There are many things you need to remember to take care of when moving from one home to another. One of these is forwarding your mail to your new address, which begins with changing your address with the United States Postal Service (USPS).
Whether you're making a local move or relocating out of state, changing your address should be a top priority. Keep reading for a review of the process involved so that your address change goes off without a hitch.
Selecting the Right USPS Form
There are three forms on the USPS site, and you can run into issues if you use the wrong one. There are forms for individuals, families and businesses. If you're unsure of what change of address form to use, either stop by the local post office or give them a call.
When Does the USPS Mail Forwarding Start?
When you have fully submitted your change of address form, the service will go live in seven to 10 days. So that you get all your mail, you need to ensure you fill out the form in enough time. Make sure you select the correct day for the service to begin forwarding your mail to the new address—there's no need to worry, they won't redirect your mail before then.
How Can I Be Sure the USPS Address Change Was Set Up Correctly?
When you have filled out the form and submitted it, you'll receive a validation letter. This goes to your current address so that the postal service can make certain that you genuinely want your mail forwarded to another address.
When the USPS has completed the processing of your request, they will dispatch a notification letter or a welcome pack to your new address. It will include a confirmation code that you will need if you want to cancel or change the service. This letter needs to be kept safe so that you can refer to it in the future and use the code.
When you set up a change of address on the USPS site, they'll send you an email with your confirmation code and also confirm your change of address request. If you do this online, they'll still send out the letters in the mail. Setting this up online gives you the advantage of being able to locate your confirmation code within your emails if you do misplace the letter.
What Should You Do If You Don't Get the Confirmation Letter?
If you've filled out the appropriate forms in plenty of time before your move, but you haven't received a response from the USPS, you should visit a post office to follow up on the status of your request. They should be able to find out what has happened and move things along. You will need something to prove you're who you claim to be so that they can assist you.
What Happens If You Change Your Mind?
One of the questions that comes up every now and then is what you do if your plans change midstream. You thought your moving plans were set in stone, then something comes up out of the blue. The move across country you thought would be happening is no longer taking place.
If this sounds like your situation, you'll want to learn how to either cancel or update your change of address forms. Getting your mail on time is critical for most, so don't let this become a task you sweep under the rug. If your plans change, get your address forms squared away immediately.
How Long Does Forwarding Last?
The USPS address change forwarding will generally last for a year. This should allow you enough time to make sure your address has been updated with every business you still want contact from. It should be plenty of time to update all your friends and family, as well.
For magazines and newspapers, the service will only last for two months, so be sure to update your details with these services before the mail forwarding stops.
How Much Does Mail Forwarding Cost?
If you go to the post office and submit your request, it will cost you nothing. The service will only cost $1 when you fill out the forms online. This fee is to check that your identity is valid using your credit card information. If you visit a post office, they'll check your ID in-person.
What Happens If You Don't Submit the Forms in Time?
If you fail to fill out the forms with enough time for the postal service to set up the forwarding, they will collect and store your mail for up to 10 days. After this time, they'll try to return it to the sender.
Who to Let Know You've Moved?
One of the last pieces of the moving puzzle is to inform everyone of your move. This includes all the vital institutions that will need to know your location. Think of things such as the IRS, your doctor, credit card companies, insurance providers, etc. To jog your memory, here is a list of who to let know your address changed. Make this a part of your to-do list right away.
Final Thoughts on Changing an Address
Hopefully this guide has shown you how to forward mail so that you won't find that any of your important documents have gone missing. This is only part of what you need to do when moving from one house to another.
You'll also have to inform all the organizations that you have accounts with and update your address with them. Most of these should be able to be updated online; this includes things like your driver's license, which could land you in trouble if you forget to update.
Bill Gassett is a nationally recognized real estate leader who has been helping people buy and sell MetroWest Massachusetts real estate for the past 33 years. He has been one of the top RE/MAX REALTORS® in New England for the past decade. Gassett works for RE/MAX Executive Realty in Hopkinton, Mass. In 2018, he was the No. 1 RE/MAX real estate agent in Massachusetts.