If you move to Panama, you will most likely need to have a mail forwarding provider. I have used AirBox Express, but with Natalia leaving the David office, mail processing has been less than satisfactory. I have talked to AirBox Express and they have said they will address the issues.
In October of 2009, AirBox Express had a problem with its distribution arm in Florida and that resulted in the need to change addresses with the company. That problem caused me several problems with mail being lost during the transition. However, I liked Natalia and I suffered through the transition.
With Natalia going on maternity leave and with my needing to have an address I can depend on for US Federal Tax filing, I decided to stop the current headache and move to another provider that is more convenient to where I live. Whether I have improved my situation, remains to be seen.
I really hate to make changes like this, because I have so many addresses I have to change (credit cards, Amazon, Social Security, etc.). Last Saturday, I started the process.
NOT FUN. However, some good came out of it. When I was going through my needed changes, I came across an account that had changed the way it handled its website and my account had been moved to another provider. I would have known about this change if I had received their notification letter, which went to the dead letter file due to my address being changed at AirBox Express. After about 20 minutes calling the US, I now have a letter coming from that provider. That problem may be solved.
The only way to use the US Postal change of address system is if you use a PO Box address. If you don’t use a PO Box mailing address, then the only way to get your mail directed to a new address will be to manually change all addresses yourself.
I could not change my Social Security mailing address on the Internet, because the computer system could not handle the change. I was able to call the US Social Security and get them to manually change my address. Thank goodness for Magic Jack.
Issues with mail forwarding providers.
Obviously one big issue is if the mail forwarding provider stops providing service completely or to the level of quality you require. As you can see from above, the changes are painful and time consuming. It is a manual process and you have to have a complete list of all places needing changes. There is no one to help you with this but you.
So why not just use a PO Box and then the US Postal Service change system will forward your mail to the new address, if there is a change? Well, PO boxes can cause other problems if you live in Panama. Some credit card companies will not send their card to a PO box. Most companies will not send products to a PO box. Many companies will require the address on the credit card and the shipping address to be the same.
There is no perfect solution that I have found. If you have the PERFECT solution, let me know about it. I will consider it if I have to go through this again.
For the things I have needed to do in the past, I can’t function with multiple addresses. So I am using a single address that is a physical address. When your mail forwarding system works, it is OK. When you have to change, like I am doing now, it sucks.
I didn’t check all local mail forwarding options, but I did check the newest one in David (MBE) and one I had researched in the past. I went by Mail Boxes Etc last Friday. This is a large provider based out of the US. When I checked the website, it only listed locations in the US and Canada, so I am not sure what the affiliation is with the US Office. I went by the David office with a single envelope that I had received at Airbox Express (at the cost of $2.14). One of the possible benefits with Airbox is they have more than once a week delivery.
After waiting about 20 minutes for an English speaking employee to return to the MBE office, I learned that my envelope would cost $2.50. I get a couple of these a week at AirBox and each one costs the same. I didn’t ask if MBE has multiple deliveries a week or not.
The provider I am switching to is Multiservicios Internacionales De Chiriquí. It appears that their services and prices are the same as when I made THIS POST. My envelope example will cost $2.00 there. The location is in the post, but Cynthia is no longer there. The lady I spoke with used excellent English.
Like I said before, there is no perfect system. What works for me may not work for you. One thing I will say is that service in any of these businesses is related to the individuals in the office. If you find people you like to work with, the price may be secondary. Just another example of living in Paradise.