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How to Use Mail Forwarding Services for International Online Shopping

Mail forwarding lets you receive mail and packages at an address different from the one they were sent to. For international shoppers, it’s key to getting your purchases delivered home. This article will explain how mail forwarding works, the top services available, and how to choose the best one for you.

Key Takeaways

  • Mail forwarding services enable continuous delivery of mail and packages regardless of geographical changes, offering convenience for international online shoppers and frequent movers.
  • USPS offers multiple types of mail forwarding services including permanent change of address, standard forwarding, and premium forwarding, each with its own features and costs.
  • Private mail forwarding services offer advanced features like online mail management, envelope scanning, and greater privacy, but come at a higher cost compared to USPS services.


Living in the digital age has its perks, especially when it comes to shopping. The entire world is just a click away, but sometimes geographical boundaries still manage to put a damper on our virtual shopping carts.

That’s where mail forwarding services come into play, offering a seamless solution to get your international shopping hauls delivered, no matter where you are.

This blog post is your compass in the vast sea of mail forwarding options, guiding you through the best services available and how they can turn your international shopping sprees into a hassle-free experience.

Understanding Mail Forwarding

Have you ever wondered how to keep your mail coming to you, uninterrupted, when you’re globe-trotting or relocating? That’s the magic of mail forwarding. It’s like having a personal assistant who ensures that every letter and package follows you, no matter your postal code.

  • Understanding mail forwarding is an essential piece of the puzzle for anyone planning a move or who loves shopping from international websites.
  • Mail forwarding is a crucial step to ensure that your precious purchases and important documents are not lost in transit, but instead arrive safely in your hands.

What is Mail Forwarding?

Mail forwarding is a postal service superhero, swooping in to save the day when you change addresses.

  • Whether you’re making a permanent move across the country or a temporary hop to another city, mail forwarding ensures that your letters, packages, and subscriptions follow suit.
  • It’s the postal world’s version of a change-of-address notification, acting as a bridge between your old and new address so your mail doesn’t miss a beat.

How Does Mail Forwarding Work?

The process of mail forwarding is like setting up a detour for your mail. Once you submit a Change-of-Address request, the postal service flags your old address and reroutes your mail to your new one.

  • It’s not instantaneous, though. It’s best to allow a buffer of 7-10 business days for the magic to happen. This gives you ample time to:
    • Inform friends, businesses, and subscription services of your new address.
    • Update your address with important accounts and services.
    • Redirect your mail for up to 12 months.

Remember, if you provide an incorrect new address, your mail might take an unwanted vacation to the Mail Recovery Center.

  • To avoid this, ensure you have a move validation letter and a regular validation letter.

USPS Mail Forwarding Services

The United States Postal Service (USPS) offers a golden ticket to keep your mail on track. It’s called USPS Mail Forwarding Services, and it includes regular mail forwarding and premium forwarding services.

  • With the USPS mail forwarding service, these services are the postal equivalent of a concierge, ensuring that First-Class Mail, Periodicals, Priority Mail, and USPS Retail Ground Mail find their way to you, free of charge.
  • It’s a reliable option for those who prefer the familiarity of the USPS brand when moving their mail from one destination to another.

Types of USPS Mail Forwarding Services

With USPS, you’re not stuck with a one-size-fits-all approach. There are three flavors of mail forwarding to choose from:

  1. Permanent Change of Address: This is the postal version of “I’ve moved for good”.
  2. Standard Mail Forwarding Service: This service kicks in automatically.
  3. Premium Forwarding Service: This is a premium option that bundles your mail into weekly Priority Mail shipments.

All of these ensure that your First-Class mail and other select mail types follow you to your doorstep without additional costs.

Setting Up USPS Mail Forwarding

Diving into the realm of USPS mail forwarding is a straightforward affair. You can waltz into your local post office or navigate the online USPS landscape to register your new address.

  • If you opt for the digital route, there’s a nominal $1.10 fee for online identity verification—a small price to pay for the convenience of not leaving your couch.
  • Once set up, the mail forwarded service promptly takes effect, ensuring your mail knows where to find you.

USPS Mail Forwarding Cost

If you’re budget-conscious, you’ll be pleased to know that USPS mail forwarding is free when done in person. There’s just a small fee for online submissions.

  • However, should you wish to extend this service beyond the standard time frame, you’ll need to open your wallet a bit wider.
    • Extended forwarding services are not included in the free package and can’t be canceled or refunded once purchased, so plan wisely.

Private Mail Forwarding Services

For those seeking a bit more finesse in their forwarding, private mail forwarding services step up to the plate.

  • They offer virtual addresses, ensuring your personal address remains under wraps while you still get your mail.
  • These services are particularly useful for frequent travelers or expatriates who need to manage their postal affairs from afar, providing a level of convenience and security that goes beyond the standard post office offerings.

Benefits of Private Mail Forwarding Services

The allure of private mail forwarding services lies in their bouquet of features that cater to the modern, mobile individual. Imagine having the power to:

  • Manage your mail online.
  • View scans of your envelopes.
  • Choose which items get forwarded and which get shredded.
  • Receive real-time notifications.
  • Access digital scans.

These services are like having a personal secretary for your mailbox, providing a level of control and security that’s particularly appealing to those who value their privacy.

Costs of Private Mail Forwarding Services

While private mail forwarding services offer a cornucopia of convenience, they do come with a price tag.

  • Basic plans can start at around $10 a month, with prices climbing as you add more features such as mail scanning and international shipping.
  • For businesses or those in need of a virtual office complete with phone and fax services, the costs can start at about $40 a month.
  • It’s a case of getting what you pay for—more features and flexibility generally come with a higher price tag.

Choosing the Right Mail Forwarding Service

With a platter of mail forwarding services to choose from, how do you pick the one that’s right for you? It all comes down to a blend of:

  • Cost
  • Duration
  • Ease of setup
  • Reliability

The right service will handle your mail and packages with care, ensuring they reach you no matter where in the world you might be.

It’s about finding the perfect match for your postal needs, giving you peace of mind while you’re on the move or indulging in international online shopping.

Factors to Consider

When selecting a mail forwarding service, consider the following factors:

  • Total Cost: Be vigilant for hidden fees.
  • Duration of Service: Some cater to short-term needs, while others offer longer-term solutions.
  • Ease of Setup: Especially if you’re crunched for time during a move.
  • Reliability: A service that fumbles your mail is more trouble than it’s worth.

Private services provide the flexibility to forward mail and packages to various addresses worldwide, which can be a significant advantage for those with global connections.

Comparing USPS and Private Services

In the duel between USPS and private mail forwarding services, there’s no clear-cut winner. It all depends on your needs.

  • USPS is the more wallet-friendly option for standard mail but may not have the bells and whistles of private services.
  • Private providers often offer advanced features like online mail management and selective forwarding.
  • USPS has a national network that promises reliability, while the dependability of private services varies with the provider.
  • Weighing the pros and cons of each will help you choose the service that aligns best with your postal priorities.

Common Issues and Solutions

Even the best-laid plans can encounter snags, and mail forwarding is no exception. From mail ending up at your old address to delays in processing your change of address, these hiccups can disrupt the smooth flow of your packages and letters. But don’t fret—there are solutions at hand.

Knowing how to navigate these common issues will help you maintain the continuity of your mail service, whether it’s for personal correspondence or those international online shopping goodies.

What to Do If You Don’t Receive Your Mail

When your mail plays hide and seek, it’s time to be proactive.

  • If your letters and packages are amiss, your first move should be to contact your local post office.
    • Double-check that they have your change of address on file and haven’t encountered any issues.
    • They’re your allies in the quest to ensure your mail forwarding service is functioning like a well-oiled machine.

Handling Non-Forwarded Mail

Not all mail is created equal in the eyes of the forwarding services.

  • USPS, for instance, won’t forward USPS Marketing Mail or anything addressed to ‘current resident.’ And if the mail says ‘Do Not Forward,’ it’s going back to the sender, not to your new address.
  • Second Class mail, like magazines, only gets a 60-day forwarding grace period.
  • It’s important to update your address with magazine subscriptions and other mailers directly to avoid any lapses in delivery.

Extending Mail Forwarding

What if you’re not ready to stop the mail forwarding carousel after the standard 12 months?

  • USPS offers the option to continue the forwarding fiesta for an additional period—for a fee, of course.
    • This can be a lifeline for those who need more time to settle into their new digs or who continue to receive important mail at their old address.
  • The ability to extend mail forwarding ensures that you won’t miss out on any mail, whether it’s a birthday card from grandma or bills that need prompt attention.

How to Request an Extension

If you wish to keep the mail forwarding train running, you’ll need to request an extension.

  • This can be done online, where you can choose to keep the service going for an additional 6, 12, or 18 months.
    • Just remember, once your original change of address expires, the opportunity to extend also vanishes, so mark your calendar and make the decision before time runs out.

Extended Mail Forwarding Options

Should your travels or circumstances require a longer mail forwarding duration, exploring extended options is a wise move.

  • With private mail forwarding services, you’re often granted more flexible periods and additional perks, such as having your mail scanned and emailed to you.
  • Private mail forwarding services cater to those who may need to extend beyond the USPS’s grace period, ensuring your mail is always within reach no matter where you find yourself in the world.

Tips for Effective Notification

To ensure your mail forwarding process is as smooth as silk, here are five golden tips:

  1. Update your address promptly with financial institutions using their secure online forms.
  2. Don’t forget to inform subscription services, especially those delivering monthly joys like magazines.
  3. Notify friends and family of your new coordinates.
  4. Keep a checklist of companies and services you need to inform, and tick them off as you go.
  5. Keep an eye on your mail’s arrival patterns and act quickly if something seems amiss.

Proactive communication is the key to avoiding postal pandemonium.


  • As we wrap up this postal pilgrimage, remember that mail forwarding services are your allies in maintaining a seamless connection with the world, be it through letters, packages, or those international treasures you’ve shopped for online.
  • Whether you choose the trusted path of USPS or venture into the realm of private forwarding services, the key is to find a service that suits your specific needs and keeps you linked to your mail, no matter your location.
  • Embrace the freedom and flexibility that mail forwarding offers, and never let a physical border limit your shopping horizons again.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Navigating the world of mail forwarding services can raise a sea of questions, especially when you’re dipping your toes into international online shopping. To ease your journey, we’ve compiled answers to the most common queries that might be swirling in your mind.

How long does it take for USPS mail forwarding to start?

  • USPS mail forwarding usually starts within 7-10 business days after you submit a Change-of-Address request. It’s best to allow up to two weeks for the process to take effect.

Can I forward my mail internationally with USPS?

  • Yes, USPS can forward most mail internationally, but certain mail types like Marketing Mail aren’t forwarded and additional postage fees may apply.

Are there any types of mail that cannot be forwarded?

  • Yes, some types of mail, like Marketing Mail and those with ‘Do Not Forward’ endorsements, cannot be forwarded.

How much does it cost to set up mail forwarding with USPS?

  • Setting up mail forwarding with USPS is free if done in person, but there’s a small $1.10 identity verification fee for online submissions.

What are the benefits of using private mail forwarding services?

  • Using private mail forwarding services provides additional features such as virtual addresses, online mail management, and more flexible duration options for added privacy and convenience. These services can enhance the management and security of your mail, offering a range of beneficial features.