How Can I Return Postal Mail to the Sender?

You may enjoy visiting the mailbox daily to see what letters or parcels await you. However, you may be dismayed to occasionally see two types of unwanted mail: mail that is addressed to someone else and junk mail that is addressed to you, but that you do not wish to open. In either case, you can return the mail to the sender at no fee by labeling the outside of the envelope.

Sort through your mail and put aside the letters that you wish to return to the sender. These may include a combination of letters meant for another recipient or unsolicited junk mail.

Write “Return to Sender,” “RTS” or “Not at this Address” in large, easy-to-read letters if the letter is addressed to someone else. For junk mail, write, “Return to Sender,” “RTS” or “Please Remove from Mailing List” on the envelope.

Place the letter in any mailbox, where it will be picked up and put back into the mail system for its return to the sender. If you’ve recently moved into a new house, you may commonly receive mail addressed to someone else in the first few months after you’ve moved. Eventually, and especially if you write “Return to Sender” and “Not at this Address” on envelopes, the unsolicited mail will likely decrease.


  • With junk mail, you may wish to simply throw it in the garbage or recycling rather than take the time and effort to label it and put it in a mailbox.

    When you receive mail addressed to someone else, especially if it's personally addressed, label the envelope and put it back into the mail as soon as possible. This isn't as important if it's junk mail addressed to someone else.


  • Do not open the mail that you wish to return. Opening mail addressed to someone else is against the law, and the United States Postal Service will not process mail that has been open and read.


About the Author

Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as sports, nutrition and health. He serves as the Studio's sports and recreation section expert. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.