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International Mail Forwarding Services
Old 06-30-2019, 04:47 AM   #1
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International Mail Forwarding Services

Hi all.

As some of you may know from a different thread, my family and I are taking an expat assignment in the UK.

Does anyone have recent experience with any of the professional mail forwarding services? There seem to be a number of them, with most built around a concept of receiving your forwarded mail, scanning the exterior and then giving you the online option to shred, open/scan, retain, or ship the mail to you.

The USPS doesn't seem to offer a very sophisticated/long-term service in this regard.

Obviously, security is my #1 concern. We'll do everything we can to suppress physical mail, but having a third party authorized to receive/open/scan your mail in an age of identify theft is nerve wracking.

We may just have a neighbor/family do it, but this is a multi-year assignment and that seem a bit of an undo burden to put on someone.

Anyone have any experiences with one or more of the providers out there?

Thanks!
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Old 06-30-2019, 05:55 AM   #2
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We used one for years while cruising in the Caribbean. (Home sold in SoCAL, no real address) Set up new domicile in Fla., used Fla. Mail forwarding service and for all intents and purposes relocated to Fla. When we returned from the boat we kept the service for another 2 years while we were renting as it was such a great service. Filed Taxes using the service address also and got a Drivers license using same. Never had an issue, used there "Junk" review service too. They also informed us of any important mail (That THEY thought was important). Never had an issue. Reputable services cannot afford to be un-trustworthy. JMHO.
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Old 06-30-2019, 06:51 AM   #3
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In a former life as an ex-pat (years ago), my local credit union offered this service at no cost. I'm not sure if they still do. I had no problems at all. Also used that address for taxes, etc.
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Old 06-30-2019, 08:11 AM   #4
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DW & I have been almost full-time vagabonds, traveling outside the U.S. for the past 3 years. We use Traveling Mailbox. Their service is excellent. It works flawlessly for us. I know of at least one other member on this forum that uses TM, as well. TM was referred to us by several expat friends of ours in Mexico.

When using a mail forwarding service, it is typically best NOT to place a change of address with the post office using your mail forwarding service address as all of your junk mail will go there, as well. If you haven't already, it is worth converting as much as possible to electronic statements. Still, there are some items, i.e. credit cards when they renew, that need to be physically mailed. Services like TM will forward those to you if you wish. My pension plan administrator does not provide e-statements for 1099's. So, I need that sent to our TM. With each of our financial institutions, we changed our mailing address to match that of our forwarding service. We use their lowest cost plan and have never come close to exceeding the maximum number of envelopes/scans.

IIRC, TM uses a security camera system for monitoring the handling of its members' mail. When it comes to concerns about identity theft, I feel more secure using TM than I would having a sensitive piece of mail sitting in my mailbox at home.
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Old 06-30-2019, 09:02 AM   #5
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I use st Brendanís isle in Florida. So far so good.
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Old 06-30-2019, 09:12 AM   #6
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I use st Brendanís isle in Florida. So far so good.
That is who we used also. Great folk and great prices.
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Old 06-30-2019, 09:22 AM   #7
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As RVers for 5 years we used Escapees out of Livingston TX. For a few of those years we used them as our physical address (after MIL passed). Escapees were excellent.

But I never used them for international travel as in sending us something overseas, but I bet they would do it.

I kept the account, and when we travel for a long period we have mail temporarily forwarded to them and simply held for us if we are overseas.

It’s somewhat expensive for our current infrequent usage, but I’m loathe to give up that same address.
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Old 06-30-2019, 09:30 AM   #8
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I never used them for international travel as in sending us something overseas, but I bet they would do it.
We lived in Costa Rica during the entirety of 2018. DW's MasterCard expired in the late spring and a new one was sent to our TM. We could have had it forwarded to us in C.R. with signature required for about $25. Luck would have it that our son and DIL were coming to visit so we had the cc forwarded to them and they muled it for us.
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Old 06-30-2019, 09:54 AM   #9
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I would second the endorsement for Traveling Mailbox, who I have used also as I am out of the US at least half the time. They were extremely professional, reliable, and prompt. Great communication and customer service as well.

I would reiterate candrew's point about NOT depending on the "forward mail" order with the USPS, however. This has less to do with avoiding having junk mail sent to TM, and more because it is a COMPLETELY unreliable way to make sure that TM actually gets your mail!

On one four month trip, I found out only about **50%** of the mail I received was actually forwarded to Traveling Mailbox, despite my having filed the necessary USPS forwarding orders under all possible names and in plenty of time!!!!! It was quite frustrating because there seemed no rhyme or reason for why some mail was forwarded and some not -- even from the same institution! Complete incompetence.

To make things even worse, the postal delivery person then proceeded to leave it all the non-forwarded mail in a huge shopping bag on my front stoop about three months in because it no longer fit in my mailbox! I only found out about this because the president of our HOA saw it and sent me an email, taking in the mail for safekeeping until I returned home. (Complaints made to the manager at my post office after I returned of course were ignored). So the lesson learned (and confirmed by TM) is that it's best to change your address with the specific institutions you receive any paper mail from to ensure it goes to the right place (and of course, also going paperless with anyone else you can). Do **not** rely on USPS forwarding orders!

Another note on TM's forwarding capability - they will only hold your mail for free for 60 days I think before they dispose of it, so you either have to pay a lot ($1 per envelope per month) for them to keep holding it, OR have it forwarded somewhere before then (assuming you want to have it all when you return). They also have a special address you can have packages sent to if there's any need for that, which they can also forward for a fee. To deal with the forwarding, I rented a large USPS Post Office Box in my home town and had all accumulated of mail sent there every 60 days. Worked like a charm.
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Old 06-30-2019, 11:01 AM   #10
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Iíve been very happy with https://www.usglobalmail.com/

Very friendly, fast service. And when the hurricane hit their headquarters in Texas, they didnít miss a beat - closed for half a day.

As you compare services the real thing to check is the cost they charge for shipping the physical mail. They all have similar monthly fees and fees for scanning but some have only very expensive forwarding options. US global has a regular US airmail option which is fine for most non-critical things.
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Old 07-02-2019, 06:54 PM   #11
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Thanks everyone. Super helpful. I really appreciate you taking the time to post.
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Old 07-03-2019, 12:20 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by smurray5991 View Post
I would second the endorsement for Traveling Mailbox, who I have used also as I am out of the US at least half the time. They were extremely professional, reliable, and prompt. Great communication and customer service as well.



I would reiterate candrew's point about NOT depending on the "forward mail" order with the USPS, however. This has less to do with avoiding having junk mail sent to TM, and more because it is a COMPLETELY unreliable way to make sure that TM actually gets your mail!



On one four month trip, I found out only about **50%** of the mail I received was actually forwarded to Traveling Mailbox, despite my having filed the necessary USPS forwarding orders under all possible names and in plenty of time!!!!! It was quite frustrating because there seemed no rhyme or reason for why some mail was forwarded and some not -- even from the same institution! Complete incompetence.



To make things even worse, the postal delivery person then proceeded to leave it all the non-forwarded mail in a huge shopping bag on my front stoop about three months in because it no longer fit in my mailbox! I only found out about this because the president of our HOA saw it and sent me an email, taking in the mail for safekeeping until I returned home. (Complaints made to the manager at my post office after I returned of course were ignored). So the lesson learned (and confirmed by TM) is that it's best to change your address with the specific institutions you receive any paper mail from to ensure it goes to the right place (and of course, also going paperless with anyone else you can). Do **not** rely on USPS forwarding orders!



Another note on TM's forwarding capability - they will only hold your mail for free for 60 days I think before they dispose of it, so you either have to pay a lot ($1 per envelope per month) for them to keep holding it, OR have it forwarded somewhere before then (assuming you want to have it all when you return). They also have a special address you can have packages sent to if there's any need for that, which they can also forward for a fee. To deal with the forwarding, I rented a large USPS Post Office Box in my home town and had all accumulated of mail sent there every 60 days. Worked like a charm.


If you donít have USPS forward mail to TM, what do you do? Just change your address with everyone who sends mail other than junk mail?
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Old 07-03-2019, 02:32 AM   #13
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My wife and I have used USABox for the last ten years and are completely satisfied. They forward mail to me on a monthly basis, (via FedEx) and send me an email with a photo of the envelope as each piece of mail arrives. I can then deselect any mail I don't care to receive -- such as credit card offers). If something looks urgent, such as an IRS notice, I can have them open it and scan the contents and send to me as an email. They are bonded and they use a bonded company to destroy safely the unwanted mail.

We pay US $44 a month for the service (up to 4 lbs of mail each month). The service is important for us to get credit card updates; some banks won't send renewed cards outside the US.

They have maildrop locations in all the states which have no State Income tax, so that helps when you live outside the US for a full tax year, but want to have a US presence. Thus, I maintain a Florida address and this keeps everyone happy.

They also offer a package forwarding service, including breaking down multiple packages and repacking into one box.

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Old 07-03-2019, 08:00 AM   #14
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If you donít have USPS forward mail to TM, what do you do? Just change your address with everyone who sends mail other than junk mail?
In a word, yes. Banks, CC's, Fido, etc. it's what we've been doing the past several years. We had already whittled down the amount of total snail mail by converting as much as possible to e-statements and using the various "opt-out" online services to reduce junk mail. Then it was just a matter of arranging our traveling mailbox to handle those few essentials by changing our mailing address with each individual firm.

Presently, we are back home in the states for a month before taking off again at the end of July. Our traveling mailbox has received 2 pieces of essential mail for us during the month of June. Everything we've pulled out of our snail mail box while at home - which is minimal now thanks to opting out and e-statements - has been a few local junk advertising circulars that go straight into the recycle bin.
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