Moving to a new home can be exciting, but it takes a lot of preparation. Not only do you need to rent a moving truck and schedule moving helpers to load up your heavy items, but you also need to think about what will happen to your mail. More specifically, you need to look into forwarding your mail to ensure you get all correspondence—from bills to postcards from friends—at your new address. So, how does mail forwarding work, and how can you set it up before moving? Here’s what to know about the mail forwarding process as you plan your move.
How Does Mail Forwarding Work?
First, you should understand the basics of forwarding your mail when you move. If you want your mail to start going to a different address, you have to let the United States Postal Office (USPS) know by filling out a change of address form.
You can fill out this form either on the USPS website or at your local post office. You’ll have to verify your identity when you fill out the form before the mail forwarding begins. But once you’re done filling out the change of address form, the mail forwarding process can start. And then you can focus on other aspects of your move—like hiring moving helpers to load and unload your belongings on the moving truck!
Which USPS Mail Forwarding Form Do I Need?
If you’re heading to your local post office to ask for mail forwarding to your new address, it’s good to know which form to use. Commonly called a change of address form, it’s also known as PS Form 3575. When you ask for the form, keep in mind whether your move will be permanent or temporary.
If the move is temporary—such as if you’re staying with family or in a vacation home for weeks or months at a time—you can put in a temporary change of address request that will forward your mail for anywhere from 15 days to one year. You can choose the date that you want the mail to stop forwarding.
If the move is permanent, you can fill out the start and end dates on your form. Note that most types of mail can be forwarded to you for up to one year, so be sure to notify everyone about your change of address before the year is over.
Keep in mind that there are a couple of forms available, depending on whether you’re an individual, family, or business. If it’s just you moving, you can use the Individual Change of Address Form. But if you’re moving with your family, use the Family Change of Address Form to ensure everyone’s mail gets forwarded to the new home. Finally, if you're moving your business, you can change the organization's address with one Business Change of Address Form.
When Will the USPS Mail Forwarding Begin?
Another great thing about the USPS change of address process is that it’s fast. So, how long does mail forwarding take to begin? After you submit the form, the postal service will take about 7 to 10 business days to process it.
If you want to make sure you start getting mail as soon as you move-in and get everything unloaded from the moving truck, be sure to submit the request at least a week before moving.
How Much Does USPS Mail Forwarding Cost?
One of the great things about forwarding your mail is that it’s basically free. In fact, if you fill out the change of address form at a local post office, the process is free for you.
If you fill out the form online, you’ll pay a small fee—$1.10—for identity validation via your credit card. To ensure your identity is safe, the Postal Service uses your credit card to confirm your identity when submitting an online change of address request. So this is one moving expense you won’t have to save up for!
How Long Does USPS Mail Forwarding Last?
How long the USPS will forward your mail depends on the type of mail. Most mail will be forwarded for up to 12 months. But Periodicals—including newspapers and magazines—will only be forwarded for up to 60 days.
What Mail Does the USPS Forward for Free?
The postal service will forward most types of mail for free, but there are some exceptions. For instance, according to USPS, you can get First-Class Mail, Periodicals, and Premium shipping services—like First-Class Package, Priority Mail, and Priority Mail Express—sent to your new home for free when you fill out the change of address form.
But if you want mail forwarding services for Media Mail and USPS Retail Ground, you’ll have to pay for shipping from your closest Post Office to your new home. And you should keep in mind that USPS Marketing Mail won’t be forwarded at all.
Do I Have Any Other Options for Mail Forwarding?
If you don’t like what the free mail forwarding service offers and are willing to pay additional fees, you can sign up for the Premium Forwarding Service (PFS). This gives you more control over what mail you get forwarded, as you’ll get all your mail sent to your new home on a regular basis.
Note that there’s an enrollment fee of about $22 if you sign up for this service online or about $24 if you enroll in person. There’s also a weekly fee of about $24.
So, how does mail forwarding work when you sign up for the Premium Forwarding Service? First, you’ll get your mail sent to you the same day every week, so you know when to expect it; First-Class Mail, Periodicals, and all marketing materials forwarded to your new address every week.
In addition, Priority Mail Express and Registered Mail will be rerouted to your new address right away. Priority Mail will be either rerouted right away or sent weekly with your other mail—depending on which option is faster. Finally, you’ll get Media Mail, Large First-Class Mail, and USPS Retail Ground packages forwarded to your new home for free.
If you’re willing to pay for premium mail forwarding, you’ll quickly get all your mail sent to your new home. Just note that there’s still a 12-month limit on this service, just as with the free mail forwarding service. So don’t forget to alert everyone—including your bank, all creditors, the IRS, and the DMV—of your new address when you move.
What If I Don’t Submit a USPS Mail Forwarding Request?
Remember that you’re not required to tell the USPS about your move. But if you choose not to, expect to miss out on at least some of your mail until all of your creditors and anyone else have updated their records—which can take a while!
If you don’t fill out a change of address form with the USPS, your mail carrier will simply bring your accumulated mail to the post office and leave a note about where you can pick it up. If you don’t pick it up after ten days, much of your mail will be returned to sender or thrown away.
As you can see, it’s best to plan ahead by telling the post office where to forward your mail. If possible, you should do this at least two weeks before moving. This is also an excellent time to book a truck rental and moving helpers to ensure you have loading and unloading help. Take a look at how to schedule moving helpers from MovingLabor.com, and then contact us to get started!