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Temporary Mail Forwarding: How Long Can You Forward Mail?

May 3, 2023 | 3 min read

If you’re staying away from home for an extended but non-permanent period of time, like 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 mail forwarding services, including how long you can use mail forwarding and how to set it up.

So, What Is Temporary Mail Forwarding?

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.

When it comes to temporary mail forwarding, keep the following in mind:

  • Any personal mail headed to your primary address will be forwarded to an address of your choice.
  • Mail forwarding is only temporary. If you’re permanently moving to a new address, you’ll need to submit a permanent change-of-address request form to the USPS.

    • If you’re hitting the road temporarily and want to avoid an overflowing mailbox when you return home, you can take advantage of the USPS mail hold service to hold your mail at your local post office for up to 30 days.
Which Types of Mail Can Be Forwarded?
There are different mail forwarding services. Some of these services are free, while others may have additional charges for certain pieces of mail.
  1. Forwarding Standard Mail

    • Standard mail forwarding is the easiest and most economical forwarding service USPS offers.

      • First-class mail, which includes magazines and periodicals, can be forwarded. Marketing mail, like advertisements or junk mail, isn’t included in USPS forwarding. Good riddance.
  2. Forwarding Packages

    • Premium mail forwarding is a good option for those who expect to receive packages while they’re away.

      • In addition to the package forwarding service, the premium option also includes all the same services as Standard, plus first-class mail, media mail, and registered mail.
How Does It 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.
What’s the Cost and How Long Can You Forward Your Mail?
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.
What’s the Cost?
  • Standard mail forwarding is free for up to one year.
  • Premium 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.
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 this service are as follows:

    • $19.95 for six months
    • $29.95 for 12 months
    • $39.95 for 18 months
  • If you sign up for six or 12 months of extended forwarding initially, you can add one or two more 6-month extensions for $19.95 each.
What if You Change Your Mind?
  • 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.
How to Initiate the Temporary Mail Forwarding Process
  • To complete online, go to the official USPS Change of Address website and select the “temporary” option.Pay the $1.00 ID verification fee with your credit card and fill out the application. Once that’s done, USPS will send you a confirmation code to help manage your request.
  • If you prefer to go in person, head to your local post office and ask for PS Form 3575 to file a temporary change of address. There’s no fee to apply at the post office.
A Solid Alternative

Mail forwarding with USPS has some upsides and downsides, but thankfully it’s not the only option.

A modern and convenient way to solve the mail forwarding challenge is by using a virtual mailbox which 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 check deposit with just the touch of a button.
  • Rest easy knowing that your packages are in good hands and will be waiting for you anytime 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. And yes, there’s one for managing your postal mail remotely, too. It’s worth a look.