When you’re sending or receiving mail via The United States Postal Service (USPS), you are able to monitor its progress as the tracking status updates throughout the delivery process. One of the tracking statuses that you may encounter is “Forward Expired”.

The status update “Forward Expired” on USPS indicates that the package or mail that is supposed to be sent to a forwarding address could not be delivered, as the forwarding service of the recipient has expired. This typically happens when people forget to renew their forwarding service with USPS or they have moved and not lived at the forwarding address for more than a year.

In this article, we will take a closer look at forwarding expiration when it comes to USPS, why people commonly opt for forwarding services, and what steps you can take to address expiry issues, ensuring your mail is sent to the correct address.

Why Does USPS Offer This Service?

There are several reasons why postal services, such as USPS, provide a forwarding service. It serves an important function that caters to the varying needs of recipients. Let’s take a closer look at why people opt for USPS’ forwarding services.

  • Temporary Address Changes – People may need to relocate temporarily in some instances. This could be due to their home being renovated, work obligations, or lengthy vacations. The USPS mail forwarding service ensures that their mail is sent to a temporary address for a set duration of time, allowing them to stay in touch with vital correspondence and packages.
  • Enhanced Privacy – Some people use mail forwarding to safeguard their privacy by choosing a mailing address that is different from their real address. This serves as a proxy address, allowing people to receive mail while concealing their actual residential location. This is especially handy for high-profile people, those concerned about personal security, or those seeking further privacy.
  • Consolidating Mail – The USPS mail forwarding service can be utilized by those with multiple addresses, such as a small business owner with multiple office locations, or multiple residences (for example vacation homes), to consolidate their mail to a single address. This not only streamlines the process of receiving mail but also prevents essential correspondence from being overlooked or misplaced in transit.

What Can You Do When Your USPS Forwarding Service Expires?

When your forwarding service expires, it is imperative to take immediate action to avoid not receiving your mail at all. USPS gives recipients up to 6 months of free mail forwarding. Below are the renewal costs for reference

  • Initial 6 Months: Free in-person or $1.10 when applying online
  • 6 Additional Months: $19.95
  • 12 Additional Months: $29.95
  • 18 Additional Months: $39.95

When applying for or extending your forwarding service, it’s good practice to ensure that all relevant senders, such as your banks, utility companies, and subscription services, have your current address. Below, you’ll find a guide on what you will need to consider.

1. Renew Your USPS Forwarding Service

To maintain forwarding service with USPS after it has expired, the simplest solution is to renew your USPS mail forwarding services. However, take note that USPS allows a maximum of 24 months of mail forwarding.

To renew your mail forwarding service, the steps are as follows:

  1. Visit the USPS website.
  2. Click the “Quick Tools” menu and choose “Change My Address”.
  3. If you already have an account with USPS, log in with your credentials. You must have an account with USPS. If you do not, register by providing your name, email address, and password.
  4. Navigate to the “Manage Your Email” section after logging in.
  5. Choose the “Renew” option next to your expired mail redirection order.
  6. Choose the renewal period for your forwarding service (6, 12, or 18 additional months).
  7. Review your order information and then select “Submit” to continue.
  8. Enter billing information and approve the purchase to complete the payment process.

2. Change Your Shipping Details

If you are unable to renew or do not wish to continue your forwarding subscription, you should change your shipping address for any mail or packages sent to your old address. This is especially important when ordering from e-commerce platforms or subscription services.

3. Notify Senders of Your New Address

Next, inform senders of the new address that you want your mail to be sent. We have listed down a few steps you can take to do so efficiently:

  1. Create a list of your regular senders, including banks, utility companies, subscription services, family members, and acquaintances.
  2. Inform each sender individually of your new mailing address by going down the list and ticking them off once it’s done. Notifications are typically done via customer service channels, online portals, or written notifications.
  3. Double-check if you have updated some of your important correspondences, especially government agencies such as the DMV, IRS, and Social Security Administration.

Despite best efforts, you may still miss out on updating some of your senders. In this case: 

  1. Monitor the tracking information provided by USPS for any undeliverable mail.
  2. Contact the shipper whose mail was returned undeliverable and inform them of your new address. Their contact information is typically available on their website or in previous correspondence.
  3. Request that the mail be resent to your updated address. Note that some senders may impose redelivery fees.
  4. Finally, update them with your current address and inform them to make it the default shipping or mailing address.

4. Opt for Self Collection

If mail forwarding is no longer an option, you may also opt for self-collection. Undelivered mail is temporarily withheld at your local post office. You should be able to acquire the details of which post office your mail is located at and what time to self-collect your mail or package by checking your USPS order tracking.

To ensure successful self-collection, follow these steps:

  1. Monitor your USPS tracking data for any undeliverable mail or parcels.
  2. Determine the location of the post office (call USPS customer service if required).
  3. Take note of any specified collection hours or deadlines, as they may vary between post offices.
  4. Bring a valid government-issued photo ID to the post office for verification, such as a driver’s license or passport.
  5. To claim your mail or package, show the postal clerk your tracking number and identification.

5. Retrieve Mail from Sender

After being held at the post office for a certain period of time, your mail will be returned to the sender. You may choose to retrieve your item directly from the sender if they are within reach.

This is an option when the mail or parcel is of high importance or value and you want to ensure its safe delivery. Follow these steps to retrieve your package from the sender:

  1. Monitor your USPS tracking information for any undelivered or returned mail or shipments.
  2. Contact the sender to inform them of your logistical arrangements and confirm that they have received the undelivered item.
  3. Coordinate a convenient time and location for the collection of your mail or delivery with the sender.
  4. Bring an agreed-upon proof of identity, such as a driver’s license or passport, for verification purposes when collecting the item.
  5. Collect your mail or delivery from the sender and sign any required receipt documentation.

What Happens If No Action is Taken?

When a “Forward Expired” status is received, the mail or parcel will not be sent to the forwarding address of the recipient. Instead, USPS will typically hold it for 30 days before it’s returned to the sender.

If the mail or package is returned to the sender, you’re not able to schedule a redelivery or opt for self-collection. In order to avoid this from happening it is crucial to either renew your forwarding service with USPS or change your address permanently.

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, we will address some of the most frequently asked questions regarding USPS mail forwarding and provide you with valuable insights to help you better understand and navigate this issue.

Can I Renew the Forwarding Period For My Mail Beyond 18 Months?

No, the standard period for mail forwarding is either 6 or 12 months. However, you have the option to extend it by 18 months (giving you a total of 24 months). If you still require a mail forwarding service beyond that, you may opt for a private mail forwarding service.

Can I Request USPS To Hold My Package Longer Than 30 Days?

USPS has a maximum designated holding period of 30 days. You can attempt submitting a request on USPS’s website or calling their customer service number to see if an exception can be made.

It has been reported by a few of our readers that they were able to have their shipments held for a while longer, but this is not guaranteed and depends on the policies of the particular post office.

Will I Still Receive My Package After My Forwarding Has Expired?

Receiving your delivery after your forwarding has expired depends on whether the package was returned to the sender. If it has, you would need to contact them to coordinate a new delivery if it was returned.

Otherwise, USPS may hold your delivery for up to 30 days. During that time, you can either contact USPS to update them and extend the mail forwarding services for a fee, or you can choose to pick up the package at the designated post office.

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Gerrit Poel

Co-Founder & Writer
at freightcourse

About the Author

Gerrit is a certified international supply chain management professional with 16 years of industry experience, having worked for one of the largest global freight forwarders.

As the co-founder of freightcourse, he’s committed to his passion for serving as a source of education and information on various supply chain topics.