Mail forwarding services in the UK have been around for decades, but it’s only in the last ten years that we’ve seen a huge step forward in how they work. You can now use virtual addresses to receive your mail, ready for you to forward on.
The internet has revolutionised many industries, making things cheaper, faster and on the whole better. Mail forwarding and post management in general is no different. In this post we look at what Mail forwarding is and how the internet, along with technology companies, have changed it forever.
What is Mail Forwarding?
Mail forwarding is the process of post being sent to one address, then posted on to its final destination. Often set up to work in conjunction with a Royal Mail Redirection, you get a new physical address which can be used to receive both redirected and direct mail. When items arrive they’re forwarded on to the address of your choosing.
The difference between post forwarding and virtual mail forwarding?
Post forwarding allows you to forward all of your mail from one location to another, whereas virtual mail forwarding means you can forward each individual item on a case by case basis. You’re not restricted to one forwarding destinate, and you’ll also benefit from supplementary features such as managing your post online, document scanning etc.
What’s wrong with traditional mail forwarding?
Typically, the cost of traditional mail forwarding is too high for many small businesses owners and individuals. The combined service and outbound carriage fees prevent many from considering it as an option. It’s also inflexible; you set an address for your post to be forwarded onto and that’s where it’ll go; if you want it sent somewhere else, you’ll at least need to fire off a few emails or get on the phone to change your preferences. Finally, it’s slow. If the final destination isn’t in the UK, you’ll be waiting a while for it to turn up.
So to summarise - it’s expensive, inflexible and slow. It’s no wonder that it’s been the focus of innovation.
What is a Forwarding Address?
Your mail forwarding address is somewhere you can receive mail, ready for it to get forwarded to another location. When used in combination with online mail management and the ability to action your mail on the move, it becomes particularly useful. The features of your forwarding address will depend on the supplier, but think of it as a pit-stop for your mail that you can then action and organise as and when you need to.
What is “Virtual Mail Forwarding” and “Online Post Management?”
Chuck around the word “virtual” and people tend to think of the future - a world where robots have saved humanity, or destroyed it, depending on your outlook. In reality, and in this instance, it’s merely used to say that part of the mail forwarding process takes place online. That’s it - no artificial intelligence or robotic hamsters, just an outdated method improved using the internet and technology.
How does virtual mail forwarding work?
If you want to know how forwarding works with mail redirection, you should read our explainer about post redirection, as this is a separate service on its own.
As a standalone service, mail forwarding is simple and straightforward. You rent a physical postal address (there are free and premium options) and get your post sent to it, just as you would with a traditional mail forwarding service. Anything received is transported to a single, secure mail sorting facility (in our case anyway), and from there one of three things can happen:
- We scan the envelope and let you know something’s arrived
- We open and scan the document and let you know something’s arrived
- We forward the post automatically to the address of your choosing, unopened.
It’s that simple. Virtual post forwarding gives you the control over where all of your mail ends up.
This is particularly great for anyone overseas as you don’t have to worry about paying for things you don’t physically need abroad. Another thing to note, we can forward your mail to any address of your choosing, so no matter if it’s your sibling living abroad, or your parents across the country, we’d be more than happy to help.
How do I get to my mail?
This is the clever bit. You can log in from your phone, tablet or computer from anywhere in the world and access your post. You get complete control over your individual items. Have us open and scan some and not others or forward a batch of letters to one address today and another tomorrow. It’s your post, you tell us how it should be handled.
Mail Forwarding Parcels
When it comes to forwarding parcels, there are not too many differences in how the basic process works, here’s how we do it at UK Postbox:
- You’ll receive a free dedicated courier point address by signing up to any of our services
- You then have the option to consolidate multiple parcels, or get an individual item forwarded elsewhere
- Your parcel is forwarded to the address of your choosing
This service is particularly useful for anyone living outside of the UK that wants to order UK products. Not all companies will ship overseas, but by using parcel forwarding, you can bypass the restriction.
When is mail forwarding useful?
So, when might you find yourself in a situation where you need mail forwarded? Quite simply, there are many, and we’re surprised every day at the reasons our customers use our mail forwarding service. Is there an exclusive UK product release that you want to be forwarded overseas? No problem. Going abroad from the UK for a period of time and need some of your post sent over? You can do that too. Here are the top 7 scenarios we know our customers use mail forwarding for:
- Expats living outside of the UK
- Anyone who has temporarily located overseas
- Busy individuals who don’t have the time to regularly visit a Post Office
- Anyone who wants to forward their post in bulk
- Travelling workers
- People that send mail to a variety of recipients
- Anyone ordering products from the UK while living overseas
Key benefits of Virtual Mail Forwarding
- Almost always costs less - reduces or completely eliminates onward carriage costs
- Completely flexible - you can chop and change what happens to your post
- Read your post from anywhere at anytime
- Access your post on the day of arrival - don’t wait for it to be shipped abroad
- Hook it up to Dropbox and Evernote and see your post fly into your favourite apps
- Flexible contracts, you can even pay-as-you-go.
- You can still physically forward your post if you've like to
- It’s better for the environment with less post being transported on trucks and planes
Getting started with your Virtual Mail Forwarding Address
So you’re sold on the idea of either setting up or moving your existing mail forwarding over to us. What’s the next step?
- Choose between a free PO Box or a Prime London Street Address
- Decide on whether you’d like a monthly plan or to pay as you go
- Complete the signup process
- Submit some identification so we can verify who you are (we know it’s a pain but its a legal requirement)
- Get your address and access to our mail apps
- That’s it, you’re ready to receive and manage your post online.
We know that you might have some extra questions for us about our services, so be sure to check out these pages which cover them in more detail, or if you’ve got something specific you need help with why not drop us a message?
Who are UK Postbox?
We were the first UK based Online Post Office, starting up around 10 years ago, when Allan Chester, a Canadian-born entrepreneur, recognised the need for the modernisation of the postal system. Since then we’ve developed a market leading post and parcel management system, which today is used by over 10,000 individuals and businesses worldwide. We've also been ranked as the best UK mail forwarding service by Nomad Capitalist, check out their list of the world's best mail forwarding services if you'd like to learn why.