Guide to Hosting International Visitors

Forms of Address

It is important to address an international visitor properly—both in written and spoken form; however, standard reference books do not always agree on proper forms of address. For some titles and positions, there simply is no information available. In addition, titles and styles of address change over time, and some people have a particular preference that is not standard. The following information is provided as a guide. When in doubt, check with the visitor or someone who can provide the proper title.

  • When corresponding, it is very important to note any titles the visitor may hold. For example, “Dr.” is a frequent designation in many countries around the world. The degrees that accompany this title may vary in each nation, but its usage should never be ignored.
  • Since you may not be aware of the full significance of a given title, do not try to translate a foreign title into English if in doubt about its U.S equivalent.
  • “Sir” is generally considered an acceptable alternative to the formal address in both written and spoken greetings. (This does not apply to religious or titled persons.) For greetings in which “Mr.” is used, the feminine equivalent may be “Madame” or, less formally, “Mrs.,” “Miss,” or “Ms.”
Title Written - Address Written - Salutation Conversation
Professor
John/Jane Jones, Ph.D.*
Professor
University Name
Dear Dr. Jones or
Dear Professor Jones
Dr. Jones or
Professor Jones
Head of a University
John/Jane Jones, Ph.D.*
President (Rector, Chancellor)
University Name
Dear Dr. Jones or
Dear President (Rector, Chancellor) Jones
Dr. Jones or
President (Rector, Chancellor) Jones
Physician
John/Jane Jones, M.D.
Dear Dr. Jones
Dr. Jones
Ambassador to the US
His/Her Execellency John/Jane Jones
Ambassador of Country Name
Your Excellency or Dear Mr./Madame Ambassador
Mr./Madame Ambassador or
Your Excellency
Consul to the US
The Honorable John/Jane Jones
Consul General of Country Name
Consul General Jones
Consul General Jones or Mr./Ms. Jones
Chargé d’affaires to the US
The Honorable John/Jane Jones
Chargé d’affaires of Country Name
Dear Sir/Madame or
Dear Mr./Ms. Chargé d’affaires
Dear Mr./Ms. Chargé d’affaires or
Mr./Ms. Jones

* Use the degree initials that apply to the individual.

Source: “Forms of Address – A Guide for Business and Social Use,” edited by Andrea Holberg