There are several companies in the US offering package and mail forwarding services to people located in other countries. These services are useful for purchasing in the US to merchants that refuse sending abroad, or when the cost for shipping abroad is prohibitive.
How it works by package & mail forwarding agents in the US
In the US, mail forwarding agents typically require you filling a PS 1583 application form that allows USPS delivering at the Mail Through Agent. Below some shipping volume, it seems that this form doesn't always have to be notarized. The address you get is of the kind:
Firstname Surname 123 Streetname CustomerID Palo Alto, CA 91000
As one can see, the address looks like a real one, the name of the mail forwarding agent not being mentioned. Hence, I'm wondering about the legal implications of this.
The US mail forwarding agents emphasize the benefit of getting a US mailing address, but I couldn't find a single word about the legal risks, especially for individual business or small companies.
- Could one wrongly assume that you are residing in the US, or even that you are illegally doing business there?
- When shopping in the US, before forwarding abroad, can there be import taxes between two US states? (I assume no because the states are "United" but prefer being certain of that.)
- If shopping exclusively in the US and forwarding to my country, are there other possible taxes that the forwarding agent should take care on my behalf (apart from the customs declaration that I could fill remotely on the agent's platform)?
- Other possible risk that I omitted and that should be mentioned?
Comparison with package & mail forwarding agents from other countries
In other countries, some mail agents are using a more conservative approach. When opening an account, you have to set your account type depending on the purpose (e.g. "forwarding purchases to myself" or "sending to customers"). There are different requirements for the miscellaneous account types.
Then, the address you get makes it clear that you are using a mail forwarding agent:
Firstname Surname CustomerID c/o Name of Forwarding Company 123 Streetname 34567 Esperantopolis
So, which are the legal implications and risks associated with setting a mailing address in the USA through a package & mail forwarding agent?