I know that the term is used on the letter being written, but I'm not sure if it is required to use it on the envelope. Thank you.

2 Answers 2


You cannot use さん on envelopes. Just as you have to use Mr./Ms./etc on English envelopes no matter how you normally call them, you have to use 様 on Japanese envelopes. 様 is a more polite name suffix than さん. 先生 is also okay if you usually call them sensei (a teacher, lawyer, etc.). If you send a letter or a card to a kindergartner, くん/ちゃん is also acceptable.

Inside the envelope you can call them however way you think is suitable.

様 is for a person. You have to use 御中 instead of 様 when you send a mail to an organization. See: How to address someone in an email who referred to themselves as part of a department

  • 1
    I don't know about you, but I use Firstname Lastname when addressing envelopes. I've never once written "Mr./Mrs./Ms. Lastname" on an envelope.
    – William
    Commented Mar 13, 2017 at 23:21

Depends on to whom you are sending the letter. In business occasions it's very common to use 様 instead of さん because it shows more respect.

  • 2
    Right -- we never use さん on envelopes, not just "common instead of"
    – virgil9306
    Commented Mar 14, 2017 at 2:09

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