USPS Premium Forwarding

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March 23, 2024

Are you preparing for a dormitory stay during your university years? Or are you planning an extended vacation in the picturesque United States (U.S.) countryside? Or maybe you’re spending the holidays at a relative’s house?

Regardless of your temporary change of address, ensuring your mailpieces reach you wherever you are is crucial, especially if you’re expecting vital documents or valuable packages.

Fortunately, the United States Postal Service (USPS) offers a tailored solution to your needs: the USPS Premium Mail Forwarding Service. But what exactly is it? How does it differ from the standard forwarding option the Postal Service provides?

This article aims to help you navigate the intricacies of USPS Premium Forwarding, highlighting its unique features and how it can help you seamlessly manage your mail during your address transition.

For comprehensive information on the U.S. Postal Service’s forwarding solutions, visit your local post office and talk to a Postal Service representative. Find your area’s most convenient post office locations with FindPostOffice.org.

Moving or Relocating

If you’re moving or relocating to a new address, the U.S. Postal Service, commonly known as USPS, offers three ways to reroute your mail, depending on your needs. These options include:

  • Temporary Change of Address (COA): This forwarding service offers piece-by-piece mail rerouting for mail classes like First-Class Mail and Periodicals for a specified time frame. However, it doesn’t forward USPS Marketing Mail and package services.
  • Permanent Change of Address: A permanent change of address order works similarly to a temporary COA. But instead of letting you forward mail items for a specified period, it offers rerouting of First-Class Mail for 12 months and 60 days for periodicals.
  • Premium Forwarding Service: The USPS’ Premium Forwarding Service (PFS) gives residential and business customers control over when and where to receive mail items.

Unlike the previous two forwarding options, PFS allows you to reroute virtually all mail classes, including Priority Mail, Priority Mail Express, and USPS Ground Advantage (a combination of USPS services including USPS First-Class Package Service, USPS Parcel Select Ground, and USPS Retail Ground) packages.

Getting Started

This article will primarily focus on the USPS Premium Forwarding Service. To get started, let’s first break down what it is. In a nutshell, PFS is a mail forwarding service offered by the U.S. Postal Service.

When you submit a change of address request, you have two options: PFS-Residential and PFS-Commercial. The residential option lets you consolidate your mail items at a local post office with weekly shipments to your temporary residential address.

Unlike other Postal Service mail forwarding solutions, PFS-Residential utilizes the Priority Mail service, which boasts one- to three-business-day delivery, USPS Tracking, and up to $100 shipping insurance for packages with the applicable USPS tracking barcode. This system ensures that your forwarded mail gets to your desired location securely.

On the other hand, the Premium Forwarding Service Commercial option is worth considering if you’re a business owner who wants to temporarily reroute mailpieces going to your active P.O. box or domestic business address.

Like PFS-Residential, the Commercial PFS version provides fast forwarding through Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express. This option is perfect for time-sensitive business mail. It also lets you choose how frequently the Postal Service will forward shipments to your new business address.

Note that you must plan ahead, regardless of which Premium Forwarding Service option you choose. While USPS will begin forwarding all your mail to your desired address within three days of your enrollment, it suggests a two-week allowance.

Customer Information

The Postal Service’s standard temporary and permanent COA forwarding options are free. The Premium Forwarding Service is an additional option you get on top of the free services. Unfortunately, because of its increased benefits, PFS comes with fees.

The rates of Premium Forwarding Service-Residential vary. You’ll pay a one-time enrollment fee of $23.40 if you submit your application online, and $25.45 if you apply at a post office. On the other hand, you must pay a $23.40 annual fee for PFS-Commercial.

What Mail Is Forwarded?

As mentioned, USPS’ standard mail forwarding option primarily reroutes First-Class Mail and Periodicals. On the other hand, the Premium Forwarding Services forwards almost all mail classes, including the following:

  • Registered Mail
  • Priority Mail
  • Priority Mail Express
  • First-Class Mail
  • Large First-Class Mail
  • USPS Ground Advantage
  • Periodicals
  • Marketing Mail
  • Media Mail

Additionally, considering that PFS uses Priority Mail or Priority Mail Express, it can forward mail items of up to 70lbs. With PFS-Commercial, shipments may be delivered using sacks, depending on the mail volume.

That said, USPS won’t forward restricted items, such as aerosols, ammunition, alcoholic beverages, and hazardous materials (HAZMATs). For a comprehensive list of forwarding mail exceptions, visit the USPS website at USPS.com.

Alternatively, you can inquire about what mail items the Premium Forwarding Services can and won’t reroute at your local post office. Quickly find USPS facilities using FindPostOffice.org’s locator tool.

Do You Have to Forward Your Mail?

While forwarding your mail isn’t mandatory, it’s highly recommended, especially if you don’t want to miss any essential documents, bills, or packages while away from your old address.

Here are some reasons to consider using a USPS mail forwarding service:

  • Seamless transition: Forwarding your mail ensures a smooth transition when you move, temporarily or permanently. It eliminates the hassle of constantly updating your address with various mailers.
  • No missed deliveries: Rerouting prevents you from missing essential mailpieces, such as bills, legal documents, or time-sensitive correspondence, helping you stay organized and ensuring you’re up-to-date on your commitments.
  • Security and privacy: You risk sensitive mail items falling into the wrong hands when you’re not at your usual address to receive them. A forwarding service like PFS adds a layer of security to your personal information.
  • Convenience: Forwarded mail means you won’t have to visit your old address frequently or ask others to receive and pick up stray mail. It also prevents “return to sender” incidents, removing the hassle of toing and froing.

How to Forward Your Mail Through the Post Office

Whether you’re temporarily or permanently relocating to a new address, you must submit a change of address request with the U.S. Postal Service. Otherwise, USPS’ mail delivery services will continue to send letters and packages to your previous address.

Fortunately, USPS provides several methods for changing your address. Such options are detailed in the succeeding sections.

How to Change Your Address Online

Changing your address online with USPS is straightforward. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Visit the U.S. Postal Service change of address page.
  2. Select the “Individual,” “Family,” or “Business” option that matches your situation.
  3. Complete the change of address form by providing the necessary information, including your personal information, contact number, whether you’re moving temporarily or not, the preferred start date, and both your old and new address.
  4. Verify your identity using a mobile phone verification code or link. If you cannot validate your identity online, you can visit a post office that offers in-person identity proofing.

Visit FindPostOffice.org and use the locator tool to sort through the 18,000 USPS facilities with identity-proofing services to the ones in your area.

  1. Settle the $1.10 identity verification fee. You can pay with a valid debit or credit card.
  2. The Postal Service will then send you an email with a confirmation code, which you can use to modify or cancel your COA request.
  3. At this point, USPS will begin forwarding your mail items to your new address.

How to Change Your Address at the Post Office

You can visit your local post office to submit a COA request in person. Here’s how:  

  1. Locate your nearest post office facility by visiting FindPostOffice.org and using the USPS retail branch finder.
  2. Present a USPS-approved identification to the Postal Service representative, such as a state-issued driver’s license or U.S. passport.
  3. Request a Mover’s Guide packet from the USPS retail associate. This free packet contains the necessary forms to initiate your COA request, such as the PS Form 3575. It also includes instructions to complete your submission and discount coupons.
  4. Fill out the PS Form 3575 and submit the completed application with your photo I.D. for verification. The USPS representative will then begin processing your change of address request.

Additional Places to Update Your Address

While a mail forwarding solution like PFS will automatically reroute your mailpieces to your new address, you must contact several people and organizations to ensure they’re aware of your move.

These entities include government agencies, such as the Internal Revenue System (IRS), the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), and Social Security. You should also notify your banks, credit unions, utility companies, and other essential mailers.

How Do I Set Up Premium Mail Forwarding?

How you’ll set up premium mail forwarding varies depending on which PFS you need and where you plan to submit your application. Are you enrolling for PFS-Residential or PFS-Commercial? Will you apply online or at the post office?

Premium Services Quick Compare

To help you decide which USPS Premium Forwarding Service suits your unique situation better, let’s look at a quick comparison between Premium Forwarding Service Residential and Commercial.

PFS-Residential and PFS-Commercial both offer temporary forwarding solutions. The former is designed for residential customers, while the latter is for business applicants.

The residential PFS provides weekly shipments. At the same time, the commercial version allows you to choose how often USPS delivers mail packages from an old business address or P.O. box to the new business address.

However, the associated fees are the most significant distinction between the two mail forwarding options. PFS-Residential has a one-time enrollment fee and a weekly fee for shipping services.

On the other hand, PFS-Commercial comes with an annual fee. You also shoulder the postage costs of forwarding envelopes, trays, or sacks through Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express.

Premium Forwarding Service Residential

With Premium Forwarding Service Residential, your mail undergoes a hassle-free transition. Here’s additional information about this specific USPS PFS:

When Is Mail Forwarded?

Once you’re enrolled in PFS-Residential, the forwarding process usually starts on the Wednesday following your application. Most post office locations will also reroute your mailpieces every Wednesday.

Fortunately, you don’t have to guess which items will be forwarded to your new address, as the U.S. Postal Service will email you your weekly shipment’s USPS Tracking numbers.

Enrolling in PFS-Residential Online

Similar to enrolling for the standard USPS forwarding service, PFS lets you submit your application online. Here’s how:

  1. Cancel your active forwarding service or COA requests.
  2. Visit the USPS Premium Forwarding Residential Online enrollment page.
  3. Login or create a USPS.com account.
  4. Complete the PFS-Residential application form.
  5. Pay the necessary fees and allow between 7 and 10 days to receive your first forwarded shipment.

Enrolling in PFS-residential at the Post Office

If you’d rather apply for PFS-Residential at the post office, here’s what you must do:

  1. Visit FindPostOffice.org to find your P.O. box’s post office location.
  2. Bring two forms of identification, including a primary photo I.D., such as a government-issued I.D., and a secondary I.D. as proof of residence, such as a mortgage or lease.
  3. Follow the instructions of the Postal Service representative and pay the necessary fees.

Requesting a Refund for PFS-Residential

You can request a refund for your PFS-Residential order. However, the process will vary depending on where you submitted your application. Note that you won’t be able to refund your enrollment fee, used weekly shipping fees, and the costs incurred by delayed shipments.

For additional information on Premium Forwarding Service Residential refunds, visit the USPS website. You can also contact a USPS representative by calling the Postal Service’s customer service or heading to a post office. Find the nearest USPS facility with FindPostOffice.org.

Premium Forwarding Service Commercial

PFS-Commercial offers more flexibility and control, letting you choose your preferred mailing frequency and the shipping service rerouting your mail items.

While the registration process is straightforward, you must first meet several prerequisites, including securing a USPS Business Customer Gateway account, a PostalOne! Permit, a USPS Enterprise Payment System (EPS) account, and an Electronic Verification System (eVS) account.

Considering PFS-Commercial is designed for business and commercial customers, you must have a valid business address. But once you’ve secured these essentials, you must pay the annual enrollment fee and complete the online application.

How Much Is the USPS Premium Forwarding Service?

The cost of USPS Premium Forwarding services varies depending on your chosen service type. Here’s an overview of your expected PFS expenses based on USPS’ September 2023 pricing:

Premium Forwarding Service Residential
Online Enrollment Fee$23.40
Post Office Enrollment Fee$25.45
Weekly Shipment Fee$25.45
Premium Forwarding Service Commercial
Online Enrollment Fee (Annual)$23.40
Sacks Shipment FeeBased on weight and destination
Priority Mail (Half Tray)$28.40
Priority Mail (Full Tray)$51.90
Priority Mail Express (Half Tray)$65.15
Priority Mail Express (Full Tray)$129.10

Can I Change or Cancel Premium Forwarding Service Residential?

The primary benefit of enrolling for a residential Premium Forwarding Service online is that you can manage your application, including canceling your order, changing the start date, and extending the end date.

However, you must make any amendments to your PFS-Residential order before these deadlines:

CancellationThe day before the start dateBy or before 11:59 PM Central Standard Time/Central Daylight Time (CST/CDT)
Start DateThe day before the original start dateBy or before 11:59 PM (CST/CDT)
Individual or HouseholdThe day before the start dateBy or before 11:59 PM (CST/CDT)
Extend or Shorten the Service DurationMonday before the last WednesdayBefore 11:59 PM (CST/CDT)

To make changes to your PFS-Residential order, here are the steps:

  1. Log in to your USPS.com account.
  2. Click the “My Profile” option on the top navigation bar.
  3. Select “Active History” on the left navigation pane of your profile page.
  4. Find your PFS-Residential and click on “View Details.”
  5. Choose the “Edit This Order” option.
  6. Review all your changes and click “Update Order” to save them.

To cancel your online Premium Forwarding Service Residential application, follow these steps:

  1. Sign in to your USPS.com account.
  2. Head to your profile, which you can find on the top navigation bar.
  3. Click the “Active History” option on the left side of the profile page.
  4. Locate your PFS-Residential order and select “Cancel Order.”
  5. Click “Yes” on the confirmation pop-up.

How to Extend Mail Forwarding Services

The standard duration of PFS-Residential is between two weeks to a maximum of one year. However, you can extend the service in six-month increments if you wish.

PFS-Residential Extension PeriodFee
6 Months$19.95
12 Months$29.95
18 Months$39.95

For PFS-Commercial, the minimum period is two weeks. Fortunately, you can tailor the duration based on your needs, as you can select when the service starts and ends. To extend your order, visit your USPS Business Customer Gateway account.

Related Mail Services

Aside from the standard and premium mail forwarding options that the U.S. Postal Service offers, there are other convenient package services you can consider to help you manage your mail effectively while you’re away from your original address.

USPS Hold Mail Service

If you plan to be away from your mailing address, the USPS Hold Mail service can be an alternative to mail forwarding. With this service, your local post office will hold all your mailpieces until you or a delegated individual retrieve them within 30 days.

Like the standard USPS forwarding services, USPS Hold Mail is free. To use this mail rerouting alternative, submit a request online or visit a local post office.

Stop or Forward Mail for the Deceased

If your deceased loved one continues to receive mail at their registered delivery address, you can redirect these mailpieces or remove them from advertising lists. For additional information on how to stop or forward mail addressed to the deceased, visit your local post office.

Quickly find your area’s nearest and most convenient Postal Service retail stores with FindPostOffice.org’s USPS facility locator tool.

Does USPS Forward Priority Packages?

Whether using the USPS standard mail rerouting service or the Premium Forwarding Services like PFS-Residential and PFS-Commercial, the U.S. Postal Service will forward Priority Mail, Priority Mail Express, and USPS Ground Advantage items.

References

  1. Mail Forwarding Options
    https://faq.usps.com/s/article/Mail-Forwarding-Options
  2. Premium Forwarding Services
    https://www.usps.com/manage/forward-premium.htm
  3. USPS Ground Advantage™
    https://faq.usps.com/s/article/USPS-Ground-Advantage
  4. Priority Mail
    https://www.usps.com/ship/priority-mail.htm
  5. Standard Forward Mail & Change of Address
    https://www.usps.com/manage/forward.htm
  6. Manage Your Business Mail
    https://www.usps.com/business/manage-mail.htm
  7. Domestic Shipping Prohibitions, Restrictions, & HAZMAT
    https://www.usps.com/ship/shipping-restrictions.htm
  8. Manage your mail with Premium Forwarding Service Residential® for part-time residents
    https://about.usps.com/notices/not616/not616_002.htm
  9. Official USPS® Change-of-Address
    https://moversguide.usps.com/mgo/disclaimer
  10. USPS® In-Person Identity Proofing
    https://faq.usps.com/s/article/USPS-In-Person-Identity-Proofing
  11. Acceptable Forms of Identification
    https://faq.usps.com/s/article/Acceptable-Form-of-Identification
  12. Change of Address – The Basics
    https://faq.usps.com/s/article/Change-of-Address-The-Basics
  13. 608 Postal Information and Resources
    https://pe.usps.com/text/dmm300/608.htm
  14. How to Forward Mail: A Guide for Digital Nomads
    https://www.hellolanding.com/blog/how-to-forward-mail
  15. Can I Change or Cancel Premium Forwarding Service® Residential?
    https://faq.usps.com/s/article/Can-I-Change-or-Cancel-Premium-Forwarding-Service-reg-Residential
  16. How Can I Have my Mail Forwarded for an Extended Period of Time?
    https://faq.usps.com/s/article/How-Can-I-Have-my-Mail-Forwarded
  17. How long does mail forwarding last for a USPS Change of Address?
    https://www.usestable.com/blog/how-long-does-mail-forwarding-last
  18. USPS® Business Customer Gateway
    https://gateway.usps.com/eAdmin/view/
  19. USPS Hold Mail® – The Basics
    https://faq.usps.com/s/article/USPS-Hold-Mail-The-Basics
  20. Mail Addressed to the Deceased
    https://www.usps.com/manage/mail-for-deceased.htm
  21. Price List
    https://pe.usps.com/text/dmm300/notice123.htm