Virtual mailboxes are a solution that individuals and businesses can use for receiving, managing and sending mail remotely. Learn about what they are and how they’re being utilised.
Every year, more and more individuals and families are moving away from the UK to live overseas. Often referred to as expatriates (expats), there are many unique things they need to consider before, during and after the move. We’ve created an expat checklist to help with this, but in this blog we’re focusing on how to handle your UK address and mail needs while overseas.
What is an expat virtual address?
You can use virtual addresses for many different purposes, but you can’t visit them in person. They’re not intended to replace your home, residential addresses, but for individuals such as expats, they offer everything they’ll need while living away from the UK.
There are several different types of expat virtual addresses, each suited to different use cases and needs. We’ve covered the most common options below.
Different types of virtual addresses for expats
- Personal street addresses - These addresses are based on physical locations in the UK. They allow expats to do everything they need, such as receiving mail and parcels, signing up for UK based services and everything in between.
- PO Box address - PO Boxes are virtual locations, and they’re only suitable for expats that need a location to receive their UK mail.
- Business address - Similarly to personal street addresses, this option can also be used for your business. So, if you’re an expat managing a business while you’re away, this option offers you the extra flexibility to use a single address for your own and your company’s address needs.
Virtual addresses and online mail management
Virtual expat addresses give you a delivery address for all your mail (along with other things), but what happens when mail arrives for you? This is where online mail management services come up. They give you all of the functionality you need to manage your mail from anywhere, as long as you have a connected device. Here are some examples of the type of actions you can take:
When a letter or parcel arrives at your address, we’ll scan the envelope or take a photo of the parcel. You’ll just need to log in to our platform and the digital images will be there for you to view.
You can also request that we open your letters and scan the inside for you to read online. If it’s easier for you, this can also be set up as an automatic rule. As soon as any letter arrives, we can open it and scan it for you to view. Learn more about mail scanning.
International mail forwarding
If you receive a letter or parcel at your virtual address and you need it sent elsewhere, such as your new location overseas, you can forward items on a case-by-case basis to any address in the world. We’ll make sure to ask you for all of the relevant information needed to send your mail overseas, and if you’re sending multiple items, you can create batches to save on costs.
All of our virtual address holders receive 30 days of free storage on their mail, regardless of if it’s a letter or parcel. You can also digitally store all of your letters online for you to access as and when needed. There’s no charge for digital storage, and you can ask us to securely dispose of your physical items if you don’t need them stored at our facility.
Shop & ship
Our shop & ship service is designed to help people living overseas access UK goods and products that may otherwise be unavailable or expensive to ship abroad.
Purchase from any UK retailer and have your goods sent to your virtual address. You can then forward these items in bulk to your location overseas to save on shipping costs. Learn more about shop & ship.
Send letters online
There will be times when you need to send a letter to an individual or business in the UK. If you’re posting from overseas, it may take a long time to arrive and cost more in international postage costs. Our sends letters online service allows you to upload a document via our platform, and we’ll post it for you from the UK. Learn more about send letters online service.
How can expats benefit from a virtual address?
Virtual addresses offer many benefits for expats, and which apply to you depend on how you intend to use the service. Many expats have been using our service for over 10 years, and some of the most common benefits we hear of include:
Manage mail from anywhere
No matter where you are in the world, as long as you have a device and an internet connection, you’ll have access to all of our mail management features. Many expats refer to themselves as digital nomads, who utilise technology to work and manage their day-to-day lives while travelling the world. Our mail management and virtual address tools help meet these needs by giving individuals their own post office in their pocket.
Security and privacy
Virtual addresses provide an extra level of security for everyone. They protect your personal information and minimise risks such as identity theft or misuse of personal data. By using a virtual address, you’ll never have to share your actual location, helping you to stay confidential.
Retain a UK based presence
After moving out of the UK you’ll likely still receive mail from various providers. Common examples include letters about your pension or UK taxation. You’ll need an address to receive this information, and having quick access to any correspondence you receive can help you stay in the know.
Flexibility and mobility
If you move addresses frequently, you may risk missing any mail sent to you. You may also have to update your address information with multiple suppliers regularly. Having a single virtual address while you travel helps to remove these issues. Regardless of where you’re located, your virtual address will stay the same, and you won’t have to update your delivery information continually.
How to get an expat virtual address
Signing up for a virtual address is quick and easy. You’ll just need to choose the right plan for your needs, confirm your identity, and then we’ll provide you with everything you need to get started straight away. Here’s a breakdown of how it works:
- Choose your address type - Choose the address that includes everything you need as an expat. Our pricing page has a side by side comparison to help you choose.
- Choose your mail plan - This plan outlines how many letters and scans are included within your plan. You should choose the option that most closely matches your expected usage. You can change at any time, and if you’re unsure, we offer a pay-as-you-go option.
- Confirm your identity - As we’re handling personal information, we’re legally required to confirm the identity of our customers. Your data is completely secure and confidential, and we’ve provided more information on our identity verification page.
- Start using your address - After confirming your identity, we’ll issue you with a unique virtual address that you can start using straight away. Just log into our platform with your account details and you’ll have access to all of our services and information about your address in one place.