How do you receive physical mail as a digital nomad?

Does anyone have recommendations to handle physical mail? In the USA, I’ve noticed various services over the years where you get a physical address that you can change your address to, they receive your mail, scan stuff and send you PDF’s.

Has anyone used these types of services? Impressions?

1 Like

Looking at EarthClassMail at the moment…

Hey Daniel,

We also use such a Service in Germany. It is called Dropscan https://www.dropscan.de/. The Post is redirected from the “Deutsche Post” to Dropscan and you decide in the backend if they are allowed to open it or not.

You get a notice by eMail with the scan. Afterwards you can tell them to delete it or forward it you at any time to any address in one shipment. I really love it.

But post such as police, tax office or other authorities etc. will not be forwarded by Deutsche Post to Dropscan. That’s the only downside.

In Germany you have also Pamfax http://www.pamfax.biz/de/ to send a Fax from everywhere and https://www.ebrief.de/ where you can send them something by mail and they print it and send it for you in a letter (can be useful sometimes, too…).

Best, Feli

I’ve used Traveling Mailbox for a few months now, and have had no problems. It gives me an address in San Francisco, scans up to 35 pages a month and shreds unlimited for $20 a month. There’s a slight delay from the SF address to their processing center in VA, however.
I wrote about it in more detail here on my blog, if you want to check it out!

2 Likes

Thanks! Looks like there were formatting problems with you link, but I deciphered this: http:/alawyerabroad.com/2014/12/02/smarter-travel-can-receive-mail-traveling-abroad/. Checking it out now…

OK, read it. Looks great! Seems very similar to EarthClassMail but way cheaper. Thinking I’ll give it a shot. No reliability issues?

Nothing obvious. The interface is slightly clunky, but it is mostly fine. I put in a scan or shred request, then it’s completed just a few minutes later, for the most part.

Sorry about the link! Glad you figured it out :smile:

1 Like

There is very little that comes in physical mail that is actually necessary in my case. I switched my address to my parents’ house, and pick up my mail a few times a year when I go to visit. There’s never anything urgent in it.

1 Like

Hey @TProphet – I’m glad that works for you. Certainly cheaper that way. We did this in 2011 when we went to Italy for a few months, but it didn’t work out very well. I’d rather not place the burden on anyone else this time.

Yeah, this is why I switched to Traveling Mailbox. I had someone picking up my mail at a PO Box, but it was such a hassle. Better to just get it scanned.

1 Like

@alawyerabroad – did it take Traveling Mailbox long to get set up and mail start forwarding? Thinking I’ll probably start service fairly soon, in preparation for a March 1 departure date.

No. You have to get some Post Office form filled out and signed, but you can do it online, I believe (through their clunky interface). They email you and walk you through it. Doesn’t take long at all.

Then you go on usps.com and start forwarding your mail. I think it costs a dollar or so.

1 Like

I’m curious as well. We’ve had “residency” at a friend’s address for around a year now, but are looking to take the burden off of them.

Traveling Mailbox looks pretty good, but there’s so many services out there these days! Hard to decide…

I use EarthClassMail. It seemed like the best out there for what I needed, specifically that they can automatically deposit checks, and are big enough they’re not going to disappear tomorrow. In practice, they’ve been ok, but not great. I’ve had some real problems with check deposits that have eaten lots of VA hours to sort out. These are mostly caused by trying to deposit large checks that are above the arbitrary limits set by their check deposit partner. Also, their web interface looks like it was built in the 90s, and is reasonably easy to accidentally destroy mail. That being said, I’m happy enough that I’ll likely stay with them for a while to come.

I also have Dropscan and just signed up for Swiss Post Box

There is also ClevverMail, which offers a good deal and simple signup.

I’ve been using Mailbox Forwarding (the company — yeah it’s a rather generic-sounding name) for about 4 months now and I’m happy with the service. I price-compared the various vendors in the US and found Mailbox Forwarding to have the combination of features and price point that seemed right for me.

Their interface is a little dated-looking, but it totally works on both iOS and Android mobile browsers just fine. The prices are excellent compared to a lot of the market leaders and they have all the features you’d expect: scanning, online archiving, shredding, letter and parcel forwarding, check deposit. I’d recommend them.

I wonder whether maintaining a street address at one of these mailing scanning services would make one liable for state income tax if they have no other permanent residence.

For instance, we’re planning on moving out of our house when we start traveling. We will not have a permanent street address during that time. We currently live in Washington state, a state that has no state income tax. If I use, say, the Michigan street address for MailboxForwarding.com, could I now be expected to pay state income tax in Michigan? Any other type of liability I might be overlooking?

State taxation will vary from state to state as does the definition of resident. The source of the income may come in to play as well and will also vary from state to state and sometimes whether the income is reported on a W2 or 1099 makes a difference. At the very least you’ll probably want to do some reading on the respective states’ taxation authority website.

1 Like

I use Earth Class Mail - have been for years now. I feel that it’s quite expensive, but I’m exceptionally happy about the service that I receive so I guess that justifies the cost.

For my first couple of years abroad I just sent my mail to family but they got sick of it and they have their lives to live and honestly I didn’t really want them opening my mail plus they are very apt to sign for registered mail. FWIW good news never comes registered. It’s really nice that if I need a new ATM card or whatever I can have it sent to my virtual mailbox and then forward it to wherever I need to.

1 Like

After doing some comparison, I think I’m going to sign up for Traveling Mailbox for the time being and try it out for a month before we leave. I’ll report back with my review.

1 Like

We’ve just signed up for Traveling Mailbox as well. Excited to try it out!