How Long Does It Take to Start Receiving Forwarded Mail?

When you move to a new home, either temporarily or permanently, the United States Post Office will forward mail from your previous address to your new residence. This allows you to continue to receive mail after you've moved. According to the USPS website, it will begin forwarding mail as soon as it receives your request. However, USPS cannot offer an estimated time of arrival for forwarded mail because the amount of time it takes to kick in depends on route size and backlog. If you had lived in a city or large town and the post office is well staffed, the delivery can begin within a few days. If you live in a rural area or use a post office that is backed up, the process can take a couple weeks. Because of this, you should always change your address directly with banks, credit card companies, lenders and anyone else from whom you might receive important communication or bills.

What Is Mail Forwarding?

How to Forward Your Mail

You can forward your mail by filling out a Change of Address form either at the post office or on the USPS website ( Changing your address online generally starts the mail forwarding process sooner, as there is no paperwork for postal workers to file and keep track of. If you are not leaving your residence permanently, check the "temporary change of address" box on the form and indicate when you expect to return to your original residence.

Types of Mail Forwarding

USPS offers two mail forwarding services, regular mail forwarding and premium forwarding. With regular mail forwarding, once your change of address form goes through, mail is processed through the postal systems. When the mail arrives at the first destination, the forwarding address is put on the envelope or package, which is put back in the system for delivery to your new residence. For everyday, first-class mail, this process can take a week or two, depending on how far the mail has to go and how long it takes the post office to process it.

USPS also offers premium forwarding, which is mainly used for customers who will be on an extended stay at another location. This service forwards the majority of your mail once a week via Priority Mail. Though this service is only available for a fee, it is a good option if you need to receive your mail in a scheduled, timely fashion. Priority Mail packages are generally delivered within two to three days of shipping.