USPS Mail Forwarding
May 11, 2023
In 2022, USPS (United States Postal Service) processed 33.2 million address changes. Despite this significant number, the Postal Service continues to deliver to everyone in the U.S. regardless of location.
You may be one of the many Postal Service customers planning to change locations. If so, you must update your address to ensure your mail arrives at the correct address.
How do you forward your mail through USPS? What forwarding options does USPS offer, and how can you change your address?
This article explains how mail forwarding with USPS works. This article also discusses the different USPS services providing mail forwarding, including how you can change an address online and in person.
If you’re moving or relocating, mail forwarding is one way to get your mail delivered to your new address. FindPostOffice.org can help you locate a Post Office near you so you can send mail or submit a change-of-address request.
Getting Started: Standard Forward Mail and Change of Address
Suppose you are working a job, and your employer reassigns you to a newly opened branch out of town. You may need to relocate your home address immediately.
But if your clients send mail to you frequently, what option do you have to ensure those pieces of correspondence reach your new address?
Fortunately, USPS has a mail forwarding service that reroutes mail to your new location even when the address the sender uses is your previous one.
What Mail Is Forwarded?
The following USPS services offer mail forwarding options:
- First-Class Mail and periodicals
- Premium shipping services like Priority Mail, Priority Mail Express, and First-Class Package
- USPS Retail Ground and Media Mail
One important thing to note is that your change of address order does not update your personal or state records automatically.
If you must update essential records like your voter registration or banking information, you must do so at the appropriate agencies.
How Does USPS Mail Forwarding Work?
Mail forwarding considers your previous address and redirects mail to your new location. This way, even when a sender mails a letter or package to you using your old address, USPS can deliver the item to your new address instead of your old one.
Is USPS Forwarding Free?
Some mail types, like First-Class Mail, First-Class Package, Priority Mail, and Priority Mail Express, include free forwarding features.
Meanwhile, USPS Retail Ground and Media Mail have forwarding available for a fee.
What Are the Rules for Forwarding Mail?
You can send a temporary or permanent change of address (COA) request to USPS by filling out a PS Form 3575 (official mail forwarding change of address order) in your local post office. You can also submit an online form on the USPS website.
When you submit the COA form, you must indicate whether you are the addressee, guardian, authorized officer, executor, or agent of the person for whom USPS will forward the mail.
You cannot file a COA request for someone other than yourself or your business without authorization.
How Long Will USPS Forward Mail to a New Address?
The standard USPS mail forwarding service usually lasts 12 months. But you can purchase extended mail forwarding to add 6, 12, or 18 more months to the normal period.
Moving or Relocating
If you move to a new address, you must submit a permanent change of address request so that the courier can reroute your mail correctly.
USPS can start your mail forwarding service within three business days of your request submission. Still, the Postal Service recommends a two-week allowance.
So if you move to a different location, submit a request two weeks before you want the forwarding service to start.
You can change your address in a few steps by visiting your local post office or logging in to USPS.com. The courier will forward your mail to your new address as the item arrives.
If you only need to relocate for a short time, the Postal Service allows you to change addresses temporarily. You only need to submit a temporary change of address form to start receiving mail at your new location for 15 days to 1 year.
Do You Have to Forward Your Mail?
Technological advancement has allowed people to communicate instantly via email, text, or messaging apps. Still, some forms of correspondence may require snail mail (mail sent through a postal system) as the preferred communication tool.
For example, government correspondence like voter registration, IRS (Internal Revenue Service) notices, and jury duty summons must be sent through snail mail. If you change location, your address should be up-to-date to ensure these documents reach you.
For these reasons, mail forwarding should be among your priorities when changing addresses. This feature has the following benefits:
- Forwarding is easy: Mail forwarding is a relatively low-effort task that gives you a sense of security even when moving to different cities.
- Forwarding is affordable: Some USPS services offer standard mail forwarding for free. Other services require an added fee of a little over a dollar for forwarding.
How Do You Forward Your Mail Through the Post Office?
You can change your address online at the official USPS change of address page at MoversGuide.USPS.com.
However, you can also change your address in person by following these steps:
In-Person Change of Address
- Visit your local post office. You can find one near you using FindPostOffice.org’s online search tool.
- Request a Mover’s Guide packet for free.
- Fill out the PS Form 3575 inside the packet.
Customers Have Mail Forwarding Options
The Postal Service offers three ways to forward your mail: temporary change of address, permanent change of address, and Premium Forwarding service. The following sections describe these options.
Temporary Change of Address
A temporary COA order provides piece-by-piece forwarding of First-Class Mail and periodicals for a specific period. However, this service does not provide forwarding for USPS Marketing Mail or Package Services Mail.
How to Temporarily Change Your Mailing Address or Hold Your Mail at a Post Office
To change your mailing address temporarily, head to the USPS change of address page and select “Temporary.” Fill out the appropriate online form and pay the $1.10 identity verification fee.
Afterward, USPS will email you a confirmation code that you can use to modify or cancel your request. The Postal Service will send a welcome kit with coupons to your new address upon your request completion.
Permanent Change of Address
A permanent COA order allows you to forward First-Class Mail for 12 months and periodicals for 60 days. This order does not provide forwarding for USPS Marketing Mail or Package Services Mail.
USPS also provides the customers’ new addresses to business mailers upon request through mailer endorsements.
How to Extend Mail Forwarding Services
If you need to extend your forwarding period to more than 12 months, you can purchase extended mail forwarding on your first COA request. You can also modify your request later to accommodate the extension.
Extended mail forwarding can be a convenient feature if you are still determining how long you need mail delivered to your forwarding address. However, remember that you cannot request a refund or cancel this service after you have paid for it.
Still, USPS can also notify you through email when you have only one month left in your mail forwarding service.
Premium Forwarding Service Residential Service (PFS-Residential Service)
Suppose you receive a substantial amount of mail at your home weekly. With PFS-Residential Service, USPS can deliver a single weekly mail shipment to your residence through Priority Mail for a fee.
PFS-Residential is a temporary service USPS offers as an added option to your free temporary or permanent COA option. Depending on your forwarding requirements, you can extend this service for up to a year.
You can start your PFS-Residential service by applying at your local post office or submitting an online application to USPS.com.
How to Initiate Premium Mail Forwarding Services
To start using PFS, choose any of the following services based on your needs:
- If you are a residential customer that uses USPS Priority Mail, pick Premium Forwarding Service Residential. This temporary forwarding service requires a one-time enrollment fee and weekly shipment fee.
- If you run a business that frequently ships bundled mail through Priority Mail or Priority Mail Express, choose Premium Forwarding Service Commercial.
You can also use the commercial option to forward business mail from a PO Box. If you have other concerns about PFS, visit USPS.com and access the FAQs (frequently asked questions) page.
Related Mail Service
Mail forwarding is one option for receiving mail when you are away from home or have permanently changed your address.
Another way to manage your mail and have peace of mind when no one can receive packages or essential documents is USPS Hold Mail.
This service holds your mail at your local post office until your return. USPS Hold Mail is a convenient service if you will be away from your address for up to 30 days.
Once you return, your mail carrier will resume regular mail delivery to your address. You can also pick up your mail at the post office.
To schedule this service, visit your local post office or log in to your account on the USPS website. If you have no USPS account, sign up for one using your valid email address.
Stop or Forward Mail for the Deceased
If you have a loved one who recently passed, you can ask USPS to stop sending mail to their registered addresses. You can submit a request to your local post office to redirect mail or remove your deceased loved one’s address from advertising lists.
Filing a Complaint With the U.S. Postal Service
If you have delivery or customer service issues, contact your local post office or USPS Consumer and Industry Contact Office. These offices can handle complaints for:
- Delivery problems like late or no delivery, tracking issues, misdeliveries, and damaged mail
- Customer service issues like wait times, poor service, and postal vehicle or driving complaints
To submit a complaint online, visit the USPS Office of the Inspector General (OIG) website and provide the following information:
- Submission type (submitting as a USPS customer, employee, or contractor)
- Complainant information
- Complaint information
- Complaint details
Note that the OIG can only investigate complaints that are within its jurisdiction, including the following:
- Mail theft, delay, or destruction by USPS contractors and employees
- Employee misconduct
- Fraud involving workers’ compensation or healthcare
- Embezzlement (theft or misappropriation of funds) and other financial crimes
- Contract fraud
- Computer crimes
- Complaints against executive personnel
- Whistleblower reprisal
Find ZIP Codes and Post Offices at Find Post Office
USPS has more than 31,000 post offices across the United States. With this number, there is a good chance that there are a few Postal Service-managed retail offices near you.
FindPostOffice.org is an online post office search platform you can use to locate a post office. You can search by state, city, or current location.
Use the search bar on the FindPostOffice.org page to input the ZIP code of your choice. A dropdown list should appear that shows all post offices in that location. Click your preferred area, and the page will display the details of the post office you are looking for.
You can also enter the city or state in the search bar to display the post offices in those areas. If you enable geolocation on your browser, you can also search for post offices based on your location.
Geolocation is an internet function that uses your device’s IP (internet protocol) address to identify your geographical location. This function can help locate nearby post offices.
- Size and Scope
- Standard Forward Mail & Change of Address
- Change of Address – The Basics
- Mail Forwarding Options
- Premium Forwarding Services
- File an Online Complaint