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Understanding USPS Mail Forwarding: How Long Does USPS Forward Mail?

If you’re wondering how long USPS forwards mail, you’re in the right place. With USPS, your mail can be forwarded for varying periods depending on the service you choose — up to 12 months for standard forwarding, with temporary options starting at 15 days. This article delves into the specifics of each mail forwarding service and how to activate them.

USPS Mail Forwarding Duration and Types

The world of USPS Mail Forwarding may initially appear complex, but a grasp of the various services that the post office offers can make the process easier.

  • The United States Postal Service (USPS) offers three primary types of mail forwarding: Temporary, Permanent, and Premium.
  • Each service caters to different needs, whether you’re making a permanent move, extending your forwarding time, or simply seeking a short-term solution.
  • Initiating any of these services is as straightforward as submitting a change of address request to the postal service.

Temporary Mail Forwarding

For those who know their absence has an expiration date, Temporary Mail Forwarding is the ideal choice.

  • Starting at a minimum of 15 days and extending up to six months, temporary forwarding is perfect for short sabbaticals, extended vacations, or any interim period where you’d need mail rerouted.
  • If your plans shift or you need more time, you can extend this service for a maximum of 12 months.
  • This flexibility ensures that no matter where life temporarily takes you, your mail is one less thing to worry about.

Permanent Mail Forwarding

The baseline option for most people is the standard Permanent Mail Forwarding.

  • This service, which lasts for a full year, guarantees the redirection of first-class mail, priority mail, and priority mail express to your new address.
  • It’s not just letters that find their way to you. First-class packages, along with other USPS services like retail ground and media mail, are also included in this mail delivery process.
  • Keep in mind that the forwarding lifespan of periodicals like newspapers and magazines is shorter, approximately 60 days.
  • Permanent mail forwarding ensures that you stay connected with crucial communications and essential subscriptions during the initial phase of your move.
  • Note, however, that Marketing Mail and Package Services mail are not included.

Premium Mail Forwarding

For those seeking an upgraded experience with their mail forwarding, USPS offers Premium Forwarding Services.

  • This encompasses PFS-Residential, consolidating your mail into weekly Priority Mail shipments, and PFS-Commercial, serving businesses with daily, weekly, or monthly forwarding options via Priority Mail or Priority Mail Express.
  • PFS-Residential not only reroutes your essentials immediately but also keeps you in the loop with email notifications for your weekly shipments.
  • Despite the enrollment and weekly service fees, the convenience and peace of mind provided by these services can justify the cost.

What Mail Qualifies for Forwarding

It’s pivotal to know which mail pieces will be reliably forwarded to your new residence.

  • First-Class mail and periodicals are forwarded at no extra cost to you.
  • If you’re an avid reader who receives books or other media through Media Mail, be prepared to cover the forwarding costs from your local Post Office to your new location.
  • And for those wondering about bulk marketing materials, USPS Marketing Mail doesn’t make the forwarding cut and won’t land in your new mailbox.

How Much is Mail Forwarding

Mail forwarding is generally free. For some types of mail pieces, the post office will charge you a fee. 

Forwarded for Free

  • First-Class mail and periodicals (newsletters and magazines)
  • Priority Mail Express
  • Priority Mail
  • USPS Ground Advantage items are forwarded for free

Forwarded for A Fee

  • Media Mail items

How to Initiate Mail Forwarding with USPS

Embarking on the mail forwarding journey begins with a simple yet crucial step, which is initiating the service with USPS, and whether you’re embracing the digital world or prefer the personal touch of a local post office, setting up mail forwarding is a hassle-free process.

  • Your incoming mail begins to be mail forwarded within 3 to 12 business days after submitting your forward mail request, hence, it’s wise to plan ahead.

Online Address Change

In this digital age, convenience is king. Changing your address online is a breeze with the USPS Change of Address official website.

  • Simply select your move type, verify your identity, and pay a nominal fee to secure your information.
  • By handling this directly on USPS.com/move, you avoid any third-party fees..
  • It’s a straightforward process designed to transition your mail to your new address with just a few clicks.

In-Person Address Change

If you’re someone who prefers to handle things in person, the USPS has you covered.

  • Head to your local post office and request the Mover’s Guide packet, which contains all the necessary forms and instructions for updating your address.
  • Filling out the change of address form, also known as PS Form 3575, is both easy and secure, particularly when you provide your photo ID for identity verification.
  • This personal approach ensures that your mail forwarding setup is in good hands from the start.

Managing Your Forwarded Mail

The journey continues even after setting up mail forwarding.

  • To ensure a smooth experience, initiate the process at least two weeks ahead of your move, allowing ample time for the service to be fully operational.
  • Each mail piece is individually forwarded to your new address upon arrival, and USPS sends confirmation letters to both your old and new addresses, along with a welcome kit.
  • If any packages go missing, you should promptly report the error so that USPS can act, which may include locating the package in the Mail Recovery Center if needed.

Special Mail Forwarding Situations

USPS recognizes the uniqueness of life’s circumstances and offers custom solutions for special mail forwarding scenarios:

  • For military personnel on the move, coordinating with your command to communicate AMPS relocation information to USPS is key, though personal changes can still be made in person or online.
  • In sensitive situations like forwarding mail for a deceased person, it’s necessary to visit a USPS location in person with the appropriate paperwork.
  • For those setting off on international journeys, it’s essential to update the address in person, especially if online verification proves challenging.
  • If your permanent address is still uncertain, a post office box can provide a temporary repository for your mail, ensuring it doesn’t get sent to your old address.


  • In conclusion, USPS Mail Forwarding is a versatile and essential service that ensures your mail is as mobile as you are.
  • From the standard 12-month forwarding to temporary and extended options, as well as premium services for those needing a bit more, USPS has every angle covered.
  • Remember to plan ahead, keep track of your mail’s journey, and don’t hesitate to reach out to USPS if you encounter any hiccups along the way.
  • So go ahead, make your move, knowing that your mail will be right there with you.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How long does it take for USPS to start forwarding my mail?

  • It usually takes USPS 3 to 12 business days to start forwarding your mail after receiving your change of address request.

Can I extend my standard mail forwarding beyond 12 months?

  • Yes, you can extend your mail forwarding service for an additional 6, 12, or 18 months with the purchase of Extended Mail Forwarding.

What types of mail will not be forwarded?

  • USPS Marketing Mail will not be forwarded and will stay at your old address. This may cause delays in receiving such mail.

How do I manage my forwarded mail if I’m moving abroad?

  • To manage your forwarded mail when moving abroad, visit a USPS location to change your address, especially if online verification fails.

Are there any premium options for mail forwarding?

  • Yes, USPS offers Premium Forwarding Services for an additional fee, including options for weekly or more frequent mail forwarding.