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How To Request USPS Hold Mail Service Online

Published 9/7/09 (Modified 3/9/11)
By MoneyBlueBook

Although we are now living in the computer (Internet) age and everything seems to be going paperless, certain people still insist on doing things the old fashioned way. But if you want to do a better job of saving precious time and money, you might want to start taking better advantage of the more efficient online services out there, if you aren't already doing so. Services like postal delivery and mail forwarding can nowadays be effectively managed online without the necessity of having to perform an errand run to the post office.

Some of you may live within a short drive or even within walking distance of your neighborhood post office. But unfortunately in my case, my local post office is a bit of a distance away situated within the city center, and getting there frequently requires that I fight through road rage inducing traffic jams and suffer through depressingly long lines once I've arrived. While I'm sure the folks at the U.S. postal service (USPS) do the best they can under the circumstances, I pretty much avoid visiting the post office as best as I can - turning to the free USPS website to manage the bulk of my postal decisions whenever possible.

Put Your Mail On Hold For Free By Requesting USPS Hold Mail Service Online

Unless you have someone at home to receive your mail for you, those of you planning to be away for an extended period of time (3 days or more) on vacation or for a business trip may want to notify your local post office to put your mail on hold while you're gone. While you can always visit your local post office, wade through the customer service lines, and fill out one of those Hold Mail paper card forms - the easiest way to put your mail on hold is via the Internet through the USPS homepage. Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year, the website is certainly the easiest way to process all of your mail routing submissions. Your hold mail request can even go into effect the same business day if you submit the request by 3:00 am EST.

Currently, the USPS offers consumers the ability to temporarily put home and business mail on hold for a minimum of 3 days, up to a maximum of 30 days. During the length of the hold period, the home resident or business owner's letters and packages are held at the Post Office, with normal delivery not resuming in bulk until the date specified.

At the present time, the USPS hold mail feature is free, regardless of whether the request is submitted in person or online. But with the way the postal service is hemorrhaging money and now trying to cut costs and save money by closing out branches and cutting back on staff, I wouldn't be too surprised if they started imposing a USPS hold mail surcharge of $1.00 or more for each request one of these days. But for now:

  • To submit a hold mail request online, visit the USPS Hold Mail Service web page. At the present time, you cannot put your mail on hold by phoning in your request.
  • On the Hold Mail page, enter your 5 digit zip code number in the Create a Request box and click on Go. Bear in mind, while the online hold mail service is available in most areas of the country, not all Zip codes will qualify.
  • Next, follow the displayed instructions by providing your name, mailing address, phone number, hold mail start date, as well as the date you would like your normal mail service to resume.
  • Remember to record your Confirmation Number. This number is important because you will need it to make any future changes to your online request - such as if you decide to cancel the order or you later decide that you will need your mail held for a longer period of time than initially requested.

If you anticipate being away for longer than 30 days, you may need to consider having your mail forwarded to another temporary address. While the online USPS Hold Mail service is free, requesting temporary mail forwarding or any other service that requires a formal address change requires the payment of a $1.00 online service fee. The USPS requires this $1.00 fee be charged to a valid credit card for identity confirmation purposes. While some people may find this small charge rather annoying and somewhat of a deterrent to using this web convenience, I find the tiny fee to be worth the benefit of not having to deal with the time and hassle of personally visiting my local post office branch. Don't you agree this online service is still worth the nominal cost?

Alternatively for the super frugal cheapskates, you can always print out the paper Authorization to Hold Mail (PS Form 8076) manually and give it to your letter carrier or mail it to the post office that delivers your mail for free (minus the obligatory cost of postage).

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