Expat Resources By Country Information

What Is A Mail Forwarding Service?

Mail Forwarding is a service that allows you to get your mail (think paper statements, tax and federal notices, magazines, journals) to you, anywhere in the world.

Mail Forwarding is a service that allows you to get your mail from your old address to your new one.
When you move from one home to another within the US or overseas, you want to make sure you get your mail at your new address. Mail as in: tax notices from IRS, health care information from insurance companies, paper statements, bills, checks, federal notices, magazines, journals etc.
This happens via a mail forwarding request.  Increasingly that new home for your mail is now your device!

Physical mailbox in the cloud filled with paper mail

Will I get paper mail, in 2022?

Despite the technological advances in our lives, there are still a bunch of things that are only be delivered via paper mail. These include:

  • IRS notices – tax info, and bills
  • Social security – info, benefits and checks
  • INS notices – immigration notices
  • Credit and Debit cards
  • Passports
  • Drivers Licence
  • Jury duty notices
  • Hand written notes and cards


Will mail forwarding stop my mail from going to my old address?

When you move from one address to another, your mail needs to move too. You can either inform everyone who sends you physical mail- like your bank, the government, IRS, etc. of the new address, or you can simply forward your mail from your old address to the new one by filling out the change of address form with the USPS, when moving within the country.

Man & dog are running and a bird is carrying paper mail away with it

Moving within the US

So, how do you forward mail to another address? You go online or to your local post office and fill the change of address form. 

There are 2 options when forwarding mail:
Permanent change of address: USPS will update your old address to your new one in their system. Any mail addressed to your old address will come to your new address.

This is a permanent change.

We recommended it when moving overseas or when you wish to keep one permanent address for life. And never have to deal with the hassle of changing your address again.

With this change, you should get a Virtual Mailbox so you can move as many homes or countries as you wish without ever changing your permanent address.


Temporary change of address: This method changes your address anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 months at a time.

After the duration of change of address expires, USPS will stop forwarding your mail from the old to the new address.

The mail will start going back to your old address, unless you renew the forwarding again. You can do this again for 6 more months.

USPS does not state what happens after 6 months, but you could keep doing it on and on forever, if you wish.

Be prepared for delayed mail in the change of address process, mostly due to ineffectiveness of the US postal system.

The upside is this is a free service provided by USPS.


Man waiting for the mail next to an empty mailbox

Moving outside the US

USPS will forward mail internationally, but it’s an expensive proposition!

You can enroll in the USPS overseas mail forwarding service, which costs $21.10 retail or $19.35 if you enroll online. There’s an extra cost of $21.10 for each week of service.

The service will cost you $84.40/month. You will also pay shipping for all Priority Mail items that USPS will ship immediately as they are received.

Not a cost effective way to forward your mail overseas.


How long does it take for mail to be forwarded to a new address?

If there’s one thing certain in life, other than taxes, that is the fact that people will keep moving in the near future as the world becomes more global and easier to access. According to reports, about 35.5 Million Americans move each year from some place to another.

Depending on your move date, you may want to get ahead & start the change of address. 

After you have completed your online application with the USPS, it will take about 10 to 15 days for your mail to show up in your Virtual Mailbox

Keep in mind, you’ll also need to fill out a 1583 Form which grants us permission to process & handle mail for you.

forwarding a package


Mail forwarding can be such a convenience when the time comes where you need to move. Think about it; it saves all the hassle of emailing or calling friends & relatives and ensuring they got the new address you will be moving to.

Once you decide to do a change of address, your friends or family will still get to address the same location on the envelope, and then the USPS knows automatically (given that you’ve completed the mail forwarding process) what address to send it to. 

But then that raises the question: Does forwarded mail take longer to arrive?

There is a lot of buzz online and horror stories on forwarded mail taking weeks for it to arrive to your new address. It is true that sometimes there are factors that can contribute to a piece of mail that is being forwarded to a new address, to be delayed. 

The short answer is no; forwarded mail does not take longer to arrive. 

Understanding how mail forwarding works, may be a good way to understand why your new address would not delay the delivery of your mail. 

When someone decides to send you some piece of mail, it is initially sent to a USPS station responsible with sorting out incoming mail. If you have completed the mail forwarding process with them, then by default they will know to change (re-address) the package that is intended to be sent to you. What that practically means, is that this re-address of your package, is a bit more instant than you’d imagine. 


Should I choose temporary or permanent mail forwarding to forward my mail?


The answer depends on your move:

  • Or moving cities within the US?
  • Or moving homes within the same city?
  • Are you moving to a permanent or a temporary home?
The best solution is to get a permanent address for life so you never have to change it again, no matter how many times you move.
Kind of like your cell phone number – you don’t change that anymore when we move, why keep changing your permanent address?


If moving overseas, you will need to keep a US address for many reasons. A permanent change of address makes sense in this case.

If moving within the US or within a city, it depends on your preference whether you wish to get mail at home, a PO Box or  a Virtual Mailbox. If former, do a change of address with USPS as mentioned above.

If you do not wish to give out your home address because you want it to stay private, or you get business mail or you get mail at different homes, you can have all that mail consolidated and be available via a Virtual Mailbox.


User interface of the virtual mailbox on a computer & smart phone


A mail forwarding service like US Global Mail will help you get your mail via a Virtual Mailbox, no matter where you move. You can see, read and take action on your mail online, which makes life so much easier and mail handling so easy.


How To Forward Mail

Step by step of how it works: You sign up with a mail forwarding company and get a US address. This address is your anchor while you move around the globe. Your mail forwarding sign up will also come with a Virtual Online Mailbox. The process is simple:

  1. You get a local US address (make sure it is a street address, not a PO box). The State your address is in or place does not matter as long as it in the US.
  2. You fill a change of address form at post office fill online informing USPS that you have a new address where you mail should be delivered.
  3. Your mail and items start arriving at the mail forwarding company. The mail forwarding company then uploads the items to your online virtual mailbox.
  4. You  see those items online and decide what you want to do with them. Depending on the features offered by the mail forwarding provider, you can get mail opened and scanned or shipped, get items packed together and shipped, discard any junk mail etc.


What to look for in a mail forwarding service?

Unlocking the mystery of mail forwarding services: here are 10 things you should look for in a mail forwarding service.

Child at the "love locks" tourist attraction in Paris


There are many, many companies out there that offer mail forwarding services. Before we tell you about all our research, here is a word of caution: never sign up for one from Craigslist or such services. These might be scammers trying to get your mail!

What to look for when signing up with a mail forwarding company?

Of course, we think we are the best but you should look around and choose one that will work best for you. We want you to choose us only if we are a good fit for you. When shopping around, look for:

  1. Reputation: how long has the company been around, BBB rating, reviews, how secure is your mail with them
  2. Prices: how upfront and clear is their pricing, how competitive are their shipping rates.
  3. Plans: do they offer comprehensive plans for your/your family?
  4. Shipping Rates: This is a biggie! And can add up your costs significantly. Check if the service charges “retail” shipping rates meaning they don’t give you any discount on shipping and keep the discounts they get from shippers like UPS, FedEX, DHL etc for themselves?
    Or do they offer  you discounted shipping rates so you can ship for a lot less when you need to ship your mail or other items to yourself.
  5. Customer service: do they have a way for you to talk to them, do they have live phone and chat support, or is it a bot and what is the email response time? When you need a shipment to sent out asap or when you need a mail piece scanned within the hour, this matters a lot.
    At US Global Mail, we ship all requests received by 1pm the same day. And our email response times are usually less than 4 hours.

We did a comparison of the more popular mail forwarding companies to see how they stack up against each other. You can see the info here.

Exceptional service, at the right price.

30 Day Money Back Guarantee. Try Risk Free.

Choose the plan that’s right for you.

No one beats our plans. Or pricing. Or customer service.
No contracts or surprise fees. Tons of Free features. Try risk-free.



Per month, billed biennially.
$14.99 billed monthly.

  • 1 name on the account
  • Free check deposit
  • 90 days Free physical mail storage



Per month, billed biennially.
$19.99 billed monthly.

  • Add multiple family members
  • Add multiple company names
  • Upto 80% off on shipping rates
  • Free check deposit
  • 180 days Free physical mail storage

All our plans come with

100% Guarantee

Don't love it? Cancel within 30 days for a full refund.

location on the map
Permanent Street Address

Get a PO box online while maintaining a real street address.

computer devices
Smart Mailbox

Read all your mail virtually. No paper mess and a greener planet.

No limits

Get mail from all your homes and business(es) or both in the same app.

security symbol
Free Check Deposit

Deposit bank checks virtually... with the click of a button.

flexible plans
Flexible Plans

Upgrade, downgrade, cancel anytime.

Tree on the top of the world globe

We want to leave a greener Earth for our children

We plant a tree for every new member sign up

Frequently Asked Questions

A mail forwarding service is responsible for forwarding all incoming mail from your former address, to your new address. People may need this because they have decided to relocate (temporarily or permanently.) Examples would be RVers & frequent travelers, families with a second home & expat professionals (people living abroad) etc.

Mail forwarding works like this: All mail and packages addressed to you, are delivered to a secure mail processing warehouse with operators who scan & upload your envelopes to your virtual mailbox. You log into your virtual mailbox, and view all arrived packages. From there, you can select an item you want forwarded to you or scanned or securely shredded. You get your mail/packages with up to 80% off of typical retail shipping rates.

Typical users of a mail forwarding service include: business people & frequent travelers, RV’ers, expat professionals or retirees, and pretty much anyone who wishes to get their mail digitally. Or has decided to relocate domestically or abroad. Or is simply tired of having to change addresses on their drivers license/passport, tax authorities etc every time they move.

The USPS will provide mail forwarding for up to 1 year free of charge, for the “Regular Forward Mail” program and $83.60 per month of service for the “Premium Forwarding Service.” Both programs from the USPS are for domestic mail forwarding.


For international mail forwarding, shipping through the USPS may not be your best option. That is because shipping internationally with the USPS, is a more expensive option. Therefore, customers usually have mail forwarding companies that exclusively focus on dealing with forwarding mail overseas.


With the forwarding of your package, there is also an option to consolidate your items, which allows you to have more items sent within one shipment (and therefore increasing your savings.) International mail forwarding, when done through a mail forwarding company, can help you save up to 80% off retail shipping rates. Mail forwarding membership plans start at $9.95/mo for the personal plan, when you sign up for a full year.

Depending on who handles mail forwarding for you, the time frames would be slightly different. For example, if you have mail forwarding done by the USPS, it will last from 15 days to 1 year before they ask you to complete a change of address again. If you decided to have mail forwarding done by US Global Mail, mail forwarding could last a lifetime.

When you want to have your mail forwarded within the US, that usually means that you have completed a change of address with the USPS, where all your mail items and packages moving forward, are being sent to a new address. There are temporary and permanent changes of address, that will allow you to have your mail forwarded to a new address.


When you have mail forwarded with a company that handles mail forwarding for its customers (i.e it is not the USPS,) then those companies usually will handle mail forwarding for people who live overseas. As an example, expatriate families, corporate assignees and retirees still need to be able to access their mail while from the US while overseas. So mail forwarding companies allow them to get access to their physical mail, but to also be able to see their mail online through a virtual mailbox.

Your first step will be to pick a plan. You can pick between personal and business plans, as well as terms (month to month and annual terms.) From there, you will need to complete a change of address with the USPS, so that they can forward all your mail to the virtual address you will be given, when signing up with US Global Mail.


From there, all mail that you receive will generate an e-mail notification with a scanned image of your envelope or package. If you need to have the interior documents of your envelope scanned, you can request that from within your virtual mailbox account as well. For packages, you can have them shipped to your location, and if you are overseas, get them with up to 80% off retail shipping rates.


Finally, you can have mail items that you do not want, shredded and all junk mail gets shredded before it even enters your account.

More questions? Check out Help Center

Recent blog posts

travel technology including a laptop, smart phone and a vintage camera

Get the Best Technology for Your Adventure Before You Travel Outside of the US!

Expats and globetrotters know the best quality and most affordable technology products  are only available in the US. You can check out our recommendations for digital nomads, travelers, and expats here.

Read more
Man working from the bed in his RV

How to Land a Remote Job So You Can Become a Digital Nomad

Thinking about becoming a digital nomad? Here’s everything you need to know to find remote jobs or start a small business overseas – so you can live the glamorous lifestyle of the American expat.

Read more
door with sign reading No Junk Mail

Say Goodbye to Junk Mail: Tips and Tricks that Work

Say goodbye to unwanted mail for good with these proven methods to stop junk mail from flooding your mailbox. Get started today!

Read more