How to Manage Your Mail While You’re Away

Make arrangements to hold, forward or receive your mail digitally while traveling.

Graphic of a mail box, a phone and an envelope

Whether you’re pondering your next big road trip or combining travel with working remotely, be sure to include mail delivery in your travel planning. Several options ensure you can keep your mail secure until you return—or even have it delivered to you virtually through a digital service.

Here are a few to consider:

Put it on hold.

The USPS can hold your mail for up to 30 days.

Ideal for: Shorter absences. On your return, you can either retrieve your mail from the post office or have it delivered to your home. This keeps your mailbox from overflowing, which could signal your absence to potential thieves.

Cost: Free.

To enroll:

  • Sign up online.
  • Call 1-800-ASK-USPS.
  • Complete an “Authorization to Hold Mail” form in person at the post office.

For longer absences, there are two options:


Premium forwarding service

This domestic service forwards all your mail from your permanent address to a temporary one, delivering weekly for a minimum of two weeks and up to one year.

Ideal for: Snowbirds, college students, executives, individuals caring for family members or those on an extended vacation.

Cost: One flat fee for each weekly Priority Mail shipment, plus an application fee.

To enroll: Sign up online or at your local post office.

Regular forwarding services

Before your departure, file a temporary change of address, which is good for 15 days to one year.

Cost: $1.10 identity verification fee.

To enroll: Sign up online.

There are additional mail delivery alternatives, including:

Informed delivery

The USPS also allows you to digitally preview your mail, as well as manage and track packages scheduled to arrive soon. Recipients can view grayscale images of the address-side exterior of letter-sized mail. Users can preview their deliveries anytime and from anywhere on a computer, tablet or mobile device. Notifications arrive via email, on the Informed Delivery dashboard and through the USPS Mobile application.

If you’ve missed a delivery, you can also reschedule it.

Cost: Free.

To enroll: Sign up online.

Virtual mailbox services

A virtual mailbox is a digital service option that provides access to your mail via any computer, tablet or smartphone as soon as it’s delivered. One of them, iPostal1 Virtual Mail Service, maintains staffed, secure, full-service mail receiving centers.

With a virtual mailbox, you can manage your postal mail and packages through the smartphone app or online anytime from anywhere across the U.S. and abroad. The service also allows you to receive, forward, pick up, shred or discard mail and packages, as well as deposit checks by mail.

Cost: Starts at $9.99 per month.

To enroll: Sign up online.

Other virtual options:

  • Anytime Mailbox: Similar to iPostal1 with plans starting at $4.98.
  • Earth Class Mail: Another service that receives your mail, digitizes it and then delivers it straight to your inbox (starting at $19 per month for one recipient). Entrepreneurs can even manage their businesses remotely through Earth Class’s mail room option, allowing users to scan through years’ worth of business mail as easily as email. You can even share documents.

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