What is the best virtual mailbox service to use in 2022? For those expats and digital nomads traveling abroad, a virtual mailbox service is a handy tool that allows you to remotely manage your physical mail back home. A few years back, I made the switch to a digital mailbox for my snail mail and I can’t remember how I managed without it! It’s been that valuable to me and my business.
No doubt you probably have several questions, like I did, about virtual mailboxes. So below I’d like to share with you the research I did before making my decision, answer any questions you might have about the process and offer my recommendations for the best virtual mailbox services.
What surprised me most about signing up for a virtual mailbox was that the decision wasn’t as simple as I thought it was going to be.
There were a number of hurdles and factors that I hadn’t previously considered, which you might be overlooking as well. These include:
- How do I legally move my address to a new virtual address? This is especially hard if you’re already living overseas.
- How do I choose my address? Does it really matter? Yes, yes it does.
- What kind of monthly plan do I want? You have the option to pay per scan/forward or pay a set monthly fee.
- What are the most important features to consider in a virtual mailbox?
- How do I ensure and maintain my security and privacy with a virtual mailbox? This is a bigger deal than you may realize.
We’re going to dive into the answer for each of these questions in a way that will hopefully make everything crystal clear for you. Use the links below jump to a specific section.
I’m going to explain how I use my virtual mailbox on a daily basis. We’re not going to cover issues of security and privacy here, so if you want to learn more, read Are Virtual Mailboxes Safe? Here’s How You Can Know for Sure.
Then we’ll compare the best virtual mailbox services for the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom.
Note: Some links in this article are affiliate links, which means that at no extra cost to you, I may be compensated if you choose to use one of the services listed.
How a Virtual Mailbox Service Works
To start, it might be helpful for you see what a virtual mailbox looks like and how the process works.
Personally, I use Traveling Mailbox (which I’ll share more about later), so all my screenshots show this particular service. I have used other apps, however, and the process is usually similar.
What is a Virtual Mailbox?
A virtual mailbox is a service that turns your physical mail into digital form. It allows you to conveniently check your own mail or have it forwarded to you while you’re on the road or out of the country without bothering anybody else.
Most virtual mailbox services run on a basic model that looks like this:
- You are Issued a Personal Mailbox Address: Usually this is in the form of a mailbox number similar to a PO box. With rare exception, you will never actually visit this mail address to pickup your mail.
- Incoming Mail is Scanned: Only the front of the envelope or shipping label is scanned. You can view these scans online anywhere in the world on a computer or, with some services, on a dedicated app.
- You Can Choose to Open, Forward, Discard or Archive the Mail: With a few clicks on my computer or phone, I can direct exactly what happens with that piece of mail. Most service packages give you a certain number of mail “opens” per month in addition to a set number of scanned pages. Once you make the request, the company will open your mail, scan it and make it available to you as a PDF. You can also request that they forward the mail on, which is handy if you’re set to receive a new credit card or a package.
For expats and digital nomads, this is an incredibly valuable service that makes life overseas that much easier!
The only catch is that in order for these companies to open your mail, for most countries you’ll have to go through an identity verification process (further details below).
It can be a hassle, but personally, I’m glad that security measure is in place.
Virtual Mailbox vs PO Box or Virtual Office
During my research, I was often directed toward expensive services and companies that I found out I didn’t need.
It can be somewhat confusing, so let me make this abundantly clear for you: a virtual mailbox is NOT the same as a PO box or a virtual office.
To start, a PO box requires that a personal physically go and pick up the mail, whereas with virtual mail, you can check it online while you’re on the road.
Also, you’ll find that there are many limits to PO boxes (i.e. some companies won’t ship to a PO box and they often don’t accept packages); these limitations don’t exist with virtual mailboxes.
I know it seems like common sense, but during your search online you’re likely to come across companies like Regus or WeWork, where actual office space with a receptionist can be rented on a daily or monthly basis.
While these companies might provide virtual mailbox services and can become your legal business address, they’re quite expensive compared to dedicated virtual mailbox services and include features that extend far beyond the needs of the average expat or digital nomad.
Best Virtual Mailbox Service Comparison (U.S., Canada, U.K.)
Below is a brief comparison of my recommended virtual mailbox services based on the country where you need an address.
I personally use Traveling Mailbox since I need an address in the United States, but I’m comparing services from Canada and the UK as well.
|USA Recommended||Services for Canada and U.K.|
|Traveling Mailbox||PostScanMail||iPostal1||UK PostBox|
|Multiple Address Options?|
|Check Deposit Service|
|24/7 Access to Your Mail|
Virtual Mailbox Authorization | Final Hurdle
Once you’ve chosen a good virtual mailbox company, you would think that the hard part is over, right? Not quite…
There’s still one more hurdle.
In order to legally allow a virtual mailbox service to open your mail on your behalf, you will need to provide official authorization.
In the United States, this means filling out USPS Form 1583 and having it notarized. In the U.K., this means sending in proper identification to be confirmed by the virtual mailbox service you use.
Here’s the problem I ran into:
What if you, a US citizen, already live overseas and want to get this setup? Or better yet, what if you just want the convenience of doing the notary process online instead of jumping in your car?
Unless you live next door to a US Embassy or a US Post Office where you can get this document notarized, you really only have one choice:
An online notary.
This is a relatively new thing but I’ve done my homework…it’s completely legit and legal.
I used an online notary to get my USPS Form 1583 notarized and it ended up being a lot easier than I originally thought. I recommend a service called NotaryCam (not an affiliate link).
Using NotaryCam is simple:
- You download the app on your phone;
- Upload the document you need signed;
- Follow the identity confirmation steps;
- Have a Skype call with a certified notary in the U.S.
All-in-all the process took me less than half an hour. Best of all, it’s only $25 to get it done.
Virtual Mailbox Reviews | USA, Canada & UK
While I’ve already mentioned that I personally use Traveling Mailbox, I wanted to provide you with my detailed notes and review of all the other companies that I researched.
You can’t go wrong with any of these options and each could be considered one of the best virtual mailbox services in their own right.
Best Virtual Mailbox Service for USA Address
The following are two of the best virtual mailbox services for those who need an address in the USA.
There are plenty of virtual address companies that you’ll find online, but these two offer the best combination of service and value.
Traveling Mailbox: Recommended
For those who need an address in the USA, Traveling Mailbox has been an excellent service for me over the past few years.
Aside from the fact that it was the only company at the time that had an address in Dallas, Texas (which was something I needed), they are also a well-rated and very professional company that has been around since 2011.
There are a number of great features that I’ve come to appreciate about Traveling Mailbox over the years. For example, Traveling Mailbox offers:
- Useful Mobile App: Not every virtual mailbox service has a mobile app, but I find that I log into the service more on my phone than on my laptop computer.
- Evernote Integration: Any mail scans can be directed uploated to my Evernote account.
- Ability to Organize Mail: Traveling Mailbox allows me to not only tag each piece of mail, but also sort it into different “folders” for the purpose of keeping everything organized.
- 2-Factor Authentication: Traveling Mailbox is one of the few companies I’ve seen that offers 2-factor authentication, an added layer of security beyond your typical username/password. This is important data – it needs to be protected!
Of course, they also offer all the traditional virtual mailbox services you’ll find with any virtual mailbox company, services such as check deposit, parcel forwarding, shredding, etc.
You can read my full review of Traveling Mailbox for more a more in-depth look.
Finally, in terms of security, I appreciate how Traveling Mailbox is very transparent about their practices. They are officially authorized by the USPS and their offices are kept under video surveillance at all times.
Recommended Virtual Mailbox
Get 2 months of free service with this link!
The Bottom Line: In terms of price and value, in my opinion it’s hard to beat Traveling Mailbox. If you’re looking for my recommendation for the best virtual mailbox, this is it. You can give them a try by clicking below:
PostScanMail: Best US/International Combo
First launched publicly in 2012, PostScanMail has been improving their service for almost a full decade.
One of the most unique features of PostScanMail (as compared to Traveling Mailbox and the others on this list, at least), is that you can treat your virtual address almost like a P.O. Box with local pickup.
This means that instead of waiting for the piece of mail to reach the company’s sorting center and then be forwarded on, you can go to your address in-person (which is usually those mom-and-pop mail centers) and pick up your mail items.
If you live near one of the PostScanMail addresses, that’s a HUGE feature!
In addition to this, they offer all the other standard features you’ll find with these services including:
- An intuitive mobile app for both Android and iOS;
- Multiple forwarding options (USPS, UPS, FedEx, DHL);
- Simple pricing plans;
They have a long list of addresses in the US, as well as International addresses in the UK, Canada, Czech Republic, Grenada, and Switzerland.
Recommended Virtual Mailbox
for US and International addresses
The Bottom Line: If you want a service where you can go and physically pick up your mail (which could allow you to create a private or business mailing address), PostScanMail is the best available option.
US Global Mail: Excellent Service
Started back in 1998, USGlobal Mail is one of the most established US companies on this list of best virtual mailbox services.
They’ve been used by thousands of travelers over the past decade and have a good reputation with a high Better Business Bureau rating.
While they have plans that focus on businesses, I’m going to spend my time here on their individual and family plans that seem to fit the average traveler best.
Their primary selling point is that there are no hidden fees. You know up front how much it costs to forward each parcel and how much it costs to open and scan each letter.
The only downside is that they only have one location:
Single address aside, if you’re willing to pay for 3 months, a year or two years up front, you can get incredible savings that easily make this the cheapest virtual mailbox on this list.
That alone may be reason enough for you to choose US Global Mail.
Best Value Virtual Mailbox
Check the available plans here:
The Bottom Line: If you don’t mind a Houston, Texas address, this is the best value for your money as a virtual mailbox and forwarding service. One and two-year plans beat the pricing on any other service on this list.
Best Virtual Mailbox Service for Canada
Unfortunately, there aren’t that many virtual mailbox services in Canada. The competition isn’t fierce, which also means that the service isn’t the best either.
I used to recommend a service called eSnail Mail, but they became so unreliable that I had to take them down. In their place, I’ve discovered iPostal1.
iPostal1 | A Global Virtual Mailbox Service
For those travelers who need a Canadian address, the best option I have been able to find is iPostal1.
The fact is that iPostal1 is probably one of the largest providers of virtual mailing addresses, and they have addresses in countries all over the world, including the USA and UK.
However, I’m including them here because they offer a few addresses in Canada.
With options in Winnipeg, Calgary, Vancouver and Ottawa, you should be covered with locations you might want.
iPostal1 includes all the major features you’ll find in other services, plus they have the only other mobile app that I think rivals Traveling Mailbox.
Their pricing is fair and their service has been time-tested.
Virtual Mailbox for Canada
Visit the website for more details.
The Bottom Line: iPostal1 offers some of the only available addresses for Canada, but thankfully they’re one of the global leaders in the virtual mailing address space.
Best Virtual Mailbox for the UK
For those travelers who have need of an address in the United Kingdom, the best virtual mailbox service is UK Post Box.
In fact, I love some of their features so much I wish that I could find a similar company in the United States!
To begin, UK Post Box offers what I have come to expect with almost any virtual mailbox service: document scanning, parcel forwarding, check deposit, etc.
In addition to these features, though, they also offer two more that set them apart:
- Multiple UK addresses;
- The ability to send mail from the UK.
UK Post Box offers a number of UK addresses and PO Boxes, although the pricing for each depends on location. These can work well for both individuals and businesses and if you decide to go for a cheaper PO Box, the good news is that they offer what are known as “courier points” to make sure that you can have packages delivered (since they can’t be delivered to PO boxes).
The second unique feature of UK Post Box is the ability to send mail. You can write a letter, upload it to your account and have them print and mail it for you. Save money on postage by making it a domestic post instead of international mail.
Virtual Mailbox for the UK
Check the many plans available:
The Bottom Line: If you’re in the UK or need a UK address, UK Post Box is one of the only services you should consider.
Frequently Asked Questions | Virtual Mailboxes
I’ve tried my best to cover all the information in-depth, but for the sake of brevity and in case you’re just skimming this article, here are the questions I get asked most frequently in regard to virtual mailboxes.
A virtual mailbox is a paid service that allows remote access to a personal, physical mailbox. Users receive digital notice of new mail and have the option to request that the mail be scanned for digital delivery, forwarded to another physical address, or shredded.
Yes, it can. In fact, using a virtual mailbox is often preferred over the alternative of listing your home address or paying for an office space.
A virtual mailbox usually costs an average of US$15-$20 per month for personal plans and US$45-$55 for business plans, depending on the amount of mail you receive. There are additional fees for forwarding mail, depositing checks and other ancillary services. Below is an example of pricing from Traveling Mailbox.
Security measures vary by company, but the best virtual mailbox services must secure both the sorting facility as well as their server data. Before signing up with a service, make sure they offer 24/7 monitoring of their facility and routinely backup their servers. Better yet, enable 2-factor authentication for secure login if it is offered and make sure to shred all mail once it has been downloaded.
Whereas a PO Box requires somebody to physically collect mail on a regular basis, a virtual mailbox allows for remote access to the mail anytime. A virtual mailbox can also accept packages and be used as an address for business and banking, which isn’t permitted with a PO Box.
USPS Form 1583 is required to be filled out and notarized in order to use a virtual mailbox service. Fortunately, the state of Virginia in the United States made remote video notarizations legal in 2012, which makes it possible to get the form notarized while outside the US.
If there are any questions I’ve missed here, feel free to leave a comment or find another way to contact me and let me know!
Final Thoughts | Choosing the Right Virtual Mailbox Service
For expats, digital nomads, or anybody who spends significant time overseas, I always recommend investing in two things: a good VPN service and a good virtual mailbox service. As you can see, there are a number of great options to choose from.
All of these virtual mailbox companies will help you take care of your mail while you’re out and about, but each of them offers a unique selling point. The choice for the best virtual mailbox services is often based on these primary features:
- Virtual Address Locations: Do they have an address in the city/state/region you need?
- Included Mail and Scans: Every service package differs in the included number of incoming mail and scans. Choose the one based on the volume of your monthly mail.
- Additional Benefits: Do you need check deposit services? A fax number? The ability to send a letter? These features can often be a deciding factor in which service you use.
- Security Features: You should be concerned about somebody else opening your mail, scanning it and storing it on their servers. For this reason, choose a company whose security and data policies make you comfortable.
As I shared above, I ended up going with Traveling Mailbox a number of years ago and I’ve been using their service ever since. I highly recommend it if you need an address in the United States.
What has been your experience with virtual mailbox services? Leave a comment below to let me know!
Anyone used Shipito for mail scanning and forwarding? Those who did what has been your experience?
Hey Felix, the difference between Shipito and the above options is that Shipito is a forwarding service. What I’m talking about here are virtual mailboxes that allow me to scan everything that comes to me and decide whether or not I need to forward it along.
Yeah, I am aware but Shipito also offer that and storage of up to 180 days. They charge $1 processing and $2 scanning.
Thanks for your thoughts, Mark. Not sure what to say to you – I’m in the exact same boat you’re in (living abroad, using Traveling Mailbox for a couple years, using the Dallas address) and I haven’t had any delays or errors.
Hi Josh – If this question is better suited for private message please let me know, but I’m sure someone else will benefit from the answers if you have them.
I’m now in the last stages of preparing to embark upon a journey a little like yours except to Eastern Europe. And since you are apparently from the Dallas area you will almost certainly have knowledge about a few specific things I need to know.
Does having a TravelingMailbox.com Dallas address cause any complications for things like your Texas Driver’s License? Almost always it seems that the state wants a PHYSICAL address, not just a mailing address? Or do you just not even tell them that it’s only a mailing address?
Also, if you live in Dallas city limits you may not know the answer to this next one, but I know in Dallas (city limits) one pays for things those outside of Dallas don’t, like property tax on vehicles and higher premiums on most insurances, etc. And, all that is driven by the physical address. So if as a Lewisville resident I move my vehicle registration to a Dallas address, insurance goes up, property tax now becomes an issue, etc. Did you deal with any of that, or did you just offload car and abandon your TX Driver’s License?
I’m just trying to work out a few last minute details!
Hey Bob, great questions. I’m not 100% sure I understand everything you’re saying but I’ll try my best to answer.
First things first: I did offload my car but I’m still a home owner. My property tax remains the same because that is based on the location of the property, not my mailing address.
As for insurance, if you’re dealing with a car that won’t be driven much while you’re gone, this is something that you can take up with your insurance company. Often they can give you a reduced rate – no matter where you live – if they know that the car isn’t being driven while you’re gone.
Finally, most services – which includes driver’s licenses – allow for you to have a “permanent address” in one place and a “mailing address” in another. So some people use their parent’s, friend’s or personal home as their permanent address and then use this virtual mailbox as a mailing address. That’s what I do.
Hope that helps!
Fantastic article. Exactly what I was Looking for.
Here is my question. I need one of these for a few months at a time, a couple times a year. It seems like the constant forwarding and changing addresses would be a mess.
Do you recommend just eating the extra cost and always having your mail forwarded here or repeatedly signing up and then stopping service every few months
Josh Summers says
Hmm…that’s definitely a personal preference question if you ask me. I feel like it would be annoying to constantly change your address over and over again throughout the year, not to mention the time it takes to set up the service. If I were you, I would just eat the cost for the first year and just see how it goes. I think you’ll like it a lot better.
If the mail forwarding services uses an address in a state with state income tax, do I run the risk of having to pay state income tax?
Josh Summers says
That’s a great question, Mike, and one that I’m not qualified to answer. You’ll need to speak with a tax professional in the state you’re referencing to find out for sure.
that’s a very innovative idea and I don’t know, this service is aVAilable in India or not? IF not then someone has a good opportunity to start a new business.
Josh Summers says
Commenter: yes, there are. They are within the review of each of the services (see the grey boxes with red text saying “Discount Code”)
Gary CHeng says
Thanks for the article!
I am planning to move back to Taiwan and I am wondering if this mail forwarding service will affect my state tax. I live in Michigan and currently hold a michigan driver license. if i sign up with traveling mailbox (maybe illinois address), do i have to change my driver’s license to illinois? do i still fill michigan tax return?
i am really confusing about this “residential” address and mailing address. i will be living in taiwan, actually not in the u.s.
i am an u.s. citizen so i still have to deal with the tax return even live overseas.
thank you very much.
Josh Summers says
The address where you receive mail isn’t the same as your “home address.” It matters what your driver’s license says – and no, you don’t have to use your Traveling Mailbox address. I would recommend against it, actually. As a U.S. citizen, you need to have a home base and you may or may not have to pay state taxes (although you likely won’t pay federal taxes unless you make a ton of money.
Whatever you do, DO NOT USE ESNAIL!!!
I signed up with them after reading this and comparing, but absolutely regret it. I’ve never seen a more inept and incapable company. I requested that they forward a very important piece of mail internationally, and noted that they need to include my forwarding address in the language of my country (gave it to them to copy paste, simple enough). This apparently blew their minds, because and they said they didn’t know how they would put the address on the envelope. Do they not know how to use a printer?
After several weeks of waiting, the customer service person just dropped off. She apologized that she was “busy”, so I gave her a pass. Over a month later I was travelling and really needed that card, but too late. Since then I’ve followed up 4 times with requests over the span of a few weeks and still have not received a response. They’ve basically stolen/are withholding important mail of mine and I have no way to get it. I don’t know if I’ll ever hear back.
Esnail is the most worthless service I’ve ever paid for – please don’t make the same mistake I did.
Josh Summers says
Thanks for the feedback, Hudson. Very helpful.
Stephan Douglas DuVal says
Hi Brock, writing as “HUDSON” and Josh summers,
Thanks for sharing your experience with eSnail.ca. I’m sorry you had such a bad experience with our service. I had a long discussion with the team about it and we discussed where our service didn’t meet your needs and what we can change to fix that.
We did notice that we successfully forwarded your mail about a dozen times prior to that without incident. I could go into why your particular letter wasn’t sent immediately. It has to do with a difficult time with staffing changes during this Christmas rush and the language issue. None of our staff understands Mandarin and we wanted to make sure we understood what was a city and what was a province for the fed ex forms.
Still, that was far too long for you to wait for your mail. Typically in this situation We offer refunds and anything we can do to amend for problems like this, however, none of our employees can find the emails you sent after the request to send the letter. Please contact us at [email protected] if you have a follow up, or just click create a task on the letter you want to forwarded. This is the fastest way to ask for service.
Exceptional customer service is something we strive for. I have personally driven important cheques and parcels to our customers free of charge. Its rewarding to meet our customers in person. We have even met our clients at the airport while on a layover and vicariously share in their travel-work lifestyle. This is something we pride ourselves on and I know you would have seen the same level of service if we had received your emails.
I will also email you and offer you my apologies personally. Thanks again and I look forward to following this up with you privately,
What if you dO not have a pHysical address? We sold Our house and will be full time in our rv so we need a mailing address. We will need to chAnge our drivers LICENSE and register our vehIcles as well. i have been researching and am so confused. How do you establish a residence for tax purpose if We are always moving around? Any input would be extremely appreciated .
Josh Summers says
Hi Laura, for the purposes of a driver’s license, vehicle registration, and taxes, you’ll probably want to find family whose address you can use. You’ll need to file state taxes in the state where you’re registered with a license, so I would stick with one that you know. A virtual address is still a great option for you as a full-time RV’er, but it’s not going to solve your tax/registration questions.
Thank you so much – I have decided to sign up with traveling mailbox because of your reviews of the various services. Also, I spoke to their sales team – they were extremely helpful.
Josh Summers says
Glad to hear it, Jason! I hope you enjoy the service like I have 🙂
not recommended says
Esnail.ca is definetly not recommended
Either incompotent or fraudulent
Bounce back of emails
Repeated recurrent charge card billings with no service
provided or even set up
Excuses , apologies then recurrent billings
System will not allow a logon into account to cancel account yet receive this error message after repeat billings
“You will not be able to read All Mails until you make a payment for you chosen plan.”
Not recommended by any means
I have found a few Canadian options. They allow for the choice of a Canada Address.
I have been looking at these three options and hope it helps someone else.
Have you selected any of these? Do you have any recommendation?
any Canadian has any experiences with any of these three?
I’d like to know why you needed a VirtUal mailboX company that had an address in a spEcific Us state (tx)… since it is not a physical address, but a mailing address, shouldn’t it not matter? Im sPecifically thinking for insurance , DMV, and government programs or institutions, etc. YOU’RE allowed to have dIffering mailing and physical addresses, so why would it matter? Wouldnt it be okay to have a VirtuAl mailbox anywhere (wIthin in the us)? Was that just a personal choice?
Josh Summers says
Hey Rosie, you’re right – for most people it won’t matter where your mailbox is located. For me, I was using the mailbox for my Texas-based company, so it needed to be an address in Texas.
And to be clear, it IS a physical address where mail gets delivered. It’s only virtual in that you don’t have to go there to pick up your mail. It will get scanned and sent to you.
Rick C says
My Wife and I are planning to retire in South Korea. We’ve sold our house, car, and most of our belongings. we will only be returning to the U.S.A for an occasional visit.
I won’t have a residential address anymore, but I will maintain a bank account, credit cards in the states, and I’ll still have to deal with U.S. taxes, which will require me to communicate back/forth with our CPA and Financial advisor.
My question is, will it be advantageous for me to have a virtual service so I can have a U.S. address for our credit cards, bank account, tax documentation/returns, financial info, communication, etc??
Josh Summers says
Hey Rick, great questions. You’ll need an address, yes. That could be a family member or friend or, if you want to retain a bit more control, something like a virtual mailbox. This is exactly what we use it for an it works very well. I hope that helps!