sub-renting, your name may not appear on the post box, in which case "bei X" (where X is the name on the post box) may be added after the street name and house number.

  10. If you want to send a letter to a specific person in a company, you usually put a z.Hd. in front of the name. It means "zu Händen" and advises the people handling the mail inside the company to give it to the mentioned person.

  11. To make things more simple, some companies and administrations have got their own postal code, and in that case, the adress comes without street name and house number.

  12. Es stimmt zwar, das wir in Deutschland bei der 1 und der 7 einen Extrastrich machen. Aber wir Deutschen sind durchaus in der Lage Muster zu erkennen. Wie man sehen kann, hat die gedruckte 7 auch keinen Extrastrich und trotzdem kann (sollte können) jeder sie als Ziffer sieben entziffern.

  13. Between 1990 and July 1993, after reunification, Germany had W and O before the four digit PLZ, and D disappeared until five digits were introduced. Imagine the confusion of a letter going to O-6000 instead of W-6000. Then there were also numbers after the destination because in some cases, certain communities would share the same four digit postcode and use their own suffix. Get it wrong for whatever reason, and letters would be delayed an extra day. The first two of the five digits were based on geographical location, almost one zone, sometimes two or three per Bundesland. Each town has its own number, so there is no more postcode sharing between towns. I think I may still have some letters from October 1990 to July 1993 with a W postcode.

  14. There is a bit more to writing the address. If you write the Name first and then the companie's name, the letter has to go to this specific person.
    If you turn those around it means somebody else is allowed to open the letter in the name of their company for example if the person is sick or on holliday.

  15. Wo soll ich "c/o …" oder "bei …" schreiben, wenn ich bei jemandem wohne? Soll ich das gleich nach dem Straßennamen schreiben? oder woanders?Danke schön

  16. Hi! I have this old letter from my great great grandmothers niece from 1968. I am trying to find the address on google. (it may no longer exist) unsure if you can help but it's worth a try 🙂

  17. So years and years ago, I was like 6 or something, I sent up a helium balloon with my address on it. Turns out it landed in Schleswig(?) Germany and I really wanted to reply to the kid who'd been nice enough to send me a letter, but my dad wouldn't let me… Just cleaning out my loft space and found the kid's letter.

  18. I wrote to a Celebrity who has his production company in Germany. I don't know if it is still current, but I got my letter back, but awhile later, I sent a musical card to the same person and yet I haven't heard anything back. Was the address wrong for how I had written it? This was a person letter and card. I'm still waiting to hear from this person. I hope he received his card.

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