You’re Probably Forgetting to Do This One Important Thing While Moving

published Jul 10, 2023
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You’ve got the moving truck booked for the morning. Your WiFi is being set up tomorrow. You’ve switched over your water and electricity. Could you be any more on top of things for your big move? Well, there’s one thing you’re probably forgetting, and I speak from experience: It’s forwarding your mail. 

Let me tell you a quick story. For years, I moved every year or so and never updated my address. I figured whatever needed to get to me would get to me.

Then one evening, I was swiping on Hinge. A match! We started chatting and he asked a question that caught me off-guard. He wondered if I used to live on 37th Street, and then texted my exact previous address. Creeped out yet curious, I answered yes. And he said, “I figured. I live in that house now and I get all of your mail.”

The moral of the story? Don’t be like me. Instead, take these responsible steps to forward your mail, because it’s probably the one thing you’re forgetting to do (or procrastinating on) in the midst of a move. 

How to Forward Your Mail When You Move

Forwarding your mail is simple to do and you only need to do it a few days before your move — so set a reminder! Most people will visit the official United States Postal Service change of address (USPS) website and complete the online form. This process costs $1.10 for an identity verification fee. You can also visit the post office and complete the process in person.

The USPS says standard mail forwarding can take as little as three days to start forwarding items piece-by-piece, although they recommend allowing up to two weeks. You can request a permanent update of address and your mail will be forwarded for 12 months. If you’re anxious about missing mail in the future, you can pay for extended mail forwarding for up to 18 additional months past the initial 12-month mark.

If you want even more peace of mind, you can pay for a premium forwarding service, which will come each week on a specific day, so you’ll know exactly when to expect it. Additionally, if you’re doing an extended stay elsewhere, but you plan to return home, you can do a temporary change of address lasting for 15 days up to one year. Similarly, you can ask USPS to hold your mail if you are moving temporarily, and this lasts up to 30 days.

What Type of Mail Gets Forwarded?

Most pieces of mail will be forwarded for free, from first class and priority mail to priority mail express and first-class packages. You may have to pay for certain media mail and USPS retail ground shipments to be sent from the post office to your new home, though. And one parcel that’s not capable of being forwarded at all? Any USPS marketing mail.

Other Address Updates to Consider

In addition to forwarding your mail, don’t forget to update your address on any websites that you order from regularly or where you have automatic shipments set up. I’m still bitter about a pair of lime green sandals I accidentally sent to an old address days after I moved — I swore the new tenant was lying to me when she said, “Nope, haven’t seen it,” despite the shipping status of “delivered.” I hope she’s still enjoying that stylish pair of sandals.