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POST OFFICE STATION 17 How to Deal with
Misdirected Mail

Misdirected mail usually falls into one of three categories, as outlined below. Each will call for a different kind of corrective action.

IF the piece was for your department but the address was incorrect:

A great deal of mail received at VUMC has outdated, incomplete, or just plain fractured address information. This can lead to delivery errors. The only way to deal with this is for the sender to update the database that generated the address.

You will need to contact your correspondent to request that this be done.  You can view our suggestions on how best to do this here.

We have a yellow change-of-address card which may be helpful in doing this, to be used as shown below.  You may order these free of charge via the link at the bottom of this page.


IF the recipient has transferred or left VUMC:

A piece of this type may or may not be genuinely misdirected—our policy is to sort to the address.

  1. Often, it should simply be routed to the person who has taken the job previously held by the recipient. (Most VUMC mail is really for the position and not for the person.)
  2. However, there may be cases where it should be forwarded to the recipient. If possible, we suggest that a departing staffer leave a supply of forwarding address labels, which can then simply be placed on the piece and it can be placed back in the mail stream.
  3. The third possibility is that the mail may simply not be needed by anyone at all. In this case, we have a small orange label that can quickly be affixed to the piece so that it can be returned to the sender with a request that the record be removed from the database.   For items such as bulk mail which cannot simply be returned, we have a pink request for removal postcard, illustrated below, which may be used.  Both these items may be ordered free of charge via the link at the bottom of the page.

Cases two and three are shown in the illustrations below:

#2 — Forwarding

#3 — Returning to Sender


IF we goofed:

This is our least favorite kind of misdirected mail, but it does happen. When we make a mis-sort, we really want to know all the circumstances so that we can take precautions against it happening again. These should be returned to the attention of Admin. Asst., Post Office, B-0106 MCN (2635). We need to know not only where the letter should go, but also (something many people do not think of) where it actually went. This means we need your return address when you send back mail.

If you wish, we will be happy to provide you with oversized, preaddressed envelopes to make this process easy.  Please send your request, with your address, to


If you would like more extensive information about changing and correcting addresses, see our "Helpful Hints When Moving" section here.

If you would like some of the stickers or postcards shown above, you may order them below: