Categories
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!

Categories
By Country Information

5 Most Wanted US Made Treasures for Aussies

Tech Junkies in Australia, look no further! You know all those cool gadgets with limited worldwide releases, the ones that seem obsolete by the time they hit the local Aussie markets, the ones that are enjoyed by everyone…but you? Don’t worry, there’s a solution! There are companies out there that allow you to create your very own US Address to ship to, which will then consolidate your items and ship them to you at home. Gone are the days of wishing, now your wishes can be easily granted.

If you don’t want to go through the hassle of purchasing the items yourself and shipping them, personal shopping sites have discounted shipping rates and low service fees. They will do all the dirty work for you! Their fees are as low as 5% of your purchase!

Categories
Expat Resources Compare Mail Forwarding Services Compare Package Forwarding Services

Mail Forwarding and Forms of Identification..Why?

For an expat, having a commercial mail receiving agency (CMRA) when you move out of the country is kind of like the Robin to your Batman. They are perfect in every way, except there’s one little nagging issue. It is super easy, but not breezy to set up an account.

Categories
Expat Resources Compare Mail Forwarding Services

Access Urgent Mail in Minutes!

Nothing can be more frustrating than not being able to access your stuff whenever you want. As an expat, this might just be a new way of life for you. Limited access to your bank accounts, unreliable Wi-Fi, unstable cellular connections etc., the list can go on; it just isn’t as readily available as you were once used to. In this scenario, stuff is in reference to your mail!

Categories
Expat Resources By Country Information

What Is A Mail Forwarding Service?

When you move from one home to another within or outside the US, 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. Mail Forwarding is a service that allows you to get your mail from your old home at your new one. 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 2020?

 

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

 

How does mail forwarding work?

 

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 your 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 moving your address:

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 for a steep cost.

 

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. According to reports, about 35.5 Million Americans move each year from some place to another.

 

We have already discussed what mail forwarding is, and why it’s something you probably want to consider when moving. Time is money however, and depending on your move date, you may want to get ahead of time & start right away the mail forwarding process. 

 

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.

 

Person being sleepy

 

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 have 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. 

 

USPS package distribution warehouse

 

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 pasted below and a larger chart here.

Mail forwarding price comparison chart