How does mail forwarding work with a USPS Change of Address?

December 30, 2021
Minh Mai

If you or your company has moved to a new address, the USPS mail forwarding service (also known as a USPS Change of Address) can be an extremely helpful service to utilize. Changing your address with the USPS will set up temporary mail forwarding. This is a great safeguard to catch any mail that may be sent to your old address, especially because it may take time to transition all of your old addresses to a new address.

In this article, we answer the questions: What is mail forwarding, how does mail forwarding work, and how to set up mail forwarding? 

What is mail forwarding? 

The U.S Postal Service (USPS) mail forwarding service is a way to redirect your mail when you or your business has changed addresses. 

This means that if you forget to notify a friend or business partner of your new address and they send mail to your old address, your mail will automatically be reforwarded to the right address once it goes through USPS’s internal system. This is a helpful service to utilize if you are getting paper bills, notices, packages, etc from senders that may not be aware of your new address. Some senders (i.e banks, IRS, state departments, etc) may also have a lag period for updating your address as well. 

Note: This service is an optional service provided by the USPS and it is not mandatory to file a Change of Address request if you don’t want to utilize the mail forwarding service.

How does mail forwarding work?

When you submit a change of address request to USPS, they update their records with your old and new addresses. From the specified start date, USPS begins rerouting mail addressed to your old address to your new address.

This includes letters, packages, magazines, and other items sent through USPS. USPS will diligently forward your mail for up to 12 months, giving you ample time to update your address with other organizations.

It's important to note that mail forwarding applies only to USPS mail, so you'll need to separately update your address with other service providers. This convenient service ensures that you don't miss out on any important correspondence during your transition to a new address.

Example of a forwarded piece of mail with as yellow sticker
Example of a forwarded piece of mail (Source)

Limitations with USPS mail forwarding

It is important to note that a USPS mail forwarding service is not a sure fire way to change your mailing address across the board because it does have its limitations. For example, if the piece of mail isn’t being sent to you or your business’s specified name on file, then USPS’s internal system may not catch that the piece of mail should be forwarded. 

In addition, setting up a USPS Change of Address mail forwarding service will only redirect mail that is being sent through USPS. This means that mail that is being sent via UPS, Fedex, DHL, or any other mail carrier will not get rerouted. 

For these reasons, a USPS forward mail service should not be the only action you take when changing business addresses or your private residential address. You should consider changing your business address directly with the vendors or services that you work with as well. 

More information on how long mail forwarding lasts + how to extend it here. 

How to set up mail forwarding?

There are two ways you can set up a general US Post Office mail forwarding service. 

Photo of a U.S Post Office in Boston, MA
Photo of a U.S Post Office in Boston, MA (Source)

Submitting a USPS Change of Address Online 

The easiest way would be to visit the USPS Change of Address online website. Here, you can submit information on who’s moving (i.e Individual, Family, or Business), your old address, your new address, and your contact information. 

The USPS Change of Address cost to submit online is $1.10.

Note: This fee must be paid by a card that either has your old or your new address as its billing address. This is to help USPS verify your identity by checking your card’s billing information with the issuing bank.

More detailed instructions for filling out the USPS Change of Address form can be found here. 

Submitting a USPS Change of Address In Person 

The second way to set up this service so USPS can forward mail to a new address is to submit a PS Form 3575 in person. 

Since you can no longer print this form out on your home computer, you will need to visit your local Postal Office, ask for a “Mover’s Guide” that will contain the PS 3575 form and instructions, fill it out, and then submit it in person. 

Note: There is no fee to fill this form out in person and you can also set up forwarding to an international address this way. 

More information on submitting a PS Form 3575 can be found here


Moving locations and changing addresses is stressful! However, utilizing services like the USPS mail forwarding service is a great way to minimize the headache that can come with changing addresses — especially if you don’t want to miss out on any important business or personal mail.  

If you still have questions around how to forward mail to new addresses, feel free to send us an email at


At Stable, we provide permanent virtual addresses and mailboxes so you never have to worry about mail or changing addresses again. We’ll digitize all mail that you receive here, and you’ll be able to scan, forward, shred, (and even deposit checks!) from anywhere in the world.

Get started with Stable here if you’d like a virtual business address + mailbox in less than 3 minutes.

Disclaimer: Stable is not a legal or accounting firm, therefore we cannot provide legal or tax advice. You should consult legal and tax professionals for advice on how to meet ongoing obligations that apply to you and your company.

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