How to Get Your Mail Abroad

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Making preparations for your Wanderjahr or even for a permanent move abroad is exhilarating. Passport? Check! One-way plane ticket? Check!

While your future expat life contains only clear skies, new friends and nonstop travel, what about the life you’re leaving in the rear view mirror?

You know – the life that’s filled with people you’ve known for years who mail holiday cards with photos of babies, pets and all their fabulous goings-on? The life that consists of at least one bank and at least two credit card companies?

Since you forgot to budget a personal assistant into your new life abroad, consider a mail management service instead.

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.

How do you sign up?

Research companies. 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.

Sign up for an account.

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

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.

Bon voyage!

Has anyone used a mail management service in the past? Or would you rather leave it up to a friend of family member?

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About Author

Dawn first became hooked on traveling while studying abroad in London. Who knew how easy it was to hop on a plane, train or boat and emerge in another country! Since then, she has traveled as much as possible and loves how each destination alters her understanding of life. Read her expat exploits on shootandscrawl.com, view her photos on dawnspaulding.com and follow her on twitter @shootandscrawl. Based out of: Luxembourg City and New York City

4 Comments

  1. 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!!!

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

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