Is it illegal to write a fake name on a shipping address? Are there consequences for shipping under a pseudonym? Let’s be honest, we all want to keep our privacy, and, sometimes, for whatever reason, we may be thinking of receiving mail or a package under a pseudonym. Read our article to find out the answers.
Why writing a fake name on a shipping address?
In our globalized era, communicating and getting in touch with persons living on the other side of the globe has become a well-established practice for millions of people on a daily basis, especially through the internet. You may have a subscription in a forum, or you could as well be a frequent buyer on an online platform such as Etsy, eBay, or Amazon.
There are infinite reasons why people decide not to disclose their personal information: it could be for surprising a friend with a gift or buying an article, a book, or a magazine you don’t want other people to know, or maybe famous persons who don’t want to make public their address. A buyer may prefer not to give his real name and surname to an online seller but to use a nickname instead. At the same time, a seller who regularly practices online business may want to provide only a pseudonym or the company name.
Can you really use a fake name for receiving a parcel?
The answer is yes. There’s no law that specifically forbids writing a fake name or a pseudonym on a shipping address, as long as the intent or the content of the package is not fraudulent. Couriers and postal services usually only require a valid address for successful delivery: this is why, occasionally, you may receive mail that was not meant to you, but to your neighbour or a total stranger instead. In conclusion: mail and parcels are delivered to an address, not to a specific person.
When should you avoid using a pseudonym to receive a package?
There are, however, certain exceptions in which at least the surname should be provided for a successful delivery. Let’s say the receiver of the package lives in a building with many apartments, and the shipper doesn’t have the number of the apartment but only the street number and the name or pseudonym of the recipient: the driver would never hand out the package unless the name or the surname appears on the doorbell. And you don’t want your shipping to be misdelivered or opened by someone else.
If you are thinking of writing a fake name on a shipping address, you may opt for some small variant, such as using your initials and the surname: writing “B. Smith” is very generic, and it won’t be clear if you’re Billy, Barbara or Bob.
Shipping to a PO box with a fake name or a pseudonym
Many people have a PO box and prefer to use this for daily mail or couriers’ deliveries instead of sharing their private address. Shipping to a PO box with a pseudonym is possible, as the same rules as for mail delivery apply.
Nevertheless, shipping to a PO box writing a fake name on the address is not risk-free. Some postal offices require a list of names who are authorized to receive mail and packages to that PO box: in that case, it should be easy to register your pseudonym as a legitimate receiver.
What are the consequences of writing a fake name on the shipping address?
As already mentioned, it’s not illegal to write a fake name on a shipping address, unless the purpose of the shipping itself is selling something illegal, or you are faking someone else’s identity. This being said, there are few risks of shipping a parcel under a pseudonym or a fake name:
- Failed delivery attempt – If the number of the PO box or the apartment is not included in the shipping label, chances are the local post office will not accept the delivery, or the courier won’t be able to locate the consignee.
- Parcel held in storage or postal office – if the package is too big to fit in your PO box, or the courier driver didn’t find anyone at the delivery address to hand the shipment to, then the parcel will be held at the postal office or the closest logistics provider’s storage. You will then need to present a valid ID to confirm you are the intended receiver. If you registered your pseudonym under the list of authorized entities to receive your mail or packages, you shouldn’t have any trouble in collecting your things. However, if your fake name or pseudonym is not registered in this list you may encounter some problems. Each postal and courier office has different regulations, and some of them may still let you get the shipment by presenting alternative documents, such as the proof of payment, purchase order, or any other documents you may have that can prove the package is yours.
Online vendors and fake names
If you’re an online vendor, you know how easy it is to find silly names and nicknames amongst the buyers’ community. Many vendors may find themselves receiving an order from John Smith, which is addressed to Mr Mickey Mouse: can you use such a pseudonym to receive a package?
As weird as it may seem, many buyers are actually getting gifts for family members or friends using these kinds of fake names: this could be an inside joke between them or just a funny way to surprise the receiver. If you ship the item to the address provided, you’re doing the right thing, and you’ll be protected from the selling platform policy you’re using.
Should you ever have any suspicion regarding your shipper or receiver, you can always request a signature confirmation, or get in touch with the online selling platform to receive more assistance.
Do you have any questions or doubts about the name you wish to address the package to? Are you an online vendor looking for a cheap and trustworthy courier service? Don’t hesitate to get in touch with our logistics experts!
Last modified: December 2, 2019