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Home » Illinois, Life in America » USPS’ Backwards Forwarding Service

USPS’ Backwards Forwarding Service

Posted on Saturday, March 28th, 2009 at 9:52 am CET

The United States Postal Service has a great change-of-address service … in theory that is. When you move they’ll forward your mail for a full year, for FREE! I couldn’t believe this when I heard it, because in Holland you pay €2.25 per week (after the first month) to have your mail forwarded, and that’s just inside Holland; if you move outside Europe it’ll set you back €9.25 per week. That’s quite expensive if you consider that USPS will forward regular mail and packages for a year, and newspapers and magazines for 2 months, totally free. When Amy moved to Holland her mail all got forwarded across the pond, it was great. Well, this time it is not exactly working out for us.

Since we moved at the beginning of February we have only received two pieces of mail correctly forwarded to our new address (forwarded mail has a yellow sticker), while dozens of other pieces of mail, addressed to our old address, continued to be delivered there. We’ve gotten into the habit of just driving to our old address to pick up our old mail.

I’ve called our Post Office about this problem three times in the last month and every time they verified that our data is correctly in the computer and they’ll assure that it will get fixed. But it is not getting fixed.

Last week a letter delivered at the old address had these two yellow stickers, stating “Return to sender” and “No forwarding order on file”:

Yellow USPS sticker

Yellow USPS sticker

That is worrying! Mail is also taking very long to arrive at the old address. We have some magazine subscriptions and before they were using our new address a few times we got two-week-old magazines delivered at the old address! Somehow mail that needs to be forwarded just sits somewhere for a few weeks and then still gets delivered to the old address. How do they manage that? Other mail is also taking very long, and there is even some mail that we’ve been expecting that never arrived, including important tax papers!

Last night I received an email from a company in Texas that tried to send me free coupons for participating in a contest and it was returned to them with an “Unable to forward” sticker. OMG, that is bad! How much other mail has been returned to sender?

We’ve now decided to cancel this backwards forwarding service and just continue to pick up old mail at our old address. Then at least nothing will get lost. I called USPS this morning but of course this couldn’t be canceled over the phone, so I’ve sent them a letter to cancel it. We’re very disappointed.

We have no more luck in Holland. We paid to have our Dutch mail forwarded for 6 months and mail continued to pile up at our old home. I don’t know what’s worse: paying for a forwarding service that doesn’t forward, or a free forwarding service that returns mail to sender. 🙁


Aug 25, 2009
6:40 am
#1 Alan wrote:

This is a great article, I just want to mention that there is another alternative to, this website offer the same service but much better accuracy. usps lost my package before and I was lucky to find they are fast, accurate and their site is very easy to navigate. Take a look for yourself here:


Sep 22, 2016
4:34 pm
#2 Lois MacLaren wrote:

Our family’s hassles with the post office could fill a book. The one that takes the cake, though, is the request which we sent to the USPS to HOLD our mail while we were away on vacation – beginning before Thanksgiving and ending after New Year’s Day. We planned to visit several different relatives, so we had no one place to use as a “forwarding” address. We MAILED the letter to the local postmaster on NOVEMBER 10. On DECEMBER 10 – we received a call from the post office, asking if we wanted the carrier to deliver the mail to us OR if we would be picking the mail up. We were appalled when we learned that the Post Office had JUST receive the letter which we had mailed ONE MONTH EARLIER! So the USPS ONLY BEGAN to hold our mail on December 10! We all laughed because, when the Post Office called our cell phone with their inquiry, we were all watching a Western movie on TV – the movie was about the Pony Express. What the Pony Express was claiming in the movie was that the Pony Express could get a letter from New York to California in TEN DAYS! We decided that the reason it NOW takes THIRTY DAYS for a letter to travel the five or six miles between our home and the local post office is that they gave up the Pony Express too soon!

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