USPS Hold Mail and Informed Delivery: Free Mail Solutions for your Vacation

USPS Hold Mail

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If you’re dreading a pile of mail when you get home from vacation, there’s a better way to do it.

The U.S. Postal Service offers two free services that should be part of every traveler’s routine. You can request the post office to hold all your mail for up to 30 days, and deliver it after you return home. And whether it’s on hold while you’re away or you want a head’s up on what’s heading to your mailbox, you can sign up for Informed Delivery and get daily scans of the mail en route.

Here’s the skinny on both of these great services.


USPS Hold Mail Service

Came home from vacation to a mailbox stuffed full? Or worried about your mail being stolen while you’re away? You could have avoided it with two minutes of work.

The U.S. Postal Service will hang on to your mail for up to 30 days for free. And setting up this hold mail service is easy as can be. Just head to the online form and check to see if your address is eligible to have mail held.

Once you’re verified, set your dates for when you’d like to have your mail held – and when to have it delivered. We recommend scheduling delivery after you’ve returned home, as it can be a big bundle depending on how long your vacation was.


USPS Hold Mail


Keep in mind you need to schedule the hold at least a day in advance. And generally, you can schedule a hold no more than a month ahead of time. These mail holds can last between three days to 30 days.

Thrifty Tip: Leaving town for more than a month? Set up mail forwarding to a friend or family member, which costs just $1.

This works for standard mail as well as any packages delivered by the U.S. Postal Service. If you’ve got packages on the way from FedEx, UPS or other services, remember to handle those separately during your time away.

The whole process should take just a minute or two. Make it part of your routine whenever you leave town.


Informed Delivery

Here’s a great way to keep tabs on what mail is heading your way, whether you’re on a beach somewhere or at the office.

The U.S. Postal Service has offered its Informed Delivery service nationwide for more than a year. Get signed up, and you’ll get daily emails with scans of every piece of mail heading for your inbox.

The U.S. Postal Service has been scanning every piece of mail since the big anthrax scares of 2001 for safety precautions. So this service puts those grayscale images of the exterior of envelopes to another use. And the best part is it’s free!


A sample of an informed delivery digest


Each morning you’ll get an email with up to 10 grayscale images of the front of your mail. If you’ve got more than 10 envelopes heading your way, you’ll get a link to a USPS dashboard to log in and view the whole lot.

These images are just frontal scans of the address and labels of envelopes – you won’t get the scoop on what’s inside. It only works for standard mail, not packages.

Signing up is as simple as setting up an account with some security questions. You’ll also have to verify your identity with a series of questions that are tied to your current or previous address.

Part of what makes this service so great is that you’ll still get the daily alerts when you’re on vacation and set a mail hold.


Bottom Line

These two free services make handling your mail easy as can be when you’re on vacation. Add them to your travel checklist!


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Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

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