Although more people than ever are going paperless, physical mail will never go away. For this reason, it's not enough to know how to address and write letters. We need to know how to forward mail.
Mail forwarding is a service that redirects mail pieces from one address to another. Email forwarding borrows this concept in the same manner. If someone sends an email to an unmonitored address, the owner likely has another account ready to receive those messages. Mail forwarding works the same way. People send something, and then somewhere along the way, the mail is intercepted and adequately redirected to the desired location.
Although rarely discussed, mail forwarding is vital in today's high-tech world. Where emails and text messages are convenient, physical mail is secure. The security that mail grants us comes at the cost of time and paper; despite this, mail is the preferred communication method for official offices. For example, the IRS primarily communicates through mail, signed forms are their lifeblood. The distribution of passports is another event that takes place via mail, just like new driver's licenses. Some banks also conduct business over mail, as do jury duty notifications and mail-in voter ballots.
Traditional mail works by the sender writing a recipient's address on a mail piece, attaching postage, and then sending it. Depending on the sender's information, the recipient's address may be a home or business address. As mentioned above, mail forwarding intercepts the sender's mail and redirects it to a new location. The interception is possible due to the address change in the national address database used by mail services. After detection, the piece of mail gains a printed barcode and is shuttled off to the correct region.
All US mail forwarding should start with the United States Postal Service. Although USPS doesn't service mail operations for private mail solutions, registering the forward with them goes far in catching and correctly distributing most mail. The caveat in forwarding mail is that it only impacts specific addresses.
In other words, those forwarding mail from and to a residential home only have those addresses impacted. Simultaneously, those who are also business owners would need to request a forwarding service for the business address separately. Mail forwarding can be assigned multiple times, but waiting too late may cause a gap within active service. Gaps allow mail to slip past monitors, sending it to the old address; if not collected, the postal service will hold it for ten days before returning it to the sender.
Anyone can complete a Change of Address (COA) order for an individual, a family, or a business. The correct category will depend on the situation. For example, a family moving out of a shared home may need individual and family requests; conversely, a home business moving to a warehouse would need individual and business forwarding.
USPS offers three distinct mail forwarding services, each with vital nuances. In addition to what is listed below, individuals should consider packages and essential mail in their selection. Packages and deliverables are not always available for services, and some DMVs will not comply with forwarding requests.
Those setting up a mail forwarding address should start the process earlier than they would think. The forwarding can be scheduled beforehand, with the start and end dates clearly stated on the service confirmation. Mail will start to arrive within 7-10 days of the start date. During this time, the sent mail is not accessible nor given an estimated delivery time.
Mail forwarding lasts up to a year, depending on the requested service. Additionally, those who use a temporary forwarding address for less than a year can request extensions. These extensions can run up to 179 days but will not exceed 364 days total. After this period, consumers must make a new change of address request.
Every change of address order will have a specified end date. When that date occurs, the mail will either return to the old address or stay with the new one. Alternatively, consumers can stop the mail forwarding order by requesting a cancellation or stop of the order. US residents can submit a cancel order request online but need their Confirmation Code for completion. After the cancellation, allow 7-10 days for the service to return to the indicated address.