How long does USPS forward mail?

Forwarding your mail is the only way to receive your letters, bills, packages, and other important mail to your new home or place of business.

by Earth Class Mail
updated May 11, 2023 ·  4min read

Planning to move soon? Whether you plan to relocate permanently or temporarily, it's always recommended to notify the United States Postal Service (USPS) right before you move or immediately after.

Forwarding your mail is the only way to receive your letters, bills, packages, and other important mail to your new home or place of business. How long will USPS forward mail? How to forward mail USPS? How does USPS mail forwarding work? Keep reading to get the answers.

What are USPS forwarding options?

Let's start with the basics. Currently, USPS offers three mail forwarding options: a temporary change of address, a permanent change of address, and Premium Forwarding Service Residential Services (PFS-Residential Service).

The first option is a piece-by-piece forwarding of primarily first-class mail service and periodicals (all your first-class mail, magazines, newspapers, etc.). It's set for a specified period of time.

After a set amount of time, your mail will no longer be forwarded to your new address. Instead, it will be sent to the previous address on record. This service doesn't include the forwarding of marketing mail or package services mail.

The second option, permanent change of address, also provides a piece-by-piece forwarding of primarily first-class mail service (for 12 months) and periodicals (for 60 days). It doesn't include the forwarding of marketing mail service or package services mail. If you choose this option, your new address will be provided to business mailers upon request.

The last option, Premium Forwarding Service (PFS) Residential Service, is a single weekly shipment of all mail for a residence through its Priority Mail service for a fee. The service is temporary and can be extended for the up-to-one year (in some cases, even longer than that). Sometimes this option is offered as an add-on to the free temporary or permanent change of address.

On top of the above-mentioned options, you can also decide if you want to forward your mail exclusively (individual forwarding), you and your family members with whom you share your address's mail (family forwarding), or only your business correspondence (business forwarding).

How does USPS mail forwarding work?

Forwarding your USPS mail is easy. The simplest way to do it is by filling out the form online. You just need to go to the USPS website and find the form. On the form, select individual, family, or business forwarding.

Also, you will be asked to fill in information about whether it's temporary or permanent forwarding. Once it's done, you'll pay an identification verification fee via your credit card.

Once the form is submitted, you will receive a confirmation code via email. It's as easy as that. If online isn't your thing, you can visit the nearest post office station and ask them for a free Mover's Guide packet.

You have to fill out a paper form and submit it to the post office station. You should receive the confirmation within a week through a letter sent to your new address.

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How long does USPS mail forwarding last?

First, you cannot forward mail forever. The USPS services have different time limits depending on the mail being sent. The great majority of them (first-class mail, first-class package, Priority Mail Express, USPS Retail Ground, library mail, media mail, and Priority Mail services) will be forwarded for a full calendar year.

If you subscribe to magazines and newspapers, they have a much shorter time limit—just 60 days. This means that in the case of magazines and periodicals, you only have two months to update these media sources with your new address, assuming that you want to continue your subscriptions.

If you are moving temporarily for an unknown period, you can forward your USPS mail for 15-185 days. After that time, if you determine that you will stay at the temporary address longer than six months, you can extend the mail forwarding period for up to 12 months by filling out a second change-of-address order. You can also choose when to expire the mail forwarding request (up to the 364th day).

If you move permanently, you can forward your mail for up to 12 months.

As you can see, forwarding your mail is only a way to buy some time so that you don't have to hurry to inform all your family members and friends, as well as the organizations and companies you deal with. Keep in mind that forwarding mail doesn't update your new address with any of the companies and businesses that you care about. Be sure to contact each business and update your address to keep up with your bank statements, loyalty programs, events you regularly participate in, and so on.

How much does USPS mail forwarding cost?

The USPS mail forwarding service is free of charge. However, if you are submitting the online form, it requires a $1 fee for identification purposes. You have to use your credit card to verify your identity for an online change-of-address application. If you decide to visit one of the post office stations to fill out the paper form in person, you will not have to pay a penny to leverage these services. Premium Mail Forwarding Service (PFS Residential) has its own mail forwarding schedule of fees.

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Earth Class Mail

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This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of the author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.