So you’re thinking about using a package forwarding service?
Whether it’s for travelers and expats shipping items from home out to their new location, or just online shoppers wanting to use eCommerce stores based in foreign countries on their own, forwarding services are extremely convenient.
However, what if you have never used one before? Maybe you are thinking about using a package forwarding service but not quite sure how to go about it.
Then this short guide will help. Today, we will look at the first steps when shipping items using one of the many providers available.
Using a Package Forwarding Service
Step 1: Dedicated Package Forwarding or Virtual Mailbox Service
The first step is to decide what type of service you need. If you are going to do more than just forwarding packages a virtual mailbox might be the answer.
This kind of service is better suited to expats, travelers, and digital nomads. This is because you will be able to receive content scans and be able to manage your regular mail.
You will also have a lot wider choices of virtual addresses to choose from. This will be the address your packages and mail will be set to before being forwarded.
Package forwarding with a mailbox service is available. However, the rates might not be as cost-effective as a dedicated forwarding provider.
This means that for international shoppers a dedicated package forwarding service would be a better choice.
The virtual address location is not such a big deal, (many providers only offer the one), but good package forwarding rates are available.
Conversely, you can have scans and manage your mail with a forwarding service. The rates are not as competitive as a dedicated mailbox, however.
Step 2: Signing up for your Package Forwarding Service
For the purposes of this guide, we will assume that you are someone that needs package forwarding more than the services of a dedicated mailbox.
With that in mind, the next step is to sign up for a service. There are many available, and we recommend you head to our reviews section for your options.
The important issue to consider when signing up for a service is your potential usage.
If you plan to forward lots of packages, it will be worthwhile opting for a high-priced plan that allows for better shipping rates and even free shipment quotas per month.
For infrequent users or someone that is just wanting to “test the waters,” you could go for a free plan with one of the providers and simply pay the amount for the shipment without any subscriber benefits.
Step 3: Start Shopping
After you register with a package forwarding service you can begin your online shopping.
Only now, your options are going to be much bigger. For international shoppers, you no longer need to concern yourself as to whether the vendor ships out to your country of residence.
Armed with the virtual address you now have from the package forwarding company, you can begin making orders using those address details.
The online vendor doesn’t even know that you live abroad. They are simply sending the package to the address provided. This happens to be the location of your forwarding provider.
Make your purchase and then you can go on to make arrangements with the forwarding service.
Step 4: Log in to your Package Forwarding Service
While not always necessary, it can be a good idea (especially for your first package), to contact your forwarding service and let them know that a mail item will be arriving in relation to your account.
Most providers will have an online form that can be accessed from your account. Here you will be able to state the details of your expected shipment, including the name of the shipper, your order number, and tracking numbers.
Depending on the item you have purchased and the speed of the shipment from the vendor to your provider, it may take a day or two to arrive.
Once there, your service will scan the label and you will get an alert that your package has arrived at their depot.
Now, it is time to choose options for the package to be forwarded.
This will vary on the provider, but essentially this will be which carrier you’d like to use, whether international insurance should be added, and other options such as package consolidation (if you have ordered more than one item).
Step 5: Await Delivery to the Final Destination
After making payment for the package to be forwarded, (or using credit from your monthly quota), your item will be sent to the address you have specified.
In the case of an international online shopper, this will normally be your home address where you are living.
Just remember that some items may incur import tax and duties so be prepared to pay for these upon arrival.
The normal procedure here is to pay the carrier once the package has arrived. Not paying will see your package held at customs where after a set period (this varies upon country) storage fees will apply.
Your tracking number will give you details of where the package is throughout the process, and you will be alerted via the carrier on how and when to pay for any such charges.
Step 6: Open your Package
Congratulations, your package has arrived and you can enjoy the pleasure of opening it and whatever is inside.
Essentially, package forwarding services open up the hold world to international shoppers. You no longer have to browse foreign eCommerce stores with envy.
A forwarding provider makes it possible for you to online shop anywhere in the world, and have the items sent anywhere in the world.
No wonder they have become so popular!
I’m a 25 year veteran of USPS. I’m retired now, but as the editor of Mailbox Master, I can’t quite remove myself from the carrier industry just yet. 🙂