Your new home is everything you want, from the convenient location and friendly neighborhood to the wooded backyard and Cape Cod dormers. But before you can start enjoying your new residence, there's a lot of work to do.
Whether you're relocating across town or across the country, moving can be stressful. There are utilities to cancel and reinstate. You'll need to choose a moving company or recruit some friends to help out. It's time to return the things you borrowed from your neighbors and retrieve those they borrowed from you. And then there's the packing.
With all of the chaos that comes with setting up new digs, you might think that changing your address is an insignificant item on your checklist. Although it may seem minor, it's an important step for keeping at least part of your life running smoothly, while you hunt through boxes for your black shoes.
Read on for some helpful tips to make changing your address a little easier.
Verify Your Address
No one can blow this one, right? Don't be too sure. With the stress of moving, the number of potential properties considered and how busy people are when moving, mistakes occur more often than you might think.
Start by verifying your new address with your landlord or realtor. Double-check the house or apartment number and the spellings of the street and city. If moving into new construction, make sure the developer didn't change the street name from what was originally filed.
Find out how the post office codes your mail. Check street and city names against what you have. This will also give you the opportunity to obtain your zip + 4 code if you don't already have it. By using zip + 4, your mail will be delivered faster and more accurately.
The basic step of verifying your address will reduce errors and save you time. It will also save you the embarrassment of having to make your address changes twice.
Choose Temporary or Permanent
Assuming you live in the United States, you'll want to change your address with the U.S. Postal Service, but before you do, you'll have to decide whether to file a temporary or permanent change of address (COA).
A permanent COA is just that; it allows your mail to be forwarded to your new permanent address for a specified period of time. It covers first-class mail and periodicals, but generally doesn't forward standard mail, such as circulars and catalogs. With a permanent COA your new address is made available to companies who subscribe to the National Change of Address Service and provided to business mailers upon request.
If you plan on spending winter in a warmer spot or summer somewhere cool, a temporary COA might be for you. This service allows you to have first-class mail and periodicals forwarded piece by piece to a different address for your specified period of time, from 15 days to 6 months. If you just aren't ready to come home yet, you can extend the service up to 12 months.
Premium forwarding service is an alternative to the temporary COA. However, rather than the piece-by-piece forwarding, all of your mail, including standard and package service, is packaged in a single shipment and sent to you by priority mail each Wednesday. There is a one-time enrollment fee and a nominal weekly reshipment fee for this service.
Unlike the permanent COA, with the temporary options your address will not be provided to business mailers. That's one way to avoid junk mail.
Let the Post Office Know
When you move, it's important to let the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) know. You can do that in one of three ways:
- Submit your address change via the Internet. You will need a valid e-mail address to receive the USPS confirmation, and a credit or debit card. To safeguard your personal information, the post office electronically verifies the information you enter with the bank that issued your credit or debit card. The card billing address must match the address you are moving from or to. A $1 verification fee pays for a USPS contractor to provide this verification.
- Complete a change of address by phone -- 1-800-ASK-USPS. The same identity verification is done when you call 1-800-ASK-USPS, so be sure to have a credit or debit card handy.
- Fill out Form 3575, the official mail forwarding change of address order. You can get the form from your post office or print it from the USPS Web site. You should complete and mail it to the address on the card two weeks before your move. Mailing will save you $1 since identity verification is not needed.
After you file the change, you can expect a move validation letter to arrive at your old address, unless you've already moved. In addition, seven to 10 days after your COA effective date, a confirmation letter will be sent to your new address, as well as a welcome kit, which contains helpful information, a community guide, special offers and coupons.
Make Sure Entire Household Is Covered
When you change your address with the U.S. Postal Service, it's important to include the names of everyone moving with you. If you only include your name, your spouse's mail won't be forwarded. Depending on your personal situation, it could get a little more complicated.
If some members of your household with the same last name are moving with you, but others are staying, fill out a separate change of address form for each person moving using the "individual" option. Do likewise if members of the household with different last names are moving with you, but others are staying. However, if your entire family is moving to the same address and each member has the same last name, it's a little easier. Just fill out one form using the "family" option and everyone will get his or her mail.
Know Your Timeframe
Mail forwarding extends for different lengths of time depending on the type of mail. And each type is handled a little differently.
First-class and priority mail are forwarded for 12 months at no charge, as long as the sender did not place a non-forwarding endorsement, such as "do not forward", on the mail piece. During months 13-18, the mail is returned to sender with your new address. After 18 months, the mail is simply returned to the sender.
The same forwarding time period and return treatment applies to express mail. It also receives the same expedited treatment as before; however, the delivery guarantee is void when it is forwarded.
Your magazines and newspapers will be forwarded for 60 days at no charge. After 60 days, the computerized forwarding system will handle the periodical based on the type of change of address on file. If you filed a temporary change of address, your periodicals will be disposed of after 60 days. If you have a permanent change of address on file, they will be returned to the sender with your new address.
Just about the time you start getting settled in your new home, after about seven to 10 postal business days, your mail will start arriving at your new address. If it doesn't, it's time to call 1-800-ASK-USPS.
Make a List
Mail forwarding ensures that you continue to receive your mail and gives you time to notify everyone of your new address. This includes everyone you do business with or care to keep in touch with.
To be thorough, it's best to make a list. You'll want to include the following people:
To make sure you don't overlook anyone, check your list against the mail you receive every day. Save envelopes and mailing labels so you'll have the addresses handy when you send out change-of-address notifications.
After you move, you might still find that you missed a few associates. Keep the yellow address change stickers the post office uses when forwarding mail to identify those people you still need to notify.
Simplify the Process
To keep receiving mail after the post office stops forwarding it, start notifying everyone who sends you mail two weeks before you move. If you have a long list of people and businesses to tell, set aside an hour or two each day to get the job done.
To save time, before you change your address with anyone, change your phone. Most organizations will ask for your new phone number at the same time they ask for your address. If you don't have it, you'll have to contact them again.
You can use a variety of methods to share the news. Many bills and statements you receive have areas for making an address change or instructions on how to notify their company. You might want to e-mail your employer or visit your human resources department to make sure you continue to receive your W-2s and that all-important paycheck on time. Specially designed cards found in many stationery stores and card shops are a perfect, more personal way to announce your new home to family and friends. And for everyone else on your list, the change of address cards provided by the post office make the job easy.
Remember Uncle Sam
If you don't receive mail from government agencies on a regular basis, they might be easy to overlook when sending out change of address notifications.
You'll want to notify the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of your address change, particularly if you are expecting a tax refund. You can do this by downloading Form 8822 from their Web site and mailing it to the address shown. You can also write to the IRS center where you filed your last return, providing your full name, old and new addresses, Social Security number and signature. Or simply write your new address on your tax return the next time you file. If you file jointly, the IRS will need the information and signatures of both you and your spouse. If you and your spouse have since established separate residences, you both need to notify the IRS.
Don't miss out on receiving your disability, retirement or survivor benefits. Visit the Social Security Administration Web site to provide your complete new address, including zip code, and a phone number where you can be contacted.
Whether or not you are moving out of state, be sure to change the address on your driver's license, as it is often used for identification. You'll also want to change the address on your vehicle registration and check with the state's election office to update your voter registration records. These changes can most likely be done by mail or online. Check your state's Web site for information on their process.
Consider Letting Someone Do It for You
If you just don't have the time or the desire to undergo the change of address notification process when you move, there are services that'll do it for you.
An online address change service will save you time and alleviate some of your relocation stress by notifying all of your organizations, billing companies and memberships of your change of residence. You can select the companies and organizations you want to notify from a database of thousands. The address changes service can also set up, switch and cancel magazine subscriptions and arrange disconnect/connect services for utilities. Some even provide a service to remove your name from junk mail lists.
Before signing up for any online address change service, be sure to investigate them thoroughly. Make sure they have security measures in place, such as a secure server and bonded employees. The Better Business Bureau can also provide information on an organization's service and complaint records.
Don't Forget the Less Obvious
When you think of changing your address, your mail is the first thing that comes to mind. There are also a few less obvious places where you'll need to update your address:
- If you use an address stamp for your mail return, you'll want to update it. Printed return address labels should also be reprinted.
- Don't lose your luggage or your dog. Be sure to put your new address on tags and collars. Also, keep in touch with your child's school by changing your address in their directory.
- If you have your own home-based business, you won't want to miss a sale. Have your stationery, business cards, bank checks, your Web site and any professional directories updated as soon as you move.
Moving can be stressful and time-consuming. If it starts to get the best of you, just think about your new home, smile and remember it will all be over soon.
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