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Online change of address to speed up MPS mail delivery

Petty Officer 2nd Class Christopher Younkin sorts mail in the mail room aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Ross. In November, servicemembers will be able to update their change of address online. This move will allow for first-class mail to be sent directly to the new address and not to the servicemember's old address, where it will have to be sorted and then forwarded.

Servicemembers stationed overseas will soon see much of their forwarded mail arrive faster at their new duty station when they transfer, Military Postal Service Agency officials say.

By November, servicemembers moving back Stateside or to another overseas location will be able to log in to USPS.com to change their address and can expect the U.S. Postal Service to immediately reroute mail. Although this service is standard in the States, it isn’t yet available for APO and FPO addresses.

The new process conforms to services provided by the USPS since 2003.

Following a business study, MPS began standardizing APO-FPO address conversions to add overseas military addresses to the USPS National Change of Address database. The standardized addresses allow the Postal Automated Redirection System to automate military mail forwarding domestically.

Under the current process, a transferred servicemember’s mail goes to the post office serving their old duty station. Military post office employees then manually sort and redirect it to the new address.

“As it relates to the Internet Change of Address and Postal Automated Redirection System, we are automating the redirection process of first class military mail,” James Clark, chief of the agency’s operations division, said in a July 24 statement. “It will improve transit times. It would save costs in both transportation and labor overseas, and improve overall services.”

The MPSA estimates savings of $4 million annually.

“The annual cost avoidance throughout DOD is related to reduced man-hours and mail volumes associated with manual redirection of First Class Mail,” Clark said in an email to Stars and Stripes. “We don’t see opportunities to reduce manning or actual employees since other mail classes are not currently affected by this service improvement.”

Clark noted that despite the reduction in manual redirect mail volumes, the function still exists for all non-first class mail categories.

Just as their stateside counterparts, overseas servicemembers can expect a one-time $1 per filing fee for submitting an Internet change of address.

“It is important to us that we stay in lockstep with USPS as they develop their technologies and service improvements,” Clark said. “We want equitable service for our service members and their families overseas, because they deserve it.”

kimber.james@stripes.com
Twitter: @james_kimber

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