When you make a move, even if it’s down the street, there are a whole host of tasks you must undertake. Key among them is an address change with USPS.
However, the change of address process doesn’t always have the desired outcome; in fact, some mail might never make it to your new mailbox.
So, does USPS forward IRS and other government mail, and does a USPS change of address cover that kind of correspondence? Here’s the answer you seek.
Does USPS Forward IRS & Other Government Mail?
Unfortunately, the United States Postal Service does not forward federal government mail, including IRS, DMV, social security, or government checks. However, some post offices will do it, but that is the exception and not the rule. The best course of action after a move is to manually register a change of address with government agencies.
To find out why USPS doesn’t forward government mail, how you can ensure that you receive government that mail after a move, and whether USPS forwards DMV mail, keep reading!
Why Doesn’t USPS Forward IRS & Other Government Mail?
While I can’t find a definitive answer, I can say that legally, the USPS is not supposed to forward government-issued mail.
If I had to speculate as to why, it is likely because mail from the government, including the IRS, can be very sensitive.
Have you ever lost your social security card? It happens, and you can apply for a new one online.
However, the only way for the Social Security agency to put the physical card in your hands is through the mail.
Imagine if you were about to close on a new house and had registered your change of address already.
Say the card got forwarded to your new address, and some criminal element was out there, checking the mailboxes of houses with For Sale/Sold signs out front.
If they were able to steal your mail, they would find your entire social security number within.
That would give them the ability to wreak havoc on your financials in a matter of days.
Even taking unscrupulous neighborhood criminals out of the equation, say you’re moving from a thousand miles away.
Do you really want sensitive information like that sitting, unsecured, in a mailbox for a week? Especially if your mailbox sits out near the street?
The U.S. federal government surely does not. Change is slow in government agencies, so it’s better for them to avoid mistakes versus having to correct them.
Government mail can also include great sums of money – which, if it fell into the wrong hands, could lead to you being defrauded of hundreds or thousands of dollars.
While it is an inconvenience to the newly moved, the federal government is erring toward caution by not allowing the USPS to forward their mail.
However, while the law exists, not all post offices necessarily follow it, so sometimes federal mail may end up forwarded to a new address.
How Do You Receive IRS & Government Mail From USPS After A Move?
People who have recently moved will tell you: there is always this nagging feeling that something isn’t reaching them at their new address.
When it comes from the federal government or any of its agencies, like the IRS, that feeling can be the source of great anxiety.
Therefore, it is important to ensure that the agency from whom you would likely expect mail is informed of your new address.
Yes, you have to inform them manually; the USPS change of address process is not enough.
One of the most common agencies is the IRS. After all, we interact with them at least once a year, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, it was more like a handful of times.
Here is how you can ensure that IRS mail reaches you at your new address.
If you have an IRS office near you, you can pay them a visit. You can also call them at 1-800-829-1040 (7 a.m. until 7 p.m.).
If you don’t want to visit or call, and you know time is on your side, you can fill out this Change of Address form and mail it in.
See here for where you should mail the form based on your location.
If it’s tax season (January through mid-April), you can update your address with the IRS by simply using your new address when you file your taxes.
If you’re not looking for a permanent (or free) fix right away, you can also pay for a premium forwarding service through USPS.
To enroll, you’ll pay $20.90 upfront, then $22.75 per week for the service.
Bear in mind it is only a temporary forwarding service.
What Mail Doesn’t USPS Forward?
Here is the list of some mail types that USPS does not forward:
- Government checks – Stimulus, tax refunds, etc.
- Anything from Social Security
- Bulk mail/nonprofit mail
- Lightweight packages
- Bound, printed matter
Regarding the first two items on the list, there are anecdotal stories of people receiving stimulus checks at new addresses after USPS has forwarded them.
This should be considered the exception and not the rule!
Treat items like this as if you know for sure they will not be forwarded. Be proactive about letting government agencies know that you have moved.
Does USPS Forward Government Refund Checks?
As a rule, USPS does not forward government-issued refund checks, either for tax refunds or stimulus payments.
However, there have been anecdotal cases where an individual’s post office did go ahead and forward the checks.
While this sounds like they’re breaking the law, it’s more like speeding than committing a felony.
The best way to ensure that your checks will reach you at your new address is to submit a change of address with the IRS.
You can find the options for that in the section above.
Another thing to consider is changing your method of payment to direct deposit.
This ensures that as long as you don’t change bank accounts, the money will go directly to you, and no address changes are needed.
Does USPS Forward DMV Mail?
The United States Postal Service does not forward mail from the Department of Motor Vehicles, or DMV.
Mailings from the DMV may include highly sensitive or personal material.
To eliminate any undue disruption to your receipt of DMV mail, it’s important to notify them as soon as possible of any address changes.
In fact, according to one source, you must legally notify the DMV within 10 days of occupying a new address.
This is an incredibly simple process that can be completed entirely online through your state’s DMV website.
All you will need in most cases are your old and new addresses, and the site will walk you through it.
There is a fee to change your address with the DMV, and it’s different from state to state. (For example, in PA, it’s $30.50; in MN, it’s only $11.)