Expat Forum For People Moving Overseas And Living Abroad banner

1 - 20 of 26 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,

I'm planning to move abroad in the future. What is more recommended a service that allows you to keep a US address (mail forwarding service) or a PO Box?

I'm not sure if it is better to maintain an address here in US or just a PO Box.

Thanks,
charles
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
50,421 Posts
Depends on what you need a US address for.

A service will cost you, but some services offer some very useful features, like going through your incoming mail, chucking the adverts and other junk and then faxing or scanning and sending you "important" pieces of mail by e-mail. (Particularly good for bills or other time sensitive items.)

A plain old PO box may simply bundle up everything that comes in and send it all to you - including all the ads and other stuff.

For a limited term stay abroad, you can often use a friend or family member as a "mail drop" and just arrange with them to forward, or to notify you of anything important.

If you're making a permanent move overseas, you will probably find that it makes more sense to simply change address on those accounts, registrations and mailings that you want to continue receiving. Over time, you'll have less and less "need" for a US address.
Cheers,
Bev
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,370 Posts
Yu can opt effectively out of junk mail. Check if you can access everything you need by using a non US IP address.
Are you expecting deliveries which will not accept a PO box?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
24 Posts
I'm getting ready to move abroad permanently so I've researched this problem.

There are companies where you can list their business address and have mail forwarded to them. They scan the envelope fronts and email them to you as an attachment. You tell them which to discard and which to open. They scan the contents of the one you designated for opening and send you a scan.

I found something better - a virtual assistant. She is more responsible and flexible than my hiring a company where the workers are probably paid minimum wage and could care less about me.

I'll open a street store mailbox (not PO Box as FedEx and UPS don't deliver there). That way I can order online some non-prescription medicine when needed and before I can find local sources at my new home city.

I also need a street address for a few years before I become a citizen of my new country. She will let me use her home office address for drivers license, passport, jury duty summons, etc. I will use my US accountant's address for bank and credit card statements until I move all banking abroad.

Her normal fee is $35 an hour and I have no problem with this. I'll start a "petty cash" envelope with $100 for expenses, like postage, which will be topped up monthly. Plus I'll pay her a minimum fee of around $50 for use of her address. If she works more than $50 worth, I'll pay her fees. My US accountant will pay her bills.

I will buy two StartMail email accounts - one for me, one for her. StartMail encrypts emails that can only be opened with a password. $60 a year.

Lots of details to resolve when moving abroad. Good luck with yours!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
60 Posts
Ok a lot of this depends.

Im from US and stay in Asia. But I never intended to give up professional licences, drivers licence, bank account, credit cards, so I use a family address and once a year I go back and find a pile of mail. But in that year I paid all bills online through my bank and cut off all unnecessary mail at the roots. So, I can be abroad, no need to be sent any mail, use a calendar for important deadlines and settle matters online and by phone. I got a Magic Jack five years ago and use it all the time to call US for free AND use that as my permanent US local phone number and nobody even knows Im gone.

That said, ive been out for almost 16 years and should I gain higher permanency abroad then I will just cut off everything and bye bye. But not yet since I still have income sources at home.

Last thing, sometime when I start Social Security those checks could be deposited into the US account at home and I can transfer or ATM the payments from abroad. So, dont dump the bank account but everything else could go.

So it really depends the plans. At the beginning one is in panic so there is the need for full service but if you think through the problems you can find solutions like I did and save money and hassle.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
50,421 Posts
Last thing, sometime when I start Social Security those checks could be deposited into the US account at home and I can transfer or ATM the payments from abroad. So, dont dump the bank account but everything else could go.
Just an aside here. Since you mention US Social Security, it can depend on where you plan to take your retirement, but US Social Security can be direct deposited in a large number of countries these days. Direct Deposit-Payments to Beneficiaries Outside the United States Because the direct deposits are made through the local Consulate, the government usually can get a far better rate of exchange than an individual can.

But as you said, the initial arrangements one makes before moving overseas tend to be made in panic. The best approach is to not burn any bridges. Hold onto your bank and other accounts until you find out whether or not you need them, and then let them go if and when they aren't useful any more.
Cheers,
Bev
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
New type of PO-Box

The site below only provide Japan address, but will help you in this case.
Hayabusabox - Tokyo PO Box

The site providing document's forward service. You can get your document's picture via e-mail. Really simple. I'm using this as Japanese, and I began to get document faster than before, the site is really cheap thogh. Anyway, I'm sure you can check received document faster than ever. I'm really like this. Please check out if you are looking for yet.

Best.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
60 Posts
Bev,

Its true that SS will send you payments. On their website they list the Yes No countries. Malaysia is one they will not send to (hence the need to keep a bank account going).

OP...........Back to the first question, whether or not an address or POB is better depends on what mail you intend to receive in the future. Some govt agencies require addresses; some retailers will not ship to a POB; credit card issuers are 50/50; friends mail, you can tell them your new foreign address. The OP should say what mail is being talked about.

That said, if you know you are never going back, burn all bridges before you go. Cancel voter registration and Dr Lic for their own reasons and to stop jury duty. Cancel credit cards, just cut all ties and move off the grid. In short, stop all mail and then what do you need for an address? Nothing. Most people believe they will go back at some point and need minimal ties but they overreact. I knew people who sold their house and cut everything for a 2-year job abroad and they went back to an incredible amount of work needed to re-start their life.

I know its digressing but here is an important tip for Americans, anyway. When I left in 1999, i parked my car on the street and continued paying registration and legal-minimum insurance. After about five years I sold the car because neighbors complained but I continued to pay registration and insurance. Then they got onto me and cancelled the insurance. Bad. Why? Because when you are uninsured for a while, they recycle your seniority to that of a 16 year old new licencee and when you take up insurance again you pay the worlds highest rates even though you could be much older and with a perfect record. Im now at least 10 years with no insurance and even possibly uninsurable. But I tried!

Moving abroad is life-changing and for that reason keep things going until you have a solid reason to cut them. If you own a house, rent it, dont sell. Keep as much semblance of a normal life going as possible because things can turn and you find yourself needing everything again.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
6,189 Posts
Cancel voter registration....
Why? U.S. citizens have the right to vote from overseas in federal elections based on their last place of U.S. residence. In several states so do their U.S. citizen children born overseas. All you have to do is change your address on your voter registration, and you can use the universal "FVAP" registration form to do that. There's no need to "cancel."
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
60 Posts
Why? U.S. citizens have the right to vote from overseas in federal elections based on their last place of U.S. residence. In several states so do their U.S. citizen children born overseas. All you have to do is change your address on your voter registration, and you can use the universal "FVAP" registration form to do that. There's no need to "cancel."

Yes true, but my words were about jury duty. As long as you have a Dr Lic and/OR voter registration you are eligible for jury duty and thats how they find jurors. I had to mention it because being abroad may not relieve you from duty, which I found out the hard way just last year. My aged parents were literally harassed by the county courts in California about my whereabouts and the requirement to serve. When I returned for a trip May, 2014, the court was waiting for me and i had to appear. Showing my air tickets and visas did no good, it was only showing recent medical receipts that let me off but they said, hook or crook I had to serve one day per year or face fine or jail--even if abroad--so I said in the post to drop that too. About three months ago I de-registered myself, hope it sticks. That leaves me with a licence. Anyway, yes, the Registrar of Voters will mail a ballot anywhere on the planet for free and as a matter of fact they are very efficient about it, too.

Sorry......one more digression for Americans. Bank accounts. When you move abroad, I say keep your account. But, at least with California state law, and/or Bank of America's rules, if you are a non-resident for 6 months or more, you can be classed into a different kind of account subject to heavy rules and withholdings, or dropped. For 16 years I keep saying im still at my address in CA and only on vacation. I go online and pay bills, transfer money, whatever. All is normal.

Goodness.....then there is Obamacare problems when you leave. We should start a new thread.

I didnt mean to digress. Asking if a POB is ok when you leave brings up lots of other thoughts.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
50,421 Posts
The problems you're discussing are the issues related to attempting to maintain a US residence when you are NOT living in the US. And that's a whole different can of worms from what the OP was originally asking about.

Basically, it is not necessary to maintain a US address - whether street address or PO box - though it may be convenient to do so. Probably best, however, not to try to maintain an appearance of "residence" - for things like jury duty and the other things you've mentioned. If you do remain overseas for the long term, your driver's license generally is invalid after a year or so anyhow. Less time, if you are establishing residence in a country.

And they now recommend that if you intend to vote from overseas (only for President, Senate and House) that you "re-register" at the beginning of each year in which there is a Federal election, using the FVAP form BBC mentioned. Doing that should get you off the jury duty roster (even in California, where they can be particular sticky about residence).

Yeah, if you decide to move back to the US after only a year or two you're going to have difficulty getting insurance and your credit rating will be shot simply from lack of activity, etc. etc. But that's life and one of the inconveniences of being an expat.
Cheers,
Bev
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
81 Posts
Obamacare problems? You mean adding Form 8965 to the tax returns you are already filing? If you can claim FEIE then you should have no problems with Form 8965, it's just paperwork.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
60 Posts
Obamacare problems? You mean adding Form 8965 to the tax returns you are already filing? If you can claim FEIE then you should have no problems with Form 8965, it's just paperwork.

About two years ago I read that those abroad more than 6 months a year were exempt from Obamacare. More recently I read they intended to take that away, meaning that one would either pay the penalty or have a health plan. When I filed my 1040 this past April, using HR Block software, the question of residency didnt arise and I didnt have to pay a penalty. So I have no idea what gives. Form 8965 didnt come up in the filing but I will check it out. Thanks.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
60 Posts
The problems you're discussing are the issues related to attempting to maintain a US residence when you are NOT living in the US. And that's a whole different can of worms from what the OP was originally asking about.

Basically, it is not necessary to maintain a US address - whether street address or PO box - though it may be convenient to do so. Probably best, however, not to try to maintain an appearance of "residence" - for things like jury duty and the other things you've mentioned. If you do remain overseas for the long term, your driver's license generally is invalid after a year or so anyhow. Less time, if you are establishing residence in a country.

And they now recommend that if you intend to vote from overseas (only for President, Senate and House) that you "re-register" at the beginning of each year in which there is a Federal election, using the FVAP form BBC mentioned. Doing that should get you off the jury duty roster (even in California, where they can be particular sticky about residence).

Yeah, if you decide to move back to the US after only a year or two you're going to have difficulty getting insurance and your credit rating will be shot simply from lack of activity, etc. etc. But that's life and one of the inconveniences of being an expat.
Cheers,
Bev
Like I said, I digressed from the original post and should start a different thread. But wasnt the OP planning NOT to be in US later? Am I confused?

By the way, how can a licence become invalid for being away? Mine is valid for 10 years and I renew it on time, too. If there is a rule about this, please direct me.

Me, I must maintain a CA address but others may never have to when they leave and they can use a POB or mail forwarding. It just depends. Im an active real estate broker in CA, I could only be licensed at a local address.

My credit rating is fine and I use my cards all the time. But yes, thats another thing. Many expats I know gave up their home cards and got new ones in the country they moved to. But I say try to maintain things like that in case you have to return and start your life again. IMHO.

Ok, good to know about voting.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
50,421 Posts
By the way, how can a licence become invalid for being away? Mine is valid for 10 years and I renew it on time, too. If there is a rule about this, please direct me.
It depends on where you're living and for how long. Your US license is valid in the US for however long it is valid for (subject to any state rules regarding having to notify the DMV about a change of address).

Where you live outside the US, however, is usually different. Here in France, for example, you are permitted to drive on your US (or other foreign) license for your first year in France. During this time, you must apply to exchange your license for a French one (if you are from a State that has reciprocity with France - Calif. doesn't). Once you've passed the one year mark here in France, you can no longer drive on a "foreign" license and must go through the whole driver's ed routine to obtain a French license.

Most states in the US, though, require a new resident to obtain a local driving license within 10 to 30 days of arrival (assuming they have the intent to take up residence there). Applies whether you're moving in from the other side of the world, or just the next state over.
Cheers,
Bev
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
60 Posts
Bev,

Ok got you. Yes all true. If you inform the DMV of a new foreign address then yes, ok. You'll never remember this but I havent moved, i bridge both places and need to maintain my CA address. My licence is still CA--and thats why I was stumped by your post.

We're further digressing, someone is going to shoot me, but in Malaysia they do not honor a US licence but they do honor the AAA international licence thats what I have used all along. They too require that I convert to a local licence, and after 16 years of not doing it you can see its not well enforced. At stops, i show passport and AAA and drive away.

A problem arises when an expat arrives at a new country with no licence from their home country (they never had one) and expect to be given a licence. This is really difficult to accomplish and I dont personally know anyone who has.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
6,189 Posts
And they now recommend that if you intend to vote from overseas (only for President, Senate and House) that you "re-register" at the beginning of each year in which there is a Federal election, using the FVAP form BBC mentioned.
Every calendar year is a good idea -- something to do every January 1. Occasionally there are special elections to fill vacancies.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
6,189 Posts
A problem arises when an expat arrives at a new country with no licence from their home country (they never had one) and expect to be given a licence. This is really difficult to accomplish and I dont personally know anyone who has.
Oh, I personally do.

It's exactly the same process as anybody else applying for a first time license in that country. If there's a language barrier then learn the language to overcome that barrier.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
6,189 Posts
Its true that SS will send you payments. On their website they list the Yes No countries. Malaysia is one they will not send to (hence the need to keep a bank account going).
I'm not sure what you're referring to here either. According to the Social Security Administration's international benefits guide it is quite possible for most people (including U.S. citizens) to receive their U.S. Social Security benefits in Malaysia.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
60 Posts
I'm not sure what you're referring to here either. According to the Social Security Administration's international benefits guide it is quite possible for most people (including U.S. citizens) to receive their U.S. Social Security benefits in Malaysia.
Im referring to their website. There are countries listed for various different functions and abilities of SS, in different groups, and Malaysia was not on the list of being able to receive direct deposits to a recipients bank account, nor have checks mailed to the recipients foreign address. That would leave me the option of either receiving checks at my US address, or direct deposit to a US account for withdrawal by me via ATM card in Malaysia or the funds transferred each month. Either ATM or transfer, thats a huge fee, $45 to transfer. I dont collect SS and I hope by the time I do something better will be possible.

Im surprised about this since Malaysia is the worlds biggest US bootlicker and FATCA fan.

(oh! should tell you, I transferred money from US to my account recently and my local bank wouldnt release the money until I provided my 1040 to show I paid income tax on that money and details about how it got into my US account in the first place. We had quite an argument and they finally released it when they were stumped by my statement that the 1040 they are referring to isnt due until April, 2016 and they are free to ask me again about it at that time. But there you go, all of this now, too.)
 
1 - 20 of 26 Posts
Top