Can You Forward Government Mail?

Written by
Amber Hobert
Published on
August 14, 2023
Table of Contents

Government mail plays a crucial role in our lives, containing important documents, notices, and updates from various governmental agencies. But what happens when you need to change your address?

Can you forward government mail to your new location? In this blog post, we will explore the intricacies of forwarding government mail and shed light on the possibilities, limitations, and options available to ensure you stay connected to vital information.

Understanding government mail forwarding regulations and procedures can help you navigate this process smoothly and minimize disruptions. So, let's delve into government mail forwarding and discover the answers you seek.

What is Government Mail?

Types of government mail

Government mail encompasses a wide range of communication governmental entities send to individuals, businesses, and other organizations. Understanding the different types of government mail is crucial in comprehending its significance and the need for proper forwarding procedures. Here are some common categories of government mail:

Official correspondence

This includes letters, notifications, and updates related to tax matters, social security benefits, immigration status, licenses, permits, and other legal documents issued by government agencies.

Government benefits

Government mail can include information regarding entitlements, such as welfare benefits, unemployment compensation, healthcare programs, and retirement benefits. These communications often contain critical details and instructions for recipients.

Judicial notices

Government mail can also encompass summonses, court notices, subpoenas, and other legal correspondence related to legal proceedings, jury duty, and administrative hearings.

Election-related mail

During election cycles, government mail may include voter registration confirmations, polling location details, sample ballots, and campaign materials from candidates running for public office.

Examples of government mail

To better understand the scope of government mail, here are some examples of specific mail items you may receive:

Internal Revenue Service (IRS) mail

These notices inform individuals and businesses about tax assessments, changes in tax regulations, payment reminders, or audit notifications.

Suppose you use USPS to forward IRS mail to your new address. In that case, it's essential to understand the options and procedures available when using USPS to forward IRS mail to ensure the continuity of communication with the IRS.

Social Security Administration (SSA) mail

SSA sends letters regarding social security benefits, medicare enrollment, updates to personal information, and changes in benefit amounts.

Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) mail

DMV mail includes vehicle registration and driver's license renewal notices and notifications about any changes to driving privileges.

Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) mail

USCIS may send government mail related to visa applications, green card renewals, citizenship applications, and updates on immigration status.

Can You Forward Government Mail?

The possibility of forwarding government mail depends on various factors, including the type of government mail, the regulations of the specific agency sending the mail, and the forwarding options available. While some government mail can be forwarded, others may have restrictions or particular procedures to follow. Let's explore the possibilities further.

Factors to consider when forwarding government mail

Government agency policies

Different government agencies may have policies regarding how you want your mail forwarded. Some agencies may explicitly state whether or not their mail can be forwarded, while others may have specific instructions on handling address changes. It's essential to check the agency's website or contact them directly to understand their requirements.

Sensitivity of information

The sensitivity of the information in government mail plays a significant role in determining whether it can be forwarded. Certain types of mail, such as confidential legal documents or notifications requiring immediate action, may restrict forwarding to maintain the privacy and security of the recipient's information.

Legal compliance

Ensuring that forwarding government mail complies with relevant laws and regulations is crucial. Some government mail may be protected by privacy laws or specific statutes that restrict or prohibit forwarding. Familiarizing yourself with the legal obligations and restrictions is essential to avoid potential legal repercussions.

Restrictions and limitations on forwarding government mail

While the possibility of forwarding government mail exists, there are several restrictions and limitations to be aware of:

USPS forwarding limitations

The United States Postal Service (USPS) offers a mail forwarding service, but it may have limitations on certain types of government mail. For example, USPS may not forward mail from certain government agencies due to privacy concerns or legal requirements.

Address verification

Some government agencies may require a verified address change request directly from the recipient to update their records. This ensures the agency has accurate information and avoids the potential risks associated with unauthorized address changes or mail forwarding.

Time-sensitive mail

Government mail often includes time-sensitive information, such as deadlines, appointments, or notifications requiring immediate action. In such cases, forwarding may not be the most suitable option due to potential delays in mail delivery. It is essential to evaluate whether forwarding is the best choice based on the urgency of the mail.

Alternative communication methods

In some cases, government agencies may utilize alternative methods of communication, such as email or online portals, for delivering important information. They may provide options to update contact details or preferences directly on their websites, ensuring that critical notifications reach recipients promptly.

Forwarding Options for Government Mail

USPS mail forwarding service for government mail

The United States Postal Service (USPS) offers a convenient mail forwarding service known as USPS Forward. This service allows individuals to redirect their mail to a new address when they change residence.

While USPS Forward can be utilized for forwarding certain types of government mail, its applicability depends on the specific policies and regulations of the government agencies involved. Here's how the USPS mail forwarding service works:

  • Change of Address (COA) form: To initiate mail forwarding, complete a Change of Address (COA) form. This form can be completed online or submitted at your local post office. It is vital to provide accurate information to ensure your government mail is correctly forwarded.
  • Duration of forwarding: USPS offers temporary mail forwarding for a specified period, typically six months to one year. USPS will redirect your government mail to your new address during this time.
  • Limitations and exceptions: While USPS mail forwarding is a convenient option, there may be limitations or exceptions for forwarding certain types of government mail. Some government agencies have rules that override the USPS forwarding service. It is advisable to check with individual agencies to determine if their mail can be forwarded through USPS.


  • Convenience and ease of use
  • Wide coverage and familiarity
  • Automatic redirection of mail for a specified period


  • Potential limitations for forwarding specific government mail
  • Temporary solution with a set duration

Alternative options for forwarding government mail

In addition to USPS mail forwarding, alternative options may be available for forwarding mail from the government and its agencies. These options depend on the specific circumstances and the agency you are receiving mail from. Here are a few alternatives to consider:

Agency-specific mail forwarding

Some government agencies have mail forwarding processes or systems in place. They may provide instructions or forms on their websites for changing your address and ensuring the continuity of receiving their mail. It is essential to check the agency's guidelines and follow their prescribed procedures if available.

  • Tailored to the agency's requirements
  • May provide more comprehensive forwarding options
  • Limited to specific agencies
  • Additional paperwork or procedures may be involved

Contacting the agency directly

If there are restrictions on forwarding government mail or if you have unique circumstances, contacting the sending agency directly can provide clarity. Contact their customer service or designated point of contact to inquire about alternative options or specific instructions for handling address changes.

  • Direct access to agency-specific instructions and solutions
  • Clarification of any unique situations
  • Time-consuming process
  • Response time and effectiveness may vary

Electronic delivery and online portals

Many government agencies have embraced electronic communication and online portals to deliver information. By updating your contact information or preferences on their websites, you can receive notifications, documents, and updates electronically, reducing the need for physical mail forwarding.

  • Instantaneous delivery of information
  • Reduction in physical mail forwarding needs
  • Dependent on agency adoption of electronic methods
  • Potential security concerns with electronic communications

Speak to a Mail Forwarding Company

Understanding the possibilities and limitations of forwarding government mail is essential when you want to get your address changed. While USPS mail forwarding offers a convenient option, alternative methods and agency-specific instructions may also be available.

By following the necessary steps and adhering to best practices, you can ensure a seamless transition and continue receiving important government mail. If you're looking at forwarding your government mail, speak to a reputable mail forwarding service provider who can guide you on how to get it done.

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