Submitting a USPS Change of Address request will set up automatic mail forwarding from your old address to your new address so that you continue to receive any mail that is being sent to an old address. This service can last from a couple of days to two and a half years depending on the mail forwarding option you choose and whether or not you choose to extend your USPS mail forwarding service.
In this article, we answer the following questions and more:
What is the USPS Change of Address?
What are the different types of mail forwarding options?
How long does mail forwarding last?
Can you extend mail forwarding?
What are other alternatives to USPS mail forwarding?
The USPS Change of Address is a request that you can submit when you or your business has changed addresses. This COA request will set up automatic mail forwarding so mail can be rerouted to your new address if it’s being sent to your old address. 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.
More information on how mail forwarding works + how to set up mail forwarding can be found here.
When you submit a Change of Address request (also known as COA request or US Postal Office mail forwarding request), there are four different mail forwarding options that you can select from:
A temporary Change of Address order will provide for a “piece-by piece” forwarding for all First Class Mail and periodicals (magazines, newspapers, etc) that you receive. This temporary Change of Address is set for a specified time frame that you can choose so it is a common option for people that may be traveling for an extended period of time or are temporarily living in a new location.
Note: USPS Marketing Mail or Package Services Mail will generally not get forwarded with this option.
Similar to a temporary COA, a permanent Change of Address order will provide for a “piece-by-piece” forwarding of all First Class Mail and periodicals (magazines, newspapers, etc) that you receive. The difference between a permanent COA and a temporary COA is that a permanent Change of Address order will let USPS know that your mailing address on record should be changed completely.
Because of this, First Class Mail will automatically get forwarded for 12 months and periodicals will get forwarded for 60 days. During this time period, you should change your address with all the services and providers that you or your business works with as the USPS will assume that your information has been updated within this time.
This permanent Change of Address service is the obvious option for anyone who has permanently changed their residential address or for any business that has permanently changed their business address.
Note: USPS Marketing Mail or Package Services Mail will generally not get forwarded with this option. Instead, your new address may get provided to business mailers if they request for it through a mailer endorsement on a piece of mail.
Setting up a Premium Forwarding Service Residential will provide for single weekly shipments of all the mail that you receive at an address over a “piece by piece” forwarding. This mail will be sent to your specified address via Priority Mail, and unlike a permanent COA and a temporary COA, this premium forwarding service comes with a fee (more info here).
This PFS-Residential Service is a great option for those who want to ensure they are receiving their important mail in a timely manner.
Similar to a PFS Residential, setting up a Premium Forwarding Service Commercial will provide for bundled shipments of all the mail that you receive at a previous business address over a “piece by piece” forwarding. This mail will be sent to your new business address via Priority Mail or Priority Mail Express, and unlike a PFS Residential, the delivery frequency for a PFS-Commercial can be customized to weekly or monthly shipments. The premium forwarding service for commercial use usually comes with higher fees as well (more info here).
This service is great for any business that has changed business addresses and doesn’t want to miss any important business documents or notifications.
More information on how to submit a USPS forward mail service can be found here.
The duration of your mail forwarding is dependent on whether you’ve submitted a temporary Change of Address, a permanent Change of Address, or a Premium Forwarding Service Residential, or Premium Forwarding Service Commercial.
Mail forwarding for a temporary Change of Address can last anywhere from 15 days to 6 months. However, since you can choose when the forwarding service will start and end, mail forwarding for a temporary Change of Address will last until your specified end date.
We recommend looking at your Change of Address confirmation email or your Customer notification letter (CNL) if you’re unsure on what this date may be.
Mail forwarding for a permanent Change of Address will last for 12 months (however note: periodicals will only get forwarded for 60 days).
This means that the expiration date for your permanent Change of Address order will be 12 months from the start date that you specified. We recommend looking at your Change of Address confirmation email or your Customer notification letter (CNL) if you’re unsure on what this date may be.
Mail forwarding for a PFS Residential can last anywhere from a minimum of 2 weeks to 12 months.
Since you can choose when this forwarding service will start and end, USPS will send over a single weekly forward for your mail up until your submitted expiration date. We recommend looking at your PFS-Residential Online account if you’re unsure on what this date may be as your PFS-Residential mail forwarding end date can be managed online.
Mail forwarding for a PFS Commercial can last from a minimum of 2 weeks and be renewed to suit your business’s needs.
Since you can choose when this forwarding service will start and end, USPS will send over a periodic forwards for your mail up until your service order holds. We recommend looking at your PFS-Commerical Online account if you’re unsure on what this date may be as your PFS-Commercial mail forwarding service can be managed online.
Mail forwarding can be extended in some scenarios.
One good thing about setting up a US post office mail forwarding service is that they will normally notify you when your mail forwarding is about to expire by mailing a physical postcard to your forward mailing address (or your new address). This postcard will also let you know if you have the option to extend, and although these extensions usually come with a fee, they can be a helpful service if you know your address has still not been updated across the board.
If you requested a temporary COA, you will not be able to extend the change of address mail forwarding period. Instead, you can submit another temporary COA request or a permanent COA request if you’d like your mail forwarding time frame to be increased.
If you requested a permanent COA, USPS will allow you to request an extension for a fee. This fee is dependent on how long you would like your mail forwarding to be extended for. The current fees as of January 2022 are as follows:
Note: If you only sign up for an additional 6 or 12, you will be able to purchase another six-month increment at $19.95 each. You will not be able to exceed an extension of 18 months total.
More information on prices, how to extend mail forwarding, or even how to cancel mail forwarding can be found here.
USPS temporary mail forwarding is a great service to utilize if you know that mail is being sent to an old address — however, it is important to note that this mail forwarding service is temporary even if you submit a “permanent” change of address request.
If you’d like to eliminate the stress of having to change mailing addresses and want to ensure that you have a mail forwarding service regardless of where you move, we recommend that you check out a virtual address and mailbox service.
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.