Making preparations for your permanent move abroad is exhilarating. Passport? Check! One-way plane ticket? Check! But how do you get your mail abroad? Does the postal service even work when you live in another country?
Here’s how some of our expats have arranged to get their mail abroad.
Get a Mail Management Service
With a mail management service, you’ll receive every holiday card, every credit card and even items that don’t ship easily overseas like prescriptions (have your drugstore, who will not ship internationally, ship to your mail management mailbox, then have the shipment sent to you.
It’s a long process, but sometimes easier than obtaining a refill overseas. (Spoken from experience!).
Many travelers depend on family members or friends to periodically check mail, but unless you know the most reliable people in existence, their diligence will likely wane over time and you’ll have limited ability to prod from the other side of the globe.
Plus, with identity theft such a threat, you don’t want mail piling up at your mailbox or at the post office or haphazardly discarded into garbage.
Some companies to check out
Most companies these days will help you by creating a “virtual mailbox” for you. Mail will be opened, scanned, and placed in a digital mailbox so that you never miss an important message. The prices for these sorts of services vary, but can be as low as $9.99 a month. Here are some companies we found on a quick search:
PostScanMail: This service will either forward your mail to you, or will open and scan your mail for you to a virtual box. Starting at $9.99 a month. They also offer US mailing addresses, in case you need to have an address to send things to.
Ipostal: Digital mailboxes that you can view from anywhere. Starts at $9.99 a month.
Traveling Mailbox: Similar service that will scan your mail, you tell them to open it, forward it or shred it. Starts at $15 a month.
How do you sign up for a mail management service?
Research companies. There are several other than the ones we’ve listed above, all which can help with specific problems when it comes to your mail abroad. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Do you want to log in from anywhere and see an inventory of every item you’ve received?
- Do you need an automatic monthly shipment or would you like to direct when your mail should be packaged and sent?
- Do you want certain items toward the recycle bin?
- Do you want to see images of incoming packages? Tip: the best values are with companies based outside major cities. Like, way outside.
Services and prices vary, but all companies will insist on your completing Form 1583, as required by the U.S. Postal Service. This allows a third party to receive mail on your behalf.
Whichever mail service you choose will need a signed and notarized copy from each account holder. You will also need to provide two forms of identification for each account holder, which can be the following:
- Armed forces, government, university or recognized corporate identification card
- Passport (if 1583 is notarized) or alien registration card or certificate of naturalization
- Current lease, mortgage or Deed of Trust
- Voter or vehicle registration card
- Home or vehicle insurance policy
Notify the Post Office
Next step is to forward your mail and notify your post office if you want it all forwarded, or contact only select providers. Luckily, most of these tasks can be done online.
It’s a hassle, but protecting your information is important. And, you will be thankful later.
I didn’t know there was such a service. But do you receive mail these days – I find that nearly all my mail now comes electronically – only letters from my mother come through the mail box!!!
We got a po box with the UPS store when we started traveling full-time last year. The biggest reason we chose them is because it works as an actual address, not just a po box (though that’s effectively what it is). Because we wanted to keep our business registered in CA we had to have an actual physical address there, so this address works. We just call once a month and give them our current address so they can forward everything (and somehow we also have a lot, even though we try to get everything online!). The guy always remembers us and goes through the contents over the phone (or even over email) and throws away anything we don’t want sent. It’s a pretty nice setup.
I didn’t know this existed either. It sounds pretty swell.
Since I only planned to be gone a year, I arranged to have my mail forwarded to a good friend willing to sort through my mail and notify me of the important things. But if I plan to extend my travel lifestyle, I will have to look into a service like this.