Why Are US Mail Forwarding Services Taking Off?
US mail forwarding services have never been more popular, just why is that? Well two immediate – and quite different reasons come to mind.
1) Expat Americans
The first is the fact that right now there are a record number of American citizens living abroad. The exact number of these ‘expat’ Americans isn’t really known accurately, but has been estimated (*1) to be ‘a least’ 4M people (that’s more than the populations of either Oklahoma or Oregon*2) and some estimates put up so high as 10M people!
When people move overseas, they often still have mail and packages for their attention and these deliveries have to be managed. And using an international forwarding service hits the spot. Some mail forwarding companies will aggregate your deliveries over a period of time and then internationally ship them to your destination of choice.
This has several benefits:
a) Your US mail arrives all in one go, rather than piecemeal over time. You can usually specify how frequently you want to receive your international mail.
b) Reduced international shipping costs – one ‘larger’ package being internationally forwarded rather than ‘several’ smaller packages is MUCH cheaper. Also you should find, as I do, that the forwarding service can get you a lower shipping cost than you could personally get (they negotiate special deals with the various international freight companies like UPS etc).
c) And if your US mail ‘package’ is modestly labeled then your customs liability (into your host country) will be kept low!
2) US Shopping from Overseas
The other main reason for the emerging popularity of US mail services offering international shipping is that people outside of the US like to shop with US retailers. The US shopping market has always been recognized offering tremendous choice and being very reasonably priced. The present weakness of the US dollar is only helping that view.
So with the ease of internet shopping a US package forwarding service makes a lot of sense. You can literally buy all your gadgets, magazines, personal products (I buy a lot of cheap vitamins) etc, etc and have them sent to your virtual USA address where the international shipping company can onward delivery to you.
How Does It All Work?
In both these cases above you get given a US postal address (which co-locates with the international forwarding company). And that is the ‘postal’ address that you use when you do your US buying.
All deliveries in your name to your US postal address are then received, and set aside until such time they are repackaged and shipped to you – according to your specified delivery timetable. You then get billed for the international shipping. It’s very simple, and I like it a lot.
What to Look Out For When Selecting Your US Mail Forwarding Service
Depending upon the precise service you require, you will need consider most or all of these service features:
- You will need a USA Mailing Address (NOT a PO Box – they won’t accept packages of course), this will be you US shipping address.
- They will aggregate your US packages and repackage them into one bigger package.
- They must accept both magazines and packages – if you need both!?
- They will ship internationally according to your needs (timetable), and it must be flexible in case you are not able to receive your international parcel one month.
- Ideal if they can give you ‘better than retail’ international shipping fees.
- They will exclude receipts from your international package. You can guess why!
- Offer ‘you’ a US Shopping Service. I have not used this (yet) but can see it as being a huge benefit. Read here about the benefits of a US personal shopping service.
- Scan and Fax service – really useful if you are on the move a lot like I tend to be. When your mail comes in, your ‘service provider’ will either scan and email a copy to you or if you prefer will fax it to you.
- Must be affordable! These services don’t come free of course, so make sure that you pick US mail forwarding service that suits your budget.
And some of these US mail forwarding services offer other ‘bells and whistles’ such as Telephony sevices (where you get a USA phone number – can be useful for businesses) as well that may be of interest. I use this company called MyUS.com.
Click here to see my MyUS.com review.