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Using “Care of” in an Address

What does “care of” mean in a letter address? Let’s have a closer look.


“Care of” means by the way of someone or through someone. It is often abbreviated “c/o.” This is used when something is being delivered to an address where they don’t normally receive mail. It is a way of letting the post office know the recipient is not the normal recipient at that address.

Graphic illustrating when to use "Care of". Care of is used when something is being deliver to an address where people don't normally receive mail, and is abbreviated as "c/o".


You begin addressing the letter as usual. The recipient’s name goes on the first line. Then, you start the second line with care of (or “c/o,”) followed by the person or company name that is normally associated with that address. Here is an article on general punctuation help when writing letter addresses.

Example #1: Use of c/o for Businesses

Imagine that you are trying to get in touch with someone, but you don’t know their home address. You could use “care of” to send a letter to them where they work. Or, this can be helpful if you are sending a thank you card to someone that helped you at a place of business. Using c/o draws attention to a specific person.  

Patrice Rodgers

c/o Happy Handbags

953 Main St.

City, ST 12345

Example #2: Use of c/o for Hotels

Sometimes this abbreviation is used to reach someone at a hotel when you don’t know their room number.

Dean Smith

c/o Hampton Hotel

833 First St.

City, ST 11223

Example #3: Use of c/o for Event Invitations

What if you want to invite Michelle to your party, but you don’t know her address? Then you remember that she is friends with Terry, another person you are inviting to the party. You can send an invitation intended for Michelle to Terry’s address.  

Michelle Johnson

c/o Terry Rodriguez

999 Second St.

City, ST 44556

Related: Check out our article on proper address format for letters.


Modern technology has made it less common to send something in care of another person. However, the practice still exists, and now you know how to do it properly!


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By Patrice Riley

Patrice Riley is the pen name of Dr. Deborah Riley. She is a retired English professor that enjoys grammar, literature, and all things writing.

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