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How to Forward Your Mail After Graduation — and Why It’s Important

If you’re moving into your first permanent address (i.e., not a college dorm), it’s important to forward your mail as soon as possible. You might not think it’s a big deal — after all, your parents will tell you if any important letters come, right? But there’s a lot more to consider than missing a birthday card.

Don’t miss a bill

Becka N. can tell you firsthand what can happen if you miss an important bill.

“I forgot to forward my mail after moving into my apartment, and the bill for my yearly car tax never made it to me,” says Becka N. from Massachusetts. “I didn’t know to pay it, and there was actually a warrant out for me.”

“I got pulled over one day for something silly — I think it was not letting a pedestrian cross — but thankfully, the police officer was nice and just told me about the warrant. I can’t believe I could have gotten arrested, all because I didn’t forward my mail.”

There are all sorts of important communications you might miss if you don’t forward your mail, from bills and wedding invitations to useful coupons and your favorite magazines.

How to set up mail forwarding

Luckily, it is quick and easy to forward your mail. If you stop by your local post office, they’ll set it up for free. All you have to do is provide them with your old address, new address and moving date, and they’ll take care of the rest. Your request typically takes seven to 10 days to be processed, though, so it’s best to file it about two weeks before your move. Alternatively, you can set up the service online, but it does cost a small fee (it’s free if you have access to Updater).

Starting on the date you select, any mail sent to your old address will automatically be rerouted to your new home. However, keep in mind that mail forwarding doesn’t last forever. Your general mail will be forwarded for 12 months after you file a change of address, but magazines are only forwarded for 60 days. As a good rule of thumb, whenever you receive mail that’s been forwarded — it will have a sticker on it noting as much — you’ll want to update your address with the sender. This way, everyone will have your new address by the time your mail forwarding expires.

While mail forwarding might not be high on your priority list when moving, it’s a quick and free task that can save you a headache in the long run.

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