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USPS Package Intercept vs. Mail Forwarding: Which is Right for You?


Imagine this: you’re eagerly awaiting a package containing a special birthday gift for a friend. But then, panic sets in – you realize you accidentally sent it to the wrong address! Or maybe you’re moving to a new city and want to make sure your important mail keeps flowing smoothly. In scenarios like these, the United States Postal Service (USPS) offers two handy services that can come to your rescue: Package Intercept and Mail Forwarding.

This blog post will delve into the ins and outs of both services, highlighting their key differences and helping you determine which option is best suited for your specific needs.

Table of Contents

  1. Understanding USPS Package Intercept
  2. Exploring USPS Mail Forwarding
  3. Comparing and Contrasting the Services
  4. FAQs
  5. Conclusion

Understanding USPS Package Intercept

What is Package Intercept?

USPS Package Intercept is a service that allows you to stop a package in transit before it reaches the intended recipient. Think of it as a “catch-and-release” for your misplaced packages. This service is a lifesaver if you’ve accidentally sent a package to the wrong address, need to change delivery details before it arrives, or have a time-sensitive package that requires immediate action.

It’s important to note that Package Intercept only applies to packages within the US. Unfortunately, you can’t use this service for international shipments.

When to Use Package Intercept

Here are some common scenarios where Package Intercept comes in handy:

  • Sending a package to the wrong address: You mistakenly entered an incorrect address on the label, and now the package is on its way to the wrong recipient.
  • Changing your address before receiving an expected package: You’re moving to a new address, but an important package is scheduled to arrive before you finalize the move.
  • Needing to change delivery details for a time-sensitive package: You realize you need the package delivered to a different location, or the recipient won’t be available at the original delivery address.

Cost and Processing Time

The cost of Package Intercept varies depending on factors like package size and location. For example, intercepting a package in a nearby city might cost less than intercepting a package traveling across the country. You can estimate the cost on the USPS website or contact your local post office for a more precise quote.

Processing time for Package Intercept also depends on the package’s location and transit time. While USPS strives to intercept packages quickly, it’s important to note that there may be delays, especially if the package is already deep in transit.

Exploring USPS Mail Forwarding

What is Mail Forwarding?

Unlike Package Intercept, USPS Mail Forwarding is a service that automatically redirects your mail and packages sent to your old address to your new address for a specified period. It’s a convenient way to keep your mail flowing seamlessly even if you’ve moved.

USPS offers two types of forwarding services:

  • Standard Forwarding: This is the most common type of forwarding, where mail and packages are redirected to your new address for a period of up to one year.
  • Premium Forwarding: This option prioritizes your mail for faster delivery and includes a notification when a package is forwarded. It’s available for a shorter period, typically for up to six months.

When to Use Mail Forwarding

Here are some situations where Mail Forwarding can be beneficial:

  • Moving to a new address temporarily or permanently: You’re changing residences and want to ensure that all your mail, including bills, financial statements, and personal correspondence, reaches you at your new address.
  • Receiving important mail at a different address while traveling: You’re away from home for an extended period, and you need to receive important mail at a different location.

Cost and Processing Time

The cost of Mail Forwarding depends on the type of forwarding you choose. Standard Forwarding typically has a lower cost, while Premium Forwarding incurs a higher fee due to its prioritized service.

The duration of Mail Forwarding can be customized based on your needs. You can choose a forwarding period of up to one year for Standard Forwarding, while Premium Forwarding is typically available for up to six months. You can also renew or cancel your forwarding service at any time.

Comparing and Contrasting the Services

To help you make an informed decision, here’s a table comparing and contrasting USPS Package Intercept and Mail Forwarding:

Feature Package Intercept Mail Forwarding
Service Purpose Stop a package in transit Redirect mail and packages to a new address
Eligibility Requirements Package must be within the US Valid forwarding address required
Cost Varies based on package size and location Varies based on forwarding type and duration
Processing Time Can vary depending on package location and transit time Can vary based on forwarding type and location
Delivery Guarantee No guarantee of interception No guarantee of delivery to forwarding address


  • Can I use both services for the same package?
    No, you can’t use both services for the same package. If you need to change the delivery address for a package that’s already in transit, you can only use Package Intercept.
  • What happens if I don’t intercept a package in time?
    If you miss the deadline for Package Intercept, the package will be delivered to the original address. If you’re concerned about missing the deadline, it’s always best to contact USPS as soon as possible.
  • Can I use these services for international packages?
    No, Package Intercept and Mail Forwarding are only available for packages within the US.
  • What are the consequences of using Package Intercept or Mail Forwarding fraudulently?
    Using these services fraudulently can result in fines, penalties, and even legal prosecution. It’s crucial to use these services only for legitimate purposes.
  • Is there a limit on how many packages I can intercept or forward?
    USPS does not impose specific limits on the number of packages you can intercept or forward. However, if you are frequently using these services, it’s always best to check the terms and conditions on the USPS website or contact customer service for any clarifications.


Choosing between USPS Package Intercept and Mail Forwarding ultimately comes down to your specific needs and the urgency of the situation. If you need to change the delivery address for a package that’s already in transit, Package Intercept is your go-to option. On the other hand, if you’re moving and want to ensure your mail continues to flow seamlessly, Mail Forwarding is the better choice.

Remember, it’s always best to act quickly when dealing with package delivery issues. The sooner you contact USPS and request the service you need, the higher your chances of success. For detailed information about both services, including eligibility requirements, costs, and processing times, visit the USPS website or contact your local post office.

By understanding the nuances of both services, you can make an informed decision and ensure that your packages and mail reach their intended recipients safely and efficiently.