What Is USPS Hold Mail?

If you are intending to be away for a while, a USPS hold can help keep your mail in one place, until you return. Click here to learn more.

Managing your mailbox when you go away on a vacation or an extended stay away from your home is always a bit of a nightmare. You have to start the hold process with the USPS, hoping that they are actually going to hold onto your mail in the first place. And then you have to hope that no mail is going to “slip through the cracks” while the hold is on, or that any mail USPS is holding for you gets left behind in a storeroom somewhere and never handed over when you go to claim it. Combine that with the fact that plenty of important pieces of mail are going to keep trickling in while you are away from your mailbox – pieces of mail you might need no matter where you are physically – and it’s enough to make anyone go crazy.


Thankfully though, the USPS has done a solid job at making the whole process a lot more streamlined, a lot more useful, and a lot more consistent than it ever used to be in the past. Still, though, doing a hold the USPS isn’t a guaranteed thing – and there are better help box services out there you can use to help you navigate time away from your home or your PO Box more effectively. But we get into that a little more in depth later on. For now, let’s cover the basics of what you need to know to manage your mailbox and your holds more effectively moving forward.


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What Does It Mean to Have the USPS Hold Your Mail?


Straight out of the gate, a hold with the USPS is an entirely different animal than a change of address – even if the overall process is pretty similar. A hold basically requests for the USPS to hold all of your mail for you, not forwarding it on to your home address or your mailing address and instead just collecting each piece for you until you come to claim it.


The USPS offers different hold durations that you might be interested in taking advantage of, with mail holds ranging anywhere between 3 days and 30 days. If you need your mail to be held any longer than that (and you might, especially if you are traveling abroad for business, let’s say) that you’ll need to take advantage of a different service altogether. At the end of the hold window you’ll need to shop at your local post office and collect all of the mail that has been set aside for you. That can be quite a bit, especially if you requested your mail to be held for the full 30 days!


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Why Would You Want the USPS to Hold Your Mail for You?


There are a bunch of different reasons you might want the USPS to hold your mail for you, and the first (and maybe most often taken advantage of reason) has to be when you’re going to be away on vacation. If you plan to leave your home on a vacation that’s going to last longer than three days it’s not a bad idea to request that your mail gets held for the duration. This guarantees that your mail is piling up in your mailbox at home, not only creating an overstuffed box that will inevitably overflow and expose your mail to the elements, but also create a potential security issue, too. If people see your mail box starting to fill up, they’re going to be able to put the pieces together that you are not home, and that may open up a lot more risk for a home break in than you would have not needed to deal with otherwise.


Another reason people take advantage of holds is that they are simply going to be traveling away from home for an extended amount of time. Maybe your company is sending you across the country on a sales trip, or maybe you are going to be visiting business partners or vendors overseas.


No matter the reason for your time away from home, it’s nice to know that your mail won’t be piling up and left to the elements (or someone else to swipe it off of your porch or out of your mailbox) when you are away. Some people even use a mail hold order instead of a change of address with the USPS, at least initially. Plenty of people have had issues with their mail getting forwarding after a Change of Address was initiated (especially in the early stages). Having your mail held while you move from one location to the next (and then a couple of weeks afterwards) gives you an opportunity to pick up all of your mail at the old post office while your Change of Address takes full hold in the USPS system. It’s a clever little workaround that may work, if you are moving house but staying in the same general area and location and can access your old post office without much hassle.


post office building


Who Can Initiate a USPS Hold Mail Request?


Anyone at a specific address has the opportunity to initiate a mail hold through the USPS, as does any of their “authorized agents”. Authorized agents are anyone that has been authorized by a USPS customer to take these kinds of actions on their behalf. Third party members – these authorized agents – will have to require proof of this authorization (usually in writing) before a hold goes into place, though the requirements for verifying that this status when placing a hold are usually less stringent than with a Change of Address.


A lot of this has to do with the fact that the USPS always maintains custody over those pieces of mail, rather than forwarding them on three different address that the intended recipients may not be fully aware of. The USPS agent approving the mail hold will ask a number of different questions to confirm the identity and the authorization qualifications to move forward. The same is true of the online application available on the USPS website that streamlines this process quite a bit.


Can These Requests Be Edited or Cancelled Early?


Holds can be edited or canceled out early, but only after an individual confirms that they were the person that initiated the hold in the first place. This almost always involves bringing a confirmation number provided during the initial hold process, verifying the identity information on the old request, and then moving through the edit or cancellation process as outlined by the USPS themselves.


You can make these edits or cancel the hold out completely by visiting any local post office. Just make sure you bring USPS acceptable forms of identification with you when you do. You also have an opportunity to make these revisions or edits to the hold by visiting the USPS website or calling the Customer Care Center directly.


clock melting


How Long Does a USPS Hold Last For?


As we highlighted a moment ago, USPS holds are (generally) going to be available for anywhere between three days at minimum and 30 days maximum. The USPS will not hold mail for any shorter duration than three days, so even if you only your mail held for one or two days just know that the third day of mail is going to get held as well – and your mailboxes going to be a little bit overstuffed when the hold is eliminated.


As far as going beyond 30 days is concerned, the only real way to stretch past the 30 day hold is to either initiate two separate 30 day holds (one right after the first one has concluded) or by going through the Mail Forwarding process with the USPS. It’s possible to only have a single mail hold out on an address, you should know that all mail is going to be held for that address – and not just mail for individual recipients at that location.


When you pause mail delivery at an address, it pauses all of it for between three days and 30 days. There are other solutions you can use to better manage your mailbox when you aren’t going to be home for extended amount of time, including one we are going to cover a little bit more in depth in just a moment.


postal mail in a mailbox


How Do I Get My Mail When the Hold Ends?


There are two ways you’re going to be able to get your mail when the hold is finished:


  • Picking up your mail directly from your local post office after confirming your identity and sharing acceptable forms of identification to do so and
  • Having your letter carrier bring the held mail to your home at the same way that they would any other piece of mail


Picking up your mail is probably the way to go if you have had a hold placed for any longer than six or seven days. If you request your mail carrier to bring the mail directly to your home they are only going to bring enough to fit your mailbox – which might not be that much if you have regular mail coming in, too.


The letter carrier route can have your held mail being delivered over a couple of days (or even a couple of weeks) if you’ve been gone for closer to the 30 day maximum. It’s something to consider, all the same.


Can I Still Track Mail That’s Being Held?




If you have any mail that is been sent to your home while you have it being held that includes tracking information you’re still going to get updates on its movement, all the way to the post office that is holding your mail directly.


From there, you’ll get an update about the mail being held so that you can easy knowing that your mail is going to be there when you arrive to pick up or that your letter carrier will bring it just as soon as the hold releases. You don’t have to worry about a USPS hold having any impact whatsoever on your ability to track your information moving forward.


Can I Change My Address During a Mail Hold?


As we mentioned earlier, you can hold your mail before you initiate a Change of Address order with the USPS – and you can do the same after you have changed your address as well. If the USPS hold request is in place for your previous address and you are now residing at a new address you are going to need to first cancel your mail hold before you do a change of address.


Another approach you can take is to start your Change of Address a week or two before you actually move. Then put a mail hold request on that address for your mail and you’ll buy yourself a little bit of time to get situated at your new place before you release the hold, pickup all the mail that has been moved over to your new address (while still collecting any straggler mail still delivered at your old address) to get the best of all worlds!


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Simplify Your Mailbox with US Global Mail – The Best Virtual Mailbox Service Available


At the end of the day, though, there’s a much easier way to streamline and simplify all of your mailing needs when you are going to be away from your primary mailing address/residential address for extended amount time.


Instead of putting holds on your mail or playing the Change of Address game, instead consider moving forward with US Global Mail.


This virtual mailbox service provides you with a physical street address to send your mail, the ability to forward your mail to any address on the globe at (up to 80% off of traditional shipping rates), and a whole host of other services like digital mail scanning, instant mailbox alerts, and more.


For more information on how US Global Mail can help you better manage your mailbox no matter where you are on the planet, or for information about the specific services provided by this company, check out their website or contact US Global Mail customer service today.

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