For Mexican Snowbirds, dealing with mail can be so frustrating,
but deal you must.
In the U.S. we take snail mail for granted. We walk out to our box or stop at the post office and there is mail. We don’t even have to think about how to get or send mail.
This post contains a helpful affiliate link to Traveling Mail, an attractive online mail solution for travelers. Go there first if you have already tried other mail solutions and want a full service solution.
When you fly south, the mail keeps coming, but you can’t rely on Mexican mail service and you can’t forward your mail directly to Mexico. Advance planning is essential.
Here are a few tips for Mexican Snowbirds, dealing with mail.
1) Reduce your snail mail immediately by requesting online statements for everything. Bank statements, utilities, physician bills, insurance bills. Every time a paper copy comes to your US mailbox change it to an online account or call the company and advice them to stop sending you paper catalogs or free magazines and etc. Stop all junk mail or anything that will fill your mail box unnecessarily while you are away unless someone is picking up you mail on a regular basis. Apparently you can’t stop the USPS from putting advertisements in your mailbox but we tape over our mail slot so junk can’t be placed there and stop or forward the important mail to a PO Box while we are away. This is a good idea for everyone to reduce the chance of someone stealing your mail from your mailbox. A locked mailbox is imperative if you can’t check your mail daily.
2) Decide on a plan to have access to your mail. Here are a few options. The plan you choose will depend on who you trust to pick up your mail, how much mail you receive and how urgently you need access to your mail.
- Have a close neighbor or family member get your mail and email important documents to you. You need someone you trust. Remember that email is not secure so don’t forward account numbers, social security numbers, passwords and etc.
- Have a neighbor box all of your mail, leave them prepaid shipping boxes and labels. When full the box of mail can be mailed to a reputable U.S. shipping company that then ships the box to Mexico. Send me an email if you want a company in San Diego for the Baja. This could delay your mail retrieval for 4-6 weeks.
- Have your mail held at the post office for up to 30 days, which is a short term solution at best, if you don’t have important mail. Believe me, you will have something important come in the mail that you didn’t anticipate and you will regret not having someone check your mail.
- Open a post office box and change all of mail to the PO Box and temporarily forward your mail to the PO Box for up to 6 months. If you are gone longer than 6 months then expect your mail to go to “never never land”. This happened to us and it took months to find all of the returned and lost in limbo mail. Highly undesirable option unless you know that you will return within 6 months.
- Open a PO Box and permanently receive all of your mail there. A good option if you travel throughout the year and plan to be out of the country for longer than 6 months. The USPS has an option to send a photo of all envelopes that come to a PO Box called Informed Delivery, which will give you an idea of what needs to be dealt with but not what’s inside the envelope. Expect some surprises that you didn’t anticipate and save the contact information for any company that might send you important mail so you can call and ask, “Hey, what did you send me?”
- In my opinion the best option is to pay a mail service company to deal securely with your mail. Traveling Mail has a good reputation with expats and is inexpensive. They give you a physical address in the location of your choosing. I like this full service solution the best because you can see a scanned envelope and then decide if you want the contents security emailed to you or deposited if it’s a check or shredded. There’s no surprises and no need to burden a friend or family member with retrieving your mail. This is an affiliate link but doesn’t cost you any additional fees.
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