What Is a Virtual Mailbox?

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A virtual mailbox service enables anyone to manage their mail from anywhere globally. This is due to forwarding your mail to an address that the company provides.

I’ve experimented with these services and want to help you determine whether it’s something expats, digital nomads, and travelers should try. I’ll cover all the basics of virtual mailboxes.

In this guide, I’ll cover the following:

Let’s deal with your mail.

What Is a Virtual Address Service?

A virtual address service enables you to have a physical mailing address at a facility that’ll receive your mail.

Once the service receives your mail, you can manage it online and decide how to deal with it.

Most virtual address service providers offer mail-related services to make your life easier. Some offer registered agents, mail forwarding, and secure mail shredding.

They’re fantastic services for managing mail remotely and keeping your home address private. Also, business owners can use them as business addresses.

But how do they work?

How Do Virtual Mailing Services Work?

The following are the ways a virtual mailing service works:

  1. Fill out form 1583: it allows postal services to forward your mail to your virtual address.
  2. Mail will go to the provider’s facility or one of their Commercial Mail Receiving Agencies (CRMA).
  3. * The agency or facility will scan your mailing item & notify you of your received mail
  4. Choose whether you want the agency or CRMA to:
    1. Mail and scan it with remote mail services contents
    2. Recycle or shred your mail
    3. Forward your mailing item
  5. View mail online or receive it at your home address

* A mailing item is a package, document, or letter.

Upon scanning your mailing item, the service will store an image of your mail on a cloud-based system. From there, you can view your digitized mail.

Will They Keep Your Identity Safe?

Virtual address providers have varying degrees of safety. Many Commercial Mail Receiving Agencies (CRMA) don’t specify how secure they are.

However, some services have specific facilities that receive, store, and forward mailing items and packages. Providers claim these facilities have security cameras and perform background checks.

Most virtual mail providers aren’t Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliant. That’s bad if you receive many health documents in the mail.

Online security for almost all services I’ve checked out has no two-factor authentication. I’m hoping this changes shortly.

Compare providers and inquire how they protect your information.

Meanwhile, I wrote a separate piece covering these services’ safety more in-depth.

Benefits of Virtual Address Services

Benefits of using a virtual mailbox include giving small business owners a mail solution with various features to optimize their business.

Travelers, expatriates, and digital nomads immensely benefit from these services since you can manage your mail anywhere on Earth.

You could technically manage your mail from space.

Here’s an example. Say you receive a final paycheck from an employer. You’re overseas and obviously can’t accept the check.

Many virtual mailbox services offer check depositing services give you the means to deposit checks safely.

There are many other benefits to virtual mailing services. And I wrote a separate guide that covers them. Check it out.

Difference Between a Registered Agent and Virtual Mail Service

A registered agent represents a corporation or an LLC. They’ll receive and review official government documents. A virtual mail service receives and forwards mail for individuals and businesses.

Use registered agents if you’re a business. Otherwise, use virtual address services.

I’ll talk about a bunch of features virtual mailboxes offer that registered agents don’t in a bit.

For now, let’s see how these services differ from PO boxes.

Virtual Mailbox vs PO Box

You’ll want a virtual mailbox in these scenarios:

  • Want a street address
  • Cost less
  • Remote mail management
  • Don’t want a limited 

A PO box will serve you better in these cases:

  • Want a means to access your mail quickly
  • Don’t mind driving to the post office

Want a digital address service? Check out features to look out for.

Typical Virtual Mailbox Features

Many virtual address providers will offer these features:

FeatureDescription
Business addressReceive company mail
Junk mail management filtersCompany will recycle all junk mail free
Secure mail shreddingThe company shreds mailing items
Registered agentReceives legal documents on your behalf
Mail forwardingHave the service forward mail items or packages to your address
Online mailbox accountDigitize mail items & reduce mail accumulation
Check depositsDeposits checks on your behalf
Mail storage & Package storageStore mail at their facilities for “X” days
Mobile appManage your mail through an app
Reduced shipping costsCan help lower shipping costs of some items
Mail scanningOpen envelopes, scan its contents, & digitize your mail items
Third-party software integrationIntegrate your mailbox with software like Evernote
International addressesGet street addresses in different countries
List of virtual mailbox features.

You’ll find many features for free. But in other circumstances, you’ll have to pay. For instance, some companies will shred 50 documents for free.

Many providers I’ve seen don’t offer ‘round-the-clock customer support. If you’re an expat or traveler and need to contact customer service, what are you supposed to do?

Hope that someday a digital-nomad and expatriate-focused service opens.

Let’s see available providers.

Best Virtual Mailbox Providers

Here are the best virtual address providers I recommend:

Mailbox ProviderPriceBest For
PostScan Mail$15–30/mo.Customer service & U.S. digital nomads
Physical Address$7.98–$26.98/mo.Free registered agent
iPostal1$9.99–$39.99/mo.Mail forwarding & shipping
VirtualPostMail$20–$90/mo.Address verification
US Global Mail$9.95–$29.95/mo.Secure facility (in 2 states)
Anytime Mailbox$5.99–$39.99+/mo.Receiving many mailing items
Earth Class Mail$19–$229/mo.Mail security
Virtual address providers compared.

I compare these providers in more detail in a separate piece. Check it out if you want to give these services a try.

Many of them offer a 30-day money-back guarantee. This allows you to test whether they’re worth using.

Wrapping Up

Virtual mailbox services aren’t the most secure service, but they offer a valuable service to digital nomads, small businesses, and expatriates. A means to deal with mail from anywhere.

Learn more about virtual address services by exploring my other guides.

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About Tee

Tee began first experienced the wonders of traveling when visiting Vietnam. Afterward, he went crazy and ventured to at least… More about Tee