Best Virtual Mailbox Service For Travelers & Digital Nomads

Virtual Mailbox Services Review
Virtual Mailboxes: How to Receive Mail while Traveling
Digital Nomads

How do long-term travelers and digital nomads receive mail or packages while traveling? I use a virtual mailbox service that allows me to scan and forward my mail internationally.

I’ve been working as a digital nomad for the past 9 years, basing myself in multiple countries or simply living out of my backpack while traveling.

Currently, I’m living as an expat in Italy.

Yet I have a virtual mailbox with a physical address in San Antonio, Texas.

Using this service, any incoming mail or packages is photographed, which I can then view through an online dashboard.

From there, I can decide to scan the contents (letters), forward the mail/packages somewhere else, or have it shredded/recycled. I can even deposit checks.

My virtual mailbox service is incredibly helpful for running my online business and getting paid to travel around the world!

I use it to receive payments from clients, for business & personal bills, bank & credit card statements, legal documents, packages, and more.

Guide To Virtual Mail Forwarding In 2019

Earth Class Mail Dashboard
My Earth Class Mail Online Dashboard

What Is A Virtual Mailbox?

A virtual mailbox is a special service that gives you an actual physical mailing address, that you can use as your permanent address for sending all your physical mail and packages, even if you’re traveling overseas.

Typical Virtual Mailbox Services Include:

  • Online mail notification
  • Online viewing of envelopes & packages
  • Open and scan contents of your mail
  • Mail forwarding
  • Shred, dispose or recycling of mail
  • Package storage and shipping
  • Check deposit service
  • Signature upon delivery

Different online travel mailbox services offer different features. Some are more advanced than others.

There’s usually a base price with additional fees depending on which extra’s you want (like check deposit) or how much mail you receive.

Some virtual mailboxes offer a PO box address, while others offer a real physical street address — which is often required for many banks and official government correspondence.

Top Virtual Mailbox Services For Travel


1. Earth Class Mail (Recommended)

Earth Class Mail Forwarding Service

Cost: $69-$179 USD per month

Earth Class Mail is the virtual mailbox service that I personally use, and have been using for the last 5 years. Their suite of features is the most advanced, especially if you’re running an online business.

They have the largest number of US-based addresses for different states of all the services mentioned here. Their online software, features, speed, and sorting facilities are top-notch, but you’ll also pay a premium for it.

While expensive, I can’t imagine running my travel blog without them. It’s one business expense that’s totally worth it. I use them to receive client checks, important packages, business & personal banking correspondence, tax documents, everything!

The service integrates with QuickBooks, Xero, Bill.com, Dropbox, Google Drive, and more.

They also offer a fully-automated CheckStream Deposit Service if your business receives a lot of physical checks.

Earth Class Mail Details →


2. Traveling Mailbox

Traveling Mailbox Service

Cost: $15-$159 USD per month

Traveling Mailbox is another decent forwarding service with 5 plans to choose from depending on your needs. Like Earth Class Mail, all accounts include basic envelope scans, junk mail filtering, unlimited cloud storage and free mail shredding.

They have over 30 addresses around the US. Premium features like check deposits cost extra. There are additional fees if you go over your monthly limits. The service integrates with Evernote, Bill.com and Dropbox.


3. US Global Mail

US Global Mailbox Service

Cost: $10-$20 USD per month

US Global Mail has been around since 1998, and they offer individual and family plans for short-term (monthly) or long-term (1-2 year) periods.

They offer free letter storage for 180 days, and free package storage for 30 days. Mail forwarding rates are quite affordable. One major downside is that they only offer one address location in Houston, Texas. This isn’t ideal if you need your address to match your state of residence.


Who Should Consider A Virtual Mailbox?

Long-Term Travelers

You’ve saved money for years, and are now planning your dream trip around the world. But who will take care of your mail? If you don’t want to burden family or friends with sorting your mail, a virtual mailbox is a perfect option.

Digital Nomads

Are you one of the 4.8 million Americans who now call themselves digital nomads? Technology has made the digital office a reality for many, and now you don’t have to be tied down by physical mail either.

RVers & Vanlifers

Living out of a vehicle like an RV or campervan poses a challenge to receiving your mail & packages, especially if you’re on the road. Forward your mail to the next RV campground you plan to stop at, no matter what state you’re driving through.

Expats

Are you living overseas in a foreign country with a travel-friendly job, but want to keep a physical mailing address in the US for billing, voting, and tax purposes? Sign up for a virtual mailing address in your former home state.

How To Set Up Mail Forwarding

To officially authorize your virtual mail service to receive mail on your behalf, you need to complete USPS Form 1583 and have it notarized.

Unless you’re signing up for Earth Class Mail, who offers free complimentary notarized online activation, you’ll need to get the form notarized in person.

Or if you’re already outside the United States — through an online notary service like NotaryCam (which only costs $25).

Where To Pick Up Your Mail

So, now that you have your virtual mailbox set up, where do you actually forward your mail if you’re living out of an RV or backpacking overseas?

Hotels

Some nicer hotels will let you forward mail and packages to them if you have a reservation there. The problem is timing your stay with when the mail will arrive. I’ve done this a few times. It’s safer to book a room for a least a few days.

Coworking Spaces

Many coworking spaces allow members to receive mail at the office. Again, you may need to sign up to become a member for a week, a month, etc.

Local Post Offices

Some post offices in foreign countries allow you to forward your mail to them, to be picked up later.

FedEx, UPS, DHL

It’s also possible to send packages to the local office of these popular shipping companies, where you can then pick it up when you arrive. You’ll need to ship it via their particular service though. I’d call ahead to let them know what you want to do, and ask how long they’ll hold your package for you.

Virtual Mailbox Tips & Advice

  • Reduce the amount of physical mail you generate by signing up for paperless billing and online statements. Opt out of credit card & insurance offers using https://www.optoutprescreen.com/
  • Many financial institutions require a physical mailing address and don’t allow PO boxes. Make sure to choose a plan accordingly.
  • When picking a virtual mailbox service, pay attention to the plan limits and figure out how much mail you think you’ll receive.
  • You might be able to reduce your state taxes by setting up residency in a state with no income tax. Pick a virtual address in that same state.

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READ MORE DIGITAL NOMAD TIPS

I hope you enjoyed my guide to virtual mailbox services! Hopefully you found it useful. Here are a few more wanderlust-inducing articles that I recommend you read next:

Have any questions about virtual mailbox services or mail forwarding while you travel? Any other suggestions? Let me know in the comments below!

THANKS FOR READING

Hi, I’m Matthew Karsten — I’ve been traveling around the world for the last 9 years as a blogger, photographer, and digital nomad. Adventure travel & photography are my passions. Let me inspire you to travel more with crazy stories, photography, and money-saving travel tips.
Matthew Karsten
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Comments (28)

  1. I enjoyed your article. I am about to become a bit nomadic, as I work from home, aka anywhere my hotspot has a signal-and instead of sitting around in a box I plan to pull my camper around the country fishing a huge bucket list of waters while I am still able to do it.

    I do get mail and packages and your article gave me a few more options like a virtual mailbox service, as I prefer to be more independent than having to depend on family/friends to keep up with my junk.

    • Hey Alicia, glad you found it useful. Yeah, I was never a big fan of making my family be responsible for taking care of my mail while I was traveling.

      Much better to manage it yourself with a virtual mailbox.

  2. Thanks for the virtual mailbox article! I’ve typically forwarded stuff to a local FedEx, but the only FedEx in Santiago Chile is waaaaaayyy out by the airport, so it’s good to read some alternatives. Thanks again for the advice!

  3. I am currently living in Nicaragua, Esteli to be more specific. I am physically disabled and require on going prescription medication from The U.S. I have been returning to pick up my medicines every three months. Last time checking into a hotel in Texas where my mother had sent my meds. Traveling hurts and this method of procurement can not continue. Some of my medicines are what is considered contraband in central america. I can not afford on my disability income to live in the U.S. The idea that I can not have my doctor prescribed medicines mailed safely to me is resulting in well homelessness if I have to return to receive. I have heard over and over from doctors here, in Mexico, Costa Rica, Honduras, everywhere, that it is impossible, or not safe to have medicines mailed to central america, because someone at customs will steal them. Do any of the above ideas offer me hope, or is my dream of living efficiently in CA destroyed as a result of a mailing disorder? someone, please help. I am 44, full soc security is a ways away.

  4. I have had things sent from stores to a hotel room, and if you are in Asia – do it in Singapore bc you generally won’t have to pay tax, in my case even with the shipping cost from say, Nordstrom, I paid less than I would have in the US (by a tiny bit) – I stayed at a 4 star hotel and they tracked every forwarded package and held for me.

    I would like to find a mailbox etc type service, but it showed nothing nearby… any other options?

  5. Does anyone know if there is a virtual mailbox service similar to Earth Class Mail or Travelling Mailbox that provides a Canadian address?

  6. This is perfect. I have been looking for a virtual mailing solution like this because I have a rental property business and often receive rent checks in the mail but was not sure how to handle it from the road.

    I will check them out now. You covered quite a few different ways to handle things, especially forwarding packages. Huh. I gotta give you kudos for this article.

  7. I guess Amazon Lockers may come in handy too for some things – they have those in the USA, UK and perhaps a few other countries. The UK also has Collect+, used by Amazon and some other merchants to send packages to places like corner shops where you can sign for and collect them.

  8. How much would it cost (rule of thumb) to pick up a package in, say Thailand, or somewhere else in Asia at a Mailbox Etc location? I called them and the answer was “it depends”. I’m not looking for exact pricing but a range to understand whether it’s worth it or not.

    • I’m sure it varies from place to place. It’s been a while since I’ve used it, but I think it only cost me like $5 in Panama. But that was a few years ago.

  9. Within the US, you can ship things via the Greyhound Bus system. This is great for large or heavy things. It’s far cheaper and faster than UPS or USPS in most cases. They put your item in the bay with the traveler’s luggage. They also give you the bus number so you can follow it online or by calling the station.

    It’s best to meet the bus when it pulls up because sometimes bus stations have limited storage or manpower to hold your package for you.
    Also, you can ship things that you can’t send via mail. (Liquids, batteries, fireworks, coffins, etc.)

  10. The US Embassies and Consulates USED TO hold mail for travelers PRIOR TO Sept 11, 2001. Due to security concerns they will not longer hold your mail for anyone. It is not done anymore. New government policy s and security measures post 9/11.

    You can’t even get into an embassy or consulate without an appointment anymore. No more walk-ons allowed. This is the new policy at most Western embassies and consulates in the wake of US embassy bombings in Africa 1988 and Afghanistan 2013. Let’s not forget the US embassy hostage situation in Tehran, Iran 1979.

    I did successfully walk onto the US Consulate in Chennai, India, but security there is manned by Indians and they are lax. It isn’t their government, so they do not care. This was prior to the terrorist attack in Mumbai 2008, so the policy may have changed in India as well.

    Perhaps other countries will hold the mail of their own citizens? This practice has mostly become obsolete in the wake of terrorism and concerns about bombs in packages, letter bombs, anthrax packages, cyanide packages, ricin packages, etc. (See the US and Japan in particular for biological attacks through the mail and on the subways)

    Whether is a biological or mechanical (bomb) threat it is still a threat to the embassy and consulate staff they are not prepared to take that risk for anyone. Embassy staffers are poorly paid and not about to risk their lives for a stranger.

    Terrorism has changed everything. The good old days are over.

  11. Hi! Friends of mine in the UK have started this exact type of business in the UK called Paperworkfactory.com

    The idea is exactly the same… a safe “local” address in the UK so that travelers are never out of touch with their important mail and packages. Documents can be scanned, emailed to you and kept or shredded.

  12. Great stuff. Never thought about that much, but as a business owner, it’s always tough to be away from the office because of this kind of thing. Thanks for the info…

  13. Really good info. I read about some services like Earth Class Mail. In the end, I decided to have my mail forwarded to a good friend who was willing to deal with the annoyance.

  14. If you meet the box size specs, you can also send USPS Express Mail International insured (3-5 day non-guaranteed delivery) and have it held at the station or sent to the Mailboxes Etc. for a reasonable price. I sent 29 lbs. for about $200. Best to send to a capital city and more developed country like Peru rather than Bolivia because they use more developed electronic methods and you have better tracking ability.

  15. Wow that website is brilliant! Thanks so much for sharing. I also like the idea of using Mailboxes Etc, great tips! Cheers!