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How Does Mail Forwarding Work?

Mail Forwarding

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Almost 90% of Americans have flown in their lifetime, meaning that travel is a huge part of our lives. While some of us only travel once in a blue moon, others are always on the move. And when you add in business trips to leisure ones, that’s quite some time away from home.

Upon returning, you might have piles of mail, some important, while others are junk. Not only is it a hassle to deal with, but you may have missed vital deadlines. So to avoid this, you should get mail forwarding.

What does mail forwarding entail and how can you utilize this service? Read on to find out more.

What Is Mail Forwarding?

Mail forwarding is a service provided by a third party, such as postal or courier companies. Most Americans end up choosing USPS, as it’s the official agency for mail in the US. 

Mail that’s sent to one address is redirected to another address. For example, if mail is addressed to your home address, you can have it redirected to your summer vacation home while you’re there in July. That way, you won’t miss anything essential, and you won’t have to go back and forth between the two to pick up all the pieces of mail.

Not only is this service often used for people who travel often, but it’s also used when individuals or businesses change addresses but still want to receive mail sent to their old address. In this case, you’ll probably use temporary mail forwarding.

How Does Mail Forwarding Work?

There are three main steps that entail mail forwarding. Let’s take a closer look at each below.

Requesting Forwarding

First, you’ll need to fill out a form or submit a request to the postal service or a private mail forwarding company. Both individuals and businesses can do this.

You’ll have to give your old address, as well as specify the new address to which the mail should be forwarded.

Mail Routing

Once your request has been processed, any mail addressed to the old address is rerouted to the new address. The party that does this is either the postal service or courier, depending on which you’ve selected.

Delivery to the Forwarding Address

The last step is simple: rerouting means the forwarded mail is delivered to the new address specified by you. This means that the new tenants or inhabitants of the old address shouldn’t receive anything addressed to you anymore.

What Mail Cannot Be Forwarded?

Typically, regular domestic mail can be forwarded with this service. So forwarding US mail shouldn’t be an issue.

The good news is, if you want mail forwarding for packages, this is doable. However, the parameters for sizes and weights will differ between companies, so you’ll have to do your research and find out which are best for your needs. Read our guide on mail forwarding for packages to learn more.

Otherwise, here’s a list of mail that can’t be forwarded and why.

Certain Types of Government Mail

Mail from government agencies may not be forwarded due to privacy and security concerns. This is especially true if there are sensitive or confidential documents.

Registered Mail

Mail items that require a signature upon delivery or are sent via registered mail may not be forwarded. This is to ensure their secure delivery to the intended recipient.

Restricted or Prohibited Items

There are items that are restricted or prohibited by postal regulations, such as hazardous materials or illegal substances. If you aren’t allowed to send them by regular mail, then it stands to reason that they can’t be forwarded either.

Some International Mail

Depending on the postal regulations of different countries, certain international mail items may not be eligible for forwarding. Check with local laws and the service you’re using before forwarding items if you’re not using a US address.

Bulk/Business Mail

Unfortunately, some forwarding services only handle personal mail. So be careful when researching your options, as you may not be able to forward bulk or business mail in some situations, which may then create issues for your company.

Mail With “Return Service Requested”

Mail that includes instructions such as “Return Service Requested” usually won’t be forwarded. Instead, it’ll be returned to the sender with the new address or reason for non-delivery.

Mail Marked “Do Not Forward”

This one should be obvious. If the sender explicitly marks the mail with “Do Not Forward” instructions, then the postal service is obligated to follow them. They won’t forward your mail to a new address.

How Long Does Forwarding Mail Last?

There are two types of mail forwarding: temporary and permanent. The former option lasts between 15 days to 1 year, while the latter lasts one year. If you need extra time for either option, then you can get Premium Forwarding Service (PFS)-Residential Service for up to one additional year.

There are some restrictions and other vital details you should know though. Our article on this subject will tell you more if you’re interested.

Once mail forwarding ends, any mail that still goes to your old address will be returned to the original senders. In addition, USPS will put a label with your new address on it for six months to help direct mail to the correct place.

How Do I Forward My Mail?

The above-linked article outlines how you can forward your mail with the USPS. Basically, you’ll fill out a form and pay around $1 for the identity verification fee.

It’s an easy process; however, it’s not a permanent solution. Not only that, but it can be a pain to use if your forwarding address keeps changing.

The better route is to use a virtual mailbox, which we offer here at Business Anywhere. We’ll give you a real physical address at an affordable price, and you can have all your mail forwarded there. We’ll receive it, sort and remove junk mail, and then upload it to our user-friendly dashboard.

This means that as long as you have an internet connection, you can take care of your mail, no matter where you are in the world. Even better is that you can change your forwarding address as often as you’d like, so even if you’re doing a global tour, it won’t be a hassle to receive mail.

Plus, we have many other useful services, such as business registration if you’re just starting out. Creating your own small business won’t be challenging when you have our assistance.

Get Mail Forwarding With Our Virtual Mailbox Service

Whether you’re going on an extended vacation, moving permanently, or want to receive business mail in one place, mail forwarding is something you should look into.

However, USPS mail forwarding is only temporary, even if you subscribe for the maximum period. So the best choice is to get mail forwarding with our virtual mailbox service. Because you can use it indefinitely and change addresses at a whim, it’ll be optimal for those who are often traveling.

Sign up for a Business Anywhere account today if you’d like to hear more about our mailbox forwarding service and more.

About Author

Picture of Rick Mak

Rick Mak

Rick Mak is a 30-year veteran businessman, having started, bought, and/or sold more than a dozen companies. He has bachelor's degrees in International Business, Finance, and Economics, with masters in both Entrepreneurship and International Law. He has spoken at hundreds of conferences around the world during his career on entrepreneurship, international tax law, asset protection, and company structure. Business Anywhere Editorial Guidelines

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