Whether you’re a business owner, expat, or traveler looking to use a virtual mailbox service, you may have questions regarding packages.
A business owner might have important items sent to their virtual address and need them signed for and forwarded to another location.
As an expat, you might want to order a product from your favorite online retailer based in the USA. In that scenario, can you have the package delivered to your virtual address and comfortably rely on the mailbox provider to receive the item and send it to your expat address overseas?
The answer to this is yes.
Virtual mailbox services can receive packages and they will forward them to destinations of your choosing.
Let’s take a look at how it works…
How Mailbox Services Receive & Forward Packages
Online holiday shopping is underway, and just because you live abroad it doesn’t mean you have to miss out on all that U.S retailers have to offer.
Virtual mailboxes can be used to manage your package shipments, no matter the size and contents, (although there are restrictions in line with global prohibited items policies.)
Not only can your mailbox service receive and forward packages, but you can also arrange them to store items for you.
The cost varies across providers, however, the process is very similar throughout the industry.
Package management process of virtual mailbox services
- A package arrives at your virtual address and the label is scanned and uploaded to your account.
- You receive an alert, login, and request action. Normally either storage or forwarding to another location.
- For storage, you will have to accept the additional charge for storing a package. This is normally based on package weight and paid monthly. (Most providers will give you up to 10 days of free storage of a package while you decide on arrangements)
- For forwarding, you will normally have a choice of carriers and speed, (see full breakdown below).
Can virtual mailboxes receive packages from anyone?
Not all virtual addresses used via a mailbox service can receive packages from anyone.
For example, if you have opted to use a P.O Box address via your service provider, that address will only be able to receive packages from USPS.
This is because other carriers, (FedEx, DHL, etc) will not deliver to PO Box addresses.
However, this is a limited issue as it is much more likely that you have used a genuine street address as part of your service plan.
In this case, the address will be able to accept other shipments, including those delivered by all the major carriers.
If in doubt, you should contact the mailbox service provider before choosing your virtual address, to confirm if there are any restrictions.
Virtual Mailbox Package Forwarding Options Breakdown
There are a few factors to consider when forwarding packages via your mailbox service.
Each time you ship a package you will need to choose the following:
- The location to be shipped to. If this is abroad it could incur import tax and other duties. You will be responsible for these.
- Whether you would like to add shipping insurance
- Whether it should be recorded delivery with tracking numbers and signature upon receipt
- Which shipping service you would like to use: USPS, FedEx, or UPS
- The speed of the shipment, with choices such as Priority Mail Express, Air Mail, and/or standard delivery
- Whether you would like to combine your item with other items or make a single shipment.
As you can see, with all these variables it is impossible to state how much shipping will cost. All of the above is also dependent on package weight after all.
In situations where the vendor is able to ship to you direct, it is advised that you choose this option rather than the added step of using your virtual mailbox service.
For online shopping, and shipping abroad, (where the vendor does not send to your overseas location) you also have the option of package forwarding companies. Our recommended option is Shipito. (I.D: 15765)
- Related Content: Mail Forwarding Services: Ultimate Guide 2022
Prohibited items virtual mailboxes do not accept
Your user agreement when you sign up for a virtual mailbox service will provide details of prohibited items.
These generally fall in with USPS regulatory guidelines.
Examples of prohibited items:
- Illegal drugs, marijuana, and alcohol
- Live animals
- Human remains
- Items derived from protected animal species (ivory, shark fins, and rhino horns)
- Anything requiring refrigeration
- Perishable items (fresh fruit, vegetables)
- Ammunition, fireworks, airbags, and other explosives
- Lithium-ion batteries loose from the product
- Items with leaking liquids
As you can see, it is perfectly possible to ship packages via your virtual mailbox service. However, it is not always cost-effective to do so. There are also restrictions in place.
Our advice is to do your research before having a package sent to your virtual address, to ensure that it is the most appropriate form of shipping.