19 April 20236 minute read

3 Stress-free Ways to Set Up a USPS Vacation Mail Hold

3 Stress-free Ways to Set Up a USPS Vacation Mail Hold

Why would you want to get mail when on vacation? We all know how much of a pain it can be. Instead of a relaxing holiday, you’ll be worried about an overflowing mailbox, lost packages or porch pirates walking away with your packages.

A USPS vacation mail hold will ease your mind anytime you need to be away from home. The United States Postal Service delivers mail all over the world, and can keep your packages safe when you set up USPS hold mail service.

There are three easy ways to set up a USPS Vacation Mail Hold. Read on for step-by-step instructions

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What the USPS Mail Hold Service is and when you should use it

USPS Hold Mail service is a way to hold your mail at your local Post Office facility until you return from vacation, or you want to start getting mail again. The mail must be held for at least three days, and can be held for up to 30 days.

If you have a Post Office Box, you don’t need to set up a hold mail request. That’s because mail delivered to a post office box can accumulate for up to 30 days.

Hold Mail requests will hold all the mail for everyone at your address, including both letters and packages. So if the mail is for someone other than you, but is sent to your address, it will be held.

You can make your request up to 30 days before you need USPS to hold your mail. Or, you can ask for the hold to start as early as the next scheduled delivery day, as long as you get the request done in time.

When you set up the hold mail service, it starts on the date selected, which for USPS is Monday through Saturday. USPS business days are Monday through Saturday, with the exception of Postal holidays. That’s good to know if you’re trying to figure out when your mail will be delivered after the hold is over.

Here are some other important facts:

  • The USPS hold mail service is free.
  • An address can have only one USPS Hold Mail service in effect at a time.
  • Keep your confirmation number in case you need to make any changes.
  • If you want the hold to start the next day, you need to complete your hold request before the end of the business day.

When the hold is over, you can pick up your mail at your Post Office location. Then your mail delivery will start again the next regular delivery day. You have 10 days at the end of the hold to get it. If you don’t pick it up in 10 days, the mail gets returned to its senders.

You’ll need to show specific identification when you pick up the mail. Or, you can get someone else to pick up your mail if you provide written permission to the Post Office. Then there are rules about the type of identification that person will need to show when picking up your mail.

You can also choose to have the letter-carrier deliver the mail when the hold is over. Your mail will arrive on the end date of the hold. If you’re not home, only the mail that fits in the mailbox will be delivered. Any extra mail will go back to the Post Office and your letter carrier will leave a form letting you know.

If you need to hold your mail for longer than 30 days, you need to sign up for a forwarding service. The mail forwarding option is a way to reroute your mail, too, if you prefer to have it delivered somewhere else while you’re away.

Mail forwarding is used more often when you’re moving. You can then choose to submit a temporary change of address, if you’re staying somewhere for a short period of time, and your mail will be forwarded. A permanent change-of-address request will forward your mail to your new address.

There’s one other option for holding mail.

With USPS Delivery Instructions service, you can place a hold on one specific item. Delivery Instructions allow you to specify and authorize how you want certain pieces of mail to be delivered, before they get delivered.

How to set up a USPS Mail Hold

There are three ways to set up a USPS Mail Hold. Be sure you have appropriate identification ready, such as a US Government-issued ID or a passport.

1. Over the Phone

To make your request over the phone, call 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777), and tell the agent you want to place a USPS Vacation Mail Hold. The agent will walk you through the steps. This may not be the easiest way to do it, since the agent has to verify your identity.

You can also obtain the right form, complete it yourself, and then give it to your mail carrier, put it in a Postal collection box, put it in your own mailbox, or give it to an employee at the Post Office.

2. In-person

Another option is to visit a post office location to complete your request. If you don’t know your nearest local post office, find it using the online post office locator.

When you get to the Post Office, you’ll be asked to fill out the Postal Service form that authorizes the USPS Hold Mail.

It’s important to note that an in-person or over-the-phone request must be done before the end of the business day for the request to be completed by the next delivery day. It’s best to go through the process in advance of when you need your hold to begin.

3. Online

You can also place a request to hold your mail online. You’ll have to set up a USPS.com account, or log into your account if you already have one.

The online process is best if you’re late making your hold request. Any online hold that’s submitted before 2 a.m. Central Time can start that day. If you’re online after 2 a.m., the hold will start the next day.

Don’t leave it to the last minute, however, since online submission of a hold is not available at all addresses. If you try to do it online and can’t, you will have to visit a post office and complete the form in person.

You’ll also have to be able to verify your identity online. If you can’t, you may be in for a wait as USPS will mail an identity verification code. It will be sent by First-Class Mail and will arrive in 3-5 business days, but it means you’ll be waiting to set up your vacation mail hold.

Here’s what else you need to know.

The Hold Mail form requires information such as:

  • Your address, phone number and email address.
  • The start and end date for the hold
  • Whether you will pick up the mail or have it delivered at the end of the hold
  • Presentation of valid identification

Whichever method you choose, be sure to keep your confirmation number. You’ll get it in person, or in an email if you submit your request online or on the phone through the USPS Customer Care Center. The email will include a direct link to the USPS Hold Mail application, which lets you make changes to the hold if necessary.

You need the confirmation number to make any changes, which can be done online or by calling the USPS Customer Care Center.

If you don’t have a confirmation number, you can't edit, change or cancel your hold mail request. You can only extend the hold by contacting a USPS agent.

USPS Mail Hold Troubleshooting

Here are answers to some of your frequently asked questions:

Why is USPS not holding my mail?

If your mail continues to be delivered after you have placed a Hold Mail request, you will have to contact USPS to get the issue resolved.

My USPS Hold Mail did not start or stop as asked?

If you have problems with your hold mail request, you need to contact USPS to get the issue resolved. That’s true if it continues to be mailed after you placed the request, or if mail delivery doesn’t resume after the hold is over.

How do I Unhold my mail?

If you have your confirmation number, you can edit, change or cancel your hold request. You can also pick up your mail before the end date, and your mail will start being delivered again.

Why is my mail being held at the post office?

When you place a Hold Mail request, your mail is held at your nearest post office until the end date of the hold. Then, you choose whether to pick it up in person, or have the letter carrier deliver all of it when the hold is over.

How do you check if there is a hold on your mail?

You can use the confirmation number from your hold request and contact the Customer Care Center to check the status of your hold. You can also check it online if you have a USPS account.

Can I pick up my mail before it is delivered?

Yes. If you pick up your mail earlier than the date you chose on your USPS Hold Mail request, the hold is automatically canceled. Your regular mail delivery starts again on the next USPS business day (Monday through Saturday).

Conclusion: USPS Vacation Mail

If you're going on vacation and don't want to worry about getting mail, the United States Postal Service has a hold mail service that will take care of your packages for you. There are three easy ways to set up your USPS vacation mail hold.

  1. Over the phone
  2. In-person
  3. Online

So there's no need to worry about mail delivery disrupting your holiday.

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About the author

Ardith StephansonContributor

Ardith Stephanson is a freelance writer and journalist who writes on a variety of topic areas and has some fun with her personal blog theardizan.com.


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