Whether you'll just be away from your business location for a vacation or plan to move across the country permanently, you have a few mail forwarding options available through the United States Postal Service that will redirect your mail for different periods of time. You can use the temporary mail forwarding service for going out of town for anywhere from 15 days to a year. On the other hand, you can do a permanent address change or pay fees to request indefinite forwarding of mail from multiple locations. The USPS website allows you to set up any of these address forwarding solutions and manage your mail.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
Unless you pay for the premium forwarding service for commercial mail through the USPS, the longest you can have business mail forwarded is one year.
Temporarily Forwarding Your Mail
The USPS will allow you to request to have your business's mail forwarded for between 15 days and 12 months through its temporary mail forwarding service. With this option, you'll have to set specific start and end dates where you can initially request forwarding for up to six months. However, the USPS will allow for another six-month extension if needed.
This forwarding service works only if you don't plan to actually move to another location permanently and instead will be away for a short period of time. In that case, the USPS forwards your mail to the temporary location and resumes normal operation at your permanent business address once you return.
Permanently Forwarding Your Mail
On the other hand, the USPS will forward your mail for a max of 12 months if you request mail forwarding due to a permanent move. However, the forwarding length does vary somewhat by mail class. While First-Class Mail, Retail Ground, Media Mail and Priority Mail packages get forwarded for 12 months, periodicals like magazines only will come for 60 days. Also, you won't get any USPS Marketing Mail forwarded unless the organization sending you that mail has provided directions on doing so.
When requesting a permanent change of address for mail forwarding, note that you should act quickly to inform all relevant parties — not only your post office — about your business's new address. Some of these parties include your utility providers, insurers, vendors, state and local business licensing and tax agencies, lenders and the Internal Revenue Service. That way, you'll start getting your business mail directly sent to the new address and prevent headaches down the line.
Using Premium Commercial Mail Forwarding
If you want to indefinitely forward your business mail to a single location for convenience, the USPS offers its Premium Forwarding Service Commercial option. This works differently from regular mail forwarding in that the USPS will compile mail sent to you at different business locations into bulk shipments. It will then use Priority Mail or Priority Mail Express to send the collected mail in three days or less to an address you specify.
When you choose this option, you're able to choose how often to have the bulk mail delivered to the registered address. However, this premium forwarding service comes with either a $20.10 or $21.90 enrollment fee, and you'll need to pay $21.90 a week to continue the service.
Requesting USPS Address Forwarding
Along with heading to the post office to handle the process, you can access the USPS change of address application on the carrier's website for the regular permanent and temporary mail forwarding options. You'll find the option under the "Quick Tools" menu as "Change My Address". The application will ask for information such as the type of move and forwarding needed, your old and new business addresses and the forwarding start and/or end dates. You'll also need to pay $1.05 to submit your request online.
For the indefinite mail forwarding, you can visit the USPS Business Customer Gateway website and register for an account. You can then log in to apply for the Premium Forwarding Service Commercial option, specify how long you want to use the service and arrange for when you want to receive your combined shipments. You'll also pay your enrollment fee and make regular payments for combined shipments using this platform. Your local post office can also help you set up this service in person.
- USPS: Mail Forwarding Options
- USA.gov: Change Your Address and Other U.S. Post Office Services
- USPS: Change of Address - The Basics
- USPS: How Can I Have My Mail Forwarded for an Extended Period of Time?
- USPS: Premium Forwarding Service Commercial®
- USPS: Forward Mail
- USPS: Premium Forwarding Service Commercial
Ashley Donohoe started writing professionally about business topics in 2010. Having eight years experience running all aspects of her small business, she is knowledgeable about the daily issues and decisions that business owners face. She also has earned a Master of Business Administration degree with a leadership and strategy concentration from Western Governors University. Some other places featuring her business writing include JobHero, LoveToKnow, PocketSense, Chron and Study.com.