How to Change Your Address When You Move Long-Distance

November 1, 2021 / Posted in How-to
Milly Andrews

Born and raised in Portland, Milly has had a lot of experience moving and writing about the relocation process.

Although updating residency info may seem like a tedious task that will leave you down a rabbit hole of paperwork, it’s not exactly accurate. However, it is still a crucial step in any relocation, so learning how to change your address when you move has become necessary for everyone looking to relocate. And we have come to your aid! We will show you how to forward your mail to your new home and how to update the address with all important institutions and providers. Let’s start!

White mailbox in front of a house overlay
About 3 million people move interstate each year, which means approximately 3 million residency changes - one of them will be yours

Although hiring a long-distance moving company and getting packing services can make your life easier, there are some things you just have to do by yourself. A change of address (COA) is one of them. Not going through with it can have many more or less severe consequences, from unpaid bills to identity theft. So when getting organized to move, don’t let it be one of the things you forget to do. When preparing for the relocation process, make sure that this task has its place on your to-do list.

Things to Check and Determine Before Changing the House

First things first – you can’t update this info before you are certain of what it is. So check your future street name and home number, and then double-check them. You don’t want the headache of forwarding mail to a location that is not yours. Don’t let not verifying the data be one of the relocation mistakes you make.

Next, don’t forget that the process itself is not the same if you’re relocating permanently or temporarily. Are you going away only for a certain period? If that’s the case, the better option is temporary forwarding, so you don’t have to go through the whole thing again when you move back. This way, you’ll be able to set a start and end date (not more than a year apart) for all your packages, letters, and bills to be sent to a different location. However, if you are relocating for more than a year, choose permanent forwarding.

Are You Relocating to Another House Alone or With Family?

The answer to what to do when changing the address can also be different depending on if you are relocating to another city alone or with other family members. The process may not be the same depending on whether you and your family members share the same last names. If you all have the same last name and are relocating to the same destination, just choose the Family Move option and fill out one form for all. If not, then each member needs to fill the paperwork for themselves. Luckily, it’s a pretty simple process and won’t take much of your or your family’s time in any case.

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How to Change Your Address When You Move – Simplified

USPS is not Harry’s Hedwig – they don’t always automatically know where you are. You must be the one informing the Post Office about the move. However, if you are wondering where to change the address when you move, you’ll have three different possibilities if you are relocating to another state. You can do it online, by phone, or by visiting the nearest post office and filling out the form there. However, if you are relocating to another country, there is no choice of different places to change your address when you move. In that case, an in-person visit to your local post office is the only available option.

Where to Change Your Address When You Move to Another Home?

If you have relocated before, you are probably familiar with some of these procedures. Still, if you are relocating for the first time or want to try a different method, make sure you’re doing it right. Let’s go through different possibilities ahead of you:

  • Updating the residence online – the easiest way of forwarding your mail is through the US Postal Service’s website. It will occupy the least of your time, and you can do it from the comfort of your home. You just have to fill out the form provided by the USPS and set the date when your data will change. Shortly after you submit it, you’ll get a notification that your application is being processed.
  • Updating the residence over the phone – if you’re having technical difficulties with the online form, but going to a local post office is not convenient for you, remember that changing the residence is possible over the phone, too. Just call live customer service (1-800-ASK-USPS) and ask for help.
  • Updating the residence in the local post office – if you want to save time and move efficiently, this might not be the right solution. Moreover, when relocating at the age of coronavirus, it can be unsafe, too. However, if you are set on changing the residence in person, all you have to do is ask for a Mover’s Guide packet, complete the given form, and turn it in. Naturally, the confirmation letter will take more time to arrive, usually up to five business days.

When Should I Change My Address When Moving?

Technically, this task can be one of the things to do after relocation. However, the longer you wait, the greater the chance of some important mail getting lost. Even if you’re in the middle of a last-minute move, don’t postpone this small but essential task. So when should you change your address when moving? It would be best to do it about two weeks or so before the move. When you are in the middle of all those physically exhausting chores, such as packing dishes or even relocating a piano, and need a break, take a moment to contact USPS.

Woman changing the address online before long-distance moving overlay
Updating the residence on the US Postal Service website is easy and fast - do it before the relocation

Be Aware of Possible Fraudsters

Relocation scams are not the only type of scams you may bump into during the whole process. Some people think that learning the answer to the question How do you change your mailing address when you move is not important when you have someone doing that for you. That is why they decide to hire a company that will do all the “hard work” for them. However, note that those companies often overcharge their service. On the other hand, if you do it yourself online or over the phone, you’ll only have to pay the validation fee that amounts to $1. Companies looking to take your money sometimes charge as many as 40 times more! Don’t be lazy – this update is fairly easy to do, so do it yourself and save money.

A person verifying their identity before cross-country moving overlay
You will have to provide your credit (debit) card number and billing address when submitting the form and pay a small verification fee - it’s all for your security

What Is the Best Way to Notify of an Address Change With Institutions Other Than USPS?

Updating the residence with USPS is a good starting point, but it only means that your mail will be forwarded to the correct location. The work’s not done yet. You also need to remember who else to notify aside from USPS. When organizing important documents before getting long-distance moving services, you’ll likely come across different kinds of policies, statements, records, and the like. They will all remind you of which institutions and authorities need to be informed about your move. However, so you don’t end up forgetting any, we prepared a detailed list of who needs to be notified and how.

Forgetting some of these parties may have minor consequences, in the case of online shopping websites or magazine subscriptions. However, informing some can have greater importance, and forgetting it can have a far worse aftermath. Do you know exactly who you must notify about your move? We can help you remember, so let’s go!

How Can I Change My Address With Government Agencies?

Several different government institutions must have your most recent location info. Before you move, think about:

  • Internal Revenue Service – updating the address with IRS is possible in several different ways, from over the phone to providing a written statement
  • State Tax Agency – go to the state government website to get information about your next step
  • Social Security Administration – if you are getting retirement disability or any other kind of social security benefits from the government, you should update your information.
  • Department of Motor Vehicles – If you opt to ship the car cross-country, be prepared for the process of updating your license and registration. Do you plan to relocate your car by yourself or hire an auto transport company to help you? Either way, go to the state’s DMV website and find out what the process looks like.
  • Voter registration – you’ll also have to re-register to vote if your reasons to move lead you outside your current state. Pick up the necessary documentation at a post office or online (on the new state’s Board of Elections website).

Inform All the Financial Institutions You Have Business With

When moving to a new home out of state, you’ll also have to notify your bank, credit and debit card companies, payment services (such as Paypal), and loan providers. If not, the bank may send statements to your previous location and unintentionally give away your personal information. And although life without student loan bills sounds tempting, accumulated debt can only cause more problems. For these and more similar reasons, don’t skip this step in the relocation process.

Your Insurance Providers Will Need to Be Updated, Too

Every contract you have with your health and life insurance providers needs to be updated. Sometimes you’ll need to replace providers entirely, like in the case of health insurance when relocating out of state. In other cases, the incorrect data may cost you the claim. The same goes with your dental, house, renter’s, and car insurance if you’re hiring a car shipping company.

Don’t Forget to Notify Utility Providers

Before cross-country movers come on the relocation day, contact your utility providers and transfer utilities to the other home. The situation can be a little trickier when relocating between states. Make sure to contact water, electricity, gas, internet, garbage, and recycling services and inform them of the more. They will let you know if their service is available at your future location or if you’ll have to cancel it entirely and look for other providers.

Do you have some questions about the transfer process, dates, and the like? If so, check out the following video:

Your Friends and Family Need to Know Your New Location

This should go without saying, but sometimes you’re just so immersed in the relocation process that you forget to inform anyone outside of your immediate circle. If you’re up for it, throw a going-away party with all the people who matter to you and ensure that each one of them has your new location. If not, how are they going to plan a visit? Moving away from friends and family can be emotionally hard, and planning visits will make it easier.

Don’t let boring but necessary relocation tasks, such as contacting the USPS and other institutions, lead you away from taking care of your emotional well-being. Say goodbye to friends and family properly before long-distance movers come to help you with the relocation. And after that, enjoy all the benefits of the move – the first reunion will come soon enough.

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