Since the online option is the fastest, most convenient, and perhaps most reliable way to put your mail on hold, I'll take you through the quick and easy steps.
Step 1 - Visit the Official U.S. Post Office Website
No you are not looking at the USPS website now, but thanks for visiting my VacationCounts blog and supporting my effort to help people take the best time off work and life.You'll be following the step-by-step instructions which I'll help you with, so keep both browser tabs open so you can refer back.
Step 2 - Name and Address Entry Check
You will need to accurately enter your home mailing address so the postal database can look you up and verify that it can put in a request to your local post office to hold your mail. Enter your name and official home address in the "What's your address" box. Your phone number and email address are also required fields and of course your zip code is critical.
When your are done click the "Check Availability" button to submit the information to the server. If your address is correct the form will let you move onto the next step. Otherwise you'll be prompted to verify your entry is valid to fix any mistakes and try again.
Don't worry if the address does not check the first time. Simple typos, versions, or abbreviations of your mailing address may not match up with the official record. As long as you have a post office in the United States of America that delivers your mail, your mail can be held for up to 30 days.
Step 3 - Hold Dates and Delivery Options
After you pass the address check, the fields in the "When will we hold your mail?" will become enabled. Here is where you will enter the start date and the end date for your when you'll be away from home. Remember that you can only hold mail for a minimum of 3 days to a maximum of 30 days.
Next second part is to select an option from the delivery option drop down list. You can choose either "Carrier delivers accumulated mail" or "I will pick up accumulated mail." The first option is to have all your held mail be delivered to your home mailbox on the end date. The second option is to tell the post office that you'll come in person as of the end date to pick up the mail in person. Regardless of which option you choose, your normal mail delivery will result as of the end date.
Step 4 - Submit Hold Mail Request - You're Done!
Before you click the "Submit" button double check to make sure your entries are correct. You wouldn't want your mail held for the wrong dates or enter the wrong apartment number by mistake for example. There is an "Additional Instructions" button if you have anything to add, but I honestly have no idea what this field is meant to handle. When you are ready and have read the important legal disclaimer at the bottom, click the submit button and await the success response.
After your mail hold request is processed electronically, you'll receive a confirmation email and also a letter in the mail detailing your hold request. I think the letter is meant as a security precaution in case someone else tries to put your mail on hold on purpose or by mistake. If you see any mistakes after the fact, you can either cancel a mail hold or use the phone or in-person options to talk to a real person who can make it right.