Domicile & getting mail on the road
RVillage members share information on domicile for full-timers, and tips for receiving mail while traveling.
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Getting mail on the road can be as simple as having a piece of mail forwarded, receiving packages from Amazon—or as complex as setting up a legal domicile address for residency. Here are some tips & resources from fellow RVillagers to get you started.
Domicile for full-timers
If you are going on the road as a “full-timer” who doesn't have a permanent home anywhere, you will need a permanent address for banking, vehicle registrations, passports and other legal documents.
There are a few considerations involved in choosing a domicile state—such as income tax, cost of vehicle registrations, and health insurance. Here are some suggestions from RVillagers:
- Choosing a domicile state
- Establishing legal residency
- Having a permanent address
- Taxes in the various domicile states
Domicile & mail forwarding services
There are many companies in several different states that offer a domicile address, which include mail forwarding & scanning services. RVillagers have a LONG list of recommendations for who they use here, and more suggestions here.Add your experiences and tips to the above discussion here.
Mail forwarding: to where?
Having a permanent address and a mail forwarding service is just the beginning. You'll need to have that mail sent to you wherever you're at. This is where all the fun begins!
Even with most things being done online today, some paper mail will still accumulate at your domicile address, and some can't be scanned and viewed online. You will need certain items forwarded to your current location—such as checks, annual auto registration stickers, medications, etc.
(Obviously, you don't want packages to go to your domicile/forwarding address and have to be forwarded on. Order & ship those directly to wherever you'll be staying. More info on receiving packages below.)
Note that these tips also can apply to part-time RVers who need to receive mail and packages out there on the road while traveling.
To your RV park?
Some RV parks will allow you to receive mail & package deliveries at their address—some will charge by the parcel, and some don't allow letters. RVillagers talk about issues with certain RV parks: see this discussion, and this one, and also here.
A local USPS Post Office Box?
For longer stays in an area, some local US post offices may try to require that you get a post office box with them. Is this a good idea? RVillagers talk about the ramifications of doing that.
A temporary PMB (personal mailbox) may be the best option.
As an alternative, if you are going to be in an area for a few months or an entire season, UPS Stores and some storage facilities offer mail box rentals, and will accept packages from ALL carriers—with no extra fees beyond your monthly rent. Simply have packages shipped to this temporary address, and any mail forwarded from your permanent domicile/forwarding service for the duration of your stay. NOTE: There's no need to fill out an official USPS “change of address” form for this temporary situation.
General delivery mail service (USPS)RVillagers talk about getting general delivery mail, and discuss other options.
If you only expect to receive a few letters via US mail at a location, this may be the quickest and simplest route. RVillagers highly recommended to call ahead and make sure that particular post office accepts mail that is addressed to “general delivery”—some apparently do not, and will re-route your mail to a different location.
For general delivery service, this is how your mail should be addressed, per the official USPS website—but it's best to call the individual post office to confirm—some actually require the street address of the post office, while RVillagers report that some post offices adamantly forbid the use of their street address.
When calling the local post office, also be sure to ask if they have special pickup hours for general delivery mail recipients. This is very common in the southwestern states during winter “snowbird” season. (If they don't have special pickup hours, do ask when their lunch break is—so that your departure from town isn't delayed by waiting for postal employees to finish their lunch, as one RVillager reported.) And don't forget about postal holidays!
Snowbirding RVillagers report that some post offices, particularly in the southwestern states, will try to enforce a rule that you can only receive general delivery mail at their post office for 30 days—despite the official Form 1527 Application for General Delivery Service stating that the “30-day time limit specifies how long individual mailpieces are held—it does not limit how long an individual customer may receive General Delivery Service.”The time-limit that general delivery mail will be held can also differ widely, based on location. Apparently, Quartzsite will only hold general delivery mail for 10 days. RVillager snowbirds complain about getting mail in Quartzsite, and suggest an alternative there.
General delivery mail can be forwarded on to the next post office.
If you miss a mail pickup in the area you are departing, you can complete a Change of Address* form, which serves as a one-time mail-forwarding and leave it at any post office on your route, to have the general delivery-addressed mail forwarded from one post office to the next. (Do not attempt to setup the forwarding order on online, that system will not recognize general delivery addresses.) After you send the form in, you may need to call the first post office to point out that the “forwarding order” is in the main USPS system and they will release any held mail, addressed to the next destination. (At no charge!) Note that this forwarding service does not apply to non-USPS delivered mail or packages.
*By entering only the “general delivery” addresses of the two post offices you are traveling from and to on your route, this Change of Address/forwarding request will not impact or change your primary home or domicile address.
Other carriers (UPS, FedEx, etc.)
Some US post offices will refuse packages from other carriers, and they may go back to the sender. If they do accept, some post offices charge a fee per package.
When ordering from Amazon, you don't get to choose the carrier for your packages. You can check to see if there are Amazon Lockers nearby; or an Amazon pick up hub/counter at a retail location, such as a Rite Aid pharmacy.
You also don't get to choose the number of shipments that go out from one Amazon order, so costs can really add up if you are paying a pickup fee for each package.
Some RVillagers report that many eBay sellers ship mainly via US postal service. If you want to try to avoid packages coming through other carriers, this may be an option.
Receiving mail or deliveries at the RV park, or general delivery service at the nearest US post office is probably the simplest method for receiving mail when doing short-term travel. Be careful to time the deliveries to coincide with your stay in any area.
You may be able to find more information about how RVers get their mail in the following RVillage groups. Join in the discussions, ask questions and learn!
Disclaimer: The information gathered here is compiled from the posts and opinions of RVillagers, and not of RVillage itself. RVillage assumes no responsibility for any inaccuracies or omissions.
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