R2I – Change of Address Update – An Experience

USPS (US Postal Service) has a user friendly, online interface to submit change of address forms for domestic relocation. The entire process including the verification procedure along with a few other steps can be done in under ten minutes. Per the USPS Internet Change of Address FAQ, that online interface does not service International Move change of address requests.  In reality, USPS does NOT provide a service for international mail forwarding. We learnt this after several unsuccessful attempts at submitting Change of Address requests when planning our International Move for May 2010. Lack of training on the part of USPS personnel contributed to the confusion by providing conflicting information as well. Below is our experience sequentially:
  1. On contacting the USPS Customer Service over the phone, we realized change of address for an International Move was not an over the phone item. The directive was to obtain the form from the post office, and to return the filled in form (hard copy only) at the same office.
  2. The response from our local Alameda Main Post Office was that they did not stock change of address forms for international moves and deferred us to the main Oakland post office.
  3. After a lengthy session with the staff at the main Oakland post office, the request was escalated and the superintendent declared forms for an international move as nonexistent.

For an International Move, one viable option is to have the mail forwarded by a virtual address service provider. Below is a look at some of the providers with the fees involved and other details:



Though the virtual address concept imparts a complicated feel, the setup is easy and straightforward. The company supplies a street address (not a P.O Box), considered virtual for no physical location is associated with the address. Signup involves filling the address (present US address and the international address you are moving to) and credit card details in an online form. There is also a ps1583 form that needs to be filled and that requires submitting two proofs of identity - it is a USPS form that the providers are required to collect and once approved, it is green light to forward mail to the address provided. The final step is submitting a change of address form with the USPS for changing the current address to the virtual address. As USPS forwards regular mail for a year, ensure that contacts are aware of either the US virtual address or the international address before the one year is up. A virtual address comes in very handy when having to deal with businesses that do not yet allow changing address to an international one. Also, there are restrictions for US businesses when handling international clients and such issues can also be bypassed.

For our part, we signed up with usa2me bronze plan – the only down side is that unless arrangement is made to have the mail sent to the international address every few months, monthly charges for mail storage will start accumulating – having the mail parceled to the international address can also prove expensive (upwards of $40). Also, for anything beyond standard mail and periodicals tax claims its part too!

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

i did extensive research into MF companies as well and chose US Global Mail. The main reason is they scan my mail when needed and most others wont.

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