This Is the Right Way to Forward Your Mail

published Jan 26, 2024
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mailbox on side of house full of mail
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You just got the keys to your new place and, before you unpack a single moving box, you need to make one all-important move: set up your mail forwarding. It’s an easy process that you can sign up for directly through the United States Postal Service (USPS).

Ready to take this adulting step and make sure you don’t miss a single important bill or correspondence? Here are the details on mail forwarding and how to forward your mail in six easy steps.

How to Forward Your Mail in 6 Easy Steps

For most people, the easiest way to forward their mail is to submit a change-of-address form online. It’s a quick, easy process.

  1. Navigate to the Official USPS Change of Address® website.
  2. Choose and fill out the form that is relevant for you, whether that’s individual, family, or business. You can set the date when the mail should start forwarding. 
  3. Verify your identity via a verification code or mobile phone verification, and pay the verification fee.
  4. USPS will then send you a confirmation code. Hold onto this code in case you need to reference your request later.
  5. You should receive a Move Validation letter to your previous address (it’s helpful to do this a few days before you move!), as well as a Customer Notification letter to your new address.
  6. Mail will begin to arrive at your new address! 

How Does Mail Forwarding Work?

When you submit a permanent change-of-address request and sign up for mail forwarding, any letters or packages sent to your previous address will be forwarded to your new address. While it’s important to contact those who will regularly send you mail or let your bank or insurance company know that you’ve moved, this is helpful for all of those straggler bills, letters, and packages that might not have your updated contact information.

You can also sign up for mail forwarding temporarily. For example, if you’re moving somewhere for a semester or relocating for the winter, you can forward your mail only during that time. Note that there is a minimum of 15 days and maximum of one year for mail forwarding via a temporary change-of-address request.

How Much Does Mail Forwarding Cost?

Mail forwarding through USPS is free! You can walk into any post office and fill out the form. If you fill out the form online, forwarding is still free, but you will pay a $1.10 identity validation fee. Beyond the standard mail forwarding period, you can pay $19.95 to extend it for 6 months, $29.95 for 12, and $39.95 for 18 months.

For those who want the convenience of their mail packed up for them each week and delivered in one weekly Priority Mail shipment, you can pay for Premium Forwarding, which costs $23.40 to enroll online, $25.45 to enroll in-person, and an additional $25.45 weekly.

How Long Does Mail Forwarding Last?

Standard mail forwarding will last for 12 months, which should give you enough time to remember to update your address with anyone who might need it. You can choose to purchase extended mail forwarding, which will forward your mail for an additional 6, 12 or 18 months on top of the initial year. This is something you can request when you first sign up for mail forwarding or you can add it on later.

It’s worth noting, however, that magazines only forward for 60 days, so switch those subscriptions over to your new address ASAP.

When You Can’t Forward Your Mail Online

There are just a few situations where you will have to go in person to forward your mail (though anyone can!). If you’re moving outside the United States, filling out the request for someone other than yourself, or you’re unable to verify your identity online, then you will have to go in person.

In these cases, you’ll go to the nearest post office and make sure you have your photo ID. Ask the post office associate for a Mover’s Guide packet and fill out PS Form 3575. Your request will be processed and mail will be forwarded starting on your requested date.

Is There an Easy Way to Let Everyone Know You Moved?

Some institutions will get the information from the post office and reach out asking to confirm whether you’ve moved. But, unfortunately, the easiest way to let everyone know is to actually let them know. Sending an email with your change of address is one easy option to let people know en masse, or you can go the snail mail route and send out change of address cards. You can also get return labels made with a “Please note our new address” at the top.