Back in 2019, in a pre-Covid world that seems light-years away, my wife and I decided to move to Vietnam. We had spent our honeymoon there and loved the place.
And with me working as a digital nomad, the network of ex-pats making a living online while based in Hanoi made it a great choice for relocating my business there too.
So, with 2 kids in tow, the family and I made that leap. I won’t go into the ups and downs of the move, we’re still here and apart from the Coronavirus affecting us in the way of lockdowns and no travel, things have been great.
And it may sound trivial, however, there is one issue that I am really happy was stress-free from the start; shifting my business to Vietnam while keeping a US-based presence. The way I did this, was with a virtual mailbox service.
After a lot of research, I opted to use US Global Mail. (It took me a while, there’s a lot of options out there). In this article, I will describe my experience using the service over the last year and a half.
Who is US Global Mail?
I will be honest, US Global Mail made it to my shortlist of services to go for because it is one of the largest and I think, longest-running virtual mailbox services based in the USA.
Their company can now boast over 80,000 users and I was able to find a lot of high scoring customer reviews. My logic was definitely along the lines of that many people can’t be wrong.
That being said, so many subscribers could impact customer service and overall efficiency, (I’ll come to all that it a bit), so it wasn’t an immediate choice to opt for US Global Mail.
Anyway, the service is clearly extremely popular with US expatriates. Furthermore, the company is based out of Houston, Texas, and was formed back in 1999. These guys really were at the forefront of the virtual mailbox revolution.
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Who is US Global Mail designed for?
US Global Mail has four main mail service categories, Personal, Business, Enterprise, and HR/Relocation, which gives you an idea of the wide breadth of customer base they are designed for.
We will have a good look at each in a minute. However, these plans clearly vary in price and the type of service (from the features available to the amount of mail that is processed) you receive.
That being said, the core of this virtual mailbox service is much like any other. With the following features being part of every single plan:
Furthermore, the service offers up to 80% off on Shipping Rates. This has been a massive saver for me, and one of the best reasons to opt for using US Global Mail.
And not even for business purposes. The service has proven very popular among international shoppers. US Global Mail provides you with a US address to buy products from US-based companies.
When you move abroad you fully understand just how important that ability is.
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A closer look at the main services provided
Physical US Address
The fundamental aspect of any US-based virtual mailbox service is the street address you are provided.
With US Global Mail, you will receive one as soon as you sign up. Importantly, this will be a physical address rather than a standard P.O Box. (This is especially vital if you’re wanting to use the address as the face of your business as I have done).
However, one important distinction to make is that unlike many competing virtual mailbox services, you do not get to choose your address with USGlobalMail. The only physical address the company offers is its head office.
This means that your address, will be the following:
Your Name or Company
1321 Upland Dr.
This address is what you use to route all your mail, packages, and online shopping.
Once your items have arrived at this address, you will receive a notification within your online virtual mailbox interface. This of course can be accessed anywhere in the world as long as you have an internet connection.
Real-Time Mail Management
One of the things I really appreciate about the service is the speed at which you can have your items managed. Because everything is taken care of by the one central office, processing times are very fast.
Upon notification that a letter or parcel has arrived for you, an image of the envelope or package/box will be visible within your virtual mailbox interface.
Here, you can request that the item be scanned, forwarded, or shredded. If it is a check, you can even have it paid into your bank account.
Importantly, you can ask for a scan of important documentation and receive a PDF within minutes, (they state within 30 minutes but very often I have been able to read something within 5 or 10 minutes of requesting it).
This fast turnaround always leaves me impressed.
A possible 80% reduction on shipping
It is hard for me to judge just how often we may have received 80% savings on shipping. All I do know is that when I have to have items posted out to Vietnam, (be it for my business or after online shopping), the speed and cost has not caused me concern.
From their website, they state that the sheer volume of trade means they receive hefty discounts that they pass on to the subscriber.
They also take care of all the repackaging, and really it is difficult to fault this part of the service. We have never had an item lost, and I have never winced at the cost of getting things shipped to us.
Choosing the right plan for you
In many ways, this will be a no brainer. The plans available are very distinct in who they are designed for.
I have opted for the business plan over the last 18 months and this has been more than adequate for my needs, (mine is a streamlined operation). The same plan has also been useful for the family’s personal needs too.
All that being said, let’s take a look at the service plans as if you are coming in fresh.
The individual plan is great for Expats (individuals or families), overseas retirees, and young digital nomads/backpackers.
As the box above (“Free Services on all plans”) shows, you are getting the most important options while subscribing to this plan.
At the time of writing you can pick this up for as little as $9.95 a month (a family with 2 or more people using the account starts at $14.95 p/mo) and you will have everything you need to take care of your US-based physical mail and packages.
In other words, you will be able to use the Houston-based address and have access to the online virtual mailbox interface with mail scanning, free pre-sorting of junk mail, free shredding, and mail bundling for shipping with up to 80% off on shipping rates.
They also offer free check deposits on these low-priced accounts, which is different from most other service providers that will charge a small admin fee. Again, a feature I have used consistently while living abroad and continue to be thankful for.
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The main difference between the business and individual plans is that you can have unlimited company and account names. This is really important if you have multiple personnel each receiving individual correspondence.
Yes, you do pay a bit more (the plan starts at $24.95 p/mo if paid annually) however if you are aiming to continue running a business while outside of the US yet need to maintain a presence there, I really find what these guys do, hard to fault. As I already mentioned, this is the plan I am currently on.
Other benefits of the business plan are the 180-day free physical mail storage, priority mail scanning times (that fast turnaround time I have talked about), and same-day forwarding.
Enterprise plans are an extension of the business plans, where the customer has customized features to meet their needs and demands. Generally, these are larger volume clients where their mailroom function is being taken care of remotely via USGlobalMail.
Current clients include the likes of Netflix, AIG, and Shell, to give you an idea of the size of the organizations we are talking about here.
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The HR, Company relocation plan is designed to give larger companies global mobility.
Whether the company is expanding overseas, or just in various states within the US but requires a central presence, this plan will be able to assist.
I clearly haven’t used the extra features that come with this plan, however as cited by the US Global Mail website, the service will help “reduce costs and HR headaches with handling employee mail in-house. Eliminate risk, liability, and compliance issues.”
If this speaks to you, I would certainly recommend exploring further based on the experience that I have had utilizing the other plans.
A checklist of all available features
Below is a rundown of all the services that are included within US Global Mail plans. [Some features are asterisked to indicate where additional fees apply.]
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USGlobalMail vs The Competition
US GLOBAL MAIL
EARTH CLASS MAIL
FREE MAIL ITEMS PER MONTH
Up to 200/mo
Up to 240/mo
Up to 250/mo
Up to 200/mo
50 - UNLIMITED
FREE MAIL STORAGE
45 - 180 Days
DropBox, Evernote, Bill.com, GoogleDrive
DropBox, Evernote, Bill.com, GoogleDrive, QuickBooks, Xero
RECYCLING & SHREDDING
2048 bit SSL
PRICE PER MAIL (OVER QUOTA)
Up to $1.00
$9.95 - $24.95 +
$15 - $55
$9.99 - $69.99
$19 - $79
$6.50 - $80+
$14.95 - $49.95
My thoughts after using US Global Mail while living and working in Vietnam
Overall, my experience with US Global Mail has been excellent. Prices for shipping have certainly been reasonable, but mainly it is the speed and convenience with which I can access my US-based mail while sitting in my office in Hanoi.
I receive a ping notification that something has arrived at my US business address, I can easily request to have it scanned using the online interface and then 10 minutes later I am reading it.
In other words, the service sets out to do everything an ex-pat business owner could need.
These are all very reputable online review platforms, (no fake news here!).
To top it all, if you do remain a little skeptical they offer a cancel anytime, full refund with no questions asked policy.
This means you can dip your toes into using one of the plans with the knowledge that you can back out at any time should it not be for you.
I am pretty confident that won’t happen, however.
Anyway, the last thing I will say is good luck with your travels. If you’re reading this you’re either living away from home or very close to doing so.
Good on you, it will likely be the best thing you ever do!