Virtual Mailbox Guide for Travelers, Expats, Remote Workers, & Digital Nomads

June 10, 2021

If you are a traveler, expat, remote worker, or digital nomad looking for a better way to receive your mail, you are in luck. Virtual mailboxes are hands down the easiest way to receive mail, no matter where you live, work, or play around the world.

Keep reading to discover some of the benefits of using a virtual mailbox and some popular features every frequent traveler will find very useful.

What Is a Virtual Mailbox

Virtual mailboxes allow individuals and businesses to select a physical mailing address to receive their mail through a certified mail receiving agent (CMRA). The virtual mailbox owner can choose an actual physical mailing address to receive their letters and packages. The CMRA scans the mail as they receive it. Users can view these digital scans online from anywhere in the world and choose whether to store, forward, or shred their mail.

Is a Virtual Mailbox Better Than a P.O. Box or Mailbox Rental?

In most cases, a virtual mailbox is the preferred option for people working or traveling abroad. The most significant downside to renting a mailbox or using a P.O. box is that you will still need to physically visit that mailbox to view your mail. There are also often limitations when signing for packages or receiving restricted-delivery mail. 

Unlike these other options, a virtual mailbox has no restrictions for mail carriers or packages, plus you will be able to view, read, and forward your mail entirely online, without ever having to visit your mailbox in person.

Top Benefits for Travelers, Expats, Remote Workers, & Digital Nomads

There are several reasons that digital or virtual mailboxes have increased in popularity among travelers, expats, remote workers, and digital nomads. Below are some of the top benefits for these globetrotters.

Maintain a Physical U.S. Street Address From Anywhere on Earth

Depending on the country you reside in, reliably receiving your mail may be difficult or even impossible. Maintaining a permanent physical address in the U.S. holds several advantages for international travelers, workers, and students. In most cases, government services and other important forms will require you to have one. 

With a virtual mailbox, you can select your address's location, which can open up other benefits, such as picking an address in a state that doesn't require state income tax. Virtual mailboxes also allow remote workers and entrepreneurs to keep an address in the state where they do business.

No Need To Cancel, Hold, or Forward Mail

Relying on friends or family to pick up your mail may work for some people, but it is not always a reliable option. Likewise, having your mail sent to a location that may be vacant could force you to hold or forward your mail frequently. 

With a virtual mailbox, you can set it and forget it. Simply set up the service, select your address, and the CMRA will professionally manage your mail from afar.

Never Miss an Important Letter, Package, or Check

A reliable mail receiving service such as a virtual mailbox is especially important for remote workers and digital nomads that rely on the mail to receive invoices, contracts, or other important paperwork from their clients, partners, and contractors. Virtual mailboxes ensure your mailbox is open during regular business hours, and the CMRA uploads scans of your mail in real-time, so you know the exact status of all your important correspondence.

Forward & Receive Your Critical Mail Internationally or Domestically

While some mail only needs to be quickly read and disposed of, critical mail will need to be forwarded. Virtual mailboxes offer mail forwarding to nearly anywhere in the world. This will allow you to receive a package, check, or other important mail directly from your virtual mailbox without ever visiting the location.

Track & Organize Your Mail Online

Physical mail can be difficult to track and organize, especially when you are frequently on the move. A virtual mailbox gives you the added advantage of viewing your mail electronically. You'll also have the option to store, forward, or even shred your mail, giving you total control over what happens to every letter or package you receive.

Increase Your Security & Privacy

Maintaining a virtual mailbox could also give you added privacy and security during your travels. You will never need to share your home address or use a friend or family member's address. Plus, your mail can be securely stored with a virtual mailbox, limiting the risk of sensitive or personal information being stolen.

Popular Features Among Travelers, Expats, Remote Workers, & Digital Nomads

Every virtual mailbox is slightly different when it comes to the services they provide. Some popular features with frequent travelers include:

  • Mail forwarding
  • Package forwarding
  • Check deposit services
  • Real-time mail notifications
  • Long-term package and mail storage

Considerations When Living Outside of the U.S.

When you live outside of the U.S. but want to maintain a U.S. address, there are some essential factors to keep in mind when selecting the location of your virtual mailbox address.

Your Driver's License

If you want to maintain a valid U.S. driver's license, you will need an address in your desired state. Be sure to check if there are online renewal options for when your license expires.

Your Taxes

If you are a U.S. citizen, you will need to continue filing and paying your federal taxes. However, state taxes will depend on the location. Selecting a virtual mailbox in a state with no income taxes may provide additional tax benefits. Be sure to work with a trusted tax advisor for specifics.

Your Ability to Vote

If your state offers absentee ballots, maintaining an address can help you continue to vote in local elections. Check with your local laws and voting guidelines for more information.

Things You'll Need To Set up Your Virtual Mailbox

Setting up a virtual mailbox is pretty straightforward. You can usually sign up online for a low monthly or annual fee. The only part of the process that may be difficult if you are currently living abroad is completing USPS Form 1583. This form is required to authorize a virtual mailbox to receive mail on your behalf and requires a notary signature and two forms of I.D. 

You can use either the U.S. or non-U.S. notary seal for your form. If a notary is unavailable in your current location, you can also go through a lawyer or bank official. Government seals may also be acceptable to complete the form. Acceptable forms of I.D. for Form 1583 include:

  • Valid driver's license
  • Corporate or work I.D.
  • Student I.D.
  • Passport
  • Green card
  • Voter registration card
  • Vehicle registration card
  • Insurance policy (home, health, or vehicle)
  • Current lease or mortgage agreement
  • Deed
  • Trust

Setting Up Your Own Virtual Mailbox

If you are a frequent traveler, expat, remote worker, or digital nomad, SnapMailbox can help you get started with a virtual mailbox. Whether you are setting up your first virtual mailbox, or you are a seasoned world-traveler that has seen it all before, SnapMailbox has something unique to offer. We provide exclusive monthly and annual plans to help meet your needs and budget. Give us a risk-free try today with our 30-day free trial.