How Long Does USPS Forward Mail? (What You Need to Know)

Ronald M. Bieber

This article explains the mail forwarding process and duration through the United States Postal Service. It provides essential details on setting up mail forwarding, timeframes, and tips to ensure a smooth transition during a move or temporary relocation.

It is common for people in the United States to overlook the importance of setting up a USPS mail forwarding account before moving. While the post office does not require it by law, some states and cities have constitutional amendments guaranteeing their residents the right to send mail via first-class and second-class mail.

This means many benefits when you set up a USPS mail forwarder. Keep reading for more information.

Table Of Contents

How Long Does USPS Forward Mail?

By now, all USPS mail, including First-Class, Priority, and First-Class package services, will be forwarded for 12 months. USPS, however, only forwards periodicals like magazines and newspapers for 60 days. Flyers and circulars are generally not forwarded by USPS.

The forwarding of mail begins within 7 to 10 business days after USPS receives your Change of Address Form. If you have a permanent change in address and want your mail forwarded for up to one year, you can apply for Forwarding Service. Include the correct fee when submitting this form. If USPS approves your application, you will receive a new forwarding address label with instructions on how to use it.

Does USPS Forward Mail?

If you fill out the proper paperwork, USPS will forward your mail. For mail forwarding to begin, customers must submit a Change of Address form (COA form), also known as PS Form 3575. The process is simple:

Below are three types of COAs and the instructions for completing them:

Individual: You can use this form if only one person is moving or if multiple people are moving (e.g., roommates). Moving from a temporary housing location to your permanent residence, you must complete an Individual COA.

Family: The form should be completed if you are moving to the same house and all the people in your household share the same last name. This type of COA is for a single-family home or apartment. The post office needs this information when sending your shipment, so you must fill out this form correctly.

Business: You must file a business COA form if you are authorized to forward mail on behalf of your company. This can include any business, including sole proprietorships, partnerships, and corporations.

You will need to provide information about who is authorized to forward mail on behalf of the company and how much mail is being forwarded each month. The form also requires you to list your return address and city, state, or country for mail forwarded through USPS. Your signature must be included for the form to be valid. Regardless of whether various individuals receive mail for the business, a business COA form holds if the whole business changes its address.

How Does USPS Know To Forward Mail?

USPS forwards the mail in response to an address change form from an individual, family, or business.  You can complete the form in a paper copy at your local post office.

Alternatively, you can drop off the form at a USPS mailbox or give the completed form to the USPS sales associate, who may be at a customer service counter or on-site. The process is easy and quick if you choose to complete it online. If you prefer to go through this process offline, fill out the request form at your local post office and hand it in along with any documentation required by USPS.

Why Should I Have USPS Forward My Mail?

When you have your mail forwarded, you avoid missing important communications from friends, family, or companies. You may already know that most utilities and internet service providers already know about your move, but there's a good chance you'll overlook one lesser-known service. You may have recently moved to a new home, job, or city.

This means you must change your address with the post office and your phone number with all your local providers. This can be a hassle if you wait to update their databases. If this is the case for you, switching to USPS Forward, My Mail could be worth looking into.

USPS Forward My Mail allows customers to have all their mail forwarded from one address to another without worrying about missing any important correspondence from friends or family who live far away. USPS Forwarding is an affordable way to ensure you receive all the important mail. You can save money on postage and access all the benefits of standard mail delivery without paying extra.

Does USPS Charge For Mail Forwarding?

USPS offers free standard mail forwarding when you complete a Change of Address form. The hard copy version of this form is free. The USPS will charge your credit or debit card a $1.10 fee for completing the online version of the form. Besides standard mail forwarding, a premium forwarding service (PFS) is available from USPS.

Premium forwarding services are optional, but if you choose not to use one, no postage will be added to outgoing mail pieces, and there will be no charge for incoming mail pieces. However, if you choose to use one, you must pay an additional $0.35 per piece for each piece sent through your account using a PFS service.

Does USPS Forwarded Mail Take Longer To Arrive?

It may take longer for forwarded mail to arrive than regular mail. It can take up to 12 days for forwarded mail to arrive instead of seven days for First-Class mail. Forwarded mail takes more time to deliver because it has to be processed twice.

The first time, the package is processed at its origin address, then delivered and picked up again at its destination address. After that first delivery, the package goes through another round of processing and delivery at its destination address before being picked up at its origin address and delivered back again.

Bottom Line

The US Postal Service offers a specialized mail forwarding service for new or former residents of an area that want to receive their mail after moving. This can be necessary when you no longer live in the same city but still want to keep your old address as an official contact point.

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