Have you ever sent a letter or package and later found out it didn’t get to the person you sent it to? If USPS says “Forward Expired,” it means there’s a small problem. 

The message is a hint that the mail can’t be sent to the person’s new address anymore because their request to have mail sent there has run out. This can be a bit confusing, but it’s important to know what’s going on.

So, what can you do? In this article, we’ll explain why this happens and how you can fix it. It’s all about making sure your mail goes to the right place, even when someone has moved.

So without any further ado, Let’s get started.

Key Takeaways:

  • “Forward Expired” indicates USPS mail forwarding has ended and your mail returns to sender. You have to renew this service before it expires.
  • Renew USPS forwarding in-person or online to continue receiving mail at a new address without interruption.
  • USPS mail forwarding is useful when you move temporarily or join households, so your letters come to the right place.
  • After a “Forward Expired” alert, mail may be held at the local post office, requiring action to renew forwarding or update addresses.

What Does it mean when USPS says Forward Expired?

When you see “Forward Expired” from USPS, it means that the mail forwarding service for the recipient has ended because it’s been over a year since they moved and updated their address with the postal service. 

This means USPS will no longer redirect mail to the recipient’s new location, and the undelivered mail is set to be returned to the sender.

If you encounter this tracking status, it’s an alert that the mail you sent won’t reach the intended recipient through the automatic forwarding. 

The USPS had been temporarily redirecting mail to the recipient’s new address, but this service is valid for only one year, after which the “Forward Expired” notification kicks in.

Why Does USPS Offer This Service?

Let’s understand why USPS provides the mail forwarding service in the first place. This service addresses several practical needs for individuals and businesses such as:

Temporary Address Changes

Sometimes you don’t move to a new place forever. Maybe you have a job in another city for a little while or you’re taking a long trip. 

During these periods, USPS’s mail forwarding service ensures that mail reaches them at their temporary addresses without interruption. 

Enhanced Privacy

For people who move, privacy is a significant concern. By having their mail forwarded, they can maintain their privacy and reduce the risk of sensitive information falling into the wrong hands. 

USPS’s service helps to protect personal data by redirecting mail from the previous address to the new one discreetly.

Consolidating Mail

If two families start living together or two companies join up, there’s a lot of mail coming to different places. USPS makes it easier by sending all the mail to one place so nothing gets lost while everyone is getting settled in.

USPS does this to help people who are moving, keep their mail safe, and make sure it’s easy for them to get.

Where is the Mail Item When You Receive the Forward Expired Alert?

The mail might still be at the local post office near the old address, or it could be somewhere in transit, waiting for USPS to realize it needs to go back to the sender. 

The last update you saw before the “Forward Expired” alert can give you a hint. If it said “Out for Delivery” or something similar, it’s likely that the package made it to the local area before being stopped.

If it’s unclear, it’s best to contact USPS. They can tell you exactly where your mail is and what’s going to happen next. 

What to do After Receiving the Forward Expired Alert?

When you receive this status, all you have to do is to follow the below tips in order to resolve this issue.

Renew Your USPS Forwarding Service

If you’re the recipient, consider renewing your USPS forwarding service to ensure your mail follows you to your new address. 

It’s a simple process that can often be completed online or at your local post office. The prices are given below:

  • Initial 6 Months: Free if applied in-person
  • 6 Additional Months: $19.95
  • 12 Additional Months: $29.95
  • 18 Additional Months: $39.95

You can renew the service by following the steps below:

  • Visit the USPS website, click “Quick Tools,” then “Change My Address.”
  • Log in to your USPS account or create one if necessary.
  • Go to “Manage Your Mail,” select “Renew” beside your expired order.
  • Choose your renewal term (6, 12, or 18 more months), confirm the details, and complete the payment.

Change Your Shipping Details

If you choose not to renew the service or if the maximum period of forwarding has been reached, it’s essential to update your shipping details. 

This is particularly important for regular orders from online shops or subscription boxes to prevent your items from being sent to an outdated address.

Notify Senders of Your New Address

Create a list of all your contacts that need to be informed of your address change. This list should include personal contacts, businesses, and official agencies. Once you have this list:

  1. Systematically go through each contact and update your address. This can often be done through customer service or online accounts.
  1. Pay special attention to government-related contacts such as the DMV, IRS, and Social Security Administration, ensuring they have your current address to send any important documentation.
  1. If you miss notifying any sender, keep an eye on the USPS tracking information for any undeliverable mail, reach out to the sender directly, and request the item be sent to your new address.

Opt for Self Collection

If mail forwarding isn’t an option anymore, your mail may be held at a local post office for pickup. You can identify where your undelivered mail is being held by reviewing your USPS tracking information. Keep in mind:

The location and hours for collection may vary, so it’s important to confirm these details with USPS customer service if needed.

When you go to collect your mail, ensure you have a government-issued photo ID and provide the tracking number to the postal clerk for verification.

Retrieve Mail from Sender

Sometimes, it may be easier to collect your mail directly from the sender, especially if the item is of significant value or importance. If your mail is returned to the sender, here’s what to do:

  • Monitor your mail’s tracking status for returned shipments.
  • Communicate with the sender to arrange a pick-up or redelivery, verifying their receipt of the undelivered mail.
  • Coordinate a convenient time for you to retrieve your items, bringing along proper identification.

What Happens If No Action is Taken?

Ignoring a “Forward Expired” message from USPS can lead to trouble with your mail. First, the post office will keep your mail for about a month. 

This time is for you to make a move. If you don’t do anything, your mail won’t go to your new address.

After this month, the mail will go back to sender. Once this happens, you can’t ask for it to be delivered again or go pick it up. 

To keep this from happening, you should quickly update your address with USPS or ask them to keep sending your mail to the new place. This way, you won’t miss out on your mail.

Will You Still Receive Mail Forwarded After it Expires?

Once the USPS’s forwarding service expires, they stop sending mail to the updated address. All mail directed to the old address will not automatically proceed to the new one. 

Instead, the system flags these items, and they are usually held until they are sent back to the sender. 

So, to ensure you continue receiving your mail, it’s crucial to update your address with USPS or extend the service before it expires. 


What does it mean when my package says forward expired?

It means that your mail forwarding service has expired and your mail will no longer be forwarded to your new address. You will need to renew your mail forwarding service or update your forwarding address.

Can I Renew the Forwarding Period For My Mail Beyond 18 Months?

You cannot renew the forwarding period for your mail beyond 18 months. However, you can extend your mail forwarding service for an additional six months at a time, up to a maximum of 24 months.

Can I Request USPS To Hold My Package Longer Than 30 Days?

You cannot request USPS to hold your package longer than 30 days. Once your mail forwarding has expired, your mail will be returned to the sender.

Will I Still Receive My Package After My Forwarding Has Expired?

No, you will not still receive your package after your forwarding has expired. If your mail forwarding has expired, your package will be returned to the sender.

Can you extend mail forwarding after it expires?

No, you cannot extend mail forwarding after it expires. You must renew your mail forwarding before it expires in order to continue receiving mail at your new address.


To wrap up, if USPS says “Forward Expired,” it means your mail won’t be sent to your new address anymore. 

You can either update your address with USPS or tell people your new address to keep getting your mail without an issue. 

If you don’t, your mail could go back to the person who sent it. It’s easy to fix this online or with a quick call or visit to the post office. 

Remember, the USPS only holds undelivered mail for a short window before returning it to the sender. 

Alexandra Navara

Alexandra Navara is a seasoned logistics expert with over 7 years of industry experience. Holding a degree in Logistics and Supply Chain Management, she excels in writing insightful, engaging content on courier services. Certified as a Supply Chain Professional, Alexandra brings depth and clarity to complex logistics topics.

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