How Does Mail Forwarding Work?

Your moving checklist includes a number of important items which you do directly. Packing, moving and unpacking. But, when it comes to mail forwarding you take action, then mail starts coming to your new house with the distinct ‘forwarded mail’ sticker. How does it all work, exactly?

How to forward your mail

The process for the customer is easy. You fill out the form online, in person, or over the phone. You should begin receiving your mail at your new address in a few days. You can pick which option works best for you:

  1. Regular mail forwarding This sends all your mail directly to your new address. The U.S. postal service puts a $1 hold on a credit card for identity verification purposes if you use the online option. You can use regular mail forwarding if your move is temporary or permanent. You can also extend as necessary.
  2. Premium mail forwarding – If you’re a road warrior for work, or even traveling the country in your RV, premium mail forwarding may be a better option for you. It does have a cost associated with it, so bear that in mind. The post office will hold your mail for the week, and mail it to your current location.

How does the process work at the post office?

The post office is a well-oiled machine. Every year 17% of the US population moves. The post office uses two different computer programs to ensure you receive your mail.

  1. Address Management System (AMS) – All mail has a bar code on it, which directs it to the correct address. The AMS keeps all the current addresses on file so the bar code and the address match. This is done regularly to ensure accuracy.
  2. Computerized Forwarding System (CFS) – This is the computer system that actually forwards your mail to your new address. This database handles the address corrections. When you see the yellow stickers on your mail that indicate that mail has been forwarded, they come from this database.
  • Customer Notification Letter – This is a function within the CFS system. When you change your address, you will receive a verification letter at your old address. This is done as a way to avoid fraudulent address changes. If you receive one of these and you have not changed your address, please call the post office immediately. You don't want to be the victim of fraud.

The Welcome Kit

This kit not only saves the post office money, but it is very helpful for you, too. This kit includes local numbers for the DMV, IRS, voters registration office, and other places that you would want to notify of your move. It also comes with coupons from local businesses: very helpful in getting you settled and saving money.

Knowing how to forward mail is essential if you plan to move in the near future. Luckily, it is one of the easiest things you will do during your move. There is so much that goes on in the background to make the transition easy (and safe) for you.

Bekah SteenbockBekah Steenbock is a freelance writer with a background in real estate and business growth. She is a native Austinite, but has called Seattle, Mankato,Milwaukee, Las Vegas and Atlanta home. Bekah, her husband and their three children love exploring the outdoors in their spare time.

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