Whether you’re moving or just planning an extended stay away from home, you’ll need to set up mail forwarding to make sure you keep getting your mail.
In most cases, mail forwarding is easy to set up and works well, but that’s not always the case. So, if you’re worried that your mail forwarding isn’t working, then check out our guide to see what to do!
Why Is USPS Mail Forwarding Not Working In 2023?
USPS mail forwarding may not be working for a few reasons in 2023. For example, it could be due to an incomplete change of address form or a clerical error on the change of address form. It’s also possible that missing mail isn’t eligible for forwarding or that the change of address request has expired.
You probably still have questions about mail forwarding not working and want to know how to fix it, so be sure to keep reading for more information!
Does USPS Mail Forwarding Work?
If you suspect a problem with your USPS mail forwarding request, your first instinct might be to wonder if USPS mail forwarding works to begin with.
In most cases, it does work, and USPS will forward your mail for free when you complete a change of address form. You can complete this form online or at the post office (form 3575).
Completing the form online requires a one-time fee of $1.10 for identification verification, and completing it in person is free of charge.
Mail forwarding can begin within 3 business days of USPS receiving your request. However, it’s best to submit it at least 2 weeks prior to moving.
How Does USPS Mail Forwarding Work?
When you’ve requested mail forwarding, your packages will go to a central processing facility. Once there, it’s checked for a forward order and then forwarded to your new address.
Mailpieces will be forwarded to you piece by piece as USPS receives them. You’ll notice a yellow sticker on the bottom of the envelope where your new address is printed.
It’s worth noting that mail forwarding is a service that should be used to redirect mail when you move.
While this offers a great temporary safety net, it’s not a long-term solution. USPS will only forward your mail for the amount of time you request (from 2 weeks up to 1 year).
During that time, you’ll need to contact your bank, government agencies (e.g. IRS or DMV) and your loved ones to give them your new address.
Indeed, mail from service providers and government agencies is not eligible for mail forwarding, so it’s essential that you get in touch with them as soon as possible.
Here’s what to expect from mail forwarding for different kinds of mail service:
- First-Class mail and periodicals (newsletters and magazines) are forwarded for free.
- Premium shipping services (Priority Mail, Priority Mail Express and First-Class Package) are forwarded for free.
- Media Mail and USPS Retail Ground are forwarded, but you must pay the shipping cost from your local Post Office to your new address.
- USPS Marketing Mail is not forwarded
Why Is My USPS Mail Not Being Forwarded?
There are many reasons why your mail isn’t getting forwarded. We’ll go over a few here:
- Your request wasn’t submitted- if you didn’t receive a confirmation code (online change of address request) or a letter (paper change of address request), then USPS didn’t receive your information.
- Clerical error- you made a mistake on your change of address form (e.g. an incorrect zip code or house number).
- Ineligible mail- mail from government agencies, service providers (e.g. gas, water or electricity) and media mail cannot be forwarded.
- Do-not-forward requests from senders- sometimes senders will label mail as “do-not-forward.” If that’s the case, their mail will be sent back to them.
- It’s been too long- you’re required to fill in a duration for mail forwarding, and this period can last up to 1 year. You’ll no longer receive forwarded mail after that time. Note that periodicals are only forwarded for 60 days, even if your request is longer.
How Do I Fix USPS Mail Forwarding Issues?
Before trying to resolve your mail forwarding issue, review the potential explanations above and try to narrow down what the issue may be. Once you’ve got an idea, check out these tips:
If you suspect your request wasn’t submitted:
Check to see if you’ve received a confirmation code via email or a letter through the mail notifying you about your change of address request. If you’ve received neither, complete a new request as soon as possible to avoid mail delays.
If you suspect a clerical error:
- Visit USPS’ change of address webpage.
- Scroll to the bottom of the page and click the “View or Edit” link next to the question “Have you already changed your address?”
- Fill out the fields with your unique confirmation number and new zip code.
- After completing the form, check your email for a confirmation letter.
- Click “Get Started” after typing in your information.
- After checking for errors or modifying your request, expect forwarded mail to start arriving at your new address within 7 to 10 business days.
If your mail is ineligible:
Contact government agencies or service providers you were expecting to get mail from. Check to see if they’ve sent you any mail recently. Request an additional copy if necessary, and be sure to update your new address.
If your mail has a do-not-forward request:
Contact the sender and update your address.
If your request has expired:
Contact senders and update them with your new address.
To learn more, you can also see our posts on the USPS mail handler, what to do if the USPS package goes the wrong way, and how long does USPS Priority Mail Express takes.
Mail forwarding is a helpful service when it works, but unfortunately it’s prone to errors, both from the person making the request and from USPS. Luckily, it’s a pretty easy issue to troubleshoot.