The Ultimate Change of Address Guide
When you make your moving checklist, it’s easy to remember things like “buy boxes”, “schedule movers”, and “pack your belongings”.
But there’s one item that’s frequently lost in the long list of other tasks that need to get done: changing your address.
Think about all the places that need to have your address on file: The post office. Your driver’s license. Your doctor’s office. Magazines. Subscription boxes. Your bank and credit cards. When you move, you need to contact all of those places to update your address for their files. When you think about all those phone calls, this can start to feel like one of the biggest jobs on your entire moving checklist.
But a change of address is a necessary part of moving, and you’ll want all those accounts up-to-date as soon as possible after the move.
In some cases, this is a legal requirement — if you’re moving states, you need to update your address on your driver’s license or state ID within a certain timeframe, usually, 30-90 days, depending on the state. And in order to do that, you’ll need to prove your new address, which means you need to update it for bank accounts, government agencies, medical institutions, and more.
In other cases, completing your address change as soon as possible will just help you avoid the hassle of missing mail, packages, or subscriptions.
If you’re overwhelmed by all the steps involved in changing your address after a move, you’ve come to the right place. This guide will help you gather all the information you need and then guide you through all the steps you need to take to successfully change your address. Let’s get started.
Things You Need to Know Before You Can Change Your Address
You need a few pieces of important information before you can even start the process of changing your address. They are:
- Your complete and correct new address.
- Whether the change of address is temporary or permanent.
- Whether the change of address is for just you, or your whole family.
Once you have all that information, it’s time to get started with the actual process of changing your address. This takes some time and work. Read on for a step-by-step guide and a timeline for a hassle-free change of address.
How (and When) to Change Your Address: A Step-By-Step Guide
While the final few weeks before you move can be some of the busiest, that’s unfortunately when you need to be taking care of your change of address tasks, too. Add these steps to your moving checklist to ensure you notify everyone who needs your new address at the right time. This way you don’t miss any mail or services.
At Least Two Months Before You Move
About the time you should start looking at booking your move. This is a good time to start watching your mailbox and taking stock of subscriptions and mailing lists you might be a part of. These can be difficult to remember, so make a list of anything important as your mail arrives. Keep it in a binder along with other important moving documents and information.
About a Month Before Your Move
By about 4-5 weeks before your moving day, make sure you have all the necessary information you’ll need to complete your change of address.
This is also a good time to remove yourself from any unnecessary mailing lists and cancel and subscriptions you no longer want to receive. The less mail you get, the easier changing your address is going to be.
2 Weeks Before Your Move
It’s go time. Now is when you’ll officially start the process of changing your address, beginning with the United States Postal Service.
You have a few options for changing your address with the USPS.
Changing Your Address Online
The USPS offers a change of address service online, which will be extra convenient for most people, since you can do it any time and from anywhere. Just head to usps.com/move and:
- Fill out the change of address form with all the required information
- Provide a valid email address (this is required to change your address online)
- Pay a $1 verification fee by credit or debit card (this is standard to help prevent address fraud)
- Wait for email confirmation of your change of address
Changing Your Address In Person
Your other option is to head to a post office branch to change your address in person. When you’re there, just let the representative know that you’re moving and you’d like a form PS 3575. You can fill it out at the branch, or take it home to complete and bring it back later.
Please note that a lot of resources will say you can print out a form PS 3575 at home to fill out ahead of time. This is no longer true. The form is no longer available online, as the USPS pushes for more people to complete their change of address online.
After You Change Your USPS Address
Once you change your address in the USPS systems, all mail sent to you at your old address will be temporarily forwarded to your new address. How long it’s forwarded will depend on the type of mail it is.
This gives you time to move and settle in at your new address before you have to update your address with every agency that has it on file. But don’t wait if you don’t have to.
At the same time that you file your change of address with the USPS, you should call your utilities and financial institutions and make sure they have your new address on file. This will be necessary when you need to change your address on your driver’s license.
Check over the list you’ve been compiling of important mail. While you don’t have to call all of those agencies now, you should. Changing your address is easy to put off once you know your mail will be forwarded, but it’s still best to do as much of it as possible before your move.
As Soon As Possible After You Move
If there are any places on your important mail list that you haven’t contacted to update your address, do that as soon as possible after arriving at your new home.
Update your driver’s license or state ID as soon as you’re able to, keeping in mind that the Department of Motor Vehicles will require you to prove your new address. Utility bills and bank statements often work as proof, which is why it’s a good idea to update these to your new address before the move. There are a lot of documents you can use as proof of address, and the requirements vary by state, so get in touch with your state’s DMV to find out for sure what’s acceptable. Don’t put this off, because most states have a legal requirement that new residents update their state ID within a certain time frame.
For Up to 12 Months After You Move
The USPS will keep forwarding most of your mail for about a year, so keep an eye out for things that were addressed to your old home or PO box and forwarded. This is how you’ll find out if there’s any mail you missed, and any more places where you need to update your address.
Congratulations on successfully changing your address! For being one item on a standard moving checklist, changing your address takes a lot of preparation, time, and planning ahead. It’s not the least stressful part of moving, but by sticking to this checklist, you can know you won’t miss a subscription or any important mail in your move.
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