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The Hidden Compliances in Global Mobility

Forwarding Expat Mail – Headaches, Hidden costs and the Cure!

Forwarding Expat Mail - Headaches,<br /> Hidden costs and the Cure!Are you and your mailroom staff tired of handling Expat Mail? Having a hard time keeping up with all the headaches of security and compliance issues, the endless paperwork and hassles of international shipping?

This whitepaper explores all the hidden costs of managing Expat Mail in-house and the high levels of risk and liability taken on in doing so. It will also address how to mitigate these costs and risks by outsourcing this non-core function from your HR team. This critical, yet cumbersome task is best handled by little known but well respected Mail Forwarding Companies – who are able to do this most efficiently at a fraction of the cost. The smart Expats are already using them, it’s about time the smart companies did as well!

Handling of Expat Mail: People, Time and Resource Involvement

Expat Mail is often that little detail which is lost in the flurry of details and logistics connected to relocating an employee overseas. Often, it is handled by a patchwork of efforts utilizing the time, resources and talent of corporate HR and the company’s internal mailroom. The two common scenarios for this are:

Company HR Handles Mail Forwarding:

If your company HR is responsible for managing employee mail- the employee provides the HR department’s designated address to everyone sending him or her mail and packages: banks, brokerage firms, government agencies, magazines, catalogs, online stores etc. Your HR department receives this mail and has to devote resources to sort and separate this mail by employee, repack it into larger packages and then forward it on to the employee either at the foreign corporate location or at the employee’s home abroad.

Company Mailroom Handles Mail Forwarding:

If the company allows the expat to forward their mail to the company mailroom, the mailroom staff receives sorts and packs the employee mail for forwarding. This means hiring additional resources to handle the extra volume of work. Often the mailroom employees are not experienced and trained on the ever changing international shipping requirements and have to go to Compliance or HR departments for approvals.

Headaches of Handling Expatriate Mail In-house

Liability & Compliance Issues

Stay clear of complex and stringent International shipping formalities. The postal regulations change often and this process is getting more difficult. Now is the time to adopt a new process where you don’t have to worry about finding out which items can or cannot be shipped to the expat.

Company Shipment Hold Ups

If you have expat mail and packages going in company shipment, there is a good chance at some point there will be an item in an expat’s package that should not be in there. Customs will hold up the entire shipment until the very messy situation gets resolved.

Real Example: A company shipment to Saudi Arabia was help up for weeks because there was a Pokémon toy in the shipment (Pokémon’s are banned in Saudi!).


HR and Logistics Departments Involvement

Every item shipped internationally must have customs paperwork wherein details like item name/part, origin, make, price etc. need to be detailed out. This takes a lot of work and effort especially looking up and making lists of items in expat packages. Questions come up routinely and have to be diverted to related departments adding a hidden but often overlooked cost of time and resources.

Real Example: An expat homeschooling his kids had 200 items shipped and some of them included little items like erasers, pencils etc., but each item had to be itemized, priced and listed for customs resulting in over 10 hours of company time cost- time that was taken away from the employees core activity.

Security and Privacy Concerns

Proper handling and security of mail is a serious concern and its compromise can result in a devastating consequences to be maintained to ensure the security of expat mail. Often expats will complain of having to send prescriptions, shopping and personal items etc. to the company in order to receive these items.

Real Example: One company had 3000 of their employees credit cards compromised from the company mailroom.

Hidden Costs of Company Mail Forwarding Spend
Total spend for expatriate mail forwarding is often thought of as the direct shipping costs and identifiable expenses associated with administration of it. The true costs would include indirect costs of internal time and administration of policy and program for issues such as insurance, security, regulations compliance, privacy concerns, hold ups etc. are not clearly monetized and often overlooked.

Cost categories to consider:

Direct costs—actual, identifiable expenses associated with receiving, sorting, repacking and shipping of employee mail. Actual payroll, benefits, office phone, utilities, warehouse space and overhead associated with mail room employees handling expat mail.

Indirect costs—administrative costs incurred in the form of management time, compliance issues, fees, insurance, time lost due to shipments hold up, employee dissatisfaction at lack of timely mail and loss of privacy. Also, internal costs of shared services and inter-company charges for gathering mail and invoicing by departments or projects.

Fixed costs—these could be direct and/or indirect costs that are fixed in some way, instead of the cost-pass-through or cost-plus-fee approach.

Business model and cost/service balance—Time and productivity costs of administering the program take away time from taking care of business. High touch/high service models, which mail could very well be, being personal as it is, could be more costly than expected.

An informal survey of companies done by US Global Mail found 53% of the companies handled mail in house and were looking for a way to change that.

Cost Allocation by Mail Forwarding Spend


Expatriate Mail Forwarding Handling

Info graphic 1#: How it works

How Expat Mail/Package Forwarding & Concierge Services Work

Outsourcing Expatriate Mail Forwarding

The biggest gains when outsourcing expatriate mail to an outside professional mail forwarding company such as US Global Mail, come in terms of real savings from non-monetized activities utilized by companies in this process. Tangible benefits include:

Real Savings

US Global Mail saves $1000/expat per year, on average for companies that outsource their mail handling to them.

Cost Savings Explained

Eliminated Costs and Savings

Savings come from

Takes care of Compliance and Regulations

US Global Mail takes on all responsibility for customs paperwork and making sure all mail is sent in compliance with international shipping.

Let’s HR focus on taking care of people, not sort mail

Outsourcing mail forwarding alleviates unnecessary questions and HR involvement in shipping regulations, compliance and program management for the same. Time spent in administering the program take away time from taking care of business.

Offer Timely Mail & Privacy for Your Employees: The corporate mailroom can take anywhere from four days to four months to forward mail. The fast and private service USGM provides is not only a valuable employee benefit but less of a headache for you to manage

Be Proactive & Stay Ahead of the Curve: Extending unique and valuable benefits to your employees like USGM’s Mail & Package Concierge Services will help boost employee morale and enhance your company’s culture

Source: A survey of companies who managed expat mail in-house via HR or company mailroom

Image: “Victoria peak” by CuttyP – de.wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

By Tashi Nibber, US Global Mail

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