Just like your home and car need occasional maintenance, democracy sometimes needs a tune-up. Between election cycles, citizen involvement and communication with elected representatives helps keep congresspeople accountable and aware of constituent opinions on current affairs. Before you send off a letter to your House member, make sure your envelope in correctly addressed to ensure proper delivery.
Finding Your Representative's Address
The United States House of Representatives website provides a directory of members including contact information and postal addresses. Even if you're not exactly sure who your congressional representative is, the House listing allows you to search for your congressional representative by entering your won ZIP code or postal address. The page will identify your representative and either provide directory information for your member of Congress or direct you to a personal website with contact details. Most congressmen will provide an address for both a district office and Washington D.C. mailing address. In most cases, the two offices will be staffed year-round, but you may want to use the district office address when Congress is out of session.
Addressing Your Congressman
In formal correspondence, members of the House of Representatives are addressed with the title "The Honorable." Representative John Smith, for instance, would be addressed as "The Honorable John Smith." You should include this formal title at the top of the address. Because the same title is used for senators and other government officials, you should also write out "U.S. House of Representatives" on the following line.
Putting It All Together
Beyond formal salutations, addressing an envelope to a U.S. congressman works much like addressing any other letter. After the first two lines including your representative's name, title and designation as a House member, include the mailing address, city and zip code just as you would if writing to a friend or family member. The full address should look something like this:
The Honorable John Smith U.S. House of Representatives 123 Street Address Suite 456 Washington, DC 20010
To facilitate a reply, write our your return address on the upper-left corner or on the back of the envelope.
A Note on Letters
A personal letter can be a powerful appeal to an elected representative. Due to security screenings of physical letters entering congressional offices, however, delivery times can be slow. If your letter pertains to a pressing issue or upcoming vote, you may want to consider other options for reaching your representative. The National Association of Social Workers, for instance, advises its activists to send emails, call congressmen or fax letters pertaining to time-sensitive issues.
Edward Mercer began writing professionally in 2009, contributing to several online publications on topics including travel, technology, finance and food. He received his Bachelor of Arts in literature from Yale University in 2006.