I know it is legal to send mail without a return address, but is it legal to mail with someone else's address? When I went to the post office the label machine did not have an option for "No Return Address". The problem is that I don't have a legal address to put down (and no I don't have friends or family to ask to borrow their address).

So how can I send mail without a legal address?

  • 2
    Could you use General Delivery as the return address? May 5, 2021 at 19:10
  • 1
    Somewhat related: law.stackexchange.com/questions/52118/… May 5, 2021 at 19:14
  • 2
    Couldn't you just address the letter by hand, instead of using the label machine? May 5, 2021 at 19:30
  • Do you have a “staying address”?
    – AsheraH
    May 5, 2021 at 20:24
  • 1
    At every post office I've been to, you can buy one or more postage stamps from the clerks at the service window and then ask them to mail it (or drop it in the appropriate slot in the lobby.) May 6, 2021 at 15:03

1 Answer 1


I'm going to assume you mean in the United States...

Mailing a letter does not always require a return address as you understand from your question.

A return address must appear legibly on:

  • Mail of any class bearing a printed ancillary service request (i.e. "Return Service")
  • Official mail
  • Mail paid with precanceled stamps
  • Matter bearing a company permit imprint
  • Priority mail
  • Periodicals in envelopes or opaque wrappers
  • USPS retail ground
  • Package services
  • Parcel Select
  • Registered Mail
  • Insured Mail
  • Collect on Delivery (COD) Mail
  • Certified Mail (if a return receipt is requested)
  • Priority Mail Express
  • Detached Address Labels and detached marketing labels
  • Adult signature required

Given that if your mail was not any of the above, you could make up an address and then make it illegible so that it cannot be read (using a pen or marker, or white-out to obscure the address). Do not keep a legible address that does not belong to you as the return address.

  • I’d think sending certified mail without return address for example isn’t illegal, but you won’t get any evidence that the mail was received.
    – gnasher729
    May 8, 2021 at 19:26
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    @gnasher729 you can't give a letter to the postal service to be certified mail if you don't put on any return address - they don't accept it, and certified mail only forks from the counter.
    – Trish
    Oct 3, 2021 at 0:14

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