Translating addresses
Thread poster: Rachel E

Rachel E
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:06
Mar 14, 2013

Hi all,

I have a question about translating addresses. For example, if I have a billing address that includes "postfach" in German should I translate this to "PO Box" or just leave it as "postfach" because it's in the actual address.

Thank you in advance for all advice received! I'm very grateful!


B D Finch  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:06
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
What's the purpose of the translation? Mar 14, 2013

If the address in the translated document might be used to send something by post, then your end-user is the German postie, so it should be left as "postfach". However, if the translated document is meant to give an English-speaking reader the information that this is a P. O. Box, rather than a street address, then it should be translated.


Josephine Cassar  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:06
Member (2012)
Italian to English
+ ...
Translation Addresses Mar 14, 2013

I agree with B.D finch perfectly. Do it according to whom it is addressed i.e. Postfach if for a German, P.O.Box if for an English. Good luck


Miomira Brankovic  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:06
English to Serbian
+ ...
Translate only if absolutely necessary Mar 14, 2013

I prefer to leave the addresses as they are and perhaps translate only the name of the country. As B D Finch mentioned, the first question to ask yourself is about the purpose of the address in the text you are translating. If it is a document identifying an individual or a corporation, the address should remain as is, since it is the official address (from an ID card, passport or company register). If it is a postal address, it must be written in such a way that the postman can understand it. There is no point indicating an address in Belgrade, Serbia, in the document written in English as “King Peter's Street”, as no such street exists in Belgrade – the name of the street is “ulica kralja Petra”.
A few years ago I booked a hotel in Istanbul through a hotel reservation website where the address of the hotel was indicated as Bath Cad. The taxi driver whom I showed the address seemed confused and had to inquire himself several times until we finally found the hotel. The mystery was solved the next day when I saw the street name plate: it was Hamam Caddesi – indeed meaning Bath Street, but why would a taxi driver, or postman or anyone else in Istanbul need to know the name of any street or square in their city in any other language but Turkish.
Of course, if you are translating a literary work or an article, where the address is provided to indicate location, you should at least translate words meaning “street”, “square”, “alley”, "floor" etc. and deal with the rest on a case-by-case basis.


Rachel E
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:06
Thank you Mar 15, 2013

Thanks everyone!


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