A Quick Guide to Colombian Postal Addresses

sending-postcards-in-colombia

TLDR? Colombian addresses follow a different format than in most European countries or the US.

Did you know that more than 20 million postcards are sent every year? These postcards are mailed to tons of locations around the world – including to Colombia! 

However, anyone who has ever tried to send something to Colombia via mail knows that the addresses here don’t work the way that they do in the U.S or Europe. This can leave you second-guessing whether your letter will actually make it to its destination. 

So, if you’re planning on sending cards back home, you might need a bit of help deciphering the Colombian address system. 

Keep reading to learn how to address your postcards when sending them to and from Colombia.

How Does Colombian Street Nomenclature Work?

colombian street name

The first thing to know about street addresses in Colombian cities is how they are named. There are several different types of streets that you might see around the city, including:

  • Carrera (Cra. or Kra.)
  • Calle (Cl. or Cll.)
  • Digaonal (Diag.)
  • Avenida (Ave.)
  • Avenida Calle (AC.)
  • Autopista (Aut.)
  • Carretera (Crt.)
  • Vía
  • Camino (Cn)
  • Circular (Cir)

You may see several other street names not listed, too. However, these are the more common street types you’ll see around Colombian cities.

On top of that, make sure that you double-check whether or not a street has multiple names. For instance, in Medellín, Carrera 43A is more commonly referred to as Avenida Poblado, which can be confusing!

It’s also important to be aware that in rural areas, there might not be a street name associated with the address. In that situation, addresses are denoted using the nearest kilometer marker and the road on which a building is situated.

Pro tip: If you get lost, your best bet is to head back to Poblado. Not only is this where most Casacol properties are, it’s a central point from getting from A to B in the city.

How Do Colombian Zip Codes Work?

colombian zip codes

Now that you’ve got the street nomenclature down, let’s take a minute to talk about Colombian postcodes. This is one area where Colombian addresses differ greatly from American addresses. 

In the United States, zip codes are an important part of an address. However, in Colombia, zip codes are rarely used. In fact, if you ask most people on the street they won’t know what their zip code is!

Reading a Colombian zip code is fairly easy, however, if you do end up needing it. The first two digits in the zip code indicate the department, the second two are the postal zone, and the last two digits indicate the neighborhood or postal district.

Pro tip: Colombians don’t actually use zip codes that often. You’re better off remembering what neighborhood you’re staying in, such as the Laureles neighborhood if you’re in Factory Lofts!

How Do I Write Colombian Street Addresses?

boxes of mail

With zip codes and street names under our belts, it’s time to put everything together. Typically, when writing a Colombian address (for instance to a friend in Laureles), they will follow a very simple format.

To write a street address, you’ll start by writing the street name, followed by two numbers. The first number indicates the nearest cross street and the second number indicates how many meters the address is from the cross street. 

So, for instance, Carrera 10 #56-25 means that the house is located on Carerra 10, 25 meters away from Calle 56. 

It’s important to note that carrera indicates a street running from north to south and calle indicates a street running from east to west. Streets in major cities are laid out in a grid pattern, making it easy to determine what cross streets are likely to be named in a Colombian address.

How Do I Write Full Mailing Addresses?

person writing a mailing address

So, are you ready to dive in and address your first postcard to another digital nomad living here in Colombia? Here goes nothing! 

To address a postcard to a Colombian recipient, you’ll need to use the following format: 

  1. Name: write the name of the recipient at the top of the address
  2. Street Address: include any apartment or unit numbers as well as torre if this applies
  3. Building Name: either write the name of the apartment building or casa and the corresponding house number
  4. Neighborhood, Locality, and Postcode: write the barrio, then the localidad, and finally the zip code
  5. City and Department: write the name of the city followed by the department
  6. Country: Colombia
  7. Phone number: include the recipient’s phone number below the address

For example, the card might read:

Jane Doe
Cra 6 #10-30, Apto 111
Edificio Paradiso
El Poblado 70000
Medellin, Antioquia
Colombia

When addressing your postcards, it’s important to note that including a zip code and a phone number aren’t necessary. However, doing so can help ensure your card makes it to its final destination. 

What Are Some Pro Tips for Sending Mail to Colombia?

Postcard to colombia from berlin

To make sure that your postcards actually make it to their destination, there are a few simple tips you can implement. Doing so will ensure that your recipients get to open some greetings from abroad and that your cards don’t get lost in the mail. 

Get a Tracking Number

For one, always make sure to get a tracking number. You should do so whether using the national postal service, a private mailing company, or an international shipping company. 

Double Check the Address

Secondly, also double-check whether the address is located on a calle or a carrera. These are two very different streets, and if you mix them up then you’ll be sending your holiday card to a completely different recipient. 

Consider Mailing Directly from the Company

Sites like Amazon let you ship packages internationally and domestically. Often, these companies are more reliable than sending a package yourself! If you can, try sending your items directly through these companies.

Include a Return Address

Finally, always make sure to include a return address in the upper left-hand corner. That way, if your card can’t be delivered, it will at least be sent back to you so that you can try again.

Send Mail to Colombia With Ease

With a bit of understanding, sending holiday cards to Colombia is a breeze. In fact, once you get the basics of addresses in Colombia, they might seem simpler than American addresses!

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