If you travel full-time, long-term, or even just find yourself moving a lot and hate changing your mailing address, you may benefit from using a virtual mailing service.
Virtual Mailing Service Basics
A virtual mailing service gives you a physical address, to which you can direct all your mail and set as your permanent address. In many cases there is even a physical person there who can sign for packages.
When you receive mail, the virtual mailing service will alert you to its arrival by emailing you a scan of the envelope. You can then direct them to do any of the following:
- Open the letter, scan the contents, and email them to you
- Forward the letter to your current address
- Recycle or shred the letter
Many virtual mailing services offer a series of extra perks (usually for extra fees), such as depositing cheques to your bank account, fax services, and more.
Why Use a Virtual Mailing Service?
If you’re living or traveling abroad and don’t want to burden a friend/family member to receive and sort your mail, or if said friend/family member moves too often for it to be convenient, a virtual mailing service might be your answer.
Even if you’re not abroad, but are running an online business and want to convey the appearance of having a physical office (with a prestigious address), you can find a virtual mailing service that also has full office services like dedicated phone numbers answered by a receptionist, meeting spaces, and more.
Virtual Mailing Service Fees
Fees for using a virtual mailing service vary greatly, dependent largely on the amount of mail you receive. In most cases there is a monthly fee, with additional charges to forward mail/packages, deposit cheques, and receive/scan letters above the monthly quota.
Finding a Virtual Mailing Service
There are a lot of virtual mailing services out there; more by the day. The best way to find the perfect one for you is to search for “virtual mailing service + [your country]”. Here is a selection of virtual mailing services that I found through the grapevine and with a few basic searches:
Earth Class Mail is arguably the industry leader in virtual mailing services, and is apparently expanding into international markets. Most people I know who use them also complain about the cost.
Fees: From $10/month
This is the only virtual mailing service I found with no monthly fee; they simply charge you for what comes in and what you want to do with it. And the prices seem quite reasonable.
Fees: Pay-as-you-go – 60 GBP/month
Regus offers full virtual office services around the world, of which virtual mail handling is just one service. I had trouble finding their pricing structure, but a reader who uses them indicated that they aren’t cheap.
You can have an address in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Singapore, and they’re expanding to other locations as well!
Determining What You Need
Once you’ve window-shopped a few virtual mailing services, you’ll become familiar with the terminology and pricing options. With a large range of monthly packages, it’s now time to determine the best option.
Here are some questions to ask:
- How much mail do I receive on average monthly? (This will determine the package you choose; the less mail you get, the cheaper it is)
- Can I reduce the physical mail I get by signing up for online statements?
- How often do I need my mail forwarded to me?
- Do I get cheques that need depositing? (Not all virtual mailing services can do this).
- Can my address be a PO box? (Some virtual mailing services show your address as a PO box, which some organizations won’t accept or ship to).
Have you ever used a virtual mailing service? Which service was it, and how was your experience?