If you’re changing locations temporarily but still need to access your mail, you can enroll in mail forwarding services with the United States Postal Service (USPS).
Jump ahead to these sections:
- How to Forward Your Own Mail from USPS
- How to Forward a Deceased Loved One’s Mail
- Forwarding Mail Frequently Asked Questions
USPS mail forwarding is also useful when a loved one has passed away. You can set up forwarding so that mail goes to your home, instead of to the deceased person’s house. Doing so can save you the regular task of picking up mail from another location.
If you’re interested in USPS Mail Forwarding, the step-by-step guide below will help you get started with the service.
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 their 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 Forward Your Own Mail from USPS
The first way you can use Mail Forwarded by USPS is to forward your own mail. You might choose this option if you’re going on an extended vacation, or if you’re moving temporarily. Here’s how to get started forwarding your own mail.
1. Choose Forward Mail or Premium Forwarding Service
The United States Postal Service has two options when it comes to forwarding your mail to a different address: Regular Forward Mail and Premium Forwarding Service Residential.
Here’s how the two services are different:
Regular Forward Mail. This basic mail forwarding service is a viable option whether you’re making a long-term move or only changing location temporarily. USPS sends your mail piece-by-piece to the new address.
You can use this as a temporary option, or you can use it as the first step in changing your address permanently.
With Regular Forward Mail, you’ll pay just $1.05 to verify your identity online. You can have mail forwarded to a new address for as short a time as 15 days or as long as a year.
Premium Forwarding Service Residential. The USPS also a higher-level mail forwarding service for residential addresses. With Premium Forwarding Service, the post office holds your mail, packages it, and delivers it to the new address on a weekly basis.
Like Regular Forward Mail, you can request Premium Forward Service for between two weeks and one year.
But Premium Forward Service costs significantly more: it’s $19.35 to enroll online (or $21.10 in person), plus a weekly fee of $21.10.
If you have a PO box, you may be able to forward mail from your PO box address using USPS Premium Forwarding Service Local.
While regular mail forwarding services are nearly free, Premium Forwarding Service can make life easier if you want to receive forwarded mail just once per week.
2. Enroll in the forwarding service of your choice
Once you know which option is right for you, you can enroll in mail forwarding online in just a few clicks.
To enroll in Premium Mail Forwarding, you’ll need to create a USPS account. To forward your mail using Regular Mail Forward, you’ll complete the Change of Address Request form.
If you fill out the Change of Address form, make sure to select either “Temporary” or “Permanent” according to your situation. You’ll receive a confirmation code, which you’ll need later on to cancel or extend your service. Make sure to write your code down and keep it in a safe location.
How to Forward a Deceased Loved One’s Mail
Managing a loved one’s mail after they die is a stressful end-of-life practicality. Luckily, you can easily forward a deceased loved one’s mail to your own home using USPS’s online tools or by visiting a post office.
1. Visit your local post office
Unlike forwarding your own mail with USPS, you can’t set up mail forwarding for the deceased online (with one exception—see step 2 below). Instead, you’ll need to file a request at your local post office.
Before you go, make sure to bring with you proof that you’re the deceased person’s appointed executor or administrator. You’ll need to show evidence that you’re legally authorized to make changes to the deceased person’s mail.
At the post office, you’ll complete a Forwarding Change of Address order, which will allow USPS mail to go to your address, rather than to the deceased.
2. Unless you shared an address
If you and the deceased lived together, you can also forward individual pieces of mail to their appointed executor. To do so, neatly cross out your address on the piece of mail.
Neatly write “Forward to:” and the desired forwarding address on the envelope. Leave the piece of mail in your mailbox for the carrier to pick up, or drop it off in a post office dropbox.
If you share an address with someone who’s now deceased, you can also open and manage the deceased’s mail as needed.
3. Stop advertising mail
Deceased people often continue to receive advertisements in their mailboxes. If you’re managing a loved one’s estate, those advertisements can be a serious nuisance.
Luckily, the Data and Marketing Association has a “Deceased Do Not Contact” (DDNC) list that helps families cope with that very issue.
If you’re still receiving advertising mail for a deceased loved one, be sure to register his or her name at DMAchoice.org.
Forwarding Mail Frequently Asked Questions
The United States Post Office makes the mail forwarding process relatively easy and straightforward. But there are still some frequently asked questions that come up about USPS mail forwarding. Here are the answers to some of those questions.
What’s covered in mail forwarding?
With Regular Forward Mail from USPS, the post office delivers all of your USPS mail to the new address, piece-by-piece, as it comes in.
With Premium Mail Forwarding Service, the post office will hold your mail, box it up, and deliver it to you once a week at your new address.
Keep in mind that, while USPS packages will arrive at your new address at no additional charge, FedEx and UPS packages will still go to your old address. You’ll need to set up mail forwarding with each of those services or update your shipping address with package-senders.
How long does it take for USPS to start forwarding mail?
Once the USPS processes your mail forwarding request, it will typically take about seven to ten business days for mail forwarding to begin.
Can you temporarily forward USPS mail?
You can temporarily forward United States Postal Service mail by enrolling in mail forwarding. Both Regular Forward Mail and the USPS’s premium services allow you to forward mail for as short a time as two weeks.
How much does it cost to forward mail?
The cost of forwarding mail depends on the service you choose. If you go through the address change process with USPS (Regular Forward Mail), you’ll only pay $1.05. This small fee covers an identity check.
If you choose a Premium Mail Forwarding Service, you’ll pay an enrollment fee of up to $21.10, and an additional $21.10 per week of service.
How long does USPS mail forwarding last?
You can enroll in USPS mail forwarding for as short as two weeks or for as long as one year.
How can you stop or cancel USPS mail forwarding?
If you change your mind, or you need to stop mail forwarding sooner than expected, you can typically do so online. The exception is if you initiated Premium Mail Forwarding in person at your local post office. In that case, you may need to revisit the same office to initialize a cancelation.
For Regular Forward Mail:
You can edit your change-of-address order or cancel it using the confirmation number you received after submitting your request.
Once you cancel or edit your order, allow 7 to 10 business days for the new change to take effect.
For Premium Mail Forwarding:
To edit your mail forwarding preference, you’ll need to log into your USPS account. The timeframe for canceling or changing your forwarding service also differs from that described above:
- To cancel the service before it begins or change the start date, you must submit an online request by 11:59 PM the day before the service starts.
- To extend the service or stop the service after it’s started, you must submit a request by the Monday before the last shipping date.
- To shorten the service term, you must submit a request by the Monday of the week prior to the last shipping date.
Final Notes on Mail Forwarding with USPS
USPS mail forwarding services a great start if you’re moving or managing a deceased loved one’s mail. But keep in mind that forwarding your mail with USPS only affects mail deliveries through the United States Postal Service.
Packages and parcels that are shipped with FedEx or UPS won’t be affected. Additionally, USPS mail forwarding only lasts upwards of one year.
USPS mail forwarding is only the first step in permanently changing your address [please link Change of Address Checklist when published] or making sure mail to your deceased loved one stops.
If you're looking for more help while moving, use our free change of address checklist and our guide on how to forward magazines.
- “Forward Mail.” USPS. www.usps.com/manage/forward.htm
- “Mail Addressed to the Deceased.” USPS. www.usps.com/manage/mail-for-deceased.htm