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How to Complete a Postal Change of Address

June 6th, 2013 - 2:21 PM

I’m moving soon and need to change my address. How do I do that?

When I moved to a new city about a year ago, I knew I needed to change my address with the post office, but I had no idea how to do it. After some research, I successfully figured it out. If you’re in the same boat I was in, and you’re not sure how to complete a postal change of address (COA), here’s some helpful information I found on how to do it:  

How to change your address with the post office

First, a change of address can be completed if you’re making a permanent move or a temporary move.

A permanent move means you have no plans to move back to your old address. A temporary move means you plan to move back to your old address within 12 months. You can request forwarding your mail to your temporary address for a maximum of six months and a minimum of two weeks. If your temporary move is longer, you can extend your temporary forwarding at the end of six months. The total forwarding time for temporary move cannot exceed 12 months.

You can make the change one of three ways:

  1. Online.
  2. By telephone.
  3. By mail.

It’s completely up to you on how you want to do it. If you change your address online or by telephone, there is a $1 identity verification fee. There’s no charge to change your address by mail.

When you change your address, you will be asked when you want the post office to start forwarding your mail. The date must not be more than 30 days in the past or more than 3 months in the future.

After you select your date, select which type of move applies to you. There are three types:

  1. Individual. This means that you are the only one moving. You can select “Individual” and repeat the change of address process for each person in the household if:
    • You receive mail by more than one name (maiden name, married name, or nickname)
    • Some members of your family with the same last name are moving but others are staying.
    • Some members of your family are moving but they have different last names.
  2. Family. This means that everyone in your household has the same last name and is moving to the same new address. If someone with the same last name is staying at the old address, then select the “Individual” option. The USPS states that in all cases, family members with different last names or those family members moving to different addresses must prepare separate forms.
  3. Business. This means that your business is moving. An individual change of address from a business addresses is not acceptable. Only a duly authorized representative of the business may forward business mail.

If you have more questions about which type of move you fall under, contact your local post office.

Options for completing a postal change of address

To change your address online for $1, go to USPS.com and complete the online process. You’ll need a valid credit card or debit card and a valid email address. You will receive an immediate email confirmation of your address change.

To change your address by telephone for $1, call USPS at 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777).

To change your address by mail for free, the COA form must be filled out completely and signed. You can go to your local Post Office and fill out the form there, or print it off and hand it to your mail carrier or drop it into a mail collection box. You can also ask your mail carrier to bring the form to you.

To print off form 3575 (Change of Address form), go to USPS.com and begin filling out the form online. After you complete the “Move Information” and “Name & Address” tabs, you’ll be taken to the “Identity Verification” tab. Instead of paying to complete the form online, there will be a sentence at the bottom that looks like this:

 “Prefer not to submit your form online? Print your request and mail or deliver it to your local Post Office.”

Click on the “Print Your Request” link and you can print off the form with your information already filled out on it.

Here are some other things you need to know about completing a postal change of address:

  • The credit or debit card you use for your change addresses online or by phone must have the same billing address as the old or new address. This helps to verify that the address you provide matches the address record for your card.

  • The USPS accepts the following credit or debit cards: MasterCard®, Visa®, Discover® or American Express®

  • Your mail is sent piece by piece to your new address.

  • When your COA is activated, you are sent up to three confirmations:
    • The first confirmation is a Validation Letter sent to your old address to help guard against fraudulent change of addresses. The validation letter will not mention your new mail forwarding address.
    • The second confirmation is a Confirmation Notification Letter. If you did an Internet Change of Address, the confirmation code will appear on both the email and on the hard copy confirmation notification letter. If you changed your address by mail or by phone, the confirmation code will appear only on the confirmation notification letter.
    • The third confirmation is a Welcome Kit. It has helpful information for new residents, a community guide, special offers, and coupons related to your new address. You can find the confirmation code on the left side on the confirmation letter that is on the front of the Welcome Kit.

  • If more than 10 Postal business days have passed since your COA was activated, yet you haven’t received any forwarded mail, call the USPS.

  • USPS cannot forward mail to an international address.

  • USPS recommends that you file a change of address 2 weeks before your actual move date.

  • If you plan to move back to your old address in less than six months, let the Post Office know the date when you want them to stop forwarding mail to your temporary new address.

  • If you plan to move to a temporary address and stay there for less than 6 months, then move to a different address (not the one you’re moving from), then you’ll just fill out another Change of Address request instead of checking the “temporary box” or providing a stop date.

  • You should notify anyone sending you mail of your address change. Here is a helpful list of who to notify:
    • Utility companies
    • Banks and credit cards
    • Subscriptions (magazine, newspaper, catalog, mail offerings)
    • Organizations that regularly send you mail (alumni, clubs, schools, professional organizations)
    • Business-related correspondences
    • Friends and family (use these fun, free, moving e-cards!)

  • According the USPS, anyone intentionally submitting false or inaccurate information on a COA request form is subject to punishment by fines or imprisonment or both under Sections 2, 1001, 1702 and 1708 of Title 18, United States Code (U.S.C.).

  • It could take 7-10 days for you to begin receiving mail at your new address. Factors that determine the time it takes to start receiving your mail include what date you requested to have your mail forwarded, how far you moved, and how far in advance you notified the Postal Service.

  • According to the USPS, you can make the Change of Address process faster and easier by notifying everyone who sends you mail of your new address and the date of your move two weeks before you move.  Many bills and statements have an area for making an address change notification.

  • To modify or cancel your existing change of address regardless of how you submitted it, go to Managemymove.usps.com and enter in your confirmation code and new zip code to make changes or cancel.

  • Since you’re moving to a new location, download this helpful (and printable!) Moving Checklist from U-Pack. It helps keep you on track and organized before, during, and even after your move.

After learning the ins and outs of completing a postal change of address, you should have no problem successfully forwarding your mail. If you have more questions though, check out these frequently asked questions from the USPS or give them a call. They’ll be happy to assist you!