Take Control of Your Mail
For anyone who has been irritated by managing the stream of junk mail that arrives in the mailbox everyday, or anyone who travels frequently and needs a way to stay on top of mail while they are away from home, a mail service is indespensible. Most expatriots need a mail service to forward or notify them of mail while they are away from their home country. And lately small businesses have found mail services an economical way to outsource some work and establish a presense in another state.
What Can a Mail Service do for me?
In its original and most basic form a mail service is a company that receives your paper (snail) mail for you and forwards it to another address. Today there are more advanced mail services that will receive your mail, let you decide what you want to keep, shred the junk, and turn the rest into PDFs for you to store electronically. Especially for people who are away form home a lot or people who want to go paperless, this is an incredible, time-saving service.
Types of Mail Services
There are 4 general types of mail services
Local Private Mailbox. This is the old style mail service that allows you to rent a mailbox and will forward the received mail to another address. As these services do not provide the benefits and flexibility of scanning and electronic storage, we don't include them in our recommendations.
All Digital. These are an online document managment service. They are great in theory, but they are limited because they have no way to handle your paper mail. You have to be able to get all of your mail electronically to rely solely on an all digital service. As this is not yet practical, we are not recommending these services for use by themselves.
Mail Forwarding Service. This is a mail service that will handle paper mail and will allow you to retreive either the paper mail or digital copies of the mail. The service will typical let you pick an address in one of several locations. You will then file a change of address with the post office for the new location along with a form giving the mail service permission to handle your mail. When the mail serivce receives your mail, they put a picture of the envelope on their secure site. You then chose whether you want the mail shreded, scanned, or forwarded to you. The major benefit is that you can deal with almost all of your mail in PDF form from anywhere in the world and you have ready made digital copies of everything.
Package Handling Services. These services are designed for people who live outside the country but want to be able to purchase goods from US web sites that only ship within the US. They also give you a US address that you would use as your delivery address for online shopping. They then forward the package to your foreign location and generally charge you either an additional shipping and handling fee, a monthly mailbox fee, or both. Some of these will also deal with correspondence by forwarding or scanning regular mail.
What We Recommend
The best mail service for you will depend on your personal situation. Will you be outside the US without access to a regular address? If so, you need something as digital and flexible as possible. Will you be making frequent internet purchases from outside the US? Then you need to consider a package handling service.
In general for consumers who don't need to send a lot of packages outside the US we recommend a Hybrid mail service. MailboxForwarding.com is our favorite.
For business that want to outsource some of their mail related work or need an address in another state, we recommend Earth Class Mail.
If you need an address in a particular state then your choice will depend on what addresses the mail services have available.
If you are making a lot of internet purchases and having them shipped outside the US, ShipIto.com is a a good choice.