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Seamless Relocation: The Ultimate Guide to Mail Forwarding When Moving

Emily Calorino-Sipe - Writer for Top10.com
Man checking the mailbox
I've worked in relocation management for years and can assert that not taking care of mail forwarding is like leaving a piece of your life behind at your old address.

While moving companies and services can handle the logistics of packing and transporting your belongings, mail management is an essential yet frequently forgotten task.

This guide provides a straightforward approach to mail forwarding, ensuring a smooth start at your new address.

» Downsizing soon? These are our 10 best moving and storage companies.

What Is Mail Forwarding and Why Is It Important?

Postal authorities, private mail service companies, or government agencies like the DMV provide mail forwarding services to redirect your mail from your old address to your new one. This step is vital in the relocation process for several reasons:

  • Continuity of communication: Ensures uninterrupted receipt of bills, correspondence, subscriptions, and other important mail.
  • Prevention of identity theft: Redirects your sensitive information to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands.
  • Convenience: Allows ample time to update your address with institutions, businesses, and acquaintances without missing out on important mail.
  • Legal compliance: Guarantees you receive government communications and legal notices so you can respond to them by required deadlines.
  • Peace of mind: Knowing that your mail is taken care of enables you to focus on adjusting to your new home, alleviating moving stress.

The Risks of Overlooking Mail Forwarding

Failing to update your mail address when you move can create unforeseen complications. Picture this scenario: you accidentally run a red light and receive a ticket. However, the notice is delivered to your old address, leaving you oblivious and, inadvertently, non-compliant with legal obligations.

This issue extends to all mail, especially items containing sensitive data or valuables. Not forwarding your mail can cause you to miss out on important documents. My clients regularly receive mail meant for prior residents. These correspondences usually include highly confidential items like credit cards and loan statements.

If such personal items are misdirected, it could lead to fraud, a reality faced by over 5 million Americans who became victims of identity theft in 2022.

Your Mail Forwarding Options

In the US, you can choose from several direct mail forwarding options, each suited to different move durations and types:

  • Standard and extended mail forwarding options are the most common choice for individuals and families moving to a new permanent address. The United States Postal Service (USPS) will forward most first-class mail for up to a year and periodicals for two months.
  • For a fee, the USPS offers a premium forwarding service, where they'll hold your mail and dispatch it to you weekly. This option includes additional features like digital scans and longer forwarding times, which may be ideal for business relocations.
  • If you plan to return to your original address after a short period, temporary mail forwarding lets you redirect your mail for a set time frame, ranging from 15 days to six months, with the option to extend up to 12 months.

» Check out our ultimate moving checklist for mastering your move.

How to Set Up Mail Forwarding

Set up your mail forwarding before the moving frenzy begins to prevent the common pitfall of lost mail. Provide your old and new addresses; the USPS will handle the rest, guaranteeing a seamless transition to your new home. Follow these step-by-step guides.

Online Mail Forwarding Setup

  1. Navigate to the USPS website and complete the Official USPS Change-of-Address form.
  2. Choose the option that applies to your situation: "Individual," "Family," or "Business."
  3. Opt to receive a verification code or link on your mobile phone for online identity verification.
  4. Pay the $1.10 identity verification fee. Your credit card's billing address must match your old or new residence.
  5. If your online identity verification is successful, you'll receive a confirmation code via email. This code is necessary if you need to modify or cancel your request.
  6. Your mail will be rerouted to your new address piece by piece.

In-Person Mail Forwarding Setup

  1. Visit your local post office during the last week at your old address. Bring an acceptable photo ID and any other required documents.
  2. Request a mover's guide packet. This parcel is free and contains the change of address form (PS Form 3575).
  3. Fill out the PS Form 3575.
  4. Show your photo ID to the retail associate, who will then process your change of address request.
  5. You'll receive a confirmation letter at your old address and a welcome kit at your new one.

Managing Mail Forwarding: What You Need to Know

Before you tick mail forwarding off your moving checklist, here are some additional notes to keep in mind:

  • Mail forwarding may begin within three business days, but it's best to allow up to two weeks for the process.
  • First-class mail and periodicals are forwarded for free. Other types, like media mail, will have additional shipping costs.
  • Changing your address with USPS does not update your address with other government agencies or companies.

Take Proactive Steps to Secure Your Mail

When moving house, keep an eye on your mail delivery, and if expected correspondence doesn't arrive, act promptly. In 2022, nearly 15% of Americans have reported incidents of package theft, and over 30% know someone who has had a parcel stolen.

Verify with the USPS that your forwarding service is active, especially if you set it up via mail-in slip, to prevent disruptions. Partnering with a reliable moving company can further safeguard your transition, as they often provide additional tips and assistance to ensure your belongings, including your mail, arrive safely at your new home.

» Reach out to Colonial Van Lines for a smooth move.

Emily Calorino-Sipe - Writer for Top10.com
Emily Calorino-Sipe holds a bachelor's degree in business administration, focusing on international communication. She is a relocation expert that helps clients through each stage of their journey worldwide. Her writing is a clear, informative, and reliable resource for anyone planning a move.