Always provide a courteous, polite finish when writing a letter to your representative. For example, you may write "Sincerely, Jane Doe" or "Respectfully, John Doe." To demonstrate your appreciation, address your mail to "The Honorable." In the United States, elected politicians are usually addressed as "The Honorable." John Doe is a legal name for someone who has not been identified or charged with a crime.
Write a brief but accurate letter. Always include the necessary information without unnecessary verbiage. Be sure to sign your letter at the end. You can identify your letter as an official document by including its date on the front side. If you have questions about how to format a letter to your representative or what topics should be included, we recommend reading our article on How to Write a Letter.
If you want to send a copy of the letter to another person, such as your senator's office, include their address before signing the letter. Signing your letter makes it an official document and gives it legal weight. If you sign your letter "Respectfully," that phrase will appear at the top of any reply from your representative's office.
Some things to avoid saying in letters include: offensive words, phrases, or images; threats; harassing comments; false information; commercial content.
Making the Letter
When addressing a letter to a lawmaker, use "The Honorable," followed by the representative's complete name and business address. In both letters and emails, use "Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms." followed by the representative's last name as the salutation. If the representative has an office staff, include their names in the message.
Representatives' offices are generally located in state capitals or larger cities with government-funded postal services such as Washington, D.C. Otherwise, they may be located in smaller towns or rural areas without post offices. Before sending a letter through the U.S. Postal Service, it must be addressed to a specific person at that location. Representatives do not have home addresses so mail to them should be directed to the nearest post office box or email address.
In addition to federal representatives, many states have lawmakers who serve in the Senate or House of Representatives. Like their federal counterparts, they can be identified as either "Mr.", "Mrs.", or "Ms." Although not common, some women senators choose to be called by their first names only (e.g., "Alison" instead of "Senator"). Some representatives go by their title even if they're well known within their district or state (e.g., "Bob Smith" for the congressman from Ohio).
All members of Congress receive letters and packages at their offices.
Your message should be addressed to "The Honorable (Full Name), Governor of (State)." The governor's complete title should be addressed on the outside of your letter. This contains their title, "The Honorable," followed by their first and surname names, as well as the state or territory they administer. If the official is absent, you may use "The XX" in place of their name.
For example, if the governor's full name is (William) Peter Hogan and he resides in Virginia, then your letter should be sent to "The Honorable William P. Hogan, Governor." If the official is not present, you may also send your letter to his "Virginia Office," or to an alternative address such as an executive secretary's office.
In addition to the return address, the letter should include your own contact information. This includes your name, address, phone number, and email address.
All letters to the governor are treated as public documents and are made available to the general public after six months have passed. It is recommended that you mail your letter before this time frame has passed; however, we have had success sending them later via email.
If you would like us to represent you during your correspondence with the governor, please refer to our Contact page.
If you are addressing the ambassador directly, use "Dear Honorable Ambassador." If you don't know the recipient's name or gender, you might start your letter with "Dear Sir or Madam." You should, however, make every attempt to address your message to a specific individual. Including a copy to someone high up in an organization can be very useful when trying to get your point across.
Ambassadors are usually members of foreign governments, but there are also ambassadors from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) or human rights groups. They can play an important role in helping resolve disputes between countries and lobbying governments on issues such as human rights. In some cases, they may even have the power to settle disputes themselves - for example, through arbitration panels.
In general, letters to diplomats are answered by assistants who are often part of the foreign service. So you should always address your email or letter to an appropriate official.
Here are some examples of correct and incorrect ways to write letters to diplomats:
Correct: Dear Ambassador Smith, Thank you so much for your help with my case. I believe I have now resolved all of the problems with my visa application. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do to prove my intention to leave China soon.
Incorrect: Hello Mr. Smith, Thanks for your help with my case.