Moving abroad- whether for work, retirement or other reasons- can be equal parts exhilarating and nerve wrecking. There’s mixed emotions of sadness at leaving behind family and friends and the thrill of starting a new adventure.
One question that expats often miss in the hustle bustle of packing, moving is what will happen to the paper mail that they get at home. Even if you have moved your banking online and get most bills via email, there are still many pieces of mail for example from the IRS, tax notices, new credit cards, renewed Drivers License, and other paperwork that comes only via mail.
Depending what country you move to, getting mail can be difficult. And keeping a US address even when you are overseas is important if you bank in the US or expect to deposit any checks in the US. Many companies, not to mention government services, require one, even if it is not your official residence.
Which begs the question:
How do I forward my mail to another address overseas?
You can do that via the USPS by getting a PO Box, and USPS will forward the mail to your international destination. Other options include:
(1) Ask a family member or a reliable friend to pick up your mail daily
(2) Forward your mail to a family member’s or friend’s home address
(3) Use a professional mail forwarding service
Ask someone to pick up your mail daily?
Works short-term. Long term, not really.
If your close friend or brother asks you to pick their mail for a week, that’s fine. You can help out! But picking up their mail daily for a month or a year sounds crazy.
Plus, are you comfortable when your friend or sibling look at your bank statements or W4 form?
Forward your mail to friends homes?
Are you comfortable with your friend or sibling looking at your tax documents or W4’s? Even if you can compromise your mail privacy and confidentiality, you still have the issue of getting it to yourself. Are they going to go to the Post office and mail your stuff every week?
Use a mail forwarding service
A mail forwarding company receives your mail, gives you near real time access to it so you can view it, read the contents and have it bundled and forwarded to your new home or office or any place in the world.
Can USPS forward mail internationally?
USPS will forward mail internationally for a steep cost. You can enroll in the USPS forwarding service, which costs $21.10 retail or $19.35 if you enroll online. There’s an additional cost of $21.10 for each week of service. So about $84.40/month and Priority Mail items are are sent at an additional cost. Ouch!
The best way to get your mail securely, in near real time so you can act on it as soon as needed, is to use a professional mail forwarding company.
How do mail forwarding services work?
Mail forwarding services give you a US address which you use to redirect your mail to. You fill out a change of address form with the USPS and tell USPS to start sending your mail to the new address. When your mail arrives at this address, the mail forwarding company will usually
– upload it to a Virtual mailbox, which you can access via a secure login
– you can see images of your envelopes and boxes along with other info like sender, weight, dimensions of boxes etc.
– you can take actions on your mail to have it opened and scanned to read contents
– you can store your mail for some time and then have it bundled and shipped together to your new home
How much does mail forwarding cost?
US Global Mail plans start from $10/month. You can view our plans and pick one that works best for you. USPS mail forwarding is $84.40/month. Here’s a comparison cost chart of some of the common services.