Moving is a stressful process. A new adventure is on the horizon, but change can be scary not to mention time consuming and costly. You’re hiring movers, Saying your goodbyes, Switching Utilities, Cleaning, planning your trip, and deciding what items accompany you on your journey and what items find a new home. One task that often flies under the radar of the move-out checklist is forwarding your mail. Your friends and family may know you’re on the way to somewhere new, but Banks, your magazine subscriptions and government agencies like the DMV and IRS may be a little slow on the uptake. To make sure you don’t  miss any important correspondence, you’ll need to work with USPS to have your mail forwarded to a new address.


mailman holding envelopes


How to Set Up Mail Forwarding


The first thing you’ll need to forward your USPS mail is to fill out  a change of address (COA), either permanent or temporarily. A permanent COA is self-explanatory but if you’re planning on a vacation or traveling for a short amount of time, you can have your  mail put on hold or temporarily forwarded to you for a minimum of two weeks or a maximum of six months. Under Permanent or Temporary, there are three different classifications of forms. Here’s when to use them:


  • Individual


The individual form is used when you’re the only one that needs to have your mail forwarded.  If any of the following describes your living situation, then this is the form for you.


  1. You live by yourself
  2. You live at the same address as multiple other people who have different last names than you (roommates!). If all of you want to forward your mail you’ll need to fill out an individual form for each person
  3. You live with your family, but members are moving to different locations. For example, if your older sister is moving to Houston and you’re moving to California.


  • Family


To use the family form you must live at the same address with other people who have the same last name as you.  This form will cause USPS to forward the mail of everyone in the household with the same last name to the new address.


  • Business


You change the address for the business as long as you’re authorized to forward mail on the company’s behalf. Here’s how to complete the form if any of the following apply to you:


  1. You’re entire Business is Changing address: one Change of Address form will suffice
  2. Your business receives mail under different name but you’re entire Business is changing address:  you’ll need to complete a separate change of address for all the primary names
  3. The Business is moving to a residence: you’ll need to select business move


USPS logo


Where to Change my Address with USPS


The change of address (COA) form can be filled out online or in person via PS Form 3575, but some address changes may require you to fill out the form in person.


  • Online

Changing your address online is fairly simple and only takes a couple of minutes. Once you go to, select the “Quick Tools” tab and click on “Change My Address” which is represented by the House and arrow icon. After that, you enter your contact information, old address, new address and the date you want to begin forwarding mail.


  • In Person


If any of the options below apply to you, your change of address must be completed in person.


  1. Individual(s) or a family moving out of the country
  2. Individual(s)/family moving from a business to a residence
  3. Individual(s)/family moving to a business from a residence
  4. Individual moving from/leaving a business
  5. Individual/family/business new address is s a Commercial Mail Receiving Agency (CMRA)
  6. Individual/family/business changing their address to a PO Box


Envelope with the word "forward"on it


When Should I Set Up Mail Forwarding?


Now that you know how to set up mail forwarding, the question is when. USPS stops delivering mail to your old address at the designated start date. It then takes about 7-10 days for your mail to start arriving at the new address, so it’s best to fill out the form two weeks prior. As mentioned earlier, you can select your intended start date when filling out the Change of Address form.


Do You Have To Pay To Forward Mail?


If you set up mail forwarding at your local USPS, then changing your address is free. When you complete the change of address online, they will charge $1.05 to your credit or debit card. This is so they can verify your identity with the bank by cross checking your card number and billing address.


However there is another option called Premium Mail Forwarding. Premium Mail Forwarding requires a one-time enrollment fee, $20.15 if you enroll in person and $18.15 if you enroll online, followed by weekly charges of $20.15. If you opt for Premium Mail Forwarding USPS will hold your mail and ship it to you every week through their Priority Mail® service.


How do I know my Change of Address went through?


  • After you’ve submitted your change of address, USPS will immediately mail you a Move Validation Letter (MVL) to validate the move. This will not be sent if you filled out the COA after you’d already moved.
  • 5 Postal business days before the COA start date,  a Customer Notification Letter (CNL) or a Welcome Kit will be mailed to your new address. The CNL and Welcome Kit will have a Confirmation Code. With this code, you’ll be able make changes or cancel your COA order. Without the Code, you’ll have to visit a Post Office to change or cancel your COA order.
  • If you filled out the COA form online, you’ll receive all of the above as well as a Change of Address confirmation email containing the Confirmation Code.


How Long Will USPS Forward Mail to My New Address?


USPS has time limits for how long they forward mail based on the type and whether you filed for a permanent or temporary address change.


  • Temporary COA


Forwarding for temporary COAs must be a minimum of 15 days and a maximum of 364 days after the listed end date. Otherwise mail will stop being forwarded at the end date designated on the COA form.


  • Permanent COA


For permanent COAs most mail being forwarded to your new address will continue to be forwarded for up to year with the exception of periodicals, also known as magazines and newspapers, which will only be forwarded for 60 days. For those who have mail forwarded internationally, USPS Retail Ground®, Library Mail, Bound Printed Matter, and Media Mail will not be forwarded.


List of government agencies for change of address


Where Else Do I Need to Change My Address Before I Move?


Sadly, it’s not just the post office that needs to know your new address. There are many important organizations that you should update your address with during the moving process.


  • IRS: IRS correspondence, especially your tax return, should be handled immediately, so it’s important you make sure your tax information is always current. You can inform them of your new location using form 8822.
  • Banks and Credit Card Companies: Many businesses cross reference your billing address and the address as demonstrated by USPS’s $1.05 charge. Shop online, write checks, and pay your bills without delay by updating your address with your bank.
  • Social Security Administration: Do you receive social security or Medicaid benefits? If the answer is yes, you’re going to need to update your address with them. Luckily this can be done online at
  • DMV: The  DMV is always torturous, but in order to drive you’re going to need an updated driver’s license. The requirements vary from state to state, so make sure that along with your existing license, you have all the other forms needed to verify your identity.
  • Insurance Providers: Make sure you’re covered in your new home. Different places have very different requirements so if you’re moving out of state or out of the country make sure to examine whether your policy is compliant with the new laws. For example, some states require liability insurance while others do not.
  • Utilities: Changing your address when you switch utilities is rarely forgotten, but it’s important to change them on time. It’s not pleasant to unpack all your boxes in the dark.
  • Voter registration: Voting is a civic duty. Contact the state election office to change the address associated with your voter registration card, so you’ll be assigned a new polling place to make your voice heard.


What Do I Do If I Move Often


Forwarding mail to a new address is a one and done task if you’re planning to settle down for a long period of time. However, if you move around frequently the process can be tedious. An efficient solution to this problem is a virtual mailbox. With a Virtual Mailbox provided by US Global Mail, you simply change your address to the US Global Mail location, we receive it, scan the outside and notify you, and then you can decide whether you want it forwarded, scanned and uploaded, or deleted. This allows you to both get your mail in minutes instead of waiting for it to be rerouted and not have to fill out a form every time you move.

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