Ben Ko works in marketing intelligence and analytics for a global consulting firm. His job takes him around the globe and has him living away from his home base in the Bay Area for the last ten years. Like many of those who stay offshore for extended periods of time, or even permanently, Ko hasn’t entirely given up on everything back home. That’s why he and others all tend not to become totally absent from the states while they work and travel the world, often leading a nomadic lifestyle.
While it’s easy to reduce the volume of mail, you’re likely to get by placing yourself on all those “DO NOT SEND” spam removal and flyer removal lists, or canceling your magazine/CD/DVD subscriptions, two of the things Ko first did when he went global. ”Statements or bills that you need to receive, should be moved to email. That way, no matter where you are, you’re receiving them,” said Ko. But, even in this day and age, going digital isn’t the total solution.
Having a physical address is critical for receiving mail or packages that contain credit cards, motor vehicle licenses and registration renewals, tax refunds and more. When these types of relevant correspondence arrive, the receiver can usually do something with them, including scanning and forwarding the items electronically, or every so often having the items packaged up and shipped internationally. One option is changing your address to a trusted friend, or family member’s address, after asking if it’s okay to do so, as Ko and others have done.
Credit cards that you want to keep and use while you’re being a global nomad is often the main reason for setting up a “home address.” A scan of the information, such as the new credit card number, expiration date, the three or four digit code and the phone number to activate it are all that’s usually needed to use it. That way, travelers can go online or call from wherever they are, make the card active and use it card online while it’s being sent to them. Friends and family members can easily do that using any one of a number of smartphone apps or even a desktop scanner.
When You Need More Than Friends
But for those who need something more than a friend’s or family member’s address, companies like PostScanMail, Virtual Post Mail, US Global Mail and Physical Address are some of the many cloud based mail services that have turned the family function into a real business.
Getting set up with one of these services usually, involves the customer presenting two forms of government issued ID such as a passport and driver’s license, and then completing US Postal service Form 1583 so the the mail center is authorized to receive the mail. “This form must be notarized which the customer can do on their own, or we can do it for them via Skype,” said Angelica Proano of US Global Mail.“The other step is to have a valid credit card on your account.” To prevent fraud US Global Mail checks the uploaded ID’s before approving an account. “We also make a small refundable charge on the customer’s credit card in which they have to tell us what the charge was before proceeding.”
The services all operate the same way in making sure your mail reaches you. First mail is sent to either their street address or a designated P.O. Box where they receive all your mail and packages. The letters are then opened, scanned and posted for the customer to review via a web page. Most services also send an email alert.
From there the internationally based customer can view, download or even print from the online image. If an original is needed, the item is checked off and the service will forward the correspondence on to the customer by mail or an international shipping service. If there’s no need for the correspondence to be kept, the service will shred and discard it. If it needs to be kept, for the most part, the services all maintain the original mail for as long as the traveler remains a customer.
“I absolutely love the service for its convenience, especially for my situation. It’s the perfect thing for RVers, traveling nurses, sailors, or digital nomads,” said Melody DiCroce, a full-time sailboater and nomad who uses St. Brendan’s Isle mail forwarding service. “Given I live and travel full-time on a sailboat, not only does St. Brendan’s Isle act as my mail service, but also as my legal address, allowing me to use it for my driver’s license, and establishing residency in Florida.”
Andy took his first flight at age 14 when he was working in media relations for a professional sports team in Philadelphia, and since then he’s never stopped traveling. Named “Business Traveler of the Year” by Business Traveler Magazine in 2015, for the past twelve years he has traveled over 200 days a year, often for a month or more. In addition to travel, Andy has been heard and seen as a technology correspondent on Business Rockstars, KenRadio, for the BBC’s ClickOnline and his own online sites, VoIPWatch, WineScene and WorkingAnywhere. Often quoted on travel, marketing and technology, he holds a degree in Journalism from Temple University, and is CEO of Comunicano, Inc., a global value strategy agency, working for start-ups and companies in transition, with 42 exits to his credit in the last 16 years.