If you are moving from one home to another within or outside the US, you will want to make sure your mail that you get at home (think paper statements, bills, checks, tax and federal notices, magazines, journals) arrive at your new place.

Mail Forwarding is a service that allows you to get your mail- at home or virtually- anywhere in the world.

Expat mail forwarding

Do I really need a mail forwarding service?

You do! For a multitude of reasons, for example the US govt. requires all citizens to file taxes, no matter where you live. You might have property in the for which you get tax notices (which come only in the mail) or you may have a bank account (banks require a local US address) etc. You might be getting social security or business checks (which would be best deposited locally instead of making a trip around the world to you), you might be an expat whose company requires you to keep a US address, or you might want to buy stuff from the US that you won’t find in your new home if you are moving overseas.

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 via the USPS.

USPS mail forwarding (when moving within the US)

So, how do you forward your mail to another address?
You go to your local post office and fill the change of address form. You can also do it online. There are 2 options when moving your address:

Permanent change of address: which means USPS will now update your old address to the new one in their system and any mail that was addressed to your old address will automatically be sent to the new one. This is a permanent change. Recomended when moving overseas.

Temporary change of address: this is a change of address for 6 months at a time. After 6 months are up, 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 for 6 more months. And actully USPS does not state what happens after 6 months, but you could keep doing it on and on forever, if you wish.

This is a FREE service provided by the USPS.

USPS mail forwarding (when 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 additional cost of $21.10 for each week of service.

The service will set you back by $84.40/month. An additional cost will also be charged for any Priority Mail items that USPS will not store but will ship immediatley as they are received.

Not a cost effective way to forward your mail overseas.

Should I choose temporary or permanent mail forwarding?

The answer depends on your move, no matter whether within the country or outside. Are you moving to a new permanent home or a temporary one?

We recommend a solution that will get you 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- we 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 several reasons. In this case, we recommed a permanent change of address. Your address will not matter as it is just a virtual address where your mail is receieved.

How does mail forwarding work?

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). State or place does not matter as long as it in the US.
  2. You go to the post office (or fill online) a form telling USPS you have a new address within the US  and start using this address when you shop online.
  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- for example: get mail scanned or shipped, get items packed together and shipped, discard any junk mail etc.

What to look for in a mail forwarding service?

There are many, many companies out there that offer mail forwarding services. Before I tell you about all my 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! Having said that, here are 10 things you should look for in a mail forwarding service.

Which mail forwarding companies do we recommend?

We have done an extensive study on mail forwarding companies- hey, that’s why we made a whole new site for it! We looked at:

  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
  3. Plans: do they offer everything we may need- personal shopper, mail scans etc.
  4. Shipping Rates: shipping rates to different countries
  5. Customer service: do they have a way for us to talk to them, do they have a chat, phone support by live person, respond to emails within 2-4 hours?

Here are our results. Drum roll please….

  1. US Global Mail: by far the best of the lot. Excellent reputation, outstanding customer service (we called and a person knowledgeable about the company picked up; we sent an email and received a response within 30 minutes). Good plans and good shipping prices- not the best but the fact that they seemed to care about their customers, we thought made them the best pick.
  2. My US: though they focus more on the shopping population, they offer the best shipping rates, making them our second pick. However their  customer service response to our email was 2 days and there was no live chat agent available even after a 10 minute wait.

We looked at a whole bunch of others like Earth Class Mail (too expensive), Mailbox Forwarding (hidden fees that we are not fans of), PostScan Mail (they have independent stores that accept and handle your mail which we feel is unsafe, especially given the rampant mail fraud).

Let us know in the comments which mail forwarding services you have used, and share your experience!

Recent Blog

7 Great Package Forwarding Services

Package forwarding service comparisons with international shipping costs.

From Brazil? Shop US sites & SAVE!

Brazilians can now shop US websites without living in the US.

20 Top Expat Gift Ideas of 2016

top 20 best expat gift ideas for 2016. Order from the US and ship internationally