Mail Forwarding Not Working — What Should You Do?

Mail forwarding with the USPS can sometimes have issues. In this article we have compiled a list of the most common reasons why mail forwarding may not be working and what you can do to fix them.

When mail forwarding decides to not provide you with the service you so desperately need, it can cause more than a few problems. From identity theft to missed bills to reversed forwarded tax returns, it can get rather messy.


Try not to worry too much! We are here to help you out. So, let’s not waste any more time and jump right into the details.


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What Is Mail Forwarding?


When the time comes for you to up and move across the country, mail forwarding is something that seems to be forgotten amongst all the other tasks that you have to do. There are so many different forms to choose from that trying to update your address can turn into a real headache.


Basically, mail forwarding is a service offered by the USPS that allows you to change your address before the move-in date. You state when you would like the mail forwarding to actually begin and then all your bills etc. will be redirected to your new address.


However, there is a rather big catch.


What’s this catch then, we hear you ask? Don’t fret, we are about to tell you.


Unfortunately, many people have had serious problems with the United States Postal Service mail forwarding feature. Some residents stopped receiving mail altogether, while others found that their important documents were still being sent to their previous home. As you can see, this is not ideal.


But don’t worry, that’s what we are here to sort out today — what to do when mail forwarding decides to be a pain in your neck!


stuffing mail into a mailbox


Mail Forwarding — The Basics


The United States Postal Service offers its address changing services for free when you do so on paper. However, when you decide to use the ever-convenient internet, you will be charged $1 for the service. You can also change your address over the telephone which is also $1. Unfortunately, these fees tend to be hidden. In fact, people have spotted that the USPS takes money from their account for services they’ve used without making the associated costs clear to its customers. Anyway, that’s beside the point.


As long as everyone in your household has the same last name, you can simply fill out a family request and you are good to go. If that is not the case, then each person needed to fill out an individual form.


change of address form


Finding and Filling The Change of Address Form


If you are looking to make use of the free change of address service, then you will have to take a trip down to your local Post Office. Once you get there, simply ask for the form. Some branches call it a “Mover’s Guide” while others will just say “Change of Address”.


Generally, you won’t be able to just walk in and pick one up so you will have to speak to someone (sorry). Not to mention that you will likely have to wait in line.


After you have acquired the form, fill it out correctly, and pop it in the mail. Don’t worry, you do not have to pay any shipping costs!


For those of you who would rather start the mail forwarding process from the comfort of their own home, then try the following online option.


You need to head to the Movers Guide section on the official United States Postal Service website. From here, you will be able to find the form and fill it out using your keyboard.


Afterward, you will be able to find the change of address form and fill it out using your keyboard. Once that is complete, you will need to enter your credit or debit card information so you can pay the necessary $1 fee. This isn’t just for the convenience, you are also paying for them to confirm your identity against the documents you’ll be providing.


Of course, you can call their automated line instead. Just remember that you will have to pay the dollar still. The only way to keep your $1 is to take a trip to the Post Office (but who wants to do that right?).


Your Mail Forwarding Options


We have touched on this briefly. However, we wanted to give you a bit more insight into the mail forwarding options that are available to you before we talk about the main event.


You can choose from three different mail forwarding services with the United States Postal Service. These include the following:


  • Temporary Change of Address — otherwise known as a COA (Change of Address Order), this is an item-by-item forwarding of mainly periodicals and First Class mail for a pre-determined timeframe. It’s important to remember that this rarely includes any of USPS’ package services nor Marketing Mail either.


  • Permanent Change of Address — this one is another item-by-item service that forwards your First Class mail for a maximum of 12 months, and periodicals for 60 days. Again, this doesn’t usually include package services nor Marketing Mail.


  • Premium Forwarding Service Residential Service — this option gives you a once-a-week shipment of all your mail via Priority Mail. You do have to pay a pretty hefty sum for this but for a few people, this may well be worth it. While you can extend this service for a maximum of 12 months, it is still a temporary deal on top of the temporary or permanent COA. You can find all the associated fees for the enrollment and reshipment on the United States Postal Service website.


By now, you are pretty much an expert on the ins and outs of mail forwarding when it is working perfectly. But now we are going to make you an expert on what you should do when mail forwarding is not working.


Are you ready for this? You should be! Let’s get stuck into the specifics.


a mailbox on the side of the road


USPS Mail Forwarding Not Working — Why Is This?


It’s fair to say that when the United States Postal Service mail forwarding isn’t working, your whole mail experience becomes pretty frustrating. However, there are a bunch of reasons why this is. So, we will have a look at each one in turn.


Typo In The Address


Yep. This one is on you, my friend. Although, it is not entirely fair since everyone makes mistake. However, even if the address you input in your change of address form is just a little bit incorrect, the United States Postal Service mail forwarding won’t work for you. It’s unfortunate, but the sad truth. So, before you submit your form, make sure all the information you have entered is 100% accurate.


Vacation Replacement. Ever Heard Of That?


Another reason for your mail forwarding not working can be because your regular Post Office employees have gone on vacation. To tell you the truth, it is very unlikely for this to be the case but it has been known to happen.


Before you toddle off and accuse the vacation replacement employees though, you might want to make sure that it isn’t due to one of the other reasons on this list. Otherwise, you might not be the Post Office’s favorite person if you rush in with accusations.


Mail Reversal


If you have purchased something from eBay or Amazon or really any other online store since starting your mail forwarding and it hasn’t arrived, mail reversal might be the reason.


What is mail reversal, we hear you ask? Well, it is when a company, merchant, or even the Post Office sends your package or letter to your old address, instead of your new one. In other words, they have reverse forwarded it.


Unfortunately, you will not be able to get these lost items back if this is the case. Unless you shelled out for insurance, of course.


clock melting


You Are Waiting For Items That Are Not Forwarded


You heard it correctly, not all items are forwarded. In fact, only First Class, Priority, or Express mail are eligible for forwarding. Sadly, some senders will place bans on certain mail pieces that prevent them from being forwarded. So, you need to be double sure that the objects you are waiting for can be involved in the mail forwarding scheme.


It is important to remember that mail that isn’t forwarded is generally junk (think advertisements and bulk mail that just get in the way and are terrible for the environment). By opting into the mail forwarding service, you are essentially guaranteeing zero junk letters for the whole duration.


Having said this, sometimes the mail that isn’t forwarded will be important to you. The following pieces are not forwarded:


  • 2nd Class Mail — after 60 days, 2nd class mail will no longer be forwarded to your new location.
  • Magazines — again, after 60 days, these will no longer be forwarded to your new location.
  • Non-First Class Mail — this includes items such as presorted standard mail, bulk mail, and non-profit mail.
  • Mail Marked With Change Service Requested — not only are these pieces not forwarded, but they are also not returned. Instead, they will be discarded and the sender will be told about your change of address order.
  • Mail Marked With Return Service Requested or Do Not Forward — even if an item is First Class, in this instance, it will not be forwarded on to your new location. Instead, it is returned to the sender (as the mark suggests). These pieces tend to be things like taxes, bills, and bank statements. Why? Because these organizations want to know that you are at the address they’re aware of, if you are not, then they will be told after the fact. Having said this, if your change of address is temporary, then they will be forwarded to your current residence.


What To Do When Mail Forwarding Isn’t Working


Our advice is to start an investigation. If you have been having trouble with the mail forwarding for quite some time, it might be worth speaking to a United States Postal Inspector.


We should mention here though that a few people haven’t had great experiences with these guys. They claim that they are looking into your issue and then seem to stop. But, this is not true all the time so it’s up to you whether you want to give it a go.


If you decide to contact a US Postal Inspector, then call 1-877-876-2455! Choose option 3 for mail theft (even if you don’t think this is the problem).


Other than that, we suggest that you contact your local Post Office branch to ask whether they received your change of address order. However, this works best if you submitted the initial request via paper.


virtual mailbox on a computer and mobile device


Is There An Alternative Solution?


Wow! That all seems like quite a hassle, doesn’t it? Therefore, you are probably wondering whether a better solution exists. The short answer is yes! There is absolutely an alternative and you’re about to find out about it.


You should obtain a digital mailbox. This will let you see virtual previews of your mail items, read them, save them, print them out, and ultimately decide whether you want each one destroyed or packed and sent to your physical location. Honestly, there is nothing quite like being in complete control of your mail receiving (and sending, to a degree) life.


A virtual mailbox has proven to be incredibly helpful to those of you who work away most of the week, love to travel, and just busy households. You never have to be home for mail ever again.


The best part is, it’s really easy to sign up. Here’s the three-step process:


Step One: Apply for and acquire your physical mailing address. You can’t miss the sign-up button since it’s clearly shown on our website. All you have to do is click it, input a few details, hit submit and you’re off!


Step Two: Manage your mail. Once you have arrived on your dashboard, you can start managing all your items. Whether you want each piece shredded, recycled, discarded, or sent to you, everything can be done from within the app. It’s as simple as 1, 2, 3!


Step Three: Be in control of your mail forever. As long as you keep loving our mailbox services, you will be in control for life! What more could you possibly want?

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