Over 52% of small businesses are home-based. More than 800,000 elderly people migrate to Florida each winter. One million Americans live full-time in a recreational vehicle with no “sticks and bricks” home.
These three separate groups have one common factor. They can all benefit from the use of a virtual mailbox.
What is a virtual mailbox? How long does mail forwarding last? What are the benefits of a virtual mailbox v. a standard post office box? Here is everything you ever wondered about mail forwarding and more.
What Is a Virtual Mailbox?
A virtual mailbox is a service that provides you with a permanent street address where you can receive mail and packages. You receive an email notification each time you receive mail. You can access your mail from anywhere in the world by smartphone or laptop computer.
At your instruction, the mail service will consolidate your mail into one package and forward it to any address you choose. This allows you to receive mail for a small business somewhere other than your home address. If traveling you are able to have your mail easily sent to your location.
Why Not Use a United States Mail P.O. Box?
There are approximately 21 million P.O. Boxes available at 31,000 U.S. Post Offices in the United States. The post box offered at the United States Post Office does provide security. You do not have your mail sitting in a mailbox where it can easily be accessed by those looking to steal your identity.
The P.O. Box directs mail away from your personal home address. This gives a more professional appearance for your small home business. Delivery is faster because your mail is at the post office ready for pickup.
While the P.O. Box does have advantages, it has even more disadvantages. The post office will put all mail you receive into the box, including junk mail. You have to make sure you rent a P.O. Box of sufficient size to hold all your mail. If you overflow the box there may be additional fees.
The U.S. Postal Service does not consolidate your mail into one package and forward it to you. You have to go to the post office and pick up the mail. You do not have 24/7 access to your mail. You can only pick up mail when the post office is open, so no evenings, weekends, or holidays.
The post office will not email you notifications when mail is received. The only way you know what mail you have and how much is to go physically to the post office.
If you move you will have to change your address for all government mailings, bills, and personal mail. Although the P.O. Box is a permanent address, you can not receive mail from other carriers such as Federal Express, UPS, or DHL. Those shipments will still need to go to your home address.
How Long Does Mail Forwarding Last?
The United States Postal Service provides mail forwarding for a one-year period. You provide them with the new address, and as each piece of mail arrives they place a sticker on that envelope with the new address and it is sent to you. This process is lengthy, with forwarded mail taking 1-2 additional weeks to arrive.
Once the initial six-month period expires you can opt to extend your mail forwarding for another six-month period. Beyond that mail is simply returned to the sender. You have no way of knowing what mail has been lost.
A virtual mailbox does not expire. Your forwarding service is good for as long as you need it. It is easy for you to change locations and have the mail forwarded in one consolidated shipment wherever you are located.
Advantages of a Virtual Mailbox
A virtual mailbox provides you with a permanent street address. This provides a professional look for small home-based businesses.
This address can also be used on your driver’s license and for voter registration. This is a much-needed feature for people who live permanently on the road, such as full-time RVers.
If you are traveling internationally or have moved overseas then a virtual mailbox is the perfect solution for you to be able to still receive your mail or packages internationally. Your virtual mailbox service can get your US mail and packages to you regardless of what country you are visiting or have moved to.
A virtual mailbox provides you with security. If you are away from home frequently or live in an area where identity thieves may take mail from your box, this protects your identity.
The virtual mailbox looks professional when being used for a small business. It is not a random P.O. Box, but a physical address. You have 24/7 access to your mail via your smartphone or computer. This allows you to easily monitor what correspondence is coming into your business at all times.
If you are overseas and shopping online, many companies will not ship overseas. Because a virtual mailbox is a physical U.S. street address it can be used for online shopping. The service accepts mail from all carriers.
You no longer have to sort through stacks of junk mail. A virtual mailbox service will sort out and shred your junk mail. You receive only quality mail that you choose. The service will shred and recycle any unwanted mail.
When you are ready to receive your mail, provide the address where you want your mail sent. The virtual mailbox will carefully package your mail into one package or box and ship it to you. You can designate whether you want standard shipping or a faster method.
Mail can be sent to a campground, hotel, home address, business address, or a post office through their general delivery system.
Is the Virtual Mailbox Company Reputable?
It is important to make sure the company you are dealing with is reputable. To determine if a service is safe check the company reviews on Facebook and Google. Check their rating with the Better Business Bureau.
How long have they been in business? Have they had any legal issues? Do they have secure payment options? Can you talk to a real person? Do they use trusted shipping carriers?
Be cautious of services that offer super-cheap rates. They may have services that are lacking in any of the above areas.
Get Your Virtual Mailbox Today
The process is easy. Select the company and plan that is right for you. Change your address and begin managing your mail in real time. With a virtual mailbox the question of how long does mail forwarding last is simple – as long as you need it! Contact us today to set up your virtual mailbox.