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 (359)

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  • anon

    A mail was mailed out to my Ex and I. He has changed his Address over 2 Months ago and no longer lives with me. Where will that letter mail be sent to? Him or me? The address that the sender sent it to was to me.

    Sep 21, 2017
  • anon

    I placed a mail forward last year and I barely get that mail. I barely get my mail daily as it is. These new mailmen/women don’t do their jobs... I’ve had to go to the post office where oh my goodness they have had buckets of my mail just sitting in the back.... my mail half the time now comes after 5 pm... or I get no mail at all... I’m still trying to figure out how I applied for a credit card and they sent it to a place I lived over 7 years ago from my credit report.... anyway ... the current USPS sucks... people getting great paychecks to do a half ass job .... smh

    Sep 21, 2017
  • anon

    I am the executor of my mothers estate and noticed recently that there was little or no mail arriving at her home, including important documents pertaining to her estate, bills, etc. Someone who had sent a sympathy card to our family at her address received the card back with a yellow Post Office sticker stating : deceased, return to sender, forwarding address unknown, I did not request this! This makes the process so much more difficult! Does the Post Office have the right to make this decision without my consent? The Post Office in St Augustine Florida told me that the mail person can return mail to sender if they have knowledge someone is deceased because maybe the family members didn't get along and would steal the mail. Seriously? Very lame and borders on misconduct in my humble opinion. This is very frustrating, please advise, Thank you

    Sep 19, 2017
  • anon

    Hello Lynda, Thank you for your message. The OIG is an independent agency of the Postal Service and day-to-day mail delivery issues are outside of our jurisdiction. If you have not already done so, please try contacting your local Post Office. If you have already done that, try contacting USPS Customer Service, (800-275-8777), or file an online complaint with Customer Service on the USPS website.

    Sep 20, 2017
  • anon

    I ordered a boost mobile phone just yesterday and I put the wrong address to send it too and was wondering if I could change it so that it can come in on time.

    Sep 18, 2017
  • anon

    Is there a way to forward one of the letters I notice using informed delivery online?

    Sep 16, 2017
  • anon

    My deceased Spouse mail have been forwarded with out my consent need help with this situation ?

    Sep 13, 2017
  • anon

    Hi Rafelio, Thank you for your message. The OIG is an independent agency of the Postal Service and day-to-day mail delivery issues are outside of our jurisdiction. If you have not already done so, please try contacting your local Post Office. If you have already done that, try contacting USPS Customer Service, (800-275-8777), or file an online complaint with Customer Service

    Sep 15, 2017
  • anon

    I haven't received any mail to my house for at least week. I think my mail is being sent to a forward address without my consent.

    Sep 13, 2017
  • anon

    We moved last month, and I submitted a forwarding request online to our post office. I received confirmation and we started receiving a few items that were forwarded. I was very diligent and proactive about changing the addresses with the companies with which we do business. I had a package (one clothing item) come from a company. Although I had changed me address with the company, because it was an exchanged item, they mailed it to my original address (old address). Instead of being forwarded as requested, it was delivered to the old address. After going to our local post office, and a promise that they would contact the new residents and call us back, nothing happened. Because we are still local, we went back to the new residents and asked them if they had our package. They said they didn't. We went back to our post office, and was told we had to go to a different office to file a claim. After waiting there, the person said we had to call this number which she gave us and get a claim # and call her with that number. After waiting on hold for over an hour, we received a case #, but not a claim #. The person on the phone said we needed to file a claim online. We tried, but we can't because insurance was not purchased by the company that shipped us the item. We called the first person back, but had to leave a message (which probably will never be returned). The post office messed up. It is their fault, yet we are wasting a lot of time and effort to be reimbursed for our purchase. Can anyone help?

    Sep 12, 2017
  • anon

    Mr. Udesen is homeless he now has an address that he can receive mail. He has not received any mail to the address he received a letter stating that the address was a commercial business and he could not receive mail there. And he also received returned mail from a storage unit that stated he was deceased. Mr udesen has tried to straighten this out with the local post office, but they were not helpful.

    Sep 11, 2017
  • anon

    Hello Mr. Udesen, Thank you for your message. The OIG is an independent agency of the Postal Service and day-to-day mail delivery issues are outside of our jurisdiction. If you have not already done so, please try contacting your local Post Office. If you have already done that, try contacting USPS Customer Service, (800-275-8777), or file an online complaint with Customer Service on the USPS website.

    Sep 12, 2017
  • anon

    Can I pick my mail up from the post office before I start receiving mail at my new address. I put in a change of address form in a week ago and I have important mail I need asap.

    Sep 10, 2017
  • anon

    I recently done a background search on myself. The results came back showing a lady with the same name associated with my address, This lady has a criminal background. How can I find out if my mail has been transfer or changed. Please note: I have lived in the same address since 1980. Thanks

    Sep 10, 2017
  • anon

    Someone tried to forward my mail from my P. O. Box with a different name than mine. I received a notice and went to the counter immediately and the request was "cancelled" since this woman was not the box holder. How do I follow up and ensure my mail is not forwarded? I receive medications via the VA to my PO Box, some controlled substances I have to sign for. THIS IS URGENT! Also, how can I find the girl who tried to do this illegally? I was also part of the equifax breach and am very concerned at this point. Who do I contact and how can I feel assured this won't happen again? Thank you!

    Sep 08, 2017
  • anon

    Someone recently completed a temporary change of address form in my name and all of my mail has been forwarded to a completely different state. Now I am concerned for my identity.

    Sep 07, 2017
  • anon

    Me and my son moved out of my moms, I changed MY address , then her mail started coming to my house. So she changed only her address back to her house, now my mail goes there. Why can't I get my mail at my house and her at hers? Please advise.

    Sep 05, 2017
  • anon

    So, I got that validation letter. I did exactly what I was told to do. I am NEVER taken to a block to enter that Validation Code. How am I to get my mail at my actual address if you do not have an efficient and effective method of me validating? I gave you my credit card info. I paid the 1.00 and still I am being told I will not receive any mail until I validate through the system that will not validate me? When I log in, I am no longer at a restore my access page, but rather at the main USPS page with "Hi, Kathryn" in the corner. Please Advise

    Sep 04, 2017
  • anon

    How can you log in without the confirmation code? I lost my paper.

    Sep 02, 2017
  • anon

    my tennent moved,e,how can i find her forwarding address,is her change of address recorded at court house or is there another way

    Aug 31, 2017
  • anon

    We moved our business office 3 weeks ago. I had put in a change-of-address for our DBA name, Kanabay Court Reporters, and we have been receiving our mail at the new address - IF ADDRESSED TO THAT NAME. I was shocked last week to happen by the old office and check the mail and find mail there addressed to KANABAY & KANABAY (Our "corporate" name. we receive checks to both names.) Isn't the change of address based on the ADDRESS, not the exact, specific NAME?? I have now put in TWO more Change-of-Address requests in the name of Kanabay & Kanabay as well as Kanabay and Kanabay. Trying to cover every possible iteration of the name. But this is crazy. Now we have to keep going by the old location to check the mail!

    Aug 30, 2017
  • anon

    My thought would be no. Think about companies that share office space. The name is the only way to differentiate who is in that office. You're probably going to have to do one for each corporate entity.

    Sep 05, 2017
  • anon

    Good Afternoon, I am curious - if someone would like to have their HOME ADDRESS physically changed.....from what it is currently, to another # altogether........is that possible? And if so, what are the necessary steps needed to have this accomplished? Appreciate your time and assistance on this matter, Respectfully, Cheri

    Aug 29, 2017
  • anon

    Thank you for your message. The OIG is an independent agency of the Postal Service and day-to-day mail delivery issues are outside of our jurisdiction. Please visit USPS.com to change an address.

    Aug 30, 2017
  • anon

    I e-filed for mail forwarding and while still processing, I was expecting a piece of mail addressed to my new address- I should've received that letter within 3-4 days (typical transit) however it has now been 7 days. Is there some sort of protocol that occurs when someone has had a change of address to forward mail from an old address when receiving a letter addressed to the new address? It is my assumption that it would've come straight to my mailbox but the delay has me very worried. Thanks!

    Aug 29, 2017
  • anon

    We changed our address in June, and have yet to receive mail at our new address. We have contacted the PO by phone MANY times to no avail. Bills, tax refund, magazines, packages have never arrived atournew address so we have incurred fines and lost money and goods. HELP

    Aug 24, 2017
  • anon

    Any person can put in a change of address for you because there is no requirement to show any identification--this is ridiculous. I got a notice in the mail that someone had forwarded my mail to another address, and the same day I called the number on the letter which the USPS said to call if I was not the one who made the request. After being on hold for an hour, the lady said she would send a note to my post office stating that I did not make the request. That didn't matter and when my mail started being forwarded to this other address, I went to the post office which said it never got her message, and there was nothing I could do. The person (not me) who made the change had to cancel it! This is ridiculous. This person received several pieces of my mail containing all my personal financial information, and it all happened over my objection, without any request by USPS for them to prove who they were. Now I know that it is ridiculously easy to steal someone's mail because even if they get the letter and try to stop it, in the between time (1-2 weeks), your mail gets forwarded, and the post office sends notices to all of your credit card and banking companies who have requested "forwarding service"!! So, now I am also calling every company and "changing" my address back to my address. There is absolutely NO reason that USPS should not require in person applications with identification.

    Aug 18, 2017
  • anon

    I recently got out of the hospital realizing my landlord had sold my rental property also found zip ties on my mailbox I cut them off three different times finally spoke with the mail carrier who said the landlord put in a change of address for me I have not been legally evicted I went to the postmaster at my local post office he said I should understand the misunderstanding I don't know why when I have been there 6 years and still get mail from people who live there before me he told me not to worry that I would get my mail from now on and I have not received one piece of mail

    Aug 18, 2017
  • anon

    My daughter recently started college and lived on campus in an apartment, so she changed her address to begin receiving mail there. This semester she is back home and put in a change of address to receive mail back home. She's telling me she can't change her address from the college address because it shouldn't have been changed to that to begin with because it's a business? I don't understand? When we did the original form individual was checked so if the address was a business it wouldn't have changed anyway because the incorrect box was checked. Someone better help me figure this out cause I'm not buying that she can never change her address again, which is what she was told today.

    Aug 15, 2017
  • anon

    I haven't received my I'd so I just want to change address.

    Aug 09, 2017
  • anon

    I completed and usps confirmed receipt of my change of address. However, the postman is not delivering my mail to my new address and I stopped getting mail at my previous address. How do I figure out what the issue is? Thanks!

    Aug 08, 2017
  • anon

    My ex girlfriend moved about a month ago and did a change of address maybe marking the wrong box of entire family. I'd notice for weeks now that I wasn't getting any mail so I asked the postman and he said I've been ex out. Which I'd lived at the address for about 8 yrs. So I went down to the post office and they are telling me that there nothing that they can tell me about my mail that they would have to talk to her but this is the 2nd time this postal service has done this to me. How incompetent can they be if I didn't change my address as a renter can I sue for there 2nd attempt as incompetent postal service

    Aug 08, 2017
  • anon

    I've moved from my old residence and did not change my address to new home, I haven't been back to the city to check my mail, where would these mails go if they're sent back? Will all my mail from Dec 2016 still be at post office?

    Aug 04, 2017
  • anon

    I changed my address online but they have billed me more then once why

    Aug 04, 2017
  • anon

    Someone got my address and phone number and I am worried they will change my address without my knowledge. Can I do something to prevent that?

    Aug 03, 2017
  • anon

    I need to change my address, but doing so through the online form is unsuccessful each time I use it. Can a form be emailed to me so I can print and mail in? Your website only has the movers edge website and no printable forms are available.

    Aug 02, 2017
  • anon

    Yes. You can request a 'change of address form' from your mail carrier or get one from any post office in the country

    Aug 03, 2017
  • anon

    I have lived at my current address for 4 years and for the first 3 I received my mail but since December of 2016 I have received junk mail but not check, greeting cards or statements. I have been to the post office the first time and they told me that when I was on vacation a stop delivery was put on because box was full. Since notifying them it was ok and that the building was not vacant I still have not received my mail but my boyfriend who owns the house is. I have been to the post office and they do not have any idea why! The carrier and post manager both say there is no hold. What is the problem and how do we fix?

    Aug 02, 2017
  • anon

    case#HQ134080684 awaiting response. Need my undelivered mail from the last two weeks. Where is my mail?

    Aug 01, 2017
  • anon

    What can I do for this lack of efficiency. They get paid and benefits.

    Jul 31, 2017
  • anon

    I move out off state and had my mailed forward to a p.o. box but this company mailed a check to my old address that I moved from about 2 years ago. Will the check still forward to my p.o. box ?

    Jul 31, 2017
  • anon

    By changing our address does the post office also change the addresses that our mail is going to ?

    Jul 31, 2017
  • anon

    You should not have a charge to change your address online because people who are low income like myself do not have the dollar for everyone in the house to change the address. We live on a limited income and even tho it is only 3$, I do not have 3$ to spare. How can i get around this? I went to the post office to pick up a change of address form and I did not read it till I got home and it says I have to do it online. I do not have the money to do it online. What can I do?

    Jul 29, 2017
  • anon

    If I submit a change of address, will usps send a letter the old address showing my new address? Trying to prevent my ex from having my new address

    Jul 28, 2017
  • anon

    Have you found anything it about this yet? I'm in the exact same boat.

    Aug 21, 2017
  • anon

    Curious about this question. Can a person block another person from getting their forwarding address?

    Aug 18, 2017
  • anon

    If I submit a change of address, will usps send a letter the old address showing my new address? Trying to prevent my ex from having my new address

    Jul 28, 2017
  • anon

    I don't have a credit card our Debit card with $1 to charge. Am I jusT out of luck? Do they ask have a gluten I can fill out abd send in without having to Walt in the long post office line? I was in Valparaiso, In. P.Office the other day, it was 88 degrees outside and they had no air, plus there were about five people in line. It was very uncomfortable to wake in that line.

    Jul 27, 2017
  • anon

    The Online Change of Address form is broken. I tried with 2 different browsers, 3 different cards, I tried with my old - correct address and new - correct address and even changed address with the bank to the new address and it fails every time. I tried to call 1-800-275-8777 and waited 50 minutes on hold while my phone battery went flat. USPS needs a working system to change address efficiently and accurately.

    Jul 26, 2017
  • anon

    I am responsible for addressing in our city Sequim, WA. I have changed a couple's address, sent out the information to all concerned but the couple cannot change their address at their bank and on other government websites. What do we have to do to get all of their affairs changed to the new address? When trying to change their address on the bank's website it tells them they have to many numbers in the address. It is only three numbers long and the new street name. Please help and thank you.

    Jul 26, 2017

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