Have Your Post Office Hold Your Mail When You're Away

Pile of post on office desk, close-up
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Did you know that you can have your local post office hold your mail if you need to go away? Whether you're going on a business trip or a vacation, or if you have to leave town on short notice for any reason, you can make sure your mail stays secure and that you won't be greeted with an overflowing mailbox upon your return. The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) offers this mail hold service for a period of three to 30 days, and you have the option of picking up the accumulated mail at your local post office or having your regular carrier deliver it to your address when the hold expires.

How to Place a Hold Mail Request

There are three ways to place a mail hold through USPS:

  • At the post office. If you know in advance that you'll be away from your apartment for a while, you can drop by your local post office to set up the mail hold.
  • Online. Setting up a mail hold through the Internet means you can avoid waiting in line at the post office, and you can place the hold away from home, if necessary. Visit the USPS hold mail page. For step one, enter your household information and check availability to confirm that a hold mail service is available for your address. For step two, choose the dates to start holding your mail and when to resume mail delivery, then follow the remaining instructions to complete your request. (You can log on later to cancel the hold or change the start and stop dates, if your plans change.)
  • By phone. Call USPS Customer Service at 1-800-275-8777 to place a hold request.

Hold or Forward?

The USPS Hold Mail service is free, and there's no limit on the number of times you can use it each year. However, if you're expecting something important while you're away and need to check whether it has arrived, having the post office hold your mail is probably not the best option for you. Instead, consider having your local post office temporarily forward your mail or asking a neighbor to collect your mail until you return.

Tips for Holding Your Mail

In addition to the following reminders, you can check the USPS FAQ page or call USPS Customer Service at 1-800-275-8777 for more mail hold information.

  • Mail can be held a minimum of 3 days and a maximum of 30 days. Note that these must be consecutive days. If you're planning two trips close together, and you'll be home in between and want to get your mail, you'll have to set up two separate holds. If you don't need your mail between trips, simply place a single hold through the end of the second trip.
  • If you need to hold your mail for more than 30 days, sign up for the USPS Forward Mail Service instead of placing a hold.
  • Keep a record of your confirmation number and the email address you used to place a hold online. If you need to check, edit, or cancel a hold request while you're away, you will use the confirmation number and email to access your request.
  • Holds must be placed for all incoming USPS mail deliverable to a single address. For example, you cannot place a hold on your own mail and have your roommate's mail be delivered during the hold period.
  • You can request a mail hold up to 30 days in advance or as late as the day of the next delivery, according to the following cutoff times: 3 a.m. ET; 2 a.m. CT; 12 a.m. PT.