What Is a Virtual Mailbox? (And Why You Should Get One)
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If you’ve never heard of them, a virtual mailbox is a service that provides you with a physical mailing address anywhere in the United States.

There’s an obvious benefit for international shoppers who want to buy products from businesses that only ship to addresses in the United States. But there are not-so-obvious benefits even if you already have a physical US mailing address.

What Is a Virtual Mailbox?

A virtual mailbox is a service that receives all your physical mail for you.

Here’s a quick rundown of the features you can expect from a virtual mailbox.

  • You can have a single US physical address that never changes no matter where you live
  • When mail arrives, the service scans the outside of envelopes and packages
  • You view the scans of your incoming mail and tell the service whether to shred, hold, or ship the items to you
  • Some services will also open the mail and scan the contents for you
  • You may also be able to ask for incoming checks to be deposited (via mail) to any US bank

These set of features provide unique opportunities for different people, even if you live inside the U.S and have a physical postal address.

How Digital Nomads Use a Virtual Mailbox

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With the US postal service, you can put your mail on hold by filling out a form on their website.

Virtual Mailbox Address

This works for 30 days at a time. Beyond that, you need to switch to long-term mail forwarding.

If you’re a digital nomad or an executive who travels frequently, remembering to enable and disable USPS mail forwarding would be a real hassle.

This is when a virtual mailbox would really come in handy. No matter where you are, whether it’s in an airport waiting for a flight, or in an Airbnb rental in Amsterdam, you can “receive” your physical mail.

checking virtual mailbox

This is much more convenient than letting mail pile up in your mailbox or having to remember to enable or disable USPS mail holding.

And if you’re staying in one location for more than a week, you can even ask the virtual mailbox service to ship only important mail to you.

Since virtual mailbox services ship such a high volume of mail, they receive discounted shipping rates. You can also request that they box multiple items up in a single box to save even more on shipping costs.

Hike the Appalachian trail for six months. Hitchhike across Europe. No matter where you travel, you always have access to your incoming mail.

So let’s take a look at three core benefits that can tempt you to sign up for a virtual mailbox service today.

1. Get Rid of Mail Clutter

Even if you live in the US and don’t move frequently, a virtual mailbox is still very useful.

According to NYU School of Law, in the US junk mail makes up 5.6 million tons of paper and plastic that end up in landfills.

“The average American household receives 848 pieces of junk mail per household, equal to 1.5 trees every year—more than 100 million trees for all US households combined.”

You may find that you waste precious minutes every day dealing with that pile of useless mail that arrives in your mailbox.

With a virtual mailbox, you wouldn’t even have to open your mailbox anymore.

All you have to do is take a few minutes during your lunch break to log into your virtual mailbox account. Scan through all of the received items, and just click whether to shred or save each piece.

Many virtual mailbox services will even open individual letters (if you ask them to) and scan the documents.

This provides you with a digital copy of any bills or correspondence, and you don’t have to deal with the leftover waste.

Most of the virtual mailbox services also shred hundreds of thousands of letters every day, so they’ve streamlined the recycling process.

2. Saves Time and Enjoy Security

There are endless opportunities to save time with a virtual mailbox service.

  • Have incoming paper checks forwarded to your bank for deposit (many virtual mailbox services offer this feature)
  • Read your scanned correspondence and respond to it immediately, then have it shredded.
  • You’ll never have to waste time going to the post office or checking your mailbox
  • Have gifts you want to send to someone forwarded directly without having to touch the package yourself
  • Check incoming mail from your office, while commuting, or while you’re on vacation

A virtual mailbox also boosts your personal security.

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3. Stop Changing Addresses When You Move

If you’ve ever had to deal with changing your physical mailing address through the US Postal Service, then you know what a pain it can be.

Change address when you move?

You can launch the change of address process online through the USPS website, which triggers their mail-forwarding service for 12 months.

This means you have 12 months to ensure every single company you’ve ever dealth with has your new address.

That’s fine if you don’t move too frequently. But if you’re in the military, or you work for a company that moves you around alot, this can become a real hassle.

The best virtual mailbox services out there have locations all across the country.

Virtual Mailbox Locations

You just pick the state that you want to consider your “home state”, receive your physical address, and you never have to change your address again. It doesn’t matter how often you move, or where you move to.

The 5 Best Virtual Mailbox Services

If you’re ready to sign up for a virtual mailbox, there are a few that have been around a while. Any of these would be a good choice.

For any of these services, you’re looking at costs ranging from $10 to $40 depending on whether you also want to include extra services.

1. US Global Mail

US Global Mail

One of the longest-running virtual mailbox services is US Global Mail. It’s especially popular among US expatriots.

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Services they offer include:

  • A physical address in the US (not a PO box)
  • Scans of every envelope or package that arrives
  • Open-mail scanning available
  • Package forwarding to any address in the world
  • Reduced shipping rates

2. iPostal1

ipostal1 virtual mailbox

iPostal1 offers roughly the same rates as US Global Mail, depending on the volume of items you receive each month.

Services they offer include:

  • Over 500 street addresses available throughout the US.
  • A free mobile app to check your mail, available for iPhone or Android
  • Scanned incoming envelopes and packages with 2 GB free cloud storage
  • Phone or faxing available
  • Check depositing offered if the bank accepts mail-in deposits

3. Anytime Mailbox

Anytime Mailbox

Anytime Mailbox is a virtual mailbox service that lets you choose from any of 410 street addresses around the country.

Rates are some of the lowest in the industry, at roughly half the cost of other services.

Services they offer include:

  • Access to your virtual mailbox via multiple devices
  • Opening and scanning of your mail contents
  • Free cloud storage (no limits)
  • Forwarding of any envelopes or packages
  • Mail-in check depositing to any bank

4. PostScanMail

postscanmail virtual mailbox

PostScanMail offers most of the same services as others listed above. But there are fewer physical street locations to choose from. Most of the addresses are in major cities.

Rates are slightly higher than other services and depend on the number of incoming items every month.

Services they offer include:

  • Access your scanned email from any device
  • Mail opening and scanning available
  • Envelope and package forwarding
  • 30 days free storage of physical items
  • Online mail management filters for organizing your scans

5. Traveling Mailbox

traveling mailbox

Traveling Mailbox is priced on the high end of the other services offered here, but allow for more items received per month than many others.

Also, while other plans limit the basic plan to one user, this one allows up to three. It also features a “junk mail filtering” option where your junk mail isn’t scanned or counted toward your plan.

Services they offer include:

  • Open and scan the contents of mail to PDF format
  • Mail forwarding anywhere in the world
  • Integrated with other services like Evernote and Bill.com
  • Unlimited cloud storage
  • Mobile access via iPhone or Android
  • Deposit check via snail mail

Choosing Your Virtual Mailbox

With affordable pricing, owning a virtual mailbox would be useful for anyone whether or not you travel much.

Snail mail doesn’t appear to be going away any time soon. But by using a virtual mailbox, you can transform your physical mail into a digital format. Not only is it convenient, but it lets you store your correspondence on the web just like all your regular email.

If a virtual mailbox is too expensive for your taste, there are other solutions for international shoppers. We’ve offered a list of online shopping sites that ship internationally for free 20 Online Shopping Sites With Free International Shipping 20 Online Shopping Sites With Free International Shipping International shipping has made us global shoppers. You have to spend more, but there are also a few trustworthy shopping sites that offer free international shipping. Read More as a great alternative.

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  1. dragonmouth
    October 5, 2018 at 12:00 pm

    Virtual mailboxes may provide many benefits. But only until the government decides that, like smartphones, virtual mailboxes are a hotbed of terrorist communications. Then all the alphabet agencies will demand instant and permanent access to these mailboxes in the name of "National Security".