What is a Virtual Mailbox? How Does a Virtual Mailbox Work? (2023 Guide)

What are virtual mailboxes? Keep reading for a comprehensive run-down of this modern mailing solution that lets you take control of your mail while avoiding theft, junk, and postal headaches. 

Mail used to be simple, didn’t it? We all had one address. We received letters from loved ones, the occasional bill, and when packages arrived it was thrilling. But nowadays, postal mail has us drowning in credit card offers, restaurant flyers, and more cardboard from our online shopping habit than we know what to do with. Plus, modern living has many of us traveling the globe, running businesses out of our houses, or living as nomads in mobile homes. 

We’re living in a cool new future. The problem? Mail hasn’t upgraded with us. 

Until now. 

In this piece, we’ll take you through the modern mail solutions offered by virtual mailbox services and how they can transform your postal experience. 

What is a Virtual Mailbox?

What is a Virtual Mailbox?

A virtual mailbox is a digital mailbox service that allows users to receive, view, and manage their postal mail online, without the need for a physical mailbox or physical presence at a specific address. It’s a convenient service that provides users with a unique mailing address that can receive and store physical mail, which is then scanned and uploaded to a secure online platform for users to view, download, and manage their mail from anywhere, at any time.

Think of a virtual mailbox as the middleman between you and your mail. Normally, the USPS delivers your physical mail in a daily bundle. There’s no sorting, no prioritizing, and no additional convenience services. As a result, we all end up with tons of mail we don’t need or want—and some that doesn’t even belong to us! 

A virtual mailbox smoothes the process. With a virtual mailbox, instead of checking your physical mailbox each day, you simply log into your online portal, take a glance at your mail, and choose what you actually want to receive. No spam, no stress.

What is a virtual mailbox address?

A virtual mailbox address is the unique mailing address that is used by your virtual mailbox service provider to receive, process, and manage postal mail on your behalf. In other words, it’s your new postal address. In this respect, a virtual mailbox address acts like a PO box. Unlike a PO box, however, virtual mailboxes can receive mail from any carrier and they don’t fill up if you neglect them for too long. 

Virtual mailbox addresses are especially useful for people who travel frequently, work remotely, or run an online business. They allow users to manage their postal mail from anywhere in the world and eliminate the need for a physical mailbox or a permanent physical presence at a particular address.

How does a virtual mailbox work?

A virtual mailbox works by providing users with a new physical mailing address, which is used to receive, process, and manage their postal mail. Once you register for a virtual mailbox, all of your mail gets sent to a high-security remote location instead of your personal address. There,  it’s sorted, scanned, and made available in an online portal.

Here’s how the entire process typically works:

  • Sign up for a virtual mailbox service: You’ll select the plan that works for you, and provide your name, address, and ID verification to the virtual mailbox company.
  • Receive a new mailing address: Once you’ve signed up, you’ll then be assigned a new physical mailing address to use.
  • Change your address: You’ll need to let all parties know your address has changed, including friends, acquaintances, your financial institutions, etc. to ensure your future mail goes to the new address. This is simpler if you register with the USPS Mail Forwarding service.
  • Receive and view mail: When mail arrives at your new virtual mailbox address, the service provider will scan the front of each envelope or package and upload the scanned image to your virtual mailbox online portal for your perusal.
  • Choose what to do: From your virtual mailbox account, you can choose to view, download, forward, or shred your mail. Some virtual mailbox services also offer additional features, such as mail storage, mail forwarding, check depositing, and mail notification alerts.

With these and other options at your fingertips, a virtual mailbox gives you full control and power over how you want to receive your mail and what mail you want to receive.

Does your virtual mailbox open your mail?

Your virtual mailbox only opens your mail when you say so. Envelopes will always be scanned on the outside, but no one should ever open your mail without your permission. While most virtual mailboxes offer mail opening and scanning services, you’re not required to use them. If you want, you can always shred the junk and forward all the important mail straight to your current physical address. 

Can I receive packages at a virtual mailbox?

Yes, you can receive packages at a virtual mailbox. Unlike a PO box or standard mailbox, virtual mailboxes don’t limit the size of your mail. If someone can ship it, your virtual mailbox can receive it, hold it, open it, or forward it. 

It’s important to note that not all virtual mailbox services are created equal when it comes to handling packages. Some services may have size or weight restrictions on the packages they can receive, and additional fees may apply for handling and forwarding packages. Therefore, it’s important to research and compare different virtual mailbox providers to find the one that best fits your needs, particularly if you plan on receiving packages on a regular basis.

Why do people get a virtual mailbox?

People get a virtual mailbox for many reasons. A virtual mailbox makes sense if you are concerned about any of the following:

  • You travel frequently: Virtual mailboxes provide a convenient way for travelers to manage their mail while on the move. If you’re a perennial globe-trotter, getting a virtual mailbox can prevent mail headaches. When you can access your mail from anywhere in the world online, you no longer need to stress about missing critical correspondence or bug a friend to keep tabs on your mailbox. It’s a win for everyone.  
  • You do remote work: With more people working remotely, virtual mailboxes offer a practical solution for managing postal mail without the need for a physical mailbox or permanent physical presence at a particular address.
  • You run a small business: All registered businesses need a physical address to operate legally. (1) However, as small business owners, the only address you may have is a personal home address or a tiny rented office space. Virtual mailboxes give startups and small businesses a convenient alternative. With a virtual mailbox, small businesses can manage shipments, check supplier inventories, send tax forms, and even deposit checks—all while keeping client and advertising mail out of their personal mailbox. 
  • You’re worried about identity theft & privacy: Alarmingly, identity theft claims a new victim every 22 seconds. (2) While there are plenty of ways these thieves operate, one of the primary sources of identity theft remains hard-copy mail. Mail thieves raid open mailboxes, steal legal documents, and can create a horrendous logistical nightmare.

Virtual mailboxes nip those threats in the bud. Not only do you have more supervision of your mail with a virtual mailbox, but virtual mailbox sorting centers sport 24/7 security cameras and monitors. They also background check their workers and shred your mail once it’s been processed. With those additional security measures, identity thieves don’t stand a chance.

  • You get too much mail: If you’re a person who receives tons of mail, you know that keeping it organized can be a nightmare. Virtual mailboxes help tame the chaos! With folders for organization and clear command buttons, the virtual mailbox portal lets you easily toss junk mail while keeping bills, personal letters, and important account information in its place. 
  • You want a cost-effective mailbox alternative: Virtual mailboxes are typically more cost-effective than traditional physical mailboxes, as they eliminate the need for rent, utilities, and maintenance associated with a physical mailbox. Additionally, virtual mailboxes can provide users with access to discounted shipping rates and mail forwarding services.

Overall, virtual mailboxes provide a flexible, secure, and convenient way for people to manage their mail, particularly in today’s digital age where more people are working remotely and traveling frequently.

Choosing a Virtual Mailbox Provider

If you Google “virtual mailbox,” you’ll end up with pages of results that don’t always give you a clear way to compare services. To help you out, let’s take a look at the mailbox services you should expect to come with a top-tier virtual mailbox and mail forwarding services provider.   

What does a virtual mailbox come with? 

Must-have features:

  • Mail forwarding services: All virtual mailboxes should offer the ability to forward your physical mail to you—wherever you may be!


  • Shredding and junk services: Any virtual mailbox worth its salt offers shredding services and junk mail sorting. One of the most convenient perks of using a virtual mailbox is never having to deal with junk mail again.


  • Open and scanning services: All virtual mailboxes should offer to open and scan any mail you receive.


  • Notifications: All virtual mailboxes should offer notifications for when you receive new mail and when requested tasks are completed.

Excellent bonus features: 

  • Unlimited Cloud Storage: An amazing perk of using a virtual mailbox is that you should be able to keep important mail safe in the virtual world for as long as you want. Combined with a folder organization system in your portal, you can use unlimited cloud storage to reference years worth of bills and accounts.


  • Shipping discounts: Your ideal virtual mailbox service offers bulk shipping discounts through partnerships with most major carriers.


  • Mobile app: Most legitimate virtual mailbox providers nowadays have a mobile app you can access from your phone. No browsers, no headaches.


  • Round-the-clock customer service: Many virtual mailbox users invest in a virtual mailbox because they’re running around the globe. That means they need customer service in their time zone. A great virtual mailbox service offers 24/7 customer service for clients on every continent.   


Still have questions about virtual mailboxes and mail forwarding services? We have answers. Here are a few frequently asked questions about mail forwarding services. 

Can my return address be a virtual mailbox address? 

Yes, your return address can absolutely be a virtual mailbox address. In fact, this is one of the top reasons small businesses use virtual mailboxes in the first place. If you’re dealing with high volumes of mail and you don’t want your personal address mixed up in the chaos, using a virtual mailbox address as your return address is a great way to receive, track, and organize your letters and packages.  

Who needs a virtual mailbox? 

The following people and organizations can benefit from signing up with a virtual mailbox service:

  • Startups and small businesses: Keep your home address private while gaining access to an organizational tool that makes your business thrive. 
  • Business and pleasure travelers: Your world, your mail. No more worrying about what to do with your mail on a trip, just global online access to your mailbox. 
  • RV owners: No more constant address updates or racing your mail to the nearest city. Just a simple mail service that forwards at your leisure. 
  • Students: Eliminate the juggling act between home and college addresses. Having reliable, easy access to your mail and packages is a dream.  

Can’t I just use USPS mail forwarding? 

While the USPS offers mail forwarding services, those services tap out at 18 months. (3) Additionally, when you forward your mail via the USPS, you don’t have any control over what gets forwarded. It’s all or nothing. That’s a great solution for people moving and working out a permanent change of address, but it’s not ideal for most virtual mailbox users. 

What is the best virtual mailbox service? 

The best virtual mailbox service is one that offers comprehensive features at an affordable cost! We might be slightly biased, but when it comes to in-depth features, responsive customer service, and tiered costs designed for customer comfort, Traveling Mailbox takes the cake.  

Ready to get your own virtual mailbox? 

If you’re looking for the best virtual mailbox and mail forwarding service, you’ve come to the right place. At Traveling Mailbox, we pride ourselves on offering you impeccable service and features at wallet-friendly prices! 

Whether you’re a small business owner, an expat, an RV traveler, or simply someone who’s looking for a better alternative to the traditional mail system, we’ve got your back. Each Traveling Mailbox plan comes with a virtual mail portal, free mail screening and shredding, and envelope scans. All you have to do is follow our simple sign-up process. 

Try Traveling Mailbox today and see what the ideal virtual mailbox can do for you!



  1. LegalZoom, https://www.legalzoom.com/articles/do-you-need-a-physical-address-for-your-business
  2. Identity Theft, https://identitytheft.org/statistics/#:~:text=There%20is%20an%20Identity%20Theft%20Case%20Every%2022%20Seconds&text=Experts%20believe%20that%20these%20cases,new%20victim%20every%2022%20seconds
  3. USPS, https://www.usps.com/manage/forward.htm