Mail problems plague post service

The Cayman Islands Postal Service handles nearly 10 million items of mail annually.

It has been determined that up to 7,000 of those items are returned to the sender on a weekly basis.

Lloyd McField

Quality Manager Lloyd McField prepares the returned to sender mail for overseas dispatch. Photo: Submitted

These figures include mail that has already landed on island. It does not include the thousands of pieces delayed overseas because they are incorrectly or improperly addressed, states a press release.

‘The problems range from mail incorrectly addressed to a street address instead of a post-office box number, to incorrect box numbers and postcodes,’ Deputy Postmaster General Anthony Williams said. ‘Despite a lengthy public education campaign on how to properly address mail, a large quantity is still being returned.’

Another problem is that post-office box numbers and postcodes often don’t match.

Mr. Williams encourages residents to use the postcode finder on the CIPS website, .

‘To find the appropriate postcode, simply go to the CIPS website and use the drop-down menu to select the post office. Then type in the box number and the correct postcode will be shown. Residents without computers may collect postcode charts from any postal outlet. A chart can also be found in the telephone directory’s government pages.

‘We have shown residents how to address their mail. Perhaps we need to spell it out more clearly. For instance, remember to drop George Town and BWI. Putting George Town in the addressing block may cause delays, as there are 29 George Towns worldwide. Also, do not include BWI. The British West Indies has not existed geographically since the early 1990s and it is often misread as BVI (British Virgin Islands).’

Residents must inform their business associates, friends and relatives overseas of the correct way to address mail to the Cayman Islands. They must also ensure that they follow the correct procedures when ordering items online. Otherwise merchandise will not be delivered to the correct address.

Mr. Williams said he wants the public to understand that there are legitimate reasons why CIPS personnel do not look up the post box numbers for items that do not have one.

‘First, our computer database only allows for one renter of record. Consider a large company that allows their employees to utilise their post box. How would our sorters know whom this mail belongs to? Second, consider the amount of time our staff would have to spend doing this task. We return between 5,000 and 7,000 pieces of mail weekly.

‘The other point I would like to make clear is that, while we at CIPS understand that there are many legitimate forms of addressing which include street addresses, our concern is postal addresses,’ he added.

Tips for correctly addressing mail

• Because CIPS delivers to post-office boxes, the public should ensure that one is always included in the address. If addresses only have the receiver’s name, followed by their street address and no box number, that letter will be returned. Street addresses are only important when sending or receiving Express Mail Packages.

• Every part of an address block is very important, especially if mail is coming from overseas.

• Mail-sorting machines, which are used in most major cities worldwide, read from the bottom up. So placing the country name – CAYMAN ISLANDS – in capital letters in the last line of the address block helps the machines sort faster.

• The second-to-last line is where the island is designated – Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac or Little Cayman. This is followed by two spaces and the seven-character postcode (three characters followed by a dash and then four characters).

• The third line up is for the post-office box number.

• The top line is for the name of the recipient (the person the mail is addressed to).

More information on properly addressing mail can be found in the CIPS Addressing Guide on the CIPS website.

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