stack of unopened mail

Would you prefer to keep your address private? Do you travel frequently and worry about your mail piling up? Are you a digital nomad? Do you dread the task of dealing with the pile of paper mail that arrives each day?

If your answer to any of these questions is “yes,” a virtual mailbox might be right for you. In this article we’ll explain how virtual mailboxes work. We’ll compare virtual mailbox services to Postal Service PO boxes. We’ll explore the range of services provided. Finally, we’ll discuss costs and point you toward some of the most reputable providers of virtual mailbox services.

What is a Virtual Mailbox?

A virtual mailbox provides you with a real street address to receive mail and packages. You are notified of incoming mail via email or mobile app notification. You can view your mail on the service’s website or mobile app, then you can choose to have your mail opened and scanned, discarded, shredded, or forwarded to the address of your choosing.

virtual mailbox dashboard

How Do Virtual Mailbox Services Work?

Once you’ve chosen a virtual mailbox provider, you’ll create an account and choose your virtual address location. Before you settle on your virtual address, look it up on Google Street View. A potential client, customer, or business partner might do this search. You want to be sure the location looks like a legitimate business address.

If you’re in the US, you’ll need to complete a USPS Form 1583 and have it notarized. This form is the legal authorization for a Commercial Mail Receiving Agency (CMRA) to receive and open your mail. This is required to comply with the Postal Service’s mail privacy regulations. Many of the virtual mailbox service providers will have you complete and notarize this form online as part of the account set-up process.

Once your account is set up, you can direct mail to the virtual address. When mail is received, the service scans envelopes, takes photos of packages, and uploads these images to your account. You are notified of the new mail and can view the images on the website or mobile app at your convenience. Some providers let you organize mail into folders or tag it with search terms for easy retrieval. The scans are stored digitally, giving you a secure record of your mail.

For each piece of mail or package, you can choose to have it opened and scanned, discarded, shredded, or forwarded to the address you specify. Some providers give you the option of picking up your mail in person to save the costs of forwarding.

How Does a Virtual Mailbox Compare to an Old-Fashioned PO Box?

A classic Post Office box is a tried and true way of keeping your address private and your mail secure.

But you still need to go to the Post Office in person to pick up your mail during the hours the Post Office is open. You must either deal with the paper or scan your documents yourself. Post Office boxes also cannot accept incoming mail and packages from competing delivery services, such as UPS, FedEx, DHL, and Amazon.

With a virtual mailbox, you have digital access to your mail from anywhere in the world, at any time of the day or night. And virtual mailboxes can accept deliveries from any carrier.

wall of po boxes

What About Digital and Physical Security?

All the virtual mailbox services provide secure, encrypted, digital storage for your scanned mail. In addition, most offer integration with cloud storage services, so your mail can be uploaded to Dropbox, Google Drive, One Drive, or other services.

The physical security of your mail is generally well controlled if you choose a virtual address location which is owned and operated by the digital mailbox service. But the services with the widest choice of address locations are providing that choice through contracting with UPS or FedEx stores, mom-and-pop mail centers, and WeWork or similar communal office locations. While this might give you the convenience of picking up your mail in person, a lack of control over staffing and procedures could mean your new credit card or your bank statement is left on a table unattended.

If security of your mail is important, choose a virtual address location that is owned by the mailbox service provider.

What Additional Services Are Available?

Some virtual mailbox service providers will deposit incoming checks directly to your bank. Others will store physical mail and packages, with fees increasing the longer mail is stored. Some can act as the Registered Agent for your LLC, partnership, or corporation, able to receive and review official government documents on behalf of the business. Some allow you to pick up your mail in person, saving the cost of forwarding.

Which Companies Provide Virtual Mailboxes and What Does it Cost?

Here are some of the most well-reviewed virtual mailbox service providers. Review the details of the plans carefully—most are based on a limited number of pieces of mail each month. Going over the limit will cost you extra. Some companies include shredding, while others charge extra per page. All will charge a handling fee for forwarding mail, in addition to the cost of shipping.

  • PostScan Mail: PostScan Mail offers hundreds of mailbox address locations across the US and in 21 other countries, but only 13 of those are “primary hub” locations owned and operated by the company. Plans start at $10 per month for up to 30 pieces of mail. They were named Overall Best Virtual Mailbox Service of 2024 by U.S. News & World Report.
  • VirtualPostMail: VirtualPostMail has only five address locations to choose from, because all locations are owned and operated by the company. This means greater physical security for your mail. Plans start at $20 per month for up to 25 pieces of mail, including 10 content scans. VirtualPostMail also offers a service called TruLease, providing a virtual mailbox backed by a real lease, with a real utility bill. For businesses without a physical office space, this can be a great solution for bank accounts, an Amazon store, Shopify, or other services that require proof of address.
  • BusinessAnywhere: BusinessAnywhere stands out from the rest because of their simple pricing. Instead of pricing based on the number of pieces of mail received, the pricing tiers are based on the number of recipients attached to the account. For example, if you receive mail addressed to your given name as well as to your business name, that’s two recipients. This means you need not worry about surprise charges in a busy mail month. A basic plan starts at $20 per month for two recipients, and an annual contract is required.
  • Anytime Mailbox: Anytime Mailbox offers virtual addresses at over 2000 locations worldwide. Since these locations are independent mail service centers, the price of virtual mailbox service varies by location. For a location near me, the basic plan starts at $9.99 per month for up to 30 pieces of incoming mail.

If you’re tired of people showing up at your studio unannounced, or if you want a simpler way to deal with mail while you’re on the road, a virtual mailbox might be just the solution you need.

Sandi Rosner

Sandi Rosner


Sandi Rosner (she/her) learned to knit in the late 1970s from the instructions in the back of a magazine. She now works as a freelance designer, technical editor, writer and teacher. When Sandi isn’t knitting, she usually has her nose in a book. Find more of Sandi’s work at