Getting someone else's mail

Before contacting the PIO with your complaint, we ask that you pursue the matter as far as possible with the postal operator.

Mail may be received at an address for past occupants, or may be incorrectly delivered to an adjacent or similar sounding address. These are two different issues: in one case the mail is being delivered as addressed; in the other it is not.

As a general rule, Australia Post completes delivery of a postal article when it places the article in a mail box at the addressed premises, or hands the article to a person who is apparently a responsible resident of the premises. This also applies to private mail boxes, where delivery is completed when the article is put into the mail box. Australia Post does not have an obligation to ensure that the addressee lives at the address. These arrangements are in keeping with Australia Post's terms and conditions.

What to do with mail that is not for you

Australia Post will no longer accept customer's requests that mail for previous occupants be automatically returned to sender (RTS). Australia Post's policy is to 'deliver as addressed'. This means that Australia Post will generally deliver a mail article to the address on the article, irrespective of the name of the addressee, unless there is a mail redirection or mail hold in place for those addressees.

Where a former occupant has left an address and does not have a redirection or hold in place, their mail will generally continue to be delivered to their former address. The current occupant should mark the front of the article as 'return to sender' and 'no longer at this address' and, optionally, 'please update your records', and re-post it to the sender. Mail must not be opened. There is no fee for returning to sender unopened articles.

Alternatively, if the current occupant knows the former occupant's new address, the current occupant may choose to forward the article to the former occupant by crossing out the old address, adding the new address, and re-posting the article. Mail must not be opened. There is no fee for re-posting unopened ordinary letter articles in this way. There is a fee (standard postal charges) for re-posting mail other than ordinary letter articles (for example, parcel or Express Post articles) to anyone other than the sender.

The current occupant may wish to raise with the former occupant, if known to them, the option of putting in place a redirection or hold with Australia Post.

Can I just throw it in the bin?

Australia Post is the only body that can legally dispose of mail and there are specific guidelines under which they do it. Interfering with mail may be an offence, so you should return incorrectly delivered mail as advised above.