When you are moving to a new home, you will endure many complicated – albeit, stressful – situations. In the scheme of things, changing your mailing address may seem like a relatively easy thing to do – and in most situations, it is. But there are some required steps to take in order to ensure the process is done correctly. Here are some things to know about changing your address so no important mail gets lost!
Top Things to Know Before Requesting a Change of Address (COA) with the United States Postal Service (USPS)
Do you know your correct address?
Sure, you know the location of your soon-to-be home, but do you know the correct address? It may sound silly, but during the stress and mayhem that surrounds your move, you may not even know your future address. You may think you’re going to live on a ‘road’ when you’ll actually be living on a ‘lane’ or ‘circle’. Before registering your new ad
dress with the USPS, be sure to confirm with your realtor, or landlord, of the correct, complete and error-free postal address of your future home.
Should you choose a temporary or permanent change of address?
When changing your address, you will have two options: to file a temporary change of address or a permanent change of address. Here’s the difference:
A temporary address change means your mail will be forwarded from your old mailing address to the new one for only a specific amount of time – usually 6-12 months. This option is best if you are moving temporarily, such as spending the winter months in a warmer climate, but then moving back to your original address.
A permanent change of address means your mailing address will be permanently changed – not just for a specified period of time. This option should be chosen if you do not plan to move house again in the near future.
Should you request an individual or family change of address?
Another option you will have when changing your address with the USPS will be to change the address of an individual or an entire family. If your entire family is moving as one – and has the same surname – you will need to fill out just one change-of-address form for the entire household. Easy! But things get a bit more complicated if members of your family have different surnames, or some individuals are moving to a new location while the rest are staying behind. For this situation, you will need to fill out a separate change-of-address request for each individual person.
How long does it take for your address to be changed?
The USPS is rather quick, but when you change your address, the request will not be immediate. In general, a change of address will take effect roughly seven days after your request is submitted. However, there are some potential road blocks that could cause it to take longer, such as:
- Your exact location
- The time of year
- The number of requests currently being processed
However, do note that your COA request may be processed much faster than anticipated, especially for a local move.
When should you change your address?
It is up to you as to how far in advance you request a change of address, but a good rule of thumb is to do it two weeks prior to your move. The main advantage of this is that your mail will start being delivered to your new home by the time you have moved in. This way you won’t have to worry about mail being delivered to your old address when you no longer live there. Another advantage of changing your address two weeks prior to your move is that you won’t have to take care of this task after moving day is over. Instead, you can focus on the main job at hand – unpacking!
Now that you know some of the important things to do before changing your address, here’s a look at how to actually do it. Here are some methods to consider:
Method 1: Change address online
Changing your address online is typically the easiest and most convenient method. Here’s how:
- Access the official USPS change-of-address form via usps.com/move;
- Fill out the required fields with the accurate information;
- Provide a valid e-mail address to receive a confirmation email by the USPS;
- Using a debit card or credit card, you will be charged a verification fee of $1. This is a standard procedure to verify or identify and safeguard your personal information so no address fraud is possible;
- Ensure you receive a confirmation email so you know your COA request was processed successfully.
Method 2: Change address in person
If you’re more of a person-to-person type of individual, you may prefer to change your address at the actual post office. To do this:
- Drive to the nearest post office;
- Request PS Form 3575, and fill it out on the spot;
- Turn in your filled-out form to the post master;
- Changing your address in person at the post office will not cost you anything, because you will be required to prove your identity in person.
Method 3: Change address by phone
If you want to save yourself a trip to the post office, you can also choose to change your address via phone. Here’s how:
- Call 1-800-ASK-USPS, and follow the recorded instructions;
- You will again be charged an identification fee of $1, so have your debit card or credit card ready when making the call.
Method 4: Change address by mail
Prefer snail mail? If so, this is also an option for changing your address. To do this, follow these steps:
- Download the USPS printable change-of-address form – PS Form 3575;
- Print out the COA form, following the detailed instructions from the link above to ensure you fill it out correctly;
- Place your filled-out form in a stamped envelope and mail it to: POSTMASTER; United States Postal Service;
- Wait to receive a move-validation letter. It will be sent to your old address;
- You will receive a confirmation letter within 10 days after the actual change-of-address request has been processed and goes into effect. This will be sent to your new address.
Looking for more moving tips and tricks? Check out our blog, here.