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 (430)

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  • anon

    I changed my address on Sept 20th 2016 and my husbands mail is still going to the old address and I have not received anything .

    Oct 11, 2016
  • anon

    It's interesting to see that the credit card billing address problem where you cannot specify the "New" address as the billing address has been receiving complaints for several months now and still there has been no USPS response, the problem has not been fixed, and the paper form is not available on line.

    Oct 09, 2016
  • anon

    I forwarded my mail and havnt received anything In about 3 weeks

    Oct 04, 2016
  • anon

    I split time between homes one in Florida, which is my permanent residence, and one in Ohio. I have done temporary change of address online for a number of years. Recently, when I tried to do this I could not complete the request because the USPS web site now requires that the billing address for the credit card used for the $1.00 fee be the same as the old address. In my case, that is the Florida address while Ohio was the old address. I then had to print a form and give it to my carrier. I never received any type of confirmation. When I called the Ohio post office, the person I spoke with had no clue about the new online address requirement. He said that it could take 2-3 weeks for my printed request to be processed. I find this to be totally absurd. From my research, it appears that USPS made this change to prevent fraudulent address changes. However, there must be a better way. How can USPS just assume that the old address is the billing address?

    Oct 04, 2016
  • anon

    I had this same problem this October because I also have two houses. Never had this problem before but since the online system requires the credit card address from the old address I have to submit the change manually at the post office. Could the post office issue a password to you at the old address or find another secure solution so we could make changes online?

    Oct 23, 2016
  • anon

    The web site claims that I can enter an alternate billing address for my credit card, but there is no place to actually do it. It's off to the Post Office with the paper change of address form. So much for Internet automation.

    Oct 12, 2016
  • anon

    I too have this problem. I thought the easy thing to do would be to go to the post office and pick up the form and leave it for the mail carrier. But when I got there, because it's Sunday and only the lobby is open, I looked for the form where they usually have things like that. All that was there was a flyer telling me I should do it on line. Back home again, I tried to find a PDF version of the form on the Internet - no luck there. Then I thought I'd see what would happen if I said this is a permanent instead of temporary change. BINGO! It let me specify the new address as the billing address for the card. I kept going thinking I could change from permanent to temporary later in the transactions, but no, it processed the change for me. I went to the link in the confirming email telling me I could modify or cancel, and that one element, "Permanent", was one that could not be changed. So I cancelled the order and will probably be billed the $1.00 anyhow. I am glad the USPS is moving toward more online services, but they really need to A. continue to support people who prefer not to use the computer, and B. Thoroughly test their new systems to be sure that they work properly. In this case, they have done neither.

    Oct 09, 2016
  • anon

    I have the same issue. I've been doing this change for years, now I have to go to the post office to change my address because it won't accept the billing address for my Florida address. This needs to be returned to the way it was!

    Oct 07, 2016
  • anon

    I have moved a lot in my lifetime and never had a problem getting mail. I simply gave my new address to the entities that would send important mail and it arrived. It was so simple until this year. The mail carrier insisted that our names be posted on the mailbox or we were not going to get any mail. He left a card with a menacing message that read "no names on card = no mail." We complied and even though we don't like our names taped to the mailbox for the sake of privacy, he insisted so we did what we were told. All of a sudden, we got mail from weeks ago and other people's mail, as well. I moved again, told the important people my new address, even filled out a change of 1.00 coupon book form online. Still no mail. I hope my new carrier is not waiting for me to tape our names to the box. What ever happened to the postal service? STamp, address, done!

    Sep 27, 2016
  • anon

    I travel back and forth every few months between my 2 homes. When I tried to place a temporary forward from my CT home to my AZ home, I was unable to do so because I could not update the billing address the system displayed for my credit card. The system incorrectly assumes that your "old" address in the request is your permanent residence and therefore must be the official address for your credit card and does not give you the option of correcting the information. This is very frustrating and a huge problem for people who travel between locations. As a result, the only way I can do a temporary forwarding is to wait in line at a Post Office before I leave. This is a major flaw in the system when you are unable to process your request online unless your credit card address matches the "old" address which the USPS has taken the liberty of assuming is the credit card billing address.

    Sep 27, 2016
  • anon

    Official Change- of -Address Validation letters are sent to your old address addressed to Current Resident or the person who made the address change. This gives a current Resident the right to open someone else's mail (which is illegal). It is not the Current Resident's business so why does the USPS send out the Official Change-od-Address Validation this way?

    Sep 25, 2016
  • anon

    I agree. In my situation I have already moved. I do not want to go through with it this way simply b/c I know that if I do then they will send a validation to the old address and I'm no longer there and like you said it's not the resident's business but I'm sure they'll open the mail anyway b/c who's there to tell them they can't? On top of that my credit card info will not match the old address! I have no choice but to go to the post office.

    Oct 13, 2016
  • anon

    I submitted a COA over 1 month ago and still have not received my mail. I had a birthday and didn't get any of my cards. I checked with my old post office, new post office, old address, new address, and filed a case over the phone. Still have not received any mail even though they said they "fixed the issue". I just want my birthday cards :(

    Sep 23, 2016
  • anon

    I'M ATTEMPTING TO FILL OUT A COA FORM ON LINE. ERROR MESSAGE WON'T LET ME ENTER APARTMENT OR SUITE NUMBER.

    Sep 22, 2016
  • anon

    I requested that my mail be forwarded officially but to date I have not received any mail. Last year I had the same problem and even received mail to my new address that did not belong to me, my mail did not arrive. What must I do?

    Sep 20, 2016
  • anon

    Tried to do a temporary address change online. Your system did not give me an option to change the billing address for my credit card. Frustrating.

    Sep 20, 2016
  • anon

    The online system is totally broken. It requires you to have a current credit card using the OLD address for "verification". Says you can edit address but does not let you. Stupid. Typical but just plain stupid.

    Sep 19, 2016
  • anon

    I am having the same problem, we also travel back and forth between two homes. I notified them in July and it is still broken. It used to work, the billing address had to be either the old or new address and you could pick. If they wanted to eliminate that option for security - it would make more sense for the new address to be the billing address (how often will you fail to notify your credit card company of your new address?). It also says that you will be given the option to print and mail the form, but that is no longer available either. If you search for the form online, they point you right back to the same online process. So, they want more people to use the online service - but they won't fix it!!! SO VERY FRUSTRATED!!!-

    Oct 11, 2016
  • anon

    SAME PROBLEM!!!!! PLEASE FIX THIS!!!!!!

    Sep 24, 2016
  • anon

    I moved about 3 months ago. I changed my mothers address and put family thinking it would change mine too. We recently moved back to the same location that i never changed to begin with. I havent received my mail in 3months would the post office have my mail? And would i need to put in a request for an address change even if i never submitted 1?

    Sep 15, 2016
  • anon

    Recently moved from MA.To TN. My wife and mother share the same first name although spelled differently. Now we are receiving all my mothers bills causing her hardship and legal problems, ie. mortgage credit and insurance. Any legal advice can the usps be held responsible. I think so.

    Sep 13, 2016
  • anon

    Did a change of address, approximately, 6 months ago, but the last two weeks, hadn't been receiving any mail at the address. Wanting to know, what's going on? Thx, for ur prompt response. 77063

    Sep 13, 2016
  • anon

    I would like to know if I can obtain a copy regarding me changing my address. I believe someone recently changed my address without my permission.

    Sep 13, 2016
  • anon

    We need to change the date our temporary addrds change ends. The internree form requires the confirmation code. We lost it. There should be another was to access the change of address to edit it.

    Sep 11, 2016
  • anon

    My mother moved into assisted living 13 months ago. I have recently sold her house. It closes on 9-15-16. Since I am my mother's primary care giver and handle her bills, I would like to forward her mail to my home address. She does not have a credit card. How can I complete the form without a credit card in my mother's name? Thanks John Milledge

    Sep 11, 2016
  • anon

    THE USPS ONLINE ADDRESS CHANGE SYSTEM IS NOT SECURE, DON'T USE IT!!! I was just looking for the form to download and fill out. The last time I changed my address with USPS I found a $40.00 dollar charge from some address scammer that was allowed access during the USPS address change process. These scammers charged my account for an 'Address Change Service' which I did not ask for. I called USPS and told them and their response was, 'DUH What, we can't control it. I said it's your system they came through so you are responsible for your system. Therefore, the USPS online address change system is far from secure and your method of payment will be shared with scammers. I would not recommend using the online system since USPS cannot prevent scams via this process and it is not SECURE as they claim it is. Plus, USPS Customer Service? Dream on folks, they won't do a thing about it.

    Aug 29, 2016
  • anon

    Wow! I was just about to do it for my family good thing you left this comment. Going to the the post office instead not that far any way. Thanks

    Sep 06, 2016
  • anon

    Their customer service is garbage there is no way you can speak to representative by phone

    Aug 29, 2016
  • anon

    I put a change of address in 2 weeks prior to move, I got a verification at new address two days after I moved in, that was great. I have been checking both the new and the old addresses and I haven't had mail in either place for four days. Some mailmen are telling me that the post office in Lansdale, pa, where I lived, is sitting on my mail, til it builds up. If in fact that is what they are doing, is that even legal? The post office wants people to use them, save mailmen jobs, etc. It is so very disappointing to see you have failed the customer after all these years in business.

    Aug 23, 2016
  • anon

    How can you stop some one from changing your address if you gone on a long trip?

    Aug 19, 2016
  • anon

    I don't understand how USPS can stay in business. It should just go away.Between the inefficiency, misdelivered mail, poor customer service and poorly functioning website, and laughable tracking, it is a bad joke.

    Aug 15, 2016
  • anon

    Your identity check from credit card does not work as intended, program select automatically the old address for the credit card, but all my credit card are with the new address and we cannot edit or select another address as claimed on the page and on help tag. That is a big BUG????? you should check better your program before making them to the public.

    Aug 13, 2016
  • anon

    I experienced the same thing. If they truly evaluated the system USPS would have known you cannot edit the credit card address from the old address to the new address or any other address. It simply takes you back to the previous page and does not allow you to uncheck the old address. PLEASE CORRECT THIS - IT IS IRRITATING !!!!

    Aug 30, 2016
  • anon

    I am currently having the same problems. USPS please clean this up. I now must go into the PO and waist there time too.

    Aug 26, 2016
  • anon

    There is no reason that you can't accept pre-paid debit cards. As long as the addresses are the same, what is the problem. I've used this same pre-paid debit card for 15 years and it has my correct address on the account. Fix this problem! There is no reason for the US Government to be wasting money on an online change of address system that doesn't work.

    Aug 13, 2016
  • 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

    Was this ever fixed for you?? That's what I'm dealing with now. What was your solution?

    Aug 25, 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

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