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Expat Resources Compare Mail Forwarding Services

Expat Mail Forwarding (the why, how and what in 2020)

 
 
Moving abroad- whether for work, retirement or other reasons- can be equally exhilarating and nerve wrecking. There are 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 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.

 

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!

 

US Airlines

 

Depending on 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 the USPS will forward your 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

 

Let’s start by looking at how you go about getting a PO Box, and then we will move on to the other options we just mentioned.

 

How to Get a PO Box with The United States Postal Service

 

To make this as easy as possible to understand, we are going to go through each step in detail, so you can decide whether this is the right option for you. Just make sure you don’t make any set-in-stone choices yet since we still have to tell you about the best way to go about your expat mail forwarding.

 

Step One: Choose a PO Box Size

 

The United States Postal Service offers 5 different PO box sizes. Namely extra small, small, medium, large, and extra large. Thankfully, they also tell you what each of these can hold! We will have a closer look at them now:

 

  • Extra small (3 inches x 5.5 inches) — this one can hold around 10 to 15 letters or 2 magazines (rolled up). The depth is around 14.75 inches which is a universal size throughout all PO boxes.
  • Small (5 inches x 5.5 inches) — this option can hold around 10 to 15 letters or 5 magazines (rolled up).
  • Medium (5.5 inches x 11 inches) — this one can hold large envelopes and magazines that are stacked flat.
  • Large (11 inches x 11 inches) — if you receive larger packages, you will want to go with this one. It can hold around 2 shoeboxes and 10 to 15 letters at the same time.
  • Extra large (12 inches x 22.5 inches) — this one can hold a number of flat rate boxes and parcels, along with letters too of course.

 

Step Two: Reserve Your PO Box

 

Once you know which size will suit you best, you need to search for the post office that is nearest to your home. Then, just click “reserve a new PO box”.

 

Step Three: Pick Your Payment Period

 

There are multiple payment periods that you can select. It is up to you and your financial needs as to which one will fit you best.

 

Step Four: Enter Your Contact and Billing Information

 

You will be asked to supply the obvious information like your first name, last name, address, card number, security code, expiry date, and a few other bits. After you have hit “submit”, you are able to move onto the final step.

 

Step Five: Validate Your ID and Pick Up Your PO Box Keys

 

By law, you have to validate your identity in person. So, you need to go down to your PO box location with two forms of government-approved ID. The primary form needs to be a federal, state, or tribal photo card. You can choose from the following:

 

  • State driver’s license
  • Non-driver’s ID card
  • US Armed Forces card
  • Uniformed Service ID card
  • US passport
  • US passport card
  • US university identification
  • Corporate identification
  • Any card issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
  • US naturalization certificate
  • US citizenship certificate
  • Tribal identification card

 

The secondary form can be one of these:

 

  • Lease agreement
  • Deed of trust
  • Mortgage agreement
  • Voter registration card
  • Vehicle registration card
  • Home insurance policy
  • Form I-94
  • Vehicle insurance policy
  • Utility bill

 

After they have been approved by the person at the post office desk, your keys will be handed over to you. Then you can do a little celebration dance because the PO box is yours!

 

Ask someone to pick up your mail daily

 

Works short-term. Long term though… 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 looks through your bank statements or W4 form?

 

person giving out mail

 

Forward your mail to a friend’s home

 

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?

 

As we mentioned briefly earlier, you can ask the USPS to forward your mail overseas. But it is ridiculously expensive. It would almost be more worthwhile to fly back to pick up your packages, parcels, and letters up yourself!


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.

 

USPS mail

 

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
 
At US Global Mail, we have helped over 80,000+ expats with our mail forwarding service.
 
 

Top Reasons Expats Need Mail Forwarding

 

Shop Any US Website. Whenever you are overseas, that can make getting items from your favorite US companies in the mail, a problem or a difficult attempt. Many companies do not ship overseas or if they do ship, then you can expect to pay some very high shipping fees. With a US address, you are able to receive all those items at your US location, and from there we can ship them to you at up to 80% off the typical cost you would.

 

Direct Access To Mail. When getting a virtual mailbox, you are able to stay on top of mail 24/7, with your own login credentials. It’s a bit similar to e-mail, only for mail & packages. Log into your account, request a mail scan or have some item shipped; all with the click of a button.

 

Cloud Storage. When you get mail, all items are scanned and uploaded into your virtual mailbox. You can receive an unlimited number of mail items to your address with unlimited storage. You can also store your items up until 180 days, free of charge. And eve if you do need to store items for a longer period of time, it only costs a few additional cents for your item. Saving files online, makes accessing files more reliable and a cheaper option for your mail.

 

Privacy. When you have mail clerks are the company you work at, handle your mail and ship to you, then you probably have a series of people that get to your mail before you do. With a virtual mailbox, you are the first one to access all important documents from your phone or computer, without a bunch of intermediaries. Communication with customer service can be done within the app as well; so any request you need, can be completed within just a few clicks.

 

It’s More Reliable. The alternative to having a professional company handling your mail, is having some relative or friend picking up mail on your behalf, heading over to the post office and shipping them out. As you can realize, over the course of several weeks and months, this can turn into a part time job for your friend. And even if you did have someone so committed to just deal with your mail, they probably would have to work it into their schedule to get it shipped to you in time (making up for several delays, or mistakes in forwarding on your items.) When you have a professional mail forwarding company handling this on your behalf (and especially a company like US Global Mail that has been around for 20+ years,) you are assured to get your mail on time.

 

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.

 

Is a Smart Mailbox Going to be Your New Best Friend?

 

The likely answer is, yes! Virtual mailboxes are a fantastic way to make sure all your important documents reach you, no matter where you are in the world (which expats benefit greatly from, of course). But to give you a better idea, let’s go through all the advantages you will gain by opening a smart mailbox.

 

Trustpilot reviews

 

1. Mail Security and Privacy

 

Identity and package theft is a growing concern throughout most countries these days (sadly). It just isn’t safe to have your parcels and letters left in a previous neighbors’ box or outside their door anymore, especially if you have moved overseas.

 

With a virtual mailbox, this won’t be a concern anymore.

 

You get access to your mail online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Not to mention that your delivery is guaranteed. There won’t be any missed or stolen packages anymore. You can cross that off your “things to stress about” list!

 

By now, you are probably wondering how all of that is possible. Don’t worry, we will tell you how it works.

 

Firstly, the apps use industry-leading security that will always work. Yep, we’re talking bank-grade encryption here — your mail security is not a joke to us! Any information that travels through our warehouses and servers is protected against hackers and thieves.

 

Secondly, all the staff members are aware of the privacy policies, compliances, and controls they must abide by in order to give you the best service imaginable. So, no matter where you are in the world, your US mail will be kept safe from your old neighbors, nosy family members, and the government. Basically, privacy is our middle name.

 

Thirdly, 2-step verification is enabled on all accounts to ensure it is really you trying to look at your incoming mail. It isn’t just your username and password you need, but also a secondary bit of information to ensure complete security, all the time.

 

Finally, you can always change how you handle your mail data. Whether you want to back it up, download it, or delete it entirely, it’s up to you.

 

2. Check Your Mail Any Time

 

Since you are an expat, you probably aren’t going to be in your old home country all that often, right? Not to worry, with a virtual mailbox you can access all your mail, no matter where you are in the world.

 

Missing important bills or documents is a thing of the past!

 

3. Never Have to Enlist People’s Help with Your Mail Again

 

Asking a previous neighbor or your old colleagues to take care of your mail until the next time you fly over to sort it can be incredibly stressful. You are likely to receive important documents such as tax notices, IRS letters, passport renewals, credit cards, insurance paperwork, bills, and checks that you won’t want people snooping through. Makes sense!

 

In this case, a smart mailbox is definitely the right way to go. You can have your super-important letters scanned immediately so you can sort them out on the day they’re delivered. And, you can make sure everything is bundled up and shipped to your new overseas address insanely quickly.

 

4. You Can Still Shop In the USA

 

Depending on where you live now, they might not support the importation of American goods. As an expat, you are bound to be fairly frustrated by this — hence another reason to set up a virtual mailbox. You can shop online in the United States of America, have it shipped to that address, and then tell the expert mail handlers that you want it sent to your current address. It’s as easy as a, b, c!

 

5. You Will Be Saving the Planet

 

You know as much as we do how annoying spam mail is — supermarket coupons, pizza deliveries, gym brochures — and you won’t even be in the US to be able to use them, so why bother getting them forwarded by the USPS?

 

With a smart mailbox, the professional handlers will discard anything that is clearly spam before they upload your mail every day. You won’t even have to see the annoying stuff. The best part is, these pizza deliveries advertisements won’t just be going to the landfill. Instead, they are recycled to ensure we do our bit to save the trees.

 

6. You Can Have the Same Mailing Address for the Rest of Your Life

 

Yup, you read that right; we thought we would leave the best till last!

 

We are going to assume that you’ve moved a lot in your life. Correct? We thought so. And with each move comes all the boring paperwork — including changing your address with the USPS, your driver’s license, passport, and everything else. It’s hard work.

 

But that all changes with a virtual mailbox. Regardless of where you move, your mailing address can stay the same. Perfect, isn’t it?

 

The Bottom Line

 

Here at US Global Mail, we have helped over 80,000 expats find freedom with their mail thanks to our awesome smart mailbox. We can’t help to start making your snail mail dreams come true! If you have any questions, don’t be afraid to get in touch. We are always happy to help.

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Expat Resources Compare Mail Forwarding Services

10 Things To Consider Before Choosing a Mail Forwarding Service

In this article, we are going to talk about mail forwarding.
Are you going to be a full-time RVer, moving to another country or embarking on an extended vacation? If that’s the case, getting your mail at your destination is important as you get your taxes, IRS notices, W2’s etc in the mail.
 
Choosing a professional mail forwarding company to handle your mail is a smart idea. Because it will help you get your mail on time and give you peace of mind. But given the many options out there, how do you choose a company that’s right for you?

There’s a lot that goes into making this kind of decision.

 

After all, the mail forwarding service you choose to take advantage of is going to be responsible for handling all of your mail from here on out. Important bills, important packages and parcels, sensitive documents and information – all of the things that the USPS would have handled for you are now going to be going through a separate organization.

 

This isn’t a decision you can make willy-nilly or on-the-fly.

 

But that’s why we have put together this in-depth guide.

 

Below we breakdown a couple of very important things to consider before choosing a mail forwarding service. You’re going to be inundated with options, all of them promising the moon and the stars when it comes to services, results, and benefits.

 

The only way to effectively break down those choices and find the one perfect for you is to think about the 10 elements highlighted in-depth below.

 

Ready to get right in to it?

 
Here’s a list of 10 questions we encourage everyone to ask when making that decision:

How to choose a mail forwarding company

1. How much does mail forwarding cost?

 

While the cost of a mail forwarding service should never be the primary reason you choose it over another, it is going to be a hugely influential part of your decision.

 

After all, taking advantage of the USPS services may not cost you anything (upfront, anyway). Plenty of folks have nothing more than the mailbox at the end of their driveway or attached to their front door, and are still able to send and receive mail without headache or hassle.

 

Making a jump from that “free” service provided by the USPS to one that charges a premium fee – sometimes as high as a few hundred dollars a month – can be jarring. Especially if that service you’re now taking advantage of doesn’t provide all the benefits and options you were expecting.

 

Definitely look into the price of mail forwarding options to better compare your choices, too.

 

Look into at least five different services and see how their monthly fees stack up against one another. See which services provide more value for the monthly charge, see which services come up woefully short, and compare these options in as much of an “apples to apples” kind of way as you can.

 

      • How much are you willing to spend for this service? Figure out your budget for the month.
      • Be aware of hidden fees or extra charges from different services.
      • Be realistic. Research the costs for these services: Membership fees, shipping costs, customers charges, fuel surcharges …  Depending on your needs and services, your budget can vary from $20/month to $100+/month.
      • Mail forwarding services can make it challenging for a precise price comparison. But here’s the price comparison table for your reference.

 

2. Can I forward my mail for free? Does it cost money to forward my mail?

 

There may even be mail forwarding solutions that offer free services you can take advantage of.

 

Before you jump on board, though, you’ll want to dig beneath the surface of these freebie offers.

 

You’ll need to make sure that these services are legitimate, these services are trustworthy, and that these services aren’t just an effort to sell you on premium options later down the line.

 

      • Is low cost the most important factor? Or are you willing to pay a little bit more for a faster turnaround and reliability?
      • Do you just want your mail automatically shipped on a regular basis? Would you prefer to hold the mail until you want to ship?  Would you prefer to have your individual letters scanned to read so you don’t have to pay for shipping?
      • Take time to think about the MANY services forwarding companies offer and figure out what applies to you.

 

3. Is the company reliable?

 

Company reputation is everything in this industry.

 

We highlighted this a moment ago, but you are going to be trusting your new mail forwarding service with some pretty sensitive information. Everything sent through the mail is personal and private and you have to be 100% certain that your new mail forwarding operation respects that across the board.

 

Thankfully, the overwhelming majority of operations in this space are reputable and reliable. Even still, you want to do your research and due diligence to confirm this to be the case before you sign on the dotted line.

 

Looking to the reputation that these companies have with other customers and clients but also look into the reputation they have throughout the industry. A little bit of research online goes a long way.

 

      • Believe me. You don’t want to miss your next tax notice or check. That’s why when it comes to mail forwarding, most people seek the best bang for their buck, rather than the cheapest service. Reliability matters.
      • Read up on the various companies. Google their name as many ways as you can think of. Examples of what you would search include: Company customer reviews, company customer service reviews, company security, company complaints, company hidden fees, company facebook etc. Research is your best friend when making decisions like these.
      • Here are some trusted review platforms in the industry: TrustPilot, Google, and BBB. Be sure to read the company’s responses to reviews as well.

Green check mark

 

4. What can and cannot be sent internationally?

 

Paying for special mail forwarding services won’t be worth that much if you’re not able to send or receive packages and parcels to destinations all over the world the way you might have with the USPS, UPS, FedEx, or a similar service.

 

All mail forwarding organizations will have different rules and regulations governing what they are able or willing to send to their clients internationally. It’s not a bad idea to have a look at this list before you sign up.

 

Nobody wants to find out that their new premium mail forwarding service isn’t able to accommodate their needs when they are overseas. This is especially important for those expatriates or international travelers that want to get their mail while hopping from one global destination to another.

 

      • Moving to another country? Then find out what can’t be shipped internationally. It’s so easy to go ahead and purchase products that you were used to, back home. However, what is deemed “normal” where you’re from, may not even be allowed to the new country you call home. It would be a pity to pay for shipping and declarations only to have to abandon the package or pay again to have it returned!
      • Different countries can have different regulations. Read about your country here.

 

5. What is the exchange rate?

 

Whenever possible you want to make the most of the US dollar, the “universal standard” of currency pretty much everywhere on the planet.

 

If possible, you want to find global destinations that help you stretch your buying power just by capitalizing on the exchange rate in that particular part of the world.

 

There are mobile applications and plenty of websites out there to help you keep on top of this critical information. You might even be able to plan your international itinerary around maximizing your money, saving a pile of cash while enjoying life in the lap of luxury at the same time!

 

      • If you are moving internationally, you may find that your dollar goes a lot further where you are now, freeing up some room in your budget. That means, you will have more options for the company you want to work with.

 

Currency exchange from Euro to Pound

 

6. What will you be forwarding?

 

The packages, parcels, envelopes, and boxes you expect to be forwarding on a regular basis will inform your decision to choose one mail forwarding service over another.

 

If all you need to do are periodic “mail drops” of cards, letters, and envelopes of a more personal nature every now and again security and handling of sensitive information may not be paramount. It’ll always be important, but it might not be the number one factor you have to consider.

 

If, on the other hand, you expect to run your business internationally with the help of this mail forwarding service the exact opposite is true. You’ll need to pick a company that is secure, safe, and speedy – not to mention reliable – to get you your mail when you need it.

 

      • Does the thought of sending sensitive tax documents overseas make you a bit uneasy? Understandable. Do you receive checks through the mail? What about credit cards?
      • Back to the research; how successful is the company’s delivery rate? Are they trustworthy? Do they have any hidden fees that will pop up at time of shipping? Could you trust the company to NOT tamper with items of that nature? These are all important questions to ask yourself.

 

7. Will the service allow you to use their address for billing?

 

Some of the best mail forwarding services provide access to “street addresses” you can use as a billing address domestically as well as overseas.

 

The ability to avoid using a PO Box address while still enjoying the anonymity and security that these kinds of street addresses provide is a big reason people moved to these kinds of services to begin with.

 

If your company does offer a street address you can use be sure that you are taking advantage of it.

 

      • Though you may be moving, your bills still need to be sent to a US address. Does the forwarding company provide PO boxes or real street addresses? It’s important to understand, that you can only have your bills sent to a street address, not a PO box. Is receiving bills via mail important to you?

 

8. How is their customer service?

 

No mail forwarding service is perfect in the odds are you’ll probably have to contact customer service at some point in time.

 

Make sure that those conversations will be smooth and easy to navigate by choosing a mail forwarding company that as a top-tier customer service department you know you can trust!

 

      • If an issue arises, will it be resolved immediately, in a timely manner, or at the company’s leisure? If you send an email, will it be answered? If you need immediate assistance, do they offer live chat, and is it with a person or a robot?
      • Research! Check the company’s website, test out their email and chat services. See how quickly you get a response.

 

Customer service representative on the phone

 

9. What does the service require from me?

 

      • Find out what documents you need to submit. Then ask yourself; what is the purpose of the requirements? Why isn’t a simple change of address through USPS enough? If you need all of this information from me, how do I know my identity is private and secured in your system?
      • Ask as many questions as you can think of. All the why’s, what’s, where’s, when’s, what if’s, and maybe’s! Ultimately this is a very important decision to be made, don’t make it in haste!

 

10. Why is a 1583 form necessary for a mail forwarding company?

 

      • Essentially the 1583 form is for your protection. Because, legally, a mail forwarding company cannot release your mail without the form. Therefore, USPS will NOT allow them to if they don’t have your “permission”.
      • The form must be notarized as well. That is another security measure that protects your identity. Think about it; your mail could be sent anywhere!!! However, not just ANYBODY can pick it up. Which means, it’s one less potential headache being avoided.

Sample of a 1583 form

When researching a mail forwarding company, don’t hesitate to voice your questions and concerns. What works for one person might not work for you. What one company offers as part of their package pricing may not apply to you. There are so many options out there for mail forwarding services. Choosing which one is the right one for you won’t be an easy task. Compare and contrast the companies and figure out which one suits you best!

 

Our top recommended service that our readers absolutely love, can help you in choosing the best plan for you!

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By Country Information Compare Package Forwarding Services

Hottest Monthly Subscription Boxes That Ship Internationally!

Are you looking for one-of-a kind gift, bespoke items that are available only to those in the know? Want to throw a Tapas party with everything imported from Spain? Or delight your geek kiddo with a hands on science kit that is not found in regular stores?

Look no further. We have a solution for you: Subscription Boxes from the US. If you are wondering what a subscription box is- it is a recurring box that comes on a scheduled basis (weekly, monthly, every 3 months etc.) filled with items specifically catered to the subscription or to your tastes. There’s a box for everyone: kids, teens, adults, parents, nerds, beauty gurus, fur babies the list goes on! Here’s a look at a few of our favorites! 

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Expat Resources

Mail Forwarding, You, and Security

Committing to work with a mail forwarding company can be a big risk to take. You are putting your trust into complete and total strangers, hoping your mail is safe and secure. Checks, IRS statements, family Christmas cards, Grandma’s birthday card with a crisp $20 bill, literally everything will now be going to the hands of someone else! That can be a bit daunting, to say the least. So exactly how secure is mail forwarding? Why do you have to provide so much information just to get your mail? How do you know that your mail is safe and only accessible by you? What measures does the mail forwarding team take to ensure the confidentiality of your personal mail?

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Expat Resources

Compliance in Global Mobility

Straight forward shipping not always so straight forward!

 

In the ever changing landscape of Global Mobility, one constant remains- Compliance. Compliance of laws and regulations whether they be immigration, tax or social. 

 

Compliance is not simply the threat of a fine or loss of face publicly but also adhering to regulations which are the only way to achieve a goal. One such goal for global companies with an international population is effectively distributing mail internationally, especially when the company is handling their expat mail internally.

 

Every country has their own shipping regulations and these tend to be lengthy lists of do’s and don’ts , not just related to what can/cannot be shipped but also what sizes can the items be shipped in. to make things even more complicated, these regulations change all the time, and often without notice. The burden of keeping abreast on these rests solely on the shipper.

  

Things can go wrong very quickly when shipping regulations are not strictly adhered to. Here are some real life examples that have happened:

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Compare Package Forwarding Services

7 Great Package Forwarding Services

Aside from mail forwarding, there are instances where you would like to only shop from the U.S, but due to some retail stores not being able to ship internationally, it then becomes a hassle.