How can I be in two places at once when my mail isn't anywhere at all?
May 5, 2009 11:29 AM   Subscribe

USPS mail forwarding: Can I have permanent and temporary change of address requests at the same time?

In February I moved from Address A to Address B within the same city, and I filled out a permanent Change of Address request with the USPS. I don't actually get very much mail forwarded, because I changed my address with all of the businesses that I could think of back in February, but occasionally some fall through the cracks.

Next week I will be leaving for Address C (in another state) *temporarily* (until mid-August), and I would like to have a temporary Change of Address with the USPS to forward my mail from Address B to Address C.

What I'm wondering is if filling out a temporary request to forward mail from B to C will affect my permanent request forwarding mail from A to B. I looked through the FAQ but I couldn't find anything relevant to this situation. Has anyone here ever dealt with something like this before?

Really, I don't get that much snail mail (save Netflix, and there I can easily change the shipping address), but I'm just paranoid that this will be the one time when something important that I totally forgot to account for will arrive, and I won't get it.
posted by DiscourseMarker to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total)
I don't think so. A friend of mine just moved to a new city before having a permanent address, so he put a stop on his mail. He was told that he would have to let the stop expire before submitting an address change if he quickly found an apartment because "the carrier could get confused as to which order to follow."

But, different post offices may have different policies. Mileage may vary.
posted by hwyengr at 11:44 AM on May 5, 2009

Why not call them and ask? 1-800-275-8777. They are open right now.
posted by Houstonian at 11:47 AM on May 5, 2009

An indirect but expensive answer:

You can use premium services from the USPS,
posted by bensherman at 11:48 AM on May 5, 2009

He was told that he would have to let the stop expire before submitting an address change if he quickly found an apartment because "the carrier could get confused as to which order to follow."

A stop would be different, though. With two forwards, what happens is the mail goes to the original address, gets forwarded by that carrier to the 2nd address (B), then forwarded again (via the temp forward) by that carrier to the 3rd address (C). Each carrier involved only sees one forwarding request. (With the Stop Request example, one carrier would see both a stop request, and a forward request.)

Of course, they're starting to automate the forwarding process now. It SHOULD still work, but I'd probably recommend calling to be sure.
posted by inigo2 at 11:52 AM on May 5, 2009

Response by poster: bensherman, I looked at the premium service, but they specifically say "A formal temporary or permanent Change of Address Order (PS Form 3575) cannot be active simultaneously with PFS." Plus, it's pretty spendy.

Houstonian -call people?? You mean on the phone?? *shudders* Still, I suppose I might have to if the magical AskMe elves can't come up with an internet-based solution.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 11:56 AM on May 5, 2009

Best answer: This is just anecdata but I've definitely done this in the past and it works like inigo2 describes it. However, mail forwarding is inexact at the moment and takes a while (sometimes) to kick in so you might want to take the extra step of also seeing if you can get important bills also emailed or otherwise available online. I really do feel that there is something in the way this system works that the only single piece of mail that I absolutely must have is the one that mysterious is delayed by several months via forwarding schemes. I've used forwarding successfully for maybe... 10-12 years as I've moved and had permanent and temporary forwards. So short answer: that will work. Long answer: like any human run system, it's unlikely to work 100% so take precautions.
posted by jessamyn at 12:45 PM on May 5, 2009

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