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Temporary Mail Forwarding: How Long Can You Forward Mail?

If you’re staying away from home for an extended but non-permanent period of time, like for a work trip or a stay with relatives, temporary mail forwarding can be a short-term way to assure that your mail service goes uninterrupted and that your letters and packages are safe and secure.

Here are some things to know when it comes to temporary United States Postal Service mail forwarding services, including how to set it up and for how long it’s valid.

So What’s Temporary Mail Forwarding, Anyway?

Temporary mail forwarding allows you to continue receiving certain kinds of mail on a short-term basis while you’re away from your primary address. You can file for temporary mail forwarding by filling out the United States Postal Service Change-of-Address Form.

If you don’t want to receive your mail while you’re not in your primary residence, apply for the USPS Hold Mail Service instead. This’ll help you avoid an overflowing mailbox when you return home. USPS will hold your mail at your local post office for up to 30 days.

Which Types of Mail Can Be Forwarded?

  • Standard mail forwarding is the easiest and most economical forwarding service USPS offers.
  • First-class mail, which includes magazines and periodicals, can be forwarded for free.
  • Priority Mail Express, Priority Mail, and USPS Ground Advantage items are also forwarded at zero costs.
  • Forwarding Media Mail like books, CDs & DVDs, and printed music is also allowed, but your local post office will charge a fee.
  • Marketing mail, like advertisements or junk mail, isn’t included in the USPS mail forwarding service.

   Temporary Forwarding of Packages

  • If you want to forward packages temporarily, look into the USPS Premium Forwarding Service. This service includes forwarding USPS Ground Advantage or packages up to 70 pounds.
  • With this service, the post office will deliver your mail or packages weekly or according to the scheduled delivery frequency.

How Does Temporary USPS Mail Forwarding Work?

  • When you visit your local post office and request mail forwarding, the post office will then catch priority mail that’s meant for your primary address and prevent your mail carrier from delivering it there.
  • Once your mail is received at the post office, a sticker with your temporary address will be added to forward it to your secondary address.
  • When you apply for a temporary change of address or mail forwarding service, USPS can send your mail from your old address to the new one for 15 days up to one year.

How Much Does Temporary Mail Forwarding Cost and How Long Can You Forward Mail?

How Much Does Temporary USPS Mail Forwarding Service Cost?

  • If you sign up online to forward mail temporarily, you’ll pay $1.10. If you sign up in person at your local post office, you don’t have to pay a request fee.
  • Standard mail forwarding is free for up to one year. For Media Mail, however, you will pay the cost for shipping from your local Post Office to your temporary address.
  • Premium Forwarding Services have a one-time enrollment fee, paid when you apply, which is $23.40 for online applications or $25.45 at the post office. After that, you must pay a weekly delivery fee of $25.45 to continue receiving your mail and packages.

How Long Can You Forward Mail Temporarily?

  • The initial request for temporary mail forwarding is valid for up to a year.

Can You Extend Mail Forwarding?

  • If you’re still on the move after one year, you can pay to set up an extended mail forwarding service. You can continue to have your mail forwarded for up to 18 months. The fees for extended mail forwarding service are as follows:
  • $19.95 for six months
  • $29.95 for 12 months
  • $39.95 for 18 months
  • If you initially sign up for six or 12 months of extended mail forwarding, you can add one or two more 6-month extensions for $19.95 each.

What if You Change Your Mind about Forwarding Mail?

  • You can cancel your temporary mail forwarding request online if your plans change. To do so, log into your USPS account and enter the confirmation code from your original mail forwarding order.
  • It may take up to 72 hours to complete your request, so jump on it early to avoid unnecessary expenses.
  • Proceed cautiously here. If you request extended mail forwarding, you won’t be able to cancel it or ask for a refund if you change your mind later.
  • What Happens When The Temporary Mail Forwarding Period Ends?
  • When your temporary mail forwarding period ends, USPS will return your mail to the sender for 6 months. The returned mail will come with a label of your new address. The sender will have the option to resend the mail to this new location.

How to Submit a Temporary USPS Mail Forwarding Request

Follow the steps below to file for temporary USPS mail forwarding:

Apply to Forward Mail Online

  1. Fill out the USPS Change of Address Form. For the following question, answer YES. If you answer NO, USPS will classify your change-of-address application as permanent.

Are you planning on returning to your old address in six months or less?

  1. Verify your identity. You can choose to receive a verification code or a link on your mobile phone.
  1. Pay the $1.10 verification fee.
  1. Wait for the email with the confirmation code from USPS. Use this code to modify or cancel your request.

Apply In Person to Forward Your Mail

  1. Go to your local post office. Bring an acceptable photo ID like a government ID or passport.
  1. Ask for a free Mover’s Guide packet.
  1. Fill out the USPS Form 3575 inside the packet. Submit it and your photo ID to the post office personnel.

Once your request is processed, a welcome kit with coupons from USPS partners will arrive at your new address. Mail will be rerouted to your new address piece by piece.

A Modern Alternative to Temporary Mail Forwarding

Like most things in life, mail forwarding with the United States Postal Service has some upsides and downsides. Thankfully, it’s not the only option.

A modern and convenient way to solve the mail forwarding challenge is by using a virtual mailbox. A virtual mailbox allows you to:

  • Choose a real physical address that receives your mail and packages while giving you the freedom to manage your mail from your smartphone, tablet, or laptop, no matter where you are.
  • Request virtual mail forwarding through the app, and accomplish other mail management tasks like open and scan, shred, recycle, and schedule for pickup with just the touch of a button.
  • Rest easy knowing that your packages are in good hands and will await you when you’re ready.

To see how a virtual mailbox can make your life easier and more secure, check out Anytime Mailbox to learn about plans, features, and locations.

There are apps for everything now, from ride-sharing to grocery delivery, to everything and anything in between.

And yes, there’s one for managing your postal mail remotely, too. Welcome aboard.

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