Whether you like it or not, snail mail isn’t going anywhere. Not yet at least. For many, it is still an essential method of communication. And to receive it, you must have a physical address.
But what happens if that address isn’t anywhere near you are now? What if you are traveling the world? What if you are running a business from another state or country, how do you obtain your mail then?
A mail forwarding service can solve all of these problems.
I am a digital nomad, trekking around the world and running my business from a laptop. Because I move around so often, I do not have a constant physical address. Without a mail forwarding service, I would have to miss out on all the adventure and run my business from as single location. No thanks!
Today I am going to take you through everything you need to know about mail forwarding services including the basics, the best forwarding services and what you need to look out for when signing up (things I wish someone told me).
Let’s jump into it!
- What is a Mail forwarding service?
- Mail forwarding Alternatives
- Who needs a mail forwarding service?
- Setting up a mail forwarding service
- Best mail forwarding services by country
- American virtual mail forwaders
- Canadian mail forwarders
- UK mail forwaders
- Mail forwarding services for the rest of the world
What is mail forwarding service and what does it do?
To put it simply, a mail forwarding service provides you with a physical address that you can direct your mail to. When mail is received, the service will then send the mail on to whatever address you want.
You don’t even need to live in the same state or country that you set up your mail forwarding service in.
Most mail forwarding services will run a model similar to this:
1. You are given a unique address
This is similar to a P.O Box, giving you a real address to have your mail delivered to. However, unlike a P.O Box, you will never actually visit this address to pick up your mail.
2. Mail is received by the Mail Forwarding Service
Mail that arrives at the mail forwarding service addressed to you is scanned. You will then be notified that you have mail awaiting your action.
3. You choose what happens next
You can now have the mail forward to you, wait for more mail to come and forward it all at once (to save on shipping fees), or dispose of it. Some mail forwarding services even offer the option to scan the mail, so that you can read a digital copy; or send a letter on your behalf.
Alternatives to mail forwarding
If you are already considering using a mail forwarding service then check out these alternative options. While similar, they both work in different ways and you may find them more suitable.
1. Virtual Mailbox
If you don’t need to physically handle your mail then a virtual mailbox is the best approach. Instead of forward your mail on to you, a virtual mailbox will open mail on your behalf and scan it, allowing you to view your mail by email or by app anywhere in the world. Being able to access all your mail from your computer or mobile device will save you on the postage fees associated with a mail forwarding service.
Note: The line between a virtual mailbox and a mail forwarding service is becoming increasingly blurred. You will now find that many virtual mailboxes and mail forwarding services offer both scanning and forwarding of mail.
1. Freight Forwarder/Package Shipper
Freight forwarders allow you to have bulky packages forwarded anywhere in the world. Freight forwarders will store packages for a set amount of time, allowing them to accumulate all your deliveries and forward them in a single shipment. You will also save money on the final shipment since Freight forwarders negotiate a cheaper rate with international couriers like Fedex and DHL due to their ability to send in bulk.
Who benefits from a mail forwarding service?
Let’s be clear, a mail forwarding service isn’t for everyone. I would even guess that the majority of people will never need one over the course of their life.
That said, they definitely have their uses. Below are just a few situations where utilizing a mail forwarding service could be beneficial.
If you want an alternate business address
A mail forwarding service can be used if you are starting a business from home and want a professional address. Unlike a P.O box, some mail forwarding your business a more professional look and to help convey trust.
If you want to start a remote business
If your business is targeting customers in a different state or a foreign country, you can use a mail forwarding service to appear to have a local presence since all mail forwarded from the service will have a local address. By setting up mail forwarding services in multiple states or countries, you can give your business the appearance of having a global presence.
If you are an expat, digital nomad or long term vacationer who is travelling abroad.
If you are working or living abroad for extended periods then you can have your mail forwarded to a local international address.
If you want to embrace a RVer lifestyle
Did you know skipping the house and living out of your RV is a thing? While it’s a lifestyle of adventure, it does come without a permanent address. A mail forwarding service can be used to hold and send mail, such as your drivers license to your nearest address. After all, you can’t drive your motor home without a license!
Note: If you are an RVer, just make sure you choose a mail forwarding service that also offers a legal address that can connect you with a particular state. The ability to change your forwarding address as often as you want is also a nice feature.
Setting up a mail forwarding service
Setting up mail forwarding is not an instant process and should typically be done 3 or more weeks before you need to use the service.
In order to set up a mail forwarding service in the United States, you will need to complete a postal consent form (USPS Form 1583), provide two forms of identification and have it notarized.
If you cannot make it to a public notary then I highly recommend using notarize.com. You simply download the app on your phone, upload the postal consent form (or anything else you want notarized) then have what is essentially a Skype call with a certified notary in the United States. Online notaries make notarizing forms a breeze.
I personally used notarize.com and highly recommend it. All in all, it took less than 10 minutes and just $25 to have my form notarized from the comfort of my own home.I would never use a traditional notary again!
Mail forwarding services in other countries such as Europe, Asia or Australia have different requirements for verifying your identity. Most will simply request a copy of documents with your name and address as verification.
Seem like a lot of effort? Just remember that these security measures are for your safety. Can you imagine what would happen if anyone could forward your mail to their address? It would be chaos.
How much does it cost to use a mail forwarding service?
The cost of mail forwarding varies dramatically from service to service, so if you are just looking for the cheapest mail forwarding service, you should shop around.
But typically speaking, the less mail you receive, the less you will have to pay.
You can also save money by taking advantage of mail scanning when you don’t actually require a physical copy of the mail.
Another way to cut down on costs is to have the mail forwarder hold onto your mail until multiple letters have arrived. This way you can forward them all in bulk instead of one at a time – which would see you pay postage fees on each.
Best Mail forwarding Services Reviewed
So how do you choose the right mail forwarding service for you? . These mail forwarding services off both great value and amazing service.
Best United States Mail Forwarding Services
These are the best mail forwarding services that you will find in America. Between the three you should be able to obtain a mail forwarding address in any of the 50 states.
1. Traveling Mailbox
Traveling mailbox is great for businesses looking for a mail forwarder who doesn’t use P.O Boxes. With locations in 19 different states and the ability to accept all couriers (Fedex, DHL, UPS etc.), Traveling mailbox gives you a professional address without any limitations.
But where Traveling Mailbox really shines is it’s affordability. Mail scanning is included in each plan and all shredding is free. You also have the option to add multiple names so that you can share the address with friends or employees.
Mail scans are included in each plan and there are no lock-in contracts. You can cancel your account at anytime. For most people, Traveling mailbox offers everything you could need in a mail forwarding service.
2. Earth Class Mail
For businesses who need a serious mail forwarding solution, Earth Class Mail has you covered. Trusted by major corporations like Lyft and Reddit, Earth Class Mail is much more than just a mail forwarding service, they even offer a registered agent at certain addresses, allowing you to start up a business in another state.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of Earth Class Mail is that it allows you run a paperless office. Unlimited scanning is included with each plan, allowing you to receive all invoices, accounts and other important mail in a searchable PDF.
And of course, mail forwarding is available and made simple through what is the easiest to navigate user interface out of all the mail forwarders.
Worried about whose eyes look at your business mail? There is a strong focus on security with HIPPA (the standard for protecting sensitive data) compliant processes and strict monitoring of who can and does access your mail making. Earth Class Mail is perfect for businesses who still rely on snail mail to send private documents.
While Earth Class Mail may be a bit too pricey for an individual who only receives occasional mail, for a fully functioning business it is worth every cent.
Best Mail Forwarding Service in Canada
When it comes to Canadian mail forwarding services, there really isn’t a whole lot to choose from. It is this lack of competition that makes Canadian mail forwarders more expensive than their American counterparts.
Fortunately, there is a Canadian service worth paying for. At the time of writing this, eSnail is the only service that allowed you to choose the address of the mail forwarder from multiple locations; Toronto, Vancouver or Edmonton.
Your monthly fee includes mail scans, shredding of your old mail and storage for up to 3 months – allowing you to forward it all at once and save on postage fees.
Best UK Mail Forwarding Service
When it came to the UK, these was one mail forwarding service that could not be beat. UKPOSTBOX outclassed the competition both in value and services offered.
UKPOSTBOX is the most feature packed mail forwarding service in the UK. Mail scanning, archive storage, check deposit are just a few of the services provided. You can even write a letter, upload it and UKPOSTBOX will send it on your behalf! And all at an extremely affordable rate.
UK Post box allows you to set up a mail forwarding address on Pay-As-You-Go terms. That’s right, you don’t get charged until you actually forward the letter or want it scanned. Perfect for individuals who may go months without receiving mail. After all, why would you want to pay a monthly fee when you are not using the service?
Of course there are paid monthly plans for businesses with included mail scanning and further discounts on extra services.
Best Global Mail forwarding services
While there are hundreds of different mail forwarding services across the world, only one has a truly global presence at an affordable rate.
Clevver Mail offers mail forwarding addresses in the following locations…
- Austria – Vienna
- Australia – Sydney, Brisbane, Perth
- Canada – Toronto, Montreal
- China – Hong Kong, Shanghai
- Chile – Santiago
- Czech Republic – Prague
- France – Paris
- Germany – Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt, Hamburg
- India – Gurgaon
- Ireland -Dublin
- Israel – Tel Aviv
- Italy – Milan
- Japan – Tokyo
- Poland – Warsaw
- Portugal – Lisbon
- Russia – Moscow
- Spain – Alicante, Madrid
- Thailand – Bangkok
- Turkey – Istanbul
- United States – Chicago, New York,
- Vietnam – Hanoi
Perhaps best of all is that each of these locations offers legal company addresses.
One of biggest benefit of dealing with Clevver Mail is that they offer support in English, regardless of the country you choose. It may seem like a basic feature, but before I discovered Clevver Mail, I was negotiating with local mail forwarding services in Russia. And I could only communicate to them in Russian. While google translate did it’s best, discussing what I wanted them to do with my mail was a nightmare.
A great feature of Clevver Mail is that you can set up multiple addresses at once. This is a handy feature for those of you who are frequently on the move, it allows you to send mail to whatever address is closest to you with a single click.
Clevver Mail also allows you to automate the mail forwarding process, allowing you to set schedules to how often you want mail forwarded and on which day it get’s sent out.
This is why it makes sense to shop around. Don’t choose your mail forwarding service on cost alone – you may miss out on some very helpful features by doing so.
Does it matter which Mail forwarding service you choose?
In short, yes. While all services offer mail forwarding to some degree, they differ in terms of the state or country they reside, the pricing, features and how easy the service is to set up and use.
Things to be aware of when setting up a mail forwarding service
Forwarding to P.O boxes
Be sure to check which postal service that your mail forwarder uses to send your mail. Some will use a courier like DHL or Fedex, who are unable to deliver to P.O boxes.
Check where your forwarder can send mail to.
Do not simply assume that your mail forwarder can send your mail to all corners of the globe. If you plan on traveling through a developing country, you should confirm that your mail forwarder can actually send your mail to you.
One of our readers, Claire, found this out the hard way a few years back. She had a one off instance of needing to forward her birth certificate to where she was staying in Vietnam. And the virtual mailbox was unable to do so. Fortunately, after much time spent back and forth, Claire was able to receive her birth certificate.
But all the drama could have been avoided if Claire was aware that the mail forwarder could not physically ship to Vietnam to begin with, so she could choose a service that was more suitable to her needs.
When you redirect your mail to your mail forwarder, junk mail will be forwarded too.
This is why it’s important to check your mail forwarders junk mail policy. Many plans will include free junk mail removal, but a few won’t remove it unless you pay a fee.
All that junk mail adds up. If it’s not removed, it can add weight to your forwarding shipment, which will make the cost of sending your mail more expensive than it needs to be.
Got some information you want to add or just want to share your own experience using a mail forwarding service? Let me know in the comments below!