You bought plane tickets, packed your bags, and planned your vacation itinerary. Did you think about your mail? What will you do about the brochures, magazines, and catalogs that will clutter your mailbox while you’re gone?
Jump ahead to these sections:
- How to Temporarily Hold Mail With USPS
- What if I’m Gone Longer than 30 Days?
- How to Permanently Suspend Delivery With USPS
- FAQs: USPS Mail Holds and Suspensions
Not only is it an inconvenience for your postal service worker to stuff more mail into your mailbox, but it’s also dangerous, too. An overflowing mailbox is a telltale sign of a vacant home — you could be a target for thieves who could steal your identity.
Fortunately, it’s easy to hold mail through the United States Postal Service. Here’s a step-by-step guide so you’ll have one less thing to worry about while you’re gone.
Post-planning tip: If you are the executor for a deceased loved one, it's tough to handle both the emotional and technical aspects of their unfinished business (like mail) without a way to organize your process. We have a post-loss checklist that will help you ensure that your loved one's family, estate, and other affairs are taken care of.
How to Temporarily Hold Mail With USPS
Not long ago, anyone could hold mail just by giving an address. Recently, the United States Postal Service has tightened regulations to keep your identity secure.
Follow the steps below to hold your mail for all of the individuals in your household for at least three and up to 30 days.
Step 1: Submit your request
First, you will need to submit a request online, in person, or over the phone. If you choose to submit your request in person:
- Find your local post office.
- Fill out Form 8076 Authorization to USPS Hold Mail before you go.
- Make sure to keep your confirmation number on file after you drop off your form. You will need it to make future changes.
You can also call 800-ASK-USPS (800-275-8777) to make your request over the phone. Requests made in person or over the phone should be submitted one business day in advance to go into effect the next business day.
The most efficient, secure route is to make your request online. You can make any changes or cancel your request from your online account.
Step 2: Create or access your online account
You’ll need to create a USPS account to submit a hold mail request. You’ll also be able to print shipping labels, request a package pickup, and print custom forms online from your account.
Creating an account for a family member? You will need your family member’s two security questions, email, phone number, and home address. Once you’ve created or logged into your account, you can move to step 3.
Step 3: Check availability
Online hold mail requests aren’t available at all addresses, so you’ll need to find out whether your address is eligible through the online system. Log into your account and navigate to the Quick Tools tab, then scroll down to hold mail.
Your name, address, phone, and email will be prefilled based on the information you input when you created your USPS account. If any of your data is incorrect, you can edit it in your profile.
Lastly, click the “Check Availability” tab. If online hold mail is available, you’ll be able to move to the next step. If not, take a look at Step 1 and submit your request in person or over the phone.
Step 4: Verify identity
Starting in early January 2020, you will need to verify your identity using your mobile phone number before submitting an online request.
It’s an extra safeguard USPS takes to protect your information from identity thieves.
Step 5: Choose your dates
Now that you’ve created or accessed your account and verified your identity, you can move to the last step — choosing your dates. USPS can hold your mail at your local postal location from three to 30 days. Lastly, you will need to select your start and end dates of service and how you’d like to receive your mail on your end date.
You can pick up your accumulated mail at the post office or have your carrier deliver it to you. All of your mail may not fit into your mailbox, so it’s a good idea to pick it up in person.
What If I’m Gone Longer than 30 Days?
Let’s say you’re in the hospital, on an extended vacation, or moving. In these cases, holding mail might not be the best option for you. Instead, you can choose to forward your mail to your new or temporary address in two ways.
Regular forward mail
Regular forward mail is the cheapest and most common option. With a minimal charge of $1.05 to verify identity, you can forward your mail from 15 days to one year to a temporary address. To forward your mail, go to USPS.com, and under Quick Tools, locate the “Change My Address” icon.
You can extend forwarding for another six months after six months have passed, so it’s a good idea to follow Step 2 above and create your USPS account first. This way, you can easily track your mail request or make changes.
It’s critical to know that this option forwards your mail piece by piece instead of in bulk. It’s possible that time-sensitive information could arrive late or you won’t receive your mail. If you or your loved one often receive important documents, then the option below is better for you.
Premium forwarding service residential
At the cost of $21.10 a week (and an enrollment fee), you can receive your mail weekly in bulk. The postal service will package all of your mail priority and ship it to your desired location. Keep in mind, junk mail like catalogs and credit card offers are forwarded, too.
Use this service from two weeks to one year. It’s a great temporary option to receive your confidential mail quickly.
How to Permanently Suspend Delivery With USPS
If you’re cleaning out the home of a deceased loved one, you want to make sure mail doesn’t accumulate. Here are some steps you can take to stop or reduce your deceased loved one’s mail.
- The Data and Marketing Association (DMA) created a registry for the deceased. At no charge, you ensure that your deceased loved one will stop receiving advertisements within three months.
- You can file a request at your local post office to stop mail. Make sure to bring any documentation that you are the executor of your loved one’s estate and also show proof of his or her death certificate.
- You can also hold or forward mail using the steps above.
There’s no way to permanently suspend mail if the receiver isn’t deceased — but there is one loophole. The post office will hold the mail for 30 days if your mailbox is full at your old address. If the mailbox continues to fill up, the carrier will submit an unknown change of address. At this point, the carrier will return your mail to the sender and you're mail-free!
FAQs: USPS Mail Holds and Suspensions
Here are some answers to commonly asked questions about hold and suspensions.
How long will USPS hold mail before returning it to the sender?
The length of time the post office holds mail depends on the type of mail or package. Read this guide for more information. If you placed a hold, you would need to pick up your mail within 10 days after you return home.
How do you cancel a mail hold?
You can cancel a mail hold directly online in your USPS account if you have a confirmation number. You can also visit your local post office or call the Customer Care Center at 800-275-8777.
Did you lose your confirmation number? You will need to present a form of identification like a passport or driver’s license at your post office.
Where do you pick up the mail that’s being held?
You can pick your mail at your local post office. The carrier leaves a request in your mailbox with a redelivery notice locating the post office that holds your mail.
Who can pick up your mail?
You can pick up your mail yourself or have an authorized representative do it. You will need to provide written and signed permission that you will bring to the post office along with your acceptable form of identification if you’re picking up mail for someone else.
Can you edit a USPS mail hold after you’ve ordered one?
The easiest way to edit a USPS mail request is online through your account. If you don’t have an account, you can call the customer service care center or visit your local post office branch with your confirmation number.
Don’t Forget to Hold or Forward Mail
When you’re preparing for vacation or taking care of a loved one, the mail might be the last thing you’re worried about. You can forward, hold, or stop mail within 15 minutes or less. Before you leave for a vacation, you might want to think about end-of-life planning, too (just in case).
Make sure your wishes are kept in one place with Cake, our online end-of-life planning resource. Whether you're helping a loved one make an account or using it yourself, Cake enables you to take control of your future and live in the present.
- “How can we help?” United States Postal Service. www.faq.usps.com/s/article/USPS-Hold-Mail-The-Basics
- “Forward Mail.” United States Postal Service. www.usps.com/manage/forward.htm