USPS Changes Temporary Mail Forwarding Policy

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The U.S. Postal Service is implementing a new temporary forwarding mail policy that includes changing the minimum duration for a temporary order from one day to two weeks and maximum duration from 12 months to six months.

The new rule was published in the Federal Register July 7 and takes effect Aug. 3, but the agency is still inviting public comments, which should be submitted by Aug. 7. At the end of this period, the USPS will consider whether the rule should be revised based on the comments.

The USPS offers temporary and permanent change of address services to its customers and forwards mail for generous time periods free of charge in order to deliver mail accurately and efficiently to its intended recipient, the notice said. A temporary change-of-address indicates the customer's intention to return to the original address and resume the receipt of mail at that location.

The USPS has no minimum timeframe for providing temporary forwarding services. However, the agency said the time needed to process temporary change of address orders and begin delivery of forwarded pieces to a temporary address may approach 14 days. As a result, short-term forwarding orders may result in mail that is en route to the customer's temporary new address not arriving prior to the customer's departure from that temporary address. This requires the USPS to return the mail to the customer's permanent address and delays the time the customer receives the mail.

Therefore, the USPS will institute a new minimum duration for temporary

filings of at least two weeks.

The USPS also recommend that customers who will be temporarily away from their residences less than two weeks submit a request to hold their mail. Customers can ask that held mail be delivered upon their return or request to pick it up at their post office.

The USPS also is seeking to avoid the unnecessary or improper forwarding of mail.

According to the filing, the majority of temporary filings lasts no more than six months. Therefore, the current policy that assigns a 12-month duration on temporary change of address orders that do not reflect an end date probably overstates the term desired by many customers -- which would result in the unnecessary forwarding of mail and delay the receipt of correspondence by those customers.

As a result, the USPS said in the filing that it is changing its standards to limit an initial temporary change of address order to a maximum of 6 months, or, if no time period is specified, will use 6 months as the end date.

Customers who wish to have their mail forwarded for a longer period may submit an additional order to extend the forwarding period up to 12-months.

Prior to the expiration of the first six-month period, the USPS will advise customers that they may renew the temporary change-of-address for an additional time period up to the maximum temporary forwarding period of 12 months.

The USPS said that it will send a letter to customers at their temporary new address to remind them of the expiration date. Where a customer has already received temporary forwarding service for a continuous 12-month period for any same old and new address combination, the USPS will not accept additional temporary change-of-address orders for that customer for those same old and new address combinations.

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