Have you recently checked USPS tracking, only to see a message that says ‘forward expired?’

This can be frustrating, particularly because the package is returned back to the sender when this happens.

So, what does forward expired even mean, and how can you prevent it from happening again in the future?

In this article, I’ll cover everything that you need to know!

What Does It Mean When USPS States ‘Forward Expired?’

USPS Vehicles

If USPS tracking states ‘forward expired’, this means that the package needs to be forwarded from your old address, to your current address. However, the period in which USPS will forward the package has expired, so it will be returned back to the sender again.

This most commonly occurs after you have moved to a new address, but a package addressed to you was shipped to your old address by mistake.

USPS offers a mail forward service after you’ve moved to a new location, to ensure all of your mail gets to you safely. However, this only lasts for a period of time until it expires.

So, read on to learn how long mail forwarding lasts, how it can be extended, and how to avoid ‘forward expired’ messages in the future!

How Long Does USPS Forward Mail?

Currently, USPS has several different periods in which they’ll forward mail, depending on what you choose.

For temporary changes of address, mail forwarding can occur for as little as 15 days.

For permanent address changes, the standard length of time USPS will forward most packages is 12 months.

However, this can be extended for up to an additional 18 months using USPS’ extended mail forwarding service, which you can learn more about by clicking here.

Note that extending the forwarding time comes with a fee, however. These fees are as follows:

  • Extending the service for an additional 6 months costs $19.95.
  • Extending the service for an additional 12 months costs $29.95.
  • Extending the service for an additional 18 months costs $39.95.

So, you will need to decide whether or not it is worth it for you!

How To Ensure ‘Forward Expired’ Doesn’t Continue Appearing

Now that we know why the ‘forward expired’ message appears, we can now take steps towards fixing it.

That way, you can ensure that this message never shows up again – after all, it only appears when something’s wrong!

Let’s look over each ‘fix’ for it in detail. I recommend looking over each one, as if even one of these is a problem it can cause the forward message to appear for future shipments to your address.

1. Use Your Current Address

This one is kind of a given, but it’s worth mentioning.

Some people continue using their old address even after they’ve moved, knowing that USPS will forward the package. However, this isn’t ever a good idea.

If you have packages that come in the mail regularly (for example, subscription boxes), you should make a full list of the merchants you receive orders from, and update your address with them all at once.

Any time you see a package forwarded that was still going to your old address, take the time to find out why it happened, and make any adjustments or calls necessary to ensure all future packages are sent to your new address.

Finally, always ensure you only use your current address when placing new orders, even if shipping fees are lower mailing to your old home.

2. Ensure You’re Using Your Exact Name

Next, always ensure that you’re using your exact legal name when having packages addressed to you, especially if you’ve recently moved to a new place.

If you use an incorrect or non-existent name, one of two things may happen.

Either USPS will return the package to sender citing ‘addressee unknown’ as the reason, or they will leave a message stating ‘forward expired.’

This is because they may believe that the package is supposed to be received by the person who used to live at your new address, and should have been forwarded to them.

By using your exact legal name that USPS is aware of, both of these potential issues may be avoided.

3. Ensure Name Is Inside Mailbox

This one is important, especially if you live in apartment complexes, or you have shared mailboxes that can be opened all at once by USPS while delivering letters or packages.

USPS may check the names listed inside the mailbox to see whether or not they match, or the person living at that address is listed on the package.

Some carriers are strict about ensuring the name is present. If it’s not there, they may refuse to deliver.

So, this may be worth inquiring about!

4. Contact Your Local Post Office

Finally, if ‘forward expired’ messages end up becoming a recurring issue, then you should get in touch with your local post office branch to figure out what’s going wrong.

They may be able to figure out the exact cause of the forward expired message, and take any necessary steps to remedy the situation – including potentially updating information in their system if something is missing.

Because ‘forward expired’ usually appears late in the package’s journey – such as shortly before delivery, this is an issue best handled by your local post office branch, rather than contacting USPS directly.

So, getting in touch with them can usually solve the problem once and for all.


The ‘forward expired’ message appears when the package needs to be forwarded to another address, but the forwarding period has expired.

This period can last for up to one year. After the forwarding period has passed however, USPS will no longer forward packages to your new address.

I hope that this article has answered your questions, and you’ll end up getting your package successfully delivered soon.

If you have any other questions about USPS, please ask them using the comment form below and I’ll be happy to help.

Wishing you the best,

– James McAllister

About the author 

James McAllister

James is the owner of JamesMcAllisterOnline.com. He started his first blog at the age of 11, and has since gone on to start several successful businesses. In total, these businesses have sold hundreds of thousands of units and have touched millions of lives. Here on JamesMcAllisterOnline.com, he shares his knowledge that brought him to where he is today. If you want to connect with James, follow him on your favorite social networks!

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