4-Step Process for Changing Your Address

At a glance

Between finding a new home and packing boxes, changing your address may be one of the last things you remember to do when moving. But it’s actually one of the first steps you’ll want to take. Why? Mail going to your old address could fall into the wrong hands, and you may miss important bills and checks.

While it may seem easy to change your address with the post office, scams in the process are all too common—as is neglecting to notify important folks of your new location.

Use this four-step process to quickly and correctly change your address to keep your mail delivery on track.

  1. Update your address with the United States Postal Service.
  2. Notify key services, like banks, utilities, and employers.
  3. Update your health care providers and your car and voter registration.
  4. Notify family and friends.

4 steps to change your address

1. Update your address with the Postal Service

There are two ways to change your address with the United States Postal Service: online or in person.

Online: The easiest way to change your address is to visit usps.com/move and fill out the mail forwarding request. You’ll pay a $1.05 fee with a credit or debit card.

In person: Prefer to meet your postmaster IRL? Change your address in person at your local post office. Simply request a Mover’s Guide packet, fill out PS Form 3575, and mail it from the post office. There’s no fee for this method.

Here’s the basic info you’ll need to provide online or at the post office to change your address:

  • Who is moving (individual, family, or business)
  • Name
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Move type (permanent or temporary)
  • Old address
  • New address
  • Valid credit or debit card (online requests only)
Little pin

ADDRESS CHANGE TIP

ADDRESS CHANGE TIP

When asked by USPS if you’d like to opt into “Informed Delivery” during your address change, say yes. This free service lets you preview incoming mail and track package delivery through your email inbox.

If you’re doing an online request, the next step is to validate your identity with a credit or debit card and your billing address. You’ll be charged $1.05 to verify your identity and set up regular mail forwarding. Mail will be forwarded for up to a year as it is received. If your move is temporary (i.e., one year or less), you can opt for short-term forwarding.

Input the date you’d like to begin mail forwarding, ensuring it’s no more than three months from today’s date. You should receive mail at your new home 7–10 days after your submission date or move effective date—whichever comes first.

Permanent or temporary move?

With a temporary move, you can choose to forward your mail for as little as 15 days or as long as six months. Once that six months is up, you can extend it for six more months. Permanent moves come with forwarding for one year.

Premium forwarding is also available for an enrollment fee plus $21.10 per week. This service bundles all mail for a single address into one package that’s delivered by Priority Mail once a week. Honestly, though, very few people need forwarding beyond the basic service. And if you’re simply heading out of town for a while, you can hold your mail at your local post office.

Post office confirmation

Once you’ve changed your address online, you’ll receive an email confirming the change. The Postal Service will also send a confirmation card to your new and old addresses. This helps to prevent address change scams and catch fraudulent address changes fast. Let your local postal inspector know if you suspect you’re a victim of an address change scam.

Heads up exclamation

FIGHT FRAUD

FIGHT FRAUD

Online fraudsters will request as much as $40 to change your address. Don’t fall for it. Change your address only with the Postal Service.

2. Notify financial institutions, utilities, government agencies, work, and schools

After you’ve done an official address change, you’ll also want to notify individuals and organizations that send you mail. After all, forwarding service doesn’t last forever, and you don’t want important documents to get lost in the shuffle between your old home and your new one.

Here are a few key players you’ll want to focus on first, whether you’re moving down the street or across the country.

Financial institutions

As soon as you know your new address, change it with your bank and credit card companies. This protects you from declined cards and keeps your private banking mail in your hands. Be sure to also change your saved address on any websites for correct shipping and billing.

Utilities

Next, cancel utilities, internet service, phones, and television service in your old home, effective on your moving date. As fly as your Wi-Fi is, don’t waste money paying for it after you’ve left your home. Be sure to abide by cancellation policies, as TV and internet service providers may require notice.

Another optional step: switch to online billing to save paper instead of receiving printed bills at your new address. This helps you avoid the problem of missed mail entirely.

Government agencies

If you receive government assistance or draw Social Security benefits, change your mailing address in advance of your move to prevent delays in your services and checks. Notify the IRS if you’re awaiting a mailed tax refund, or just change your address on your next tax return.

If you’re a non-US citizen living in the United States, you may be required to register your address within 10 days of your move. Contact the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to ensure you’re in compliance with these regulations.

Work

Whether you’re keeping your current job or starting a new one, update your address with your current employer so your year-end W-2 doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

School

When it comes to your little ones (or yourself if you’re currently studying), notify school(s) when they will be leaving. Timing isn’t always within your control, but moves are best done at the end of a quarter for smooth grading transitions. Enroll them in a new school in a timely matter.

Some schools have limited space and waiting lists, so think ahead and make plans sooner than later. Keep in mind, though, that you can set up mail forwarding no earlier than three months out from your move date. You may not be able to have things sent to your new home way in advance.

Get money

WHEEL OUT THE WELCOME WAGON

WHEEL OUT THE WELCOME WAGON

Another perk of changing your address online? The Welcome Kit! When you change your address with USPS, you’ll receive an envelope filled with valuable coupons (hello Amazon.com discount), special offers, and a community guide.

3. Update doctors, dentists, the DMV, and your voter registration

Once you’ve moved and settled into your new place, there are a few other things you’ll need to do to finalize your address change and make the transition as seamless as possible—especially if you moved out of town or out of state.

Medical professionals

Moving away from your local area? You’ll need a new doctor, dentist, hairstylist, and other service providers and professionals. If you’ve been seeing Dr. Clark since you were a kid, it may come as a shock to find a new family doc.

Do your research to find doctors covered by your insurance, which may be different if you’re moving to a new state. Then inform current medical professionals of your pending move. Ask around to find other providers for your specific needs.

Auto registration and insurance

Baby, you can drive your car . . . if you’re properly licensed and insured. Don’t wait until you’ve been pulled over for speeding and charged a fine to change your address with the DMV.

The law typically gives you a 30-day grace period to get a driver’s license in a new state, but you likely have to wait in the dreaded DMV line to get it.

Changing your car insurance comes next. Rates are based on your ZIP code, so contact your insurance company ASAP. This is also a good time to shop around with different companies to secure a better rate.

Voter registration

Keep doing your civic duty! During your address change with USPS, you can often elect to change your voter registration automatically depending on where you are moving to and from. But if this service isn’t available for your state, use the online National Mail Voter Registration Form to update your address.

Check deadlines for submitting your voter registration in your state to ensure you can vote in upcoming elections.

Megaphone

MILITARY MOVE PERKS

MILITARY MOVE PERKS

Are you an active-duty military member or military spouse? Skip changing your state of residency, voter registration, and tax information.1 Continue to vote with an absentee ballot, pay taxes in your home state, and maintain it as your residence—regardless of where the military moves you.

Gym memberships

Staying fit is expensive, and there’s no reason to pay for an extra month at the gym because you didn’t cancel in time. Many gyms require 30 days of notice to cancel—often in writing or in person. Check with your gym about its rules.

Subscriptions

While USPS forwards most mail for up to a year, it only forwards periodicals for up to 60 days after you move.2 Let the magazines you subscribe to know, as copies will be disposed of after 60 days if your move is temporary and sent back to the publisher if your move is permanent.

Also, don’t let your Blue Apron box go bad! Subscriptions for everything from toothbrushes to razors are popular these days, but you must change your address to receive them at your new home. This is especially important for perishable meal kits, as forwarding would cost too much and take too long.

4. Notify family and friends

Don’t miss Aunt Doreen’s annual Christmas card! Send your family and friends a change-of-address card via snail mail, or email to let them know about your new home. Make a custom card online with a photo in front of your new home if you’re feeling extra crafty.

Another way to let folks know you’ve moved is an invitation to a housewarming party. Invite neighbors, friends, and family over for the party and include your new address.

Recommended resources

Still baffled by the rest of the moving process? Use these guides to ensure you check every box—and move them all too.

Sources

  1. Military Officers Association of America, “New Military Spouse Residency Rules
  2. United States Postal Service, “Change of Address—The Basics

About Jenny Willden

Jenny Willden
Jenny’s been writing stories since she first picked up a pencil and is lucky to call it her profession. She’s lived in five U.S. states (and counting) and uses her mishaps to help you master your next move.