How to handle your mail when you move to Belize
When you’re moving to another country, one of the most challenging tasks you’ll face is how to deal with your mail, not only in your former country, but once you arrive in your new one.
As an American Expat who recently moved to Belize, specifically the town of San Pedro on the island of Ambergris Caye, here are the solutions I used to implement my “Mail Plan:”
The Internet is Your Friend – The obvious solution for any ongoing financial commitments you may have, such as credit card bills, bank statements, insurance, storage, etc., is to go paperless. This feature, now available from almost all companies and banks, will save you the hassle of dealing with getting an actual physical piece of mail, which you’ll quickly see in this article is not as straightforward as you may think.
Additionally, you can save your statements on your computer, which comes in handy since paper degrades quickly in a humid, tropical climate such as the Caribbean.
Virtual Mailboxes Must Have Been Created by Expats – This incredible internet service, which not only had I never heard of before relocating, but probably never would have needed if I’d stayed, is a complete lifesaver for an Expat. Why? First of all, because these services allow you to “appear” as if you still have a U.S. address. This is important since a lot of online vendors will not ship to a foreign address.
Secondarily, it gives you geographic anonymity. For me personally, this was critical because I have rental properties in the States still, and I really didn’t want my tenants knowing I was moving to Belize!
Third, it gives you an address to have the U.S. Post Office forward all of your mail to. Now comes the fun part. These services will upload a picture of the envelope to your account, send you a “you got mail” e-mail, and then you can decide whether you want to have it forwarded, scanned so you can see the contents, or shredded. If you want mail forwarded, then you simply pay the cost for them to do so. The service I use and highly recommend is mailboxforwarding.com.
What About My Local Mail? – Yes, you will still need a local mailbox because unlike the United States, there is no door-to-door postal service, for residences or businesses. When I arrived on the island I found out that the San Pedro Post Office had run out of P.O. Boxes.
Then I found the wonderful Dianne Lawrence at Quicksilver Messenger Service. For roughly $175 US per year (depending on the size of the box you need), she will set you up with your own rental P.O. Box – mine is in a DVD store! She also can handle any Fed Ex shipments you may have. You can now have all of your Belize mail (cell phone, internet bill, etc) sent here, as well as your virtual mailbox mail. You can find her at quicksilverbz.com .
Good Time Management is Important – Lastly, you will need to plan accordingly with all your mail needs. Mail coming from the States to Belize takes approximately ten to 14 days. Mail being sent from Belize to the U.S. takes about 12 to 21 days! If you need it there quicker, than Fed Ex is the way to go.
Overall, once you get your systems set up and become accustomed to the process, dealing with your mail needs is really not that difficult at all!
Guide section: Communications
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