Off topic: postal codes and country code
Thread poster: VCampilongo

English to Italian
+ ...
May 20, 2009

Which is the right way of writing the postal code and country code, for Spain in this case:

-ES-29639 Benalmadena
-29639 Benalmadena, ES

Does anyone know about rule for writing addresses?Actually, I found references for both ways but I am not sure about which one is the right or the most common one.
Any help?


Thomas Pfann  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:19
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
Guidelines for postal use May 20, 2009

The Universal Postal Union has some guidelines on this:

Quote: "Administrations may recommend that, on items addressed to countries where the recommended position of the postcode should be preceded by the EN ISO 3166-1 Alpha 2 country code [= for example 'ES' for Spain] followed by a hyphen. This shall in no way detract from the requirement for the name of destination country to be printed in full."

So in your example that would be:

ES-29639 Benalmadena

Important: The full name of the country is still needed (preferably in the language of origin, plus a universally known language to avoid problems in transit countries).

Whether or not the 'ES' is actually needed, depends on the country. It is optional in most countries. In fact, in the UK, for example, the post office actually does NOT want us to use the country code at all (as far as I know).

So when sending a letter from the UK to Spain the address should look like this:

29639 Benalmadena

But as I said, rules and preferences seem to vary from country to country.


Patricia Navarro
Local time: 03:19
English to Spanish
+ ...
Answer May 20, 2009

Hello Mikolina,

The right way of writing it (in Spain) is:

29639 - Benalmádena

I don't know if it's a rule or not, but it's the way we do. Sometimes we add CP (código postal = postal code) before the number:

CP 29639 - Benalmádena

You can write the name of the country in English or in Spanish if you're sending the letter from abroad, it doesn't matter.

Best regards,

Patricia Navarro


Sergei Leshchinsky  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:19
Member (2008)
English to Russian
+ ...
Simple May 20, 2009

Go from specific to general.


Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:19
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
If it's to a local... May 20, 2009

...please "Ben-all-madeener" so that locals can understand it. I mean that most locals are British...icon_wink.gif


Paul Dixon  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:19
Portuguese to English
+ ...
In Brazil May 20, 2009

In Brazil the usual format is to put the number before the city name and state. So it would be:

[Postcode] [City] [State]

Normally when writing abroad we do not use the country code, so "29639 - Benalmádena" and not "E-29639 - Benalmádena" (TTBOMK, Spain is "E" and not "ES", although this may have changed).

In Brazil, a post box is a Caixa Postal.

Example: (fictitious address - the postcode is correct):

ABC Ltda
Avenida Paulista, 1
Bela Vista
01311-000 SÃO PAULO - SP

Some people have the habit of putting "CEP" before the postcode but this is not accepted by the Post Office and can delay delivery. We also have standardised envelopes with eight squares, in this case we put one number of the postcode in each square and then it is not necessary to write the postcode before the city name.
Apparently this makes sorting easier.

(Along these lines, I have always wondered why the United Kingdom insists on letter-based postcodes while 99% of the countries in the world have a number-only postcode - Canada being the only other exception I can think of)


Thomas Pfann  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:19
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
E or ES? May 20, 2009

Paul Dixon wrote:
(TTBOMK, Spain is "E" and not "ES", although this may have changed).

Yes, I was going to say the same, but apparently this has indeed changed - although not widely spread, it is recommended to use the two letter code (the so-called ISO Alpha-2 code). See the section 'Usage Conventions' in this Wikipedia article on postal codes: .

[Edited at 2009-05-21 07:57 GMT]


David Brown  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:19
Spanish to English
UK post-codes May 20, 2009

[quote]Paul Dixon wrote:

I have always wondered why the United Kingdom insists on letter-based postcodes while 99% of the countries in the world have a number-only postcode

UK-post-codes can pinpoint an address to up to several houses in most towns and cities. I must admit it doesn't make delivery any more efficient.


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