Did you know that one in seven people in the United States change their address each year? Naturally, this creates a tremendous challenge for the Postal Service, which strives to maintain a high-quality repository of current addresses.

Change-of-address requests can be made in person at local Post Offices using a hardcopy form (PS 3575), or electronically using the Internet. They can even be made over the telephone. By far, the most popular way to change one’s official address is still using the hardcopy form, but those contemplating a move should consider their options carefully.

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While the Postal Service’s change-of-address process generally works properly, our audit found that improvements are needed in the way hard copy requests are processed, authorized, and validated. Although Postal Service employees should reject and return orders with no signature, in some cases change-of-address orders without a proper signature slipped through. We also saw signature mismatches and occasions when Postal Service employees rather than customers signed or initialed the forms.

Is there a better way? We think there is. Our audit also examined the Internet and telephone change request systems. We found that these electronic alternatives are not only much more convenient for the customer, they are also far more effective in ensuring that only authorized and validated change-of-address requests are processed. Digital requests can be electronically matched against customers’ credentials quickly and efficiently. This results in a more secure environment, which is important because mail diverted to another location based upon unauthorized change-of-address orders is a major contributor to identity theft — America’s fastest growing crime.

There has to be a catch, you say. Well, there is. This service costs $1. We think it’s a bargain! To change your address online, go to moversguide.usps.com. To change your address by telephone, call 1-800-275-8777.

You should know the Postal Service does have systems in place to protect customers against unauthorized address changes. If a change of address has been submitted for you, the Postal Service will follow up with a Move Validation Letter. This letter is sent to your current address and notifies you that a request has been made to forward your mail to a new address. If you did not request to change your address, you should inform your local Post Office immediately as a potentially fraudulent situation may exist. In our audit, we found that the Postal Service generally sends these letters in a timely manner. Recently, the Postal Service has taken steps to further improve the timeliness of these letters, ensuring that they are processed within 3 to 10 days.

What do you think about the Postal Service’s change-of-address process? How can it be improved?

This topic is hosted by the OIG's Information Technology audit directorate.

Comments (44)

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  • anon

    I filled out the online for changed my address moving from solon spring to superior wi and all was well. Thenjoy after getting mail at my new house twice all of a sudden it stopped coming!!! Then I get a call after a week from my mother in law. Turns out she canceled my change of address!!! Is this even legal? I called the post office and they said it was fine because she has the same last name as me. Wth? I have sense filled out 2 more changes of address one for me and one for my hubby and have yet to receive any mail here. I've had 3 packages come to the solon springs post office and be returned to senDer for an undeliverable address. I am so upset with this post office

    Jul 20, 2016
  • anon

    I've moved twice in 2 months; First move was from Colorado to an Apartment in Tempe AZ. In the 2nd month while in Tempe I purchased a house and moved into a permanent residence. How should I handle the first address forward from Colorado to Arizona. Should I cancel it and change the forward address to the permanent residence since it is currently the apartment address? Should I simply forward from the Apartment address to the permanent address? Will mail get forwarded from Colorado to the Apartment then forwarded to the permanent AZ address?

    Jul 14, 2016
  • anon

    I'm moving to around MT but plan to move frequently without a permanent address and won't know where I'm going until I get there. I don't want PA still thinking I live here and charge me taxes I shouldn't have to pay, but I may not end up with an address to 'change' to for quite some time. I am not concerned with not being able to receive mail, the concern is all the '10 day law's' I keep hearing about. It seems as though I'm not legally allowed to just roam the countryside for an extended period of time. Suggestions?

    Jul 10, 2016
  • anon

    Your change of address online form used to be excellent. It sucks now! I have 3 active credit cards and not one will work in your system. I can use them for bank transactions, ticket purchases, or whatever but if I want to move....no. What is the deal? Why does it keep saying my billing address is incorrect no matter how I type it like my monthly statements???!!!

    Jun 14, 2016
  • anon

    I have misplaced my letter to confirm my address change can another be sent out my husbands was misplaced as well.

    Jun 07, 2016
  • anon

    The billing portion of the change of address process simply does not work. There are several comments posted online about the site rejecting people's cards as having incorrect addresses. I have tried three different cards now and my pending transactions on my cards have six $1.00 charges and six $1.00 credits. Obviously my bank wants to accept the payment, but not the USPS. This kink needs to be worked out, otherwise there's no point of having this online service.

    May 31, 2016
  • anon

    I have moved overseas. (Philippines) I have been unable to change my address in the usps system due to no form for international change of address. Form 3575 just works for US moves. I worked for postal service before the move and could not get it changed. How to get my old address removed from your system? I need this done to fill online Tricare overseas medical usage.

    Apr 16, 2016
  • anon

    The online change of address app is garbage. Always gets hung up on the billing address. Junk!

    Mar 09, 2016
  • anon

    As per 18 U.S. Code § 1692 - Foreign mail as United States mail; does the term "foreign mail" included any definition of the "state of the Union" and/or "States of the Union" found anywhere in the U. S. Code or Code of Federal Regulations or anywhere else? Is the definition found at 18 U.S. Code § 5 - United States defined synonymous with States of the Union found at 48 U.S. Code § 737 - Privileges and immunities, and/or "several states" found at paragraph 1 of section 2 of article IV of the Constitution of the United States? Also, by definition of Hooven & Allison Co. v. Evatt, 324 U.S. 652 (1945), which United States does the UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE operate? Finally, is the "General Post Office" and "UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE" synonymous under the Code? Thank you in advance for your assistance, wayne

    Dec 30, 2015
  • anon

    I have spoken to the usps mail center at eastgate (chattanooga, TN) on 4 different occasions since I properly filled out my change of address with a simple move from 1 address to another within the same zip code. I have been at the new address for 2.5 months and am STILL not receiving my mail although all my bill companies have my new address; and now I am missing NEW credit cards being sent due to their time for renewal, drivers license with my new address on it was shipped twice from the DMV in TN and I still have not received my mail. PLEASE someone contact me via email so I can simply send you a screen shot of the change of address I completed online in August 2015 for a Sept 1, 2015 start of new mail delivery at my new address. In pain of no progress, Dale

    Nov 19, 2015
  • anon

    Really don't think I should be charged $1.05 to complete change of address form online "in order to verify my identity." Everyone I told about this says this is CRAP!

    Nov 13, 2015
  • anon

    So you've moved already or are doing last minute admin jobs for the move such as post redirecting... Only to find that part of the post redirection process is to send post to the address that you just moved out of.... Genius! And SO American...

    Apr 16, 2015
  • anon

    Someone told me over 6 billion pieces of mail are sent out over the holidays... Hmmm each one paying 40 cents or more? You do the math... And they are complaining about bankruptcy? Are you kidding me? What they make during the holidays should be enough to keep them in the green for the entire year! And provide tip top service like they are famous for hahahaha ha lol

    Dec 16, 2012
  • anon

    Still no 3575 form online. This is why the USPS is going bankrupt. Keep up the good work.

    Nov 02, 2012
  • anon

    it should be that you can have the option of printing up a form and handing it to your mail carrier or filling out the form online and charging a buck. Even though I must tell you it took two bucks to have mine changed recentlty as the first change order worked for a week and then my mail was going to the old address again. lucky for me I was at the old address and caught it. I put a note inside the box to tell the postal worker delivering my mail to not leave mail in that box for me but to see forwarding orders and send there. It's best to let all your credit card companies, DMW, and utility companies know of change of address right away. those type of things getting into the wrong hands are death to a persons credit report. I know! it happened three times to me. My mailbox was broken into in dec 03 and it took me until 2011 to correct evrything that happened as a result of bad people getting my mail.

    Aug 20, 2012
  • anon

    Put the form back online. So I can print it out and hand write it. The system seems to be set up so you fill the info out on-line and then are forced into the advertising site.

    Sep 22, 2011
  • anon

    It really is ridiculous that you can't print a COA form from the USPS website. My wife and I go to Canada in the summer and forward our mail there while we're up there. You can't find a PS form 3575 to download, and then fill it out and take it down to the Post Office as you are not allowed to forward mail internationally without going into the post office. Where's the logic in that??? You should make the PS Form 3575 available to download for customers with similar situations. Or if you would put international options on the interactive way I'd be more than willing to pay $1.00...maybe even $2.00!

    Jun 15, 2011
  • anon

    My son is a college student who doesn't have a credit card, so your new validation system wouldn't work for someone like him. He now has to find a way to get to the post office and hope they have a form there. Why can't he just print a form and give it to his mail carrier? With gas at $4.25 per gallon no one wants to drive to the post office just to get a form.

    May 10, 2011
  • anon

    I want to change my address.

    Mar 15, 2011
  • anon

    The whole system has become a joke.They forward your mail to a proccessing center hundreds of miles away.Can't change address on bank accounts until the USPeiceS of crap gets around to doing their job. Tracking numbers don't track anything,Talk to someone in person and they stare at you like your stupid. I just want my mail delivered in a timley manner. Instead i have to wait weeks because they aren't even sure my address exists.

    Nov 06, 2010
  • anon

    Seems like the $1 change is going to be an issue with many. But if they realize they are paying for convenience then maybe they'll be more relaxed about it.

    Oct 06, 2010
  • anon

    We live in Venice Florida for the winter as do hundreds/thousands of others. The Post Office here has run out of Forms PS3575 and there are none online. I tried to fill in the form online but we are Canadians and the online system will not let us enter a Canadian Province or Postal Code in order to get our mail forwarded until we rweturn in the late fall. This is not a very impressive system. The post office can't give us a date as to when the new form will be in (they have been out for a week now). They are probably sending the forms by USPS so who knowswhen or if they will ever arrive. Can't believe this system!!

    Apr 15, 2010
  • anon

    What is the point of not making the Change Of Address form (PS 3575) available on the USPS website?! We want to print one out and give it to our father who's moving to a nursing home. Your present system forces us to go to the post office to get the form, bring it back to our father's house and fill it out, then go back to the post office with it. That's CLUNKY! Please post a PDF on your website with all the other forms. Thank you!

    Jan 17, 2010
  • anon

    It seems that some Districts may be taking the new directive on pushing electronic COA a little too seriously. Within the last month I've had five manual COAs disappear into the ethers without a trace. The 3575's were handled correctly within established procedure but when they got to the Mid_carolina CFS they disappeared. One or two? Maybe, but when it happens continually one has to wonder if there isn't a pattern to lose manual changes and then encourage the customer to go online.

    Jan 05, 2010
  • anon

    Nothing better as a carrier than to have someone hand me someone's mail and telling me "they filled out a change online a few weeks ago...why are you still delivering their mail here?". Who cares about the bad service....that just generated 1 whole dollar for the P.O.!! Please remove "Service" from our company name.

    Dec 30, 2009
  • anon

    Another thing I don't like about the online address change is that we don't get to see them-the same goes for the fact that the paper forms are now barcoded. If there is a problem, we might not know about it for a long time. If we had the filled out forms to look at, then we may be able to spot a potential problem before it becomes a real one.

    Dec 29, 2009
  • anon

    "Why don't we charge for it"....what a moronic statement. First of all, it isn't your property to "charge for". Secondly, it is charged for in hundreds of thousdands of dollars in license fees to access it. Lastly, you cannot deliver 3-4% of the mail you receive even when addressed properly, why not focus on areas like competence that you have control over and let Congress worry about things such as the Privacy Act of 1974.

    Dec 28, 2009
  • anon

    On related issues. I've tried to use the hold mail option which I can do on line. If I need to extend the hold mail I'm required to visit the local post office in my home town to make the extension. Makes no sense. If I were home I would not need an extension. If I'm out of town I can't visit the local office. The last time I did a change of address notice I was covered up with junk mail from vendors that could have ONLY received the new address from the post office. Odd point the junk mail folk seem to get the information instantly but my legitimate senders are months late in receiving the data.

    Dec 20, 2009
  • anon

    Why does management make us hide the COA forms behind the counter? People come to the P.O. to change their address manually, then they have to wait in line to get one. We have even longer lines to accommodate them. This is another ignorant rule created by a totally clueless management that has no idea what goes on at the customer level!

    Dec 18, 2009
  • anon

    PROGRESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was going to tweet this, but i thought my pc 10 (yr ole) would suffice. So, tell me..... What did the Subcommittee on intelligence and information sharing....... feel about the postal address database? Is the usefulness of this asset across the web critical? Or is it simply another resource for free access by officials, or authorities?

    Dec 18, 2009
  • anon

    Why don't we charge for this service? One day a private company will take it over and make a profit. Lots of revenue producing options out there that USPS will continue to ignore....

    Dec 18, 2009
  • anon

    As a 24 year carrier, I have always informed all senders of my new address weeks before moving. I agree with Mr. Hammond, the current system is worse-than awful and has been since forwarding was taken out of the carrier's hands.

    Dec 17, 2009
  • anon

    The only reason there is a $1.00 dollar charge from your credit card is to ensure it is actually you submitting the change.

    Dec 16, 2009
  • anon

    Good to know. I'm moving in about 6 months. Was wondering what I should do. I guess I'll be going online, although it'd be better if it were free :)

    Dec 16, 2009
  • anon

    To Observer: I applaud you for mot using our change of address system. I would much rather prefer that you the customer makes sure all your mail is sent to the correct address. This would make for a much easier job for me!!! Thank you so much for your kindness..

    Dec 15, 2009
  • anon

    The $1 charge was not a USPS requirement, but required from the credit card companies. The credit card is used to vett your current/future address. The credit card companies didn't want the USPS using their databases without a charge. $1 is the minimum amount that can be charged.

    Dec 15, 2009
  • anon

    The never ending rush to automate everything...here we go again. As a carrier for 29 yrs, I can say for certain that the worst way to submit a change of address is online. Who in the Postal Service needs to know if you move? Thats right your mail carrier! Who is the last person in the Postal Service to know that you move if you file online? Thats right your mail carrier. This system flat out sucks! Weeks have gone by from a customer moving and the carrier(remember the only one who needs to know if you moved) being informed. The hard copy change of address handed to the carrier is the most efficient and you are delusional if you think otherwise.

    Dec 15, 2009
  • anon

    My mail carrier is not the only person who needs to know if I move. The sorting infrastructure needs to know which post office to send my mail to, long before my mail carrier ever sees it.

    Oct 07, 2015
  • anon

    "There has to be a catch, you say. Well, there is. This service costs $1. We think it’s a bargain!" That's why you make too much...no brains!!! Free is a much better bargain!!!! Now quit ruining my Post Office....and fire Potter.

    Dec 14, 2009
  • anon

    It is not "change of address." It is "forwarding." That's why the mail is undeliverable after 1 year.

    Dec 14, 2009
  • anon

    time should be shortened. 6 months should be long enough to get address changed with entities the customer wants it changed with. We should be returning a lot more mail, rather than fixing addresses for customers who haven't lived there for years, or senders just don't have the right town or whatever. Way too much manual handling of letters at the destination offices.

    Dec 14, 2009
  • anon

    Quit trying to cut the carrier out of the system. They know the customer and their needs best.

    Dec 14, 2009
  • anon

    they need to charge for every 3575 ran thru the system. Millions of $'s being lost. too much work for nothing, charge for the service, a private company would. Customers expect to pay something, the day of FREE is gone as will be the Postal Service if they don't collect for some of these services, free cartons for shipping, no,charge something you can always go lower but it hard to raise the price, they need to charge for all the free stuff.

    Dec 14, 2009
  • anon

    If you think I am going to pay you a dollar to give you a change of address electronically, which may be the cheapest way for you anyhow, you are nuts. But, since Consumers Reports says that anyone interested in privacy and security, and reduction in identity theft, show not ever use the USPS Change of Address System, I would guess that I will not give you my new address at all.

    Dec 14, 2009

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