How to Find a Person's Change of Address

by Jennifer Lyons

Getting in touch with old friends or acquaintances is difficult. If they have unlisted phone numbers, you can use old-fashioned snail mail to track them down. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was established in 1966 to allow the public access to government records. If you know their past address, you can contact the United States Postal Service for their new address. The postal service does have restrictions on the information they will release, so follow these steps to properly retrieve the address.

Write a letter to the postal service requesting the change of address. Identify the Freedom of Information Act in your request. Be specific and state exactly the information you are looking for and why you need it, otherwise the postal service will send back requests that are too broad or confusing.

Include the family's previous address in the request. If you do not have the previous address, the postal service will not release the information unless you are part of the government or trying to pursue legal action. Sign the letter.

Write your address in the upper left-hand corner of the envelope. Address the middle of the envelope to: US Postal Inspection Service Office of Counsel 475 L'Enfant Plaza SW RM 3521 Washington, DC 20260-3521

Add postage to the upper right-hand corner of the envelope and mail your letter.

Check your mail. The postal service will send you a letter within 20 days of receiving your request. If the information requires the postal service to research, they may charge you a fee at a rate of $32 per hour of searching and processing. They will contact you with the estimated fee.

Send a signed letter stating your agreement to pay the estimated fee to the address in step 3. If the fee is estimated at over $250, you must pay a down payment or the entire fee in order for the postal service to process the request.

Check your mail. You will receive the change of address in the mail after the postal service has processed it.

Items you will need

  • Envelopes
  • Paper
  • Stamps
  • Old address

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/ Images