If you are about to move, you probably have started considering completing your change of address. A good number of homeowners that are about to move, partially because they are too busy, and primarily because they are not aware, forget to complete a change of address with the USPS. That means that all their furniture moves, and even good ol’ Chip, but not their mail.
Before we get into the “how” of changing your address, it is important to highlight some reasons why you should not be on the fence but rather completing this change of address process sooner rather than later.
- It is painless. Completing a change of address (online or by visiting a local post office,) will only take you minutes, and you will be all good to go without worrying about whether your mail will follow you
- It does not cost a fortune. Not only that, but if you complete a change of address at a local post office, you can have it done, free of charge. If you decided to do your change of address online, then there would be a small $1.05 fee.
- Not getting mail at your new address, could mean headaches with the IRS and other federal agencies or even your insurance.
Something to keep in mind, and that is a common misconception people have, is that you can always change your address in advance and have it pre-scheduled. Completing a change of address is not something that needs to happen the night before, and nor do you need to worry about moving at a later date and starting the change of address process, sooner.
When you visit the USPS site to fill out your information, they will ask you when you would like to complete the change of address. So what calendar date, you want to have mail forwarded to your new address. Not only that, but depending on the change of address that you request (temporary or permanent,) you will also be asked to provide a date for when the change of address will expire and mail will start going back to your old address. Completing a change of address, is something that may be a bit different, depending on the type of change you want to complete.
Temporary Change Of Address
The purpose of temporary changes of address, is to have mail forwarded only for a small period of time, with all mail returning back to your old address, 6 months later. This is an option most commonly used by people who intend on being out of town for a while. Temporary changes will have a minimum requirement of 15 days for your mail to be forwarded. In other words, if you intend on being away for less than 15 days, then a temporary change of address may not be the proper mail forwarding system you should be looking into. In that case, a hold of mail by your local post office, may be a better option.
Permanent Change Of Address
Permanent changes of addresses, will allow you to have mail forwarded to your new address for up to 12 months. Even though the name suggests it is a permanent address change, you will still need to, at the end of the 12 months to change your mailing address information with all agencies or services that you are subscribed to. A positive of permanent changes of address, is that you do not need to switch between getting mail at your new and your old address; once you complete the process, you are pretty much good to go with accepting mail at your new address for an indefinite amount of time.
If you happen to be on the fence, with how long you intend to be at that other address, then definitely consider the temporary change of address. This way, if you ever need to switch back to your original address, you still have that option and are not stuck with your new address. Permanent changes of addresses, as with temporary changes of address are free of charge when you visit a local post office. Make sure to have with you two forms of ID and provide a valid signature in the form that you are asked to sign, and you are good to go.
Completing A Change Of Address Online
To complete a change of address online, you will need to visit the USPS in the mover guide section of their website. There you will be asked to fill out basic information, such as your name, date of birth etc. The most important piece of information that you need to add, is your old address, the new address you are moving to as well as the calendar date when you intend to move.
You will be asked on that same page, to pick between a permanent or temporary change of address. That page has several frequently asked questions that have been answered by the USPS, so make sure to reference that page if all your questions are not covered in this blog. You will also be asked to provide a valid credit card to which $1.05 will be charged, as a form of verification. Due to the amount of mail fraud that exists, they want to make sure they are able to match the name you listed when filling out their form with your name on the card.
Completing A Change Of Address Offline
Completing a change of address offline, can easily be done by visiting your local post office. Visiting in person, will in no way be a money saver or time saver for you, for that matter. However, it may be a better way to complete the process, if you have questions that no website can answer, or if you already tried to complete a change of address, but are having difficulties in the process.
Post offices are not exactly quiet places, and you may need to stay in line, so make sure to have all your questions written down on a cheat sheet. Another thing you will want to do, is have a change of address form filled out, with all field filled and a signature added at the bottom. When it is your turn, just hand it to the employee at the counter, and they will handle the rest on their end.
Completing A Postal Change Of Address – Be Aware Of Fraud
We maybe should have included this as part of the online change of address. However, if you do a simple search online, you will see a small number of websites that advertise themselves as a change of address partner. They do not claim to be from the USPS (although some, do make the website look like you are on a USPS page,) but rather they claim to help you save time by visiting the post office.
At the time of writing this article, we have not concluded on whether these websites are outright fraudulent, or whether there is a way for them to actually get your form sent to the USPS. In an effort to “crack” the mystery, we reached out to the USPS and asked whether they have authorized third party websites that they work with, in order to complete changes of address on behalf of people. Their answer was similar to the one we listed a moment ago: there is no clear authorization for anyone else to process change of address applications, and all changes of addresses need to run through the USPS with a verified signature (for offline changes of address,) or through the use of a credit card during the online process.
Whether these websites, that will charge north of $20 for something that is virtually free, do indeed cheat people or not, is a mystery of its own. If you ever do become a victim of this sort of fraud however, make sure to reach out to your bank and do a charge back. These websites have no legal standing nor are they authorized by the USPS to complete changes of address on your behalf.
How long does USPS forward mail after change of address?
Depending on the type of change of address you complete, the USPS will forward your mail for up to 6 months for a temporary change of address and up to 12 months for a permanent change of address. If you have selected a temporary change of address, and you wish to extend it beyond the 6 months, there is an option to do so. There is no option however, to extend mail forwarding beyond the 12 months, if you have completed a permanent change of address.
Does All Mail Get Forwarded When You Change Your Address?
Yes. First Class Mail and periodicals, Premium shipping services & Media Mail, all get forwarded when you change your address with the USPS. The only mail that does not get forwarded, is USPS Marketing Mail. For Media Mail, there is a fee for the cost of shipping from your local post office to your temporary address.
A Virtual Mailbox Alternative
Alright; if you have been patiently been reading through this article, hoping to find an answer to your questions, we hope we have been able to help with that.
Before we conclude our article for the day, we would like to give you an introduction to a virtual mailbox platform, that a growing number of people have started to use to use their mail. It started by expats who were overseas and not able to receive their US mail. Employees for international corporations, retired couples and people who needed to be overseas for a while, had no way to receive packages & mail, except through the use of virtual mailboxes.
In short, it’s an online platform, similar to how your e-mail is, to which all postal mail and packages are scanned and uploaded. All items that arrive at your virtual mailbox, will have an exterior scan of your envelope or package. From there, if you want to have images of the documents within your envelopes uploaded to your account, you can request it from the virtual mailbox. If you want to have something physically shipped to you, depending on your destination, you can expect to get up to 80% off retail shipping rates. Shredding is absolutely free and check deposits can also be completed from within your account (also free!)
We have put together a Freemium plan for people who have not yet used a virtual mailbox platform before, through which you can start using our platform free, for the first 60 days. If you decide you want to renew from there, you can easily do so from within your account. Otherwise you are good to cancel, and receive mail the good old way, at your physical mailbox.
One thing we will say, which ties into our topic about changes of address: when signing up for a virtual mailbox, and if you are not sure whether it is the right fit for you in the long run, complete a temporary change of address. This way, you can always have mail sent to your original address.
Thanks for visiting us today, and make sure to read more about US Global Mail here.