mail scanning service for expats

How To Choose A Mail Scanning Service

Ah, mail. Something we take for granted. While we dream of getting the hell outta here and away to la-la land, mail is probably one of the last things on our mind. Yet, it is just as important as locking down your insurance, visas, and your logistics, especially if you run a business.

When planning to go location independent, the first thing you want to do is go paperless. The second thing to do is shop around for a good mail scanning service.

Going Paperless

To minimize paper mail as much as possible, try the following:

  • Log into your financial accounts and change your options to Online Statements only
  • Opt out of all mailing lists
  • Register address at the Do Not Mail list
  • Always choose digital over paper whenever possible
  • Get a Google Drive or Dropbox account to store your digitized documents

When taking the above steps, my mail volume shrank by 80%. There’s still that 20% that I receive in the mailbox, and some of it is important stuff that I wouldn’t want piling up for months on end.

Finding The Best Traveling Mailbox Service

The problem with comparison shopping is that their pricing schemes vary wildly and it’s difficult to make an apples to apples comparison. Some services offer dozens upon dozens of plans with a whole bunch of add-on options. Not only can it be confusing, but also bewildering.

Here are a few mail scanning service providers and how much they charge if you want to receive up to 100 pieces of mail each month:

Earth Class Mail

  • Mostly geared for businesses
  • $49/mo minimum for individuals, next plan up is $99/mo for businesses
  • 10 pieces of mail included in starter plan
  • Complicated fee structure and is the most expensive

Traveling Mailbox

  • Regular address formats available
  • $25/mo; 100 pieces of mail / 80 page scans included
  • $0.25 per mail over plan limit; $0.50 per open/scan over plan limit
  • $2.00 per shipment plus postage (can bundle shipments together to save on postage)
  • $4.95 per check deposit

Mailbox Forwarding

  • Regular address formats available
  • $15/mo; 50 pieces of mail / 10 mail scans (not just pages) included
  • $25/mo; 150 pieces of mail / 40 mail scans (not just pages) included
  • $0.20-$0.30 per mail over plan limit; $0.60-$0.75 per open/scan over plan limit
  • $0.75 per domestic shipment plus postage, $1.25 per international (can bundle shipments together to save on postage)
  • $4.95 per check deposit + $0.75 per check

Scan Mailboxes

  • Regular address formats available
  • $25/mo; 100 pieces of mail / 30 page scans included
  • $0.30 per mail over plan limit; $1.00 per open/scan over plan limit
  • $0.20 per shipment plus postage (can bundle shipments together to save on postage)
  • $2.95 first check check deposit with $5.00/mo subscription to check depositing service

Post Scan Mail

  • PO Box address formats only
  • $20/mo; 100 pieces of mail / 25 page scans included
  • $0.35 per mail over plan limit; $1.25 per open/scan over plan limit
  • $5.00/mo extra user account (for business name)
  • No check depositing service, no information on shipping fees

US Global Mail

  • Regular address formats available
  • $15/mo
  • $3.00 just to open EACH piece of mail to view the contents
  • Not worth extra consideration and I had a bad experience with them

Note: YMMV = Your Mail Might Vary — this is just to give you an idea of the best apples to apples comparison I’ve attempted. The above list isn’t meant to be exhaustive. I’m sure you can find others with some digging in Google, and each offer a myriad of plans and pricing options. I merely scratched the surface here.

Which One Do I Use?

Personally I found Traveling Mailbox to have the best value. 80 page scans included monthly is a lot, and their overages are among the lowest — these factors are what tipped me in favor of TM. But for you it may be different. Just run the numbers and evaluate your needs based on what you’ve done in the past few months or few years.

Personally I get up to 50-70 pieces of mail a month, but only cared to open half of them. The rest I tossed in the bin or sent straight through the shredder. I also get one or two checks to deposit each month, along with 1-3 package shipments. Based on these numbers, I felt Traveling Mailbox gives me the best value.

Address formats may be important because I recently found out that many banks don’t accept P.O. Box addresses. To prevent any future hassles with banks or other entities when providing your address, you want to get a real mailing address, not a P.O. Box.

I’m pretty happy with it so far. We shall see over the next several months to see if that holds up.

Once you select a mail scanning service, signing up is pretty easy. Just register an account, punch in your credit card information, and they will give you a Form 1583 to sign and notarize. Then they will give you a new mailing address, and you’ll direct your mail there when you’re ready to leave your current residence.

One last word — be careful with the US post office’s mail forwarding service. Don’t start forwarding until a couple days before you move out. Trust me on this.

If you are an expat and are happy with a mail scanning service not listed above, please post the name of the service in the comments and explain why you like that service.

2 comments On How To Choose A Mail Scanning Service

  • Hi!

    My name is Todd! I have been on the road now for a couple of years and I too found Traveling Mailbox to have the best value. There are other services out there that will charge for every little thing such as scanning, shredding, and have a fee per item when you forward mail. Traveling Mailbox gives you free scans, unlimited shredding, and if you bundle mail, there is only one forwarding fee.

    After all the time that I have been using them, my bills are the same each month and this is very nice for me. Note: I am on their annual plan and I get two months free for that too!

    Customer Service- TOP NOTCH! I also get a quick response if I chat in or call and its just great to get that. There is huge value in that folks.

    • Hey Todd, thanks for sharing! Totally agree on TM’s customer service and great value. I don’t get that much mail anymore, so I might downgrade to a more basic plan soon.

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