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How to Complete a Postal Change of Address

March 30th, 2018 - 12:51 PM

Get mail at your new home with a USPS Change of Address Form​

Have you ever seen a yellow sticker on a piece of mail with the words return to sender, not deliverable as addressed or unable to forward? The United States Postal Service calls these pieces “Undeliverable As Addressed” (UAA) mail — they can’t be delivered with the address on them and must be forwarded, returned or thrown away. According to Mailing Systems Technology, the USPS handles over 6 billion pieces of UAA mail annually, but only about 20% of it gets forwarded to a new address. And 75% of the time, this happens because someone moves.

Filling out a Change of Address form will ensure your mail gets to your new home. Look at the options for forwarding, completing the process and what items will and won’t forward.

USPS Change of Address

Options for forwarding mail at the Post Office

There are a few things the post office needs to know before they can begin forwarding mail. Know the answers to these questions before beginning the process:

Permanent or temporary?

Temporary means you will return to the old address within 12 months. You can make a temporary change for as little as 15 days (like for a long vacation). A permanent change means moving to a new address.

When to start forwarding mail?

While you can submit the Change of Address form up to three months before moving, the USPS recommends starting the process at least two weeks prior, so there’s no lapse in service. The service won’t start until the date you choose — and it can take up to 7-10 days from the start date to begin receiving items. Make sure to update your address on any bills, subscription services or other items that you’ll continue receiving at the new home, as forwarding is only in effect for up to 12 months. Go through this list of Who Needs Your New Address, so you don’t miss anyone.

Individual, family or business?

  • Individual. Select this option if:
    • You’re the only one moving (just fill out the form one time)
      • If you receive mail for more than one name (maiden name, married name, or nickname), you’ll need to fill out a separate form for each version
    • Some members of your family with the same last name are moving but others are staying (fill out a form for each person)
    • Some members of your family are moving but they have different last names (fill out a form for each person)
  • Family. This means everyone in your household has the same last name and is moving to the same place. If someone is staying at the old address or has a different last name, you must use the “Individual” option.
  • Business. This means 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.

Regular or Premium Forwarding?

  • Regular mail forwarding is free (or $1 if completed online). Most mail classes will be forwarded piece by piece to your new address.
  • Premium Forwarding is a paid service where the USPS will hold your mail, package it, and ship it to you each week through the Priority Mail® service. The cost is a one-time enrollment fee of $20.10 in person or $18.45 online, then $20.10 for each week of service. This can be used for a minimum of 2 weeks to up to 1 year. Note that this service is not available for PO Boxes.

Completing a USPS Postal Change of Address

There are two options for completing the process: at the Post Office or online.

To forward mail at the post office

Bring two forms of ID (at least one photo ID) and evidence of residence at the current address. IDs must be valid and contain information to show who you are. Acceptable forms of ID include:

  • Driver’s license or state ID card
  • Military, government, university or corporate ID
  • Passport, alien registration card, or certificate of naturalization

Proof of residence includes:

  • Current lease, mortgage, or deed of trust
  • Voter or vehicle registration card
  • Home or vehicle insurance policy

You’ll fill out Form 3575 and turn it in. There is no fee, unless you select the Premium Forwarding Service. If you want that service, bring a form of payment (cash, check, credit card, or debit card). Payment for the entire period of service is due at the time of application.

To forward mail online

Visit the USPS website to complete the process. Pay the $1 identity validation fee with a credit or debit card (no prepaid/gift cards). An email address is required (a .gov or .mil is required for moves from military addresses).

Confirmation of the Address Change

You may receive several confirmations, which will include a unique Change of Address Confirmation Code. This code is necessary to make any changes or cancellations to the Change of Address order online. Keep an eye out for these confirmations and save the code for future use. Look for:

  • A Move Validation Letter — sent to the address you’re leaving
  • A Customer Notification Letter or Welcome Kit — sent to the new address, containing the Confirmation Code
  • A Conformation Email — sent to confirm the process online was successful, and also contains the Confirmation Code.

Call the local Post Office if more than 10 postal business days have passed since the start date and you haven’t received any forwarded mail.

What if I moved without changing my address?

If you forgot to complete this process prior to moving, a mail carrier will pick up any accumulated letters and leave a notice at the old address. The items are held at the Post Office for 10 calendar days, then returned to the sender or discarded depending on the type of mail. So act fast! Contact the post office that services the previous address to arrange for delivery.

What mail will get forwarded?

Most classes of mail will be forwarded after a change of address is complete. A common question is “will certified mail get forwarded?” And the answer is yes! See what items will be forwarded for each type of service.

For regular mail forwarding with the USPS:

  • First-Class Mail®, Priority Mail®, and Express Mail® (typically bills, invoices, personal correspondence, etc.) will be forwarded up to 12 months at no charge.
  • Newspapers and magazines will be forwarded for 60 days at no charge
  • Marketing Mail is only forwarded if the sender gives forwarding instructions.
  • USPS Retail Ground®, Library Mail, Bound Printed Matter and Media Mail®will be forwarded locally up to 12 months to domestic addresses. In some cases, these items may require additional postage from the sender.
  • Special services including certified mail, collect on delivery (COD), delivery confirmation, insured, registered, or signature confirmation or special handling mail will be forwarded without additional fees to domestic addresses.

For USPS Premium Mail Forwarding Service:

This service can be used for as little as two weeks or up to a year. As long as you pay for the service, your mail will be forwarded as such:

  • Priority Mail Express® items will be rerouted to the new address.
  • Priority Mail® pieces will be either held and sent with the residential package or rerouted directly (whichever is faster).
  • First-Class Mail® will either be included in the residential package or rerouted separately (depending on size).
  • Standard Mail® pieces will be included in the residential package if they fit, or they will be shipped postage due upon delivery at the 1-pound Standard Post™ price.

Mail that will not forward

Not everything gets forwarded to the new address. For regular mail forwarding, Standard Mail® (unless requested by the sender) will not be forwarded. That includes:

  • Circulars
  • Books
  • Catalogs
  • Ads
  • Credit card applications
  • Items specified “do not forward”
  • Items addressed to “current resident”

With premium forwarding, Standard Post™, bound printed matter, Media Mail® and Library Mail will NOT be included in the residential package or rerouted. Instead, they will be shipped postage due upon delivery under the same price they were originally sent. To avoid any fees, have the sender send these types directly to the new address.

Questions about completing a USPS mail forward?

If you have questions about the USPS change of address, mail forwarding, or Premium Forwarding Service, contact your local post office.

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