C/O Meaning: What Does C/O Mean?

The term “c/o” is an abbreviation that stands for “care of”. It is commonly used in addresses and correspondence when the recipient is staying at someone else’s home or receiving mail through a third party. This convention helps direct mail to the appropriate person, even when they are not at their usual address.

Using “c/o” is a practical solution when you do not have the direct address for the person you want to reach, or when you want to send mail to yourself at another person’s residence. For example, if someone is temporarily staying with a friend, mail can be sent to that address by adding “c/o” before the friend’s name, ensuring the mail will be handed over to the intended recipient.

Key Takeaways

  • “c/o” is an abbreviation for “care of”, often used in addresses for recipients staying at someone else’s residence
  • The term is a helpful solution in directing mail to the appropriate person when their direct address is unknown
  • Using “c/o” can ensure mail reaches the intended recipient, even in situations where they are not at their usual address

C/O Meaning

What Does C/O Stand For?

C/O is an abbreviation for “care of.” It is commonly used in addressing envelopes and packages to indicate that the recipient is not the usual person associated with the address. Instead, the mail is being sent to a person or company who will ensure that the intended recipient receives the correspondence.

c/o Meaning: What Does c/o Mean? Pin

Origin and Context of C/O

The use of “c/o” or “care of” in written addresses dates back to the 19th century or earlier. Its primary purpose is to assist the postal service or the courier company in delivering the mail or package to the correct individual at the given location, especially when the recipient might not be known to the company or the mail handler at the address.

For example, if a person wants to send a letter to a friend who is staying temporarily at a relative’s house, they can address the envelope as follows:

Jane Smith
c/o John Doe
123 Main Street
Anytown, USA 12345

In this instance, Jane Smith is the intended recipient of the letter, but since she does not reside at 123 Main Street and may not be known by the mail carrier or the residents of the house, the c/o line will ensure that the letter reaches her through John Doe, who is known at that address.

Related Terms to C/O

C/O is just one abbreviation used in the context of mail delivery and addressing. Other related terms that can be helpful when addressing mail or packages include:

  • Apt: Abbreviation for “apartment,” used to specify the apartment number or unit within a multi-unit residential building.
  • P.O. Box: Short for “Post Office Box,” a uniquely numbered receptacle provided by the postal service for receiving mail.
  • Attn: Abbreviation for “attention,” often used in addressing business mail when directing correspondence to a specific person or department within a company.

By using these abbreviations along with “c/o” as needed, the sender can ensure that their letter or package reaches the intended recipient, even in situations where the recipient may not be the usual person associated with the given address.

C/O Examples in Conversations, Texting, and Social Posts

C/O, which stands for “care of,” is used to address a letter or parcel to an addressee who does not usually receive mail at a specific location. The abbreviation ensures that the mail reaches the intended recipient without being returned to the sender.

For example, if you want to send a letter to a friend staying at a hotel, you can use the C/O format on the envelope. You would write the friend’s name followed by “C/O” and the hotel’s name.


John Doe
C/O The Grand Hotel
123 Main Street
City, State, ZIP

In the context of a business, C/O may be used to send a letter to someone at their workplace if you do not have their residential address. In this case, you would also start with the recipient’s name and then include the business’s name and address.


Jane Smith
C/O ABC Corporation
456 Business Avenue
City, State, ZIP

In conversations, texting, and social posts, using the term C/O is less common compared to written correspondence. However, you may encounter situations where you need to convey the concept of sending something to someone through an intermediate party.

For instance, if you need to ask your friend to collect and forward a package, you may mention C/O in a text message or social post, like:

  • I received a check for you, so I’ll forward it to you C/O your mom’s house.

Using C/O in addresses is a useful way to ensure that mail is properly delivered even if the intended recipient does not have a permanent address or is temporarily staying at a different location. The post office recognizes and utilizes this abbreviation to ensure the proper delivery of correspondence, packages, and other mailed items.

More about C/O Terminology

C/O Synonyms

C/O, an abbreviation for “care of,” is commonly used in correspondence to indicate that the item is being sent through another party or to an addressee who is not the primary recipient. It ensures that the letter or package reaches the intended person while being received by a secondary contact or entity. Other ways to indicate the same concept include using “c/-” or “attention” with the designated person or room number.

Other Meanings of C/O

  • Cash Out: In finance, C/O can be used to indicate a transaction where an investor sells all or part of their holdings in a particular security or investment.
  • Change Order: In construction and project management, C/O is used to indicate a change to the original scope of work or project plan.
  • Certificate of Origin: A document used in international trade to certify the country of origin of a particular product.
  • Caretaker Officer: In some organizations, C/O is used to indicate a position responsible for overseeing the care and maintenance of a particular facility or property.
  • Carbon Monoxide: A toxic gas that is produced by the incomplete combustion of carbon-based fuels, such as gasoline or natural gas.
  • Commanding Officer: In military or law enforcement contexts, C/O can be used to refer to the highest-ranking officer in a particular unit or division.
  • Change of Ownership: In business or legal contexts, C/O can be used to indicate a change in ownership of a particular asset or property.
  • Cash on Order: In finance, C/O can be used to indicate a transaction where payment is made upon receipt of an order, rather than in advance or upon delivery.
  • Certificate of Occupancy: A document issued by a local government agency indicating that a building or property meets all applicable building codes and is safe for occupancy.

Frequently Asked Questions

How is c/o used in an address?

c/o, short for “care of,” is used in an address when you send mail to someone at an address where they do not typically receive mail. It indicates that the mail is intended for that person, but being sent to another person or entity’s address. To use c/o in an address, simply place “c/o” followed by the name or organization that the intended recipient’s mail is being sent through. For example:

Jane Doe
c/o John Smith
123 Main Street
City, State, Zip Code

What is the purpose of c/o in mail?

The purpose of c/o in mail is to ensure that the correspondence reaches the intended recipient even when it’s sent to an address where they do not normally receive mail. This can be helpful when mailing something to someone who is temporarily staying with someone else or when the recipient might not be familiar to the people handling mail at that address.

How does c/o apply to business addresses?

c/o can be used in business addresses when you’re sending correspondence to an individual at a company address where they may not be widely known or do not typically receive mail. By using c/o followed by the company or department name, you ensure that the mail is directed through the company and eventually reaches the intended recipient. For example:

Alice Johnson
c/o ABC Corporation
456 Corporate Drive
City, State, Zip Code

What is the role of c/o in shipping?

In shipping, c/o is used to indicate that the package or shipment is being sent in the care of another party. Similar to mailing, this ensures that the shipment reaches the intended recipient even if they are not the primary individual or business at the address. By including c/o and a reference person or organization, the shipper has a clearer destination for the package, increasing the likelihood of successful delivery.

Is there a legal significance to using c/o?

There isn’t any inherent legal significance to using c/o in an address. It serves as a helpful identifier in mail or shipping but does not change the rights, responsibilities, or ownership of the correspondence or package it is used with. However, it can be useful to prove that an individual or entity received mail or a package if that fact is in dispute in a legal situation.

Can you provide an example of c/o in a name?

Certainly. When using c/o with a name, simply include it before the intended recipient’s name, followed by the address of the person, company, or organization through which the mail is being sent. Here’s an example:

Samantha Brown
c/o Susan White
789 Elm Street
City, State, Zip Code

In this example, Samantha Brown is the intended recipient while Susan White is the person or address through which the mail is being sent.


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