How to Hold Mail

Published December 16, 2019
mailbox overflows with mail

Holding your mail at the United States Post Office is a useful service if you're going to be away from home for more than a few days. Aside from keeping your mailbox from spilling over, it will ensure that thieves don't see an overflowing box and assume your house is a safe target for burglary.

How to Have the US Post Office Hold Your Mail

Holding your mail is a simple process. You can go in person to your local post office to set it up or use the USPS website.

Initiating a Mail Hold at the Post Office

  1. If you don't know which post office is your local office, you can visit the USPS website and enter your address using their locator tool.
  2. If you don't have access to the internet, you can call their customer support number at 1-800-ASK-USPS (1800-275-8777) or the TTY/ASCII line at 1-800-877-8339. USPS has specialists available to speak to you Monday through Friday from 8 am to 8:30 pm and Saturdays from 8 am to 6 pm Eastern time.
  3. Pick up a "hold mail" form available at any post office and submit it to any available postal clerk. You can also download and complete the form from the USPS website.

Initiating a Mail Hold Online

  1. Go to the USPS home page and click on the "Register/Sign In" link at the top right of the page.
  2. Fill out the form to create a free account.
  3. Click on the top navigation menu option "Track and Manage" and then choose "Hold Mail" from the drop-down menu.
  4. You will first need to make sure that this service is an option for your address. The website will pull your home address from the account profile you created earlier. Click on the blue "Check Availability" button.
  5. Once availability is confirmed for your address, you will need to verify your identity. Click on the blue "Verify Identity" button.
  6. The next screen will ask you to enter your mobile number and check it against the number you added in your profile.
  7. It will then generate a one time passcode which will be sent to your phone which will be good for five minutes. Enter the passcode into the field provided to verify your identity.
  8. Once the passcode is validated, you will have a form that will ask you to enter the following:
    • The first day you want the hold service started
    • The day you want it ended.
    • How you want to receive your mail once the hold is over.
    • Any additional information you might want to provide.
  9. At this time, you can also sign up for their Informed Delivery service.
  10. Hit the blue "Schedule Hold Mail" button when you're done to complete the request.

Procedures for a Mail Hold

There's additional information related to holding your mail with the post office that you should be aware of.

Is There a Charge to Hold Your Mail?

The hold mail service at USPS is free.

Collecting Your Held Mail

You have the choice of picking your mail up at the post office, or having your regular mail carrier deliver it to you.

  1. You will indicate your choice at the time you request the hold.
  2. You may also allow another person to pick up your mail by providing this information in writing to your local post office.
  3. Mail pick ups at the post office require you or your designated person to show ID.
  4. Note that if you choose to have the mail delivered, your carrier will not deliver more than can fit into your mail box if you are not home to receive it. The carrier will leave a notice in your box about the mail that he or she brings back to the post office.
  5. You will have 10 days to pick up this mail at your local post office or it will be returned to the sender.
Hands flipping through mail

Timeframe for Hold Requests

You can request a hold as much as 30 days prior to the first day of the hold, up until the day before. If you do your request at the last minute, you need to make sure you submit it by 3:00 a.m. Eastern on the day you want the service to start.

How Long Can You Hold Mail?

You may only submit a request to have your mail held for up to 30 days. Mail holds must be for at least three days.

What is Informed Delivery?

Informed Delivery is a service where the post office will scan your mail and send a copy to your smartphone, tablet or computer. You will only receive a black and white scan of the outside envelope of your letter-size mail. It will also provide you with tracking information for packages.

Special Mail Hold Situations

In addition to regular mail hold transactions, special situations may come up that require additional information or services.

Can You Have a Hold With Multiple Addresses?

You may only have one mail hold in effect at any one time.

Can You Hold Mail for Only One Person at a Household?

No, mail holds are specific to an address. You cannot hold mail for one person and not the others in a household.

Do You Need a Hold Mail Request With a PO Box?

If you have a PO Box currently at the post office, you do not need to submit a request to hold your mail. However, the post office will only allow your to stay in your PO Box for 30 days total.

Can You Pick Up Mail Earlier?

You may visit the post office any time before your requested end date and pick up your mail. When you do so your Hold Mail request will be cancelled.

Can You Change a Hold Mail Request?

You can visit your online account on the USPS website any time and edit your request. You will need the confirmation number that was provided to you when the hold was first submitted. Otherwise you can visit your post office and edit your request in person.

What if You Need to Hold Mail for More Than 30 Days?

If 30 days is not enough for you, the post office offers a premium forwarding service.

  1. This service forwards your mail to a temporary address once a week via Priority Mail.
  2. You must request this service for a minimum of two weeks and can have the service for up to one year.
  3. You may also get an additional six months but can only make this extension request after at least six months of service.
  4. The premium forwarding service charges a $21.10 fee to enroll in the service and then $21.10 for each week the service is active. If you sign up online, there's a discounted enrollment fee of $19.35.

What If Your Holding Mail Due to a Move?

You can use the mail forwarding service to send your mail to the new address. Submit a Change of Address request which will cancel the Hold Mail service and send the mail to the new address.

Make the Most of the USPS Hold Mail Service

Holding your mail at the post office is an extremely convenient service to use if you travel often and do not have anyone to bring your mail in for you. The free service can help make your work or vacation travels worry-free and keep your home safe as well.

How to Hold Mail