Does Changing Your Address Automatically Forward Your Mail?

Written by
Amber Hobert
Published on
May 4, 2023
Table of Contents

Moving to a new place is an exciting and sometimes stressful event. Along with the numerous tasks that come with a move, such as packing and organizing, it's essential to ensure your mail is forwarded to your new address.

Failing to redirect your mail can lead to missed bills, important notices, and other correspondence that could cause inconvenience or financial hardship. Many individuals believe that once they have their address changed with the United States Postal Service (USPS), their mail will automatically be forwarded to their new address.

However, the truth is that there is a process that needs to be followed to ensure that your mail is forwarded correctly. This blog post aims to clarify the confusion surrounding mail forwarding when changing addresses.

We'll discuss the USPS Change of Address (COA) service, what type of mail is forwarded, the limitations of mail forwarding, and alternative options to consider. By the end of this post, you'll better understand how mail forwarding works and how you can ensure your mail is correctly redirected to your new address.

What Happens When You Change Your Address?

When you change your address, USPS provides a service called the "Change of Address" (COA) service to send your mail forward to your new address. This service ensures that your mail is redirected to your new address for a specific period, giving you ample time to update your address with relevant institutions and organizations.

How to request COA service

To request the COA service, visit the USPS website or visit your local post office to complete a Change of Address form. The form requires you to provide your old and new addresses, the moving date, and the mail forwarding duration.

You can choose to have your mail forwarded for a minimum of 15 days and up to a maximum of 12 months. Completing this form at least two weeks before your move is essential to ensure your mail forwarding request is processed quickly.

When does the USPS mail forwarding process begin?

Once the USPS receives your COA request, they will begin the forwarding process on the start date you provided on the form. From that date, your mail will be sent to your new address instead of your old one.

How long does the forwarding service last?

The USPS mail forwarding process typically takes seven to ten days, depending on the distance between your old and new addresses. However, it's vital to note that some types of mail may take longer to be forwarded, such as magazines or newspapers, which may take up to four weeks.

Therefore, it's recommended that you keep track of your mail and ensure that essential items are received at your new address.

What Type of Mail is Forwarded?

Mail forwarding rules are in place to guarantee your mail is redirected to your new business or home address promptly and securely. However, not all mail can be forwarded, and some types have specific forwarding rules.

Types of mail that can and cannot be forwarded

The following types of mail can be forwarded using the COA service:

  • First-Class Mail and Priority Mail: This includes letters, bills, and other essential mail.
  • Periodicals: Magazines and newspapers will be forwarded for a maximum of 60 days.
  • Packages sent by USPS will be forwarded to your new address.
  • International Mail: International mail will be forwarded for up to six months.
  • USPS Marketing Mail includes flyers, circulars, and advertisements. You can forward Marketing Mail for up to 60 days.

It's important to note that the COA service does not forward the following types of mail:

  • UPS mail, FedEx, or DHL packages: These carriers have their own forwarding services.
  • Standard Mail (formerly known as Bulk Mail) includes advertisements, flyers, and catalogs. Standard Mail is usually discarded unless you notify the sender of your new address.
  • Restricted Delivery Mail: This includes registered, certified, and insured mail. Restricted Delivery Mail will be returned to the sender unless you provide an authorized recipient name and signature.

Exceptions to mail forwarding

Exceptions to mail forwarding may also apply in certain circumstances, such as when the sender is prohibited from forwarding mail by law or when the sender has specific forwarding instructions on the envelope or package.

It's essential to remember that while the COA service is reliable, not all mail is guaranteed to be forwarded. Therefore, updating your address with all relevant organizations and individuals is crucial to ensure you receive all your mail at your new address.

Limitations of Mail Forwarding

While mail forwarding can be a convenient solution for ensuring that your mail is delivered to your new address, it's essential to understand that there are limitations and potential issues that may arise.

Delays in mail delivery

One of the primary limitations of mail forwarding is delays in mail delivery. While USPS makes every effort to forward your mail as quickly as possible, there may be unforeseen delays due to the distance between your old and new addresses, incorrect address information, or other factors. As a result, you might experience somewhat of a delay in receiving your mail, which can cause inconvenience and frustration.

Risk of identity theft

Another potential issue with mail forwarding is the risk of identity theft. When you forward your mail, you redirect all your personal and financial information to a new address.

While the USPS takes measures to ensure that your mail is secure during the forwarding process, there is always a risk that an unauthorized individual could intercept sensitive information. Monitoring your mail and ensuring you receive all essential items at your new address is crucial to mitigate this risk.

It's also important to note that mail forwarding is a temporary solution, and updating your address with all relevant organizations and individuals is essential. Failure to update your address can lead to missed bills, important notices, and other mail that could cause inconvenience or financial hardship.

Alternative Options for Mail Forwarding

In addition to the USPS Change of Address (COA) service, other options are available for forwarding your mail when you move. Here are two alternative options to consider:

USPS premium forwarding service

The USPS offers a premium mail forwarding service for a fee that can forward all of your mail to your new address daily or weekly. This service is ideal for individuals who need to receive their mail promptly and reliably. The USPS Premium Forwarding Service is available for both domestic and international addresses.

Private mail forwarding services

Private companies also offer mail forwarding services that provide various options to meet your needs. These services typically involve renting a mailbox at a private mailbox facility, where you will forward your mail to your new address.

Some private mail forwarding services also offer additional features such as mail scanning, package consolidation, and virtual mailboxes that allow you to manage your mail online.

When choosing a private mail forwarding service, it's essential to research the company's reputation and ensure they have a secure and reliable system for handling your mail. Additionally, private mail forwarding services may charge fees for their services, so it's essential to factor in these costs when deciding which option to choose.

Consult Your Mail Service Provider Today

It is essential to update your address with all the relevant parties, including your bank, credit card companies, and other necessary contacts. One crucial step in the process is ensuring that your mail is forwarded to your new address.

The USPS Change of Address service is a reliable option for many people, but it's essential to understand that it has some limitations. For example, the USPS Change of Address service only forwards your mail for a limited period, typically up to one year. Additionally, it may not forward all types of mail, such as packages or magazines.

Suppose you're concerned about these limitations or have special mail forwarding requirements. In that case, consider an alternative option, such as a mail forwarding service provider. With a professional mail forwarding service provider, you will have less stress knowing that your mail will be forwarded promptly and securely to your new address.

These mail forwarding service providers typically offer a range of services, such as scanning your mail and forwarding it electronically, forwarding packages to your new address, and even depositing checks on your behalf. They may also offer additional features like mail storage, virtual mailboxes, and mail shredding and recycling services.

Sign up for Residency in South Dakota