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How to Complete a Postal Change of Address

March 30th, 2018 - 12:51 PM

Submitting an address change with the Post Office®

Moving soon? It’s a good idea to file a Change of Address (COA) with the United States Postal Service® so you can still receive important letters and packages. While the process is pretty straightforward, there are a few things to know about the forwarding options that are available. If you already know what type of forwarding you need, click here to jump to the steps on submitting an address change. Otherwise, keep reading to learn what those options are first.  

USPS Change of Address

Options for forwarding mail 

USPS® offers three forwarding options for address changes:

Temporary vs. permanent 

Temporary means you’ll return to the old address within 12 months. This type of change can be for as little as 15 days and up to 364 days. The USPS will stop temporary forwarding on the end date listed on the COA form. A permanent change means moving to a new address, and the Post Office will forward letters and packages for a certain time, depending on the mail class. Timelines for mail class are as follows:   

•    12 months — First-Class Mail®, First-Class Package Service-CommercialTM, Priority Mail® service (bills, invoices, personal letters and reply mail); Priority Mail Express® service (merchandise and printed material); USPS Retail ground® (only to domestic addresses); Library Mail, Bound Printed Matter and Media Mail® (also only to domestic addresses)
•    60 days — Periodicals, including magazines and newsletters
•    Only if you specify forwarding instructions — USPS Marketing Mail® like advertisements, catalogs and retail offers

Select between individual, family, and business 

There are three forms to choose from when requesting an address change:

  • Individual. Select ‘individual’ if: 
    • You’re the only one moving. If you receive mail for more than one name (maiden name, married name or nickname), fill out a separate form for each. 
    • Some family members with the same last name are moving — fill out a form for each person.
    • Some family members are moving, but they have different last names — fill out a form for each person.  
  • Family. Use this option if every household member shares the same last name and are all moving to the same place.  
  • Business. Choose this option if your business is moving. An individual change of address from a company isn’t acceptable — only a duly authorized representative can forward business mail.  

Regular vs. premium forwarding 

Whether you’re moving temporarily or permanently, USPS offers both Regular Forward Mail and Premium Forwarding Service® options. 

  • Regular. With regular forwarding, mail is sent piece by piece to the new address. It’s a free service if you sign up in the Post Office, or pay $1 to submit a request online. This service is available for a minimum of 15 days or as long as one year.
  • Premium. This option is a paid service in which the USPS will hold mail, package it, and ship it weekly through the Priority Mail® service. There’s a one-time enrollment fee of $20.10 in person (or $18.45 online), then $20.10 for each week of service. This service can be used for a minimum of two weeks up to one year, and isn’t available for P.O. Boxes.  

How to change a mailing address 

There are two ways to update an address: in person or online. To change it in person, go to a local Post Office and ask for a Mover’s Guide. Fill out PS Form 3575 from this packet, and return it to a postal clerk. It’s free to update in person, but you will need to bring two forms of ID (one photo ID and one proof of residence). A confirmation letter should arrive at the old address a few days later.  

To update it online, use this form to change your address. Then, follow these steps: 

  1. Fill in your contact info (name, phone number, email and old address). If you’re moving from a military address, the email must end in .gov or .mil. 
  2. Next, select whether it’s a permanent or temporary move, choose the date USPS should start forwarding the mail and enter the new address. 
  3. You’ll then be directed to an identity verification page. USPS verifies your identity by charging $1 that must be paid using a valid credit/debit card. 
  4. After providing payment, check your email for a validation statement, receipt and confirmation code. 

Changing an address as part of a long-distance move? Use this helpful moving checklist as a reminder of other things to update and accomplish.  

FAQs 

Still have some questions about the process? Check out the answers to these frequently-asked questions for more information.

When should I start forwarding my mail? 
The USPS recommends filing a COA form two weeks up to three months before moving. 

What happens after I submit a COA form? 
After submitting a COA, you may receive several confirmations, which will include a unique Change of Address Confirmation Code. This code is necessary to modify or cancel the order. Keep an eye out for these confirmations, and save the code for future use: 

  • A Move Validation Letter — Sent to the address you’re leaving 
  • A Customer Notification Letter or Welcome Kit — Sent to the new address and contains the Confirmation Code
  • A confirmation email — You’ll receive this if you completed the process online. It confirms the update was successful and will include the Confirmation Code. 

Can I edit or cancel my request? 
Yes, edit or cancel a COA request here. You’ll have to enter the new ZIP Code and the confirmation code before you can make any changes. If you lose or delete the confirmation code, visit a local Post Office for help. 

How long will it take before I receive mail at my new location? 
Once the Post Office stops delivery mail to the old address (date designated on the COA form), you can expect to receive mail at the new location within 7-10 postal days. If more than 10 days pass and you haven’t received any forwarded mail, contact a local Post Office. 

What mail doesn’t get forwarded? 
The USPS doesn’t forward all letters and packages, including circulars, books, catalogs, ads, credit card applications, anything specified as “do not forward” and items addressed to “current resident.” Instead, you’ll have to send an address update to individual businesses and subscriptions. These can include: 

  • Utility company
  • Cell phone provider
  • Credit card company
  • Banks
  • Insurance providers 
  • Employer
  • Medical providers
  • Subscriptions (newspaper, magazine, etc.) 
  • Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
  • The Internal Revenue Office (IRS) 
  • Social Security Administration 
  • Friends and family 
  • Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) 

What happens if I don’t file a COA before moving? 
If you forgot to complete this process before moving, a mail carrier will pick up any accumulated letters and leave a notice that the mail is available for pickup at the local Post Office. The local branch holds items for 10 calendar days before returning to the sender or discarding, depending on the type of mail. Contact the office that services the previous address to arrange for delivery. 

Have more questions?

Contact the United States Postal Service’s Customer Service Department at 1-800-275-8777 for additional questions or concerns. 

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