Don't want to return to sender...
August 6, 2012 7:15 PM   Subscribe

In the US, can you still forward USPS mail for free by writing the forwarding address on the front?

If I obviously cross out the original address and remove/obliterate any delivery barcodes, will the USPS still forward a piece of First Class mail? I remember this working 10+ years ago, but I'm not sure if it's still ok.
posted by zsazsa to Grab Bag (7 answers total)
Yes, it still works.
posted by alms at 7:38 PM on August 6, 2012

Yes. At least sometimes. I've done this with people who have moved from places I've moved in to. I'm having a hard time tracking this down in the post office FAQ, but yes I still do this.
posted by jessamyn at 7:41 PM on August 6, 2012

You can reforward domestic mail. Cite:Domestic Mail Manual: Forwarding: Section 2.2 Reforewarding. This also bears out in my recent experience.
posted by safetyfork at 7:41 PM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've had mail arrive with postage due when it was forwarded to me in the US, but in Hawai'i if that makes a difference.
posted by kamikazegopher at 8:01 PM on August 6, 2012

Forgive me for pointing out the obvious, but why don't you call the local post office and ask them?
posted by MexicanYenta at 9:04 PM on August 6, 2012

USPS has a help-line. I've never called it, so I can't vouch for its efficiency or efficacy, but you can call 800-ASK-USPS, 800-275-8777.

When remaining, you want to obliterate the bar-code that's been printed onto the bottom of the envelope (it's a long thing with long and short lines, not a barcode like UPC symbol)- sometimes it's on a sticker, which you should remove. The mail scanners look for the lowest zip-code-candidate on the envelope (as my employer discovered when trying to use a very fancy large return-address block for a special mailing), so wipe out the zip code of the original addressee (so... your zip code) and write the correct zip code in clear numerals. Write the new address lower than the return address, if possible, for the same reason. Yours will still get special handling because the postage is already cancelled, but at some point, the machine will be put to work.

Also, do them a favor and use the website to get the zip+4 of the correct address; it saves a day, often, on transit time.
posted by Sunburnt at 11:55 PM on August 6, 2012

In 2004, when I bought my first house, doing this worked for me, so long as I COMPLETELY crossed out the barcode and my address before writing the previous owner's new address. At the very least, I never saw the mail again. I don't know if it still works.

In apartments, I haven't known the forwarding address of the previous tenant, so I write "no longer at this address" next to my address, then stick it back in my mailbox. That tends to get rid of it.

With my current house, I was specifically requested to forward mail to the previous homeowner's new address (they had also put in a forwarding order with the USPS)... in this case I collected a bunch of their mail, put it in a larger envelope, and just paid the postage.
posted by tckma at 11:47 AM on August 7, 2012

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