Woman sorting through her letters

How To Manage US Mail When You’re Traveling Overseas

With so much trip planning, the last thing you want to worry about is your mail.

No matter where your travels take you, there are several benefits to keeping an address in the United States.

For starters, it’s a central hub for any legal, business, financial, government, or tax documents you need to keep track of. A stateside address is also required by banking institutions, should you want to keep your American bank account active. On top of that, US-based companies often prefer to work with employees or contractors who have a US mailing address and bank account, as it keeps things simple.

If you have a trusted friend or relative who can mind your mail while you’re staying abroad, that would be ideal. But if you’d prefer to keep your documents a little more private, there are other options available.

Declutter your mail

If you’re traveling within the next few months, start decluttering your physical mailbox as soon as possible. Log into all of your online accounts and enroll in electronic statements. Write “return to sender” on unneeded correspondences, subscriptions, or junk mail.

Enroll in a mailbox service

Shop around for a mailbox service that’s willing to forward your mail, either physically or electronically.

For example, I use the UPS Store. Though they cost more than a standard US Postal Service (USPS) box, for $30 per month they offer a street address with a suite number, mail forwarding services, 24-hour access to the mailbox when I’m in town, and email alerts when I receive a package. I have my mail forwarded in a bulk package about once a quarter.

Virtual Mailboxes are also popular, with some as low as $5 to $10 per month. Essentially, it will forward your mail to an office where an employee will scan it and send it via email. 

Keep in mind that some of the cheaper virtual mailboxes are flagged by USPS as Commercial Mail Receiving Agencies (CMRAs), which are not accepted by all banks and credit cards.

To avoid any hassle, it’s worth shelling out a little more for a street address with a vetted, high-rated company on Trustpilot.

Popular mailbox providers

Anytime Mailbox ($15 per month) offers mailboxes around the US and abroad

Traveling Mailbox ($15 per month) is a solid option for 40 letters a month or less

Earth Class Mail ($29 per month) offers a package with check-depositing services

Escapees RV Club ($10 per month) is a great affordable option for those switching their domicile to South Dakota, Texas, or Florida

MyRVMail ($23 per month) will give you a Florida street address, which is excellent to keep things clean for tax season, as there’s no state sales tax

    Update your contacts

    Once you’ve chosen a mailbox service, create a contact list and update people with your new address. You’ll also need to notify important institutions, like the IRS, DMV, your banking institutions, investment accounts, and the Social Security Administration (SSA).

    Formally change your address

    You can sign up for a free USPS account online and enroll in Mail Forwarding service. The post office will automatically forward your mail to the new address for 12 months. 

    You can also enroll in Extended Mail Forwarding for an extra 6 months ($19.95), 12 months ($29.95), or 18 months ($39.95). To keep things watertight, I opted for 18 months.

    Opt of of junk mail

    The last thing you want is to have your mail forwarded overseas, only to find a package full of letters you don’t want. Ask your PO Box or virtual mailbox provider if they’re willing to toss junk mail for you.

    If not, you have a few options. First, enroll in the “Do Not Mail” service through the Direct Marketing Association’s website. Next, opt out of prescreened credit card offers through OptOutPrescreen. Finally, limit catalogs by inputting your address on Catalog Choice.

    Use lockers for packages

    If you need to order something while you’re traveling around America and get it delivered as soon as possible, contact the closest UPS Store and ask if you can mail your package there. As a courtesy, be sure to pick it up within a few days.

    Another great option is Amazon Locker. You’ll find these secure, self-service kiosks at shopping centers and grocery stores. When you go to place an order online, all you have to do is change the address at checkout to the nearest locker, which you can look up using the search function.

    Once your package is delivered, you’ll get an email notification with a pick-up code. Head to the delivery location, enter the code, and open the locker to grab your package. Simple as that.

    Amazon Locker locations

    • Australia
    • Austria
    • Canada
    • France
    • Germany
    • Italy
    • Japan
    • Mexico
    • Spain
    • United Arab Emirates
    • United Kingdom
    • United States

    Quick summary

    Even when you’re overseas, a stateside address is useful for streamlining taxes, banking, and employer contracts. 

    If you don’t have someone to mind your mailbox, find a PO box service that will forward your mail or a virtual mailbox that will scan and email your mail.

    For the smoothest transition, don’t forget to change your address on the USPS website. Make sure to switch to your new address a few months before departure, so your mail has plenty of time to catch up.

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