Forward mail to any address at a low cost with the right mail forwarding service.
In a perfect world, mail would find you no matter where you were. We’d simply write a name on an envelope, and that envelope would magically zoom its way across the world to wherever the recipient roamed.
Unfortunately, 2023 hasn’t provided us with that particular brand of epistolary magic yet. But there are plenty of strategies to make sure your mail finds you, no matter where you travel. In this guide, we’ll uncover the best ways to forward mail in our modern era, as well as reveal the extra benefits of using a mail forwarding service.
Why do people forward mail?
You may want to forward your mail for all sorts of reasons! In today’s world, an increasing number of workers, students, retirees, and world travelers spend the majority of their time away from their permanent address. So whether you’re a jet-setter, own a small business, or are exploring the RV life, simple mail forwarding is now a must-have service.
Let’s take a look at a few different circumstances in which you can benefit from strategic mail forwarding:
Forwarding mail when moving homes
How do you make sure your mail finds you after you move? It’s tough to reach out to everyone in your contact list (not to mention your bank, healthcare provider, subscription services, etc.) and make sure they get the memo about your change of address. As a result, most people end up going through a transition period where some of their mail arrives at their new address and some needs to be forwarded. During this precarious period, it’s smart to use a reliable forwarding service to ensure crucial documents aren’t lost.
Forwarding mail when traveling abroad or living on the road
In these circumstances, mail forwarding often becomes the best (and sometimes only) solution.
Forwarding mail when owning a small business
If you’re running a small business out of your home, you know how hectic your mail situation gets. Between handling small-business logistics, customer correspondence, and package shipments, it’s a nightmare trying to keep track of it all. Many small business owners solve the problem by setting up a secondary address, but that secondary address isn’t always accessible when you need it.
In these situations, mail forwarding is your best friend.
Forwarding mail when it’s not yours
Almost everyone opens their mailbox to find random bits of mail addressed to previous tenants or residents. While there are several options to stop the madness of getting other people’s mail, you should always forward any mail you receive back to the post office for a redo. If you have the non-resident’s address, you can speed up the process by writing the new address on a Post-It note on one of the pieces of returned mail.
Trust us, the old residents want their mail as much as you want to stop receiving it.
Do I need to forward my mail? What happens if I don't?
Forwarding mail can feel like a tedious chore. But at the end of the day, getting your correspondence promptly is more important than you may realize. Why? Well…
You might pay your bills late
Technology can be a lifesaver, but not everyone has the same access to online billing or accounts. Anyone who pays bills arriving by snail mail needs to stay on top of their deadlines. If you don’t forward your mail or your previous resident’s, there could be serious financial penalties.
Even if you have online billing, there are some institutions, like the IRS, that exclusively communicate through snail mail—and you don’t want to miss those deadlines.
You might become a victim of identity theft
One of the fastest ways to fall victim to identity thieves is through your mail. Between mail theft and failed forwarding attempts, mail puts Americans at a high enough risk for identity theft that most of us have stopped trying to find a solution. (1) That doesn’t sound very encouraging, but the good news is that you can avoid identity theft by simply accounting for where your mail goes.
You want your mail in your hands, not a stranger’s—so forward it!
You might miss an important piece of mail from a loved one
Sure, there are plenty of people who argue that letter writing is a dead art, but the fact is we all still send letters, packages, postcards, or invitations to loved ones via snail mail. What happens if those precious parcels perish in postal purgatory? No one wants to miss out on mail from a beloved friend or family member. Forwarding makes sure all that love gets where it needs to go.
Easy Guide to Forward Mail with USPS
The USPS serves as most people’s go-to when forwarding mail, so let’s break down their process.
Step 1: Go to your local post office or visit the USPS website (2).
Step 2: Submit a change of address form. (3) This can be permanent or temporary and can also be filled out in person.
Step 3: Select your forwarding time frame.
Temporary forwarding lasts the number of days you select.
Standard permanent forwarding lasts 12 months.
Extended permanent forwarding lasts up to 18 additional months.
Step 4: That’s it!
As you can see, the USPS mail forwarding process isn’t particularly complex. However, it comes with limits! Not only does the service cap out at 30 months, it also doesn’t forward all mail. In order to cover the full spectrum of mail, you’ll have to pay extra for premium forwarding mail services. (4)
Additionally, USPS mail forwarding only delivers to one forwarding address. If you’re traveling and need mail forwarded to multiple locations, you’re out of luck.
Alternatives to USPS Mail Forwarding
Depending on your situation, there are a few alternatives to USPS mail forwarding that can greatly simplify your mail concerns!
Asking a loved one to watch your mailbox
If you can wait for your mail, but you’re concerned about not being home, you can always ask a loved one to take care of your mail temporarily. This could either be through temporarily forwarding mail to their address or asking them to look after your mailbox while you’re away.
If you’re moving and you’re close with your old neighbors, you can even ask them to keep an eye out for any packages or important pieces of mail that go astray.
Holding your mail service
If you don’t want your mail arriving at an unattended address (and you’re not receiving anything urgent enough to forward), you can temporarily hold your mail service. If you need your mail delivery paused for 30 days or less, ask the USPS to hold your mail at your local post office. (5)
Using a virtual mailbox or mail forwarding service
What is a Virtual Mailbox or Mail Forwarding Service?
A virtual mailbox is a digital mailbox service that allows users to receive, view, and manage their postal mail online, without the need for a physical mailbox or physical presence at a specific address. It’s a convenient service that provides users with a unique mailing address that can receive and store physical mail, which is then scanned and uploaded to a secure online platform for users to view, download, and manage their mail from anywhere, at any time.
Once you view your mail in the online portal, it’s easy to forward that mail to any address of your choice! There are zero additional forms to file and no wasted time. Simply enter the address you want to forward to and your service takes care of the rest.
What services are included in a virtual mailbox or mail forwarding service?
You can find these features in any virtual mailbox and mail forwarding service!
Mail-forwarding services: All virtual mailboxes offer the ability to forward your physical mail to you—wherever you may be!
Shredding and junk services: Virtual mailboxes offer shredding services and junk mail sorting. One of the most convenient perks of using a virtual mailbox is never having to deal with junk mail again.
Open and scanning services: Virtual mailboxes offer opening and scanning services for any mail you receive. Private and protected servers ensure the contents of your mail stay safe on your account.
Notifications: Virtual mailboxes offer instant notifications when you receive new mail and when requested tasks are done. When you’re on the go, you don’t always have the time to remember to check your mail or refresh your bank account to see if a check’s been deposited. Notifications help keep you up to date and on the move.
Excellent extra features:
These features aren’t a given, but if you’re investing in a service, you’ll want to inquire as to whether they offer these bonus services.
Unlimited Cloud Storage: One amazing perk of using certain virtual mailbox services is unlimited storage for all your virtually scanned letters—forever. Combined with a folder organization system in your portal, you can use unlimited cloud storage to reference years’ worth of bills and accounts.
Shipping discounts: Most industry-leading virtual mailbox services offer bulk shipping discounts through partnerships with major carriers.
Mobile app: You need access to your mail anywhere and everywhere. Virtual mailbox providers with mobile apps know you use a virtual mailbox because you’re on the go. No headaches, easy access.
Round-the-clock customer service: If you’re investing in a virtual mailbox service because you’re trotting around the globe, you need customer service in your time zone. A great virtual mailbox service offers 24/7 customer service for clients on every continent.
Who can use a virtual mailbox or mail forwarding service?
Is it free to forward mail? How much does mail forwarding cost?
No matter what service you use, it’s never completely free to forward your mail. However, it also doesn’t have to be prohibitively expensive.
Basic USPS change of address forwarding (permanent or temporary) starts at $1.10 for an identification fee. It then costs extra to extend that forwarding period.  As far as the mail itself, standard mail forwarding is free, but Media Mail and USPS Retail Ground require you to pay the cost of shipping—determined by weight and location.
Mail forwarding services vary in cost depending on the company, but tend to be discounted due to partnerships with multiple shipping companies like FedEx and UPS. Traveling Mailbox forwards your mail to anywhere in the world for $2 per shipment + the cost of postage! If you’re shipping internationally, we’ll even throw in your customs preparation for free. At Traveling Mailbox, we’re proud to guarantee the lowest shipping cost of any mail forwarding company.
Can you forward mail by writing on it?
Yes! If you receive mail that isn’t yours, but you know where it should be headed, you can cross out your address with a black pen, write the correct address, and label the envelope “Forward to…”. Your postal worker can then collect that piece of mail the following day and resend it. You must know the correct address to do this, however. Forwarding mail is not the same as returning it to the sender.
Yes, absolutely! You can’t fill out a change of address form for someone else, but you can always forward mail if you know the address to send it to. This is a great solution for anyone dealing with a family member who’s recently moved out and needs a bit of help shifting their address.
Easily Forward Mail with Traveling Mailbox
No matter your reason for forwarding mail, Traveling Mailbox keeps it simple. When you have a Traveling Mailbox account, you have the power of the post office in your hands. All it takes is a few clicks to send mail from anywhere on earth to anyone on earth.