Will USPS deliver a forwarded check from a CA state agency?
August 15, 2006 8:34 PM   Subscribe

Let's say you receive a check from California State Dept of Rehab in the mail. It's addressed to your disabled niece who needs the money for college expenses. Your niece no longer lives with you because she has moved 2 miles away. You write your niece's forwarding address on the envelope and drop it in the mailbox. Will USPS deliver it? Or will it be returned to Dept of Rehab?

My fiercely unintelligent sister-in-law couldn't be bothered to call my niece to tell her the long-awaited check had arrived. She forwarded the check on Thurs, 8/10 and as of today, 8/15 it has not appeared in my niece's mailbox.

What would you do?
posted by Soda-Da to Law & Government (7 answers total)
USPS will return it to the sender unless new postage was affixed. If you could just change the address on an envelope and drop it in a mailbox with a cancelled stamp, that would make buying stamps entirely dependent on the honor system.

If the envelope had a permit number on it instead of stamp (which is likely for gov't mail) the same is true. Permit mail must be handled by the post office issuing the permit-- it can't just be dropped into a mailbox.
posted by justkevin at 8:56 PM on August 15, 2006

It will most likely be retunred to the State Dept, unless new postage was affixed.
posted by acoutu at 8:56 PM on August 15, 2006

I have often crossed out wrong addresses and written in the new one, and had mail redelivered without affixing new postage (not to game the system, simply to get the mail to the right recipient). I've never had a problem.
posted by occhiblu at 8:59 PM on August 15, 2006

(I've also received mail the same way; it's how my mother forwarded me my mail in college.)
posted by occhiblu at 9:00 PM on August 15, 2006

justkevin is wrong. For one thing, I've forwarded and received mail by hand-writing the new address plenty of times. For another, the USPS says different.

According to the USPS website (which prevents linking to individual answers; go to FAQ and search on forwarding, then look around)... on normal first-class mail you can cross out the address (NOT the name) and write a new address, and the mail piece will be delivered to the new address. They say this process may be iterated as many times as needed until the mail gets to the intended recipient. But they say if you want to change the name, you need a new envelope and new postage.

On a separate page, dedicated to forwarding by official "change of address" order, they say two things that are relevant here:
1. Government checks, W2s, etc are handled as the class of mail they are sent. (In your case, probably first-class.)
2. Items will be forwarded "so long as the sender did not place a non-forwarding order on the mailpiece".

So the mail will be delivered to the new address unless it said "do not forward". If it said that, then it won't be.

I think you/she need to call the issuing agency and ask them whether they mark their envelopes that way. If they do, then you can ask them what to do now!
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:12 PM on August 15, 2006

I've done the cross-out-address and write new address thing hundreds of times and the mail gets forwarded (with caveats for what others said about permits and "do not forward" email). I'd give it a little bit of time, because who knows where the mail goes for processing. If your s-i-l sent it late Thursday it would go out on Friday, sit someplace over the weekend and then go out Monday or Tuesday. I'd wait until tomorrow's mail and if it doesn't arrive take it up with the Department of Rehab. Your s-i-l may be fiercely unintelligent, but I'd leave her out of the loop since solving the problem doesn't really involve her at this point except to say "please don't do that again"
posted by jessamyn at 6:10 AM on August 16, 2006

Like occhiblu, I have also received numerous pieces of forwarded mail, via my mother. The only problem I can imagine would involve some sort of "Do Not Forward" message on the envelope.
posted by Rash at 8:51 AM on August 16, 2006

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