Day 53: Mail Forwarding for Expats

One of the things I had to figure out when I moved to New Zealand was mail. I still have credit and debt in the US, retirement accounts, etc. that I have to manage from here. This is the electronic age, so most of my bills are now fully online but there are some things that just have to be mailed. Some of these companies are fine with a non-US mailing address and some aren’t.

I could have asked my family to send me my mail and I considered that, but since I could easily be overseas for years and years I thought that was asking a bit too much of them. So before I moved, I did some research and decided to use a mail service. I chose one called US Global Mail. I picked them because the price seemed right and they had good online reviews including on some of the immigration forums.

The way the service works is that you sign up with them and validate that you are who you say you are.  Validation is done by sending in a few forms to prove who you are. Once that is done, they give you a permanent mailing address that is specific to you – something like 1321 Upland Drive in Houston with a number that is yours alone. Once you have that, you use it just as you would a physical mailing address. I was a little leery at first so I just changed one account and made sure I got the mail from it (I did) and then I changed everything else over.

US Global MailWhen mail comes to your US Global Mail account, they scan the outside of the letter/package and send you an email that notifies you that mail has arrived. When you log in to their website, your mail is all organized there for you – you can see the scanned mail and decide what to do with it. Options include:

  • Having them shred it for you
  • Asking them to open it and scan the contents for you. I do this if it isn’t something I recognize from the outside packaging. They scan the contents and put the results into a PDF that you can then access through your account. The charge is based on how many pages need to be scanned but this lets you have the content sooner and saves you mailing it somewhere else only to find out it was junk. Note that if the contents are a credit card replacement card (or they think it is), they won’t scan it for you and will tell you that’s what it is so that you can forward it. Once you’ve read the scan, you can then decide to shred the actual mail or forward it.
  • Having it forwarded to another address. If you pick this option, there are lots variations and they have a great online tool that lets you sort and select your mail for further processing. You can have them save up your mail and then ship it all together, you can mail different items to different addresses, you can ask them to repackage the content so that it saves you $$ on shipping, etc. I tried having some packages from Amazon.com mailed to me through the service – I had Global Mail repackage three boxes into one and then ship the results. In that example, the end result was only a few dollars cheaper than if Amazon had just mailed them. But for companies less efficient than Amazon, that might not be the case. But for letters, it has worked out well for me to let them pile up for a couple of weeks and then have the service send the ones that I want to New Zealand.

 

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