Renting a PO BOX is an effective way to handle your mail easily. This is especially for always-on-the-go persons, home-based businesses, ex-pats, and people that live in remote locations.
A PO box will provide you with easy access to your emails. You’re assured that your mails are in a safe destination, you can pick them up whenever you’re free, and you have a stable address no matter how much you move or travel.
Getting a PO Box is pretty easy. You can go to the nearest post office and sign up or do it online. But before you grab a PO box, here are some things to need to know:
Advantages of a PO Box:
- Mail Security. Your mail will be safely secured inside the Post Office and not placed unguarded in your mailbox, exposing you to mail and identity theft.
- Permanent address. You’ll have a stable mailing address and will no longer need to change your address whenever you move or worry about your packages when away.
- Protects your privacy. Keep your home address protected and guard any critical documents against falling into the wrong hands by having it sent to your PO box instead.
- Package Convenience. If your PO Box isn’t big enough to accommodate your package, it will be safely secured at the Post Office or sent to parcel lockers waiting for your pickup.
- Faster delivery. Since USPS delivers directly to the Post Office first, you’ll get your mail faster than usual.
Check this article about What You Need to Run Your Nonprofit from Home.
If you’re looking for some easy steps for renting a PO box, then you’ll love this infographic!
1- Choose PO Box Location
The first thing to consider when looking into renting a P.O box is the geographical location. USPS has around 49 Post Offices nationwide to choose from.
You can choose the closest Post Office to your home or office. And if you have a home-based business and need a mailbox for business purposes, you can choose one in a major city to boost your professional image like in New York or California.
Your P.O Box should be somewhere you can regularly (preferably weekly) drive down to and pick up your mail.
2- Select PO Box Size
USPS gives you different choices for PO box sizes; your choice depends on the amount and type of mail you receive per month.
- Size 1 – XS: 3” x 5.5” (holds up to 10 – 15 letters)
- Size 2 – S: 5” x 5.5” (holds up to 10 – 15 bulky letters or 5 rolled magazines)
- Size 3 – M:5” x 11” (holds larger envelopes, magazines)
- Size 4 – L: 11” x 11” (holds 2 shoe boxes and 10 – 15 letters)
- Size 5 – XL: 12” x 22.5” (Spacious enough for flat rate boxes and packages)
If you’re using it for personal mail and receive around 6 letters per month, a small P.O box is right for you. However, if you’re running a small business or are a frequent online shopper, you might want to look into renting a medium or large one to accommodate your monthly packages.
Another thing to keep in mind when picking a size is how frequently will you stop by to pick up your mail. USPS hate when you let your mail accumulate in your PO box, leading it to overflow.
If you’re going to let your mail pile up or won’t check on it weekly, you might as well get a bigger box. USPS will send you notifications to upgrade your box if this constantly happens.
3-How Much Does a USPS PO Box Cost?
The cost of a USPS PO box depends on location, size of the box, and how long you’re renting it; whether it’s monthly, 3 months, 6 months, or per year. So let’s look at each of these factors in detail.
The prices of PO boxes vary from location to location. This is because post offices divide locations into competitive and market-dominant locations. This means the price of a PO box in large cities like New York will probably be higher than that of a PO box in a remote area. Also, prices aren’t static in places where USPS controls the postal service without competition. They can change anytime. While in locations where private companies are offering the same service, prices are usually held down.
Length of Rental Time
PO boxes are available for three, six, or twelve months. Shorter rental periods are usually more expensive to renew than longer rental periods. If you think you’ll use your PO box for a year, it’s cheaper to go for the yearly rental than the three- or six-month rental. Also, you can opt for automatic renewal by adding your credit card details.
This is interrelated to the length of rental time. As said earlier, when you’re choosing a PO box, you can go for a three, six, or twelve months rental.
If you’re looking for a cost-effective way, consider going for extended period rentals. For example, If a PO box of 3 months rentals costs $60, that’s $20 per month. However, you can find a PO box for a 6-month rental at $110, thereby saving $10. Therefore, if you use your PO box for a long period, consider going for an extended period rental.
USPS charges some additional fees when renting out a PO box. You’ll be required to pay a deposit of $3 for the first two keys of your box and $6 for duplicate keys. There’s also a post office lock replacement and late payment fees, which costs $20.
The PO Box Cost:
Po boxes aren’t usually expensive. However, competitive locations usually charge higher than dominant locations.
Listed below are the updated prices of PO boxes in the 49 USPS Post offices:
|Size||Fees / 6 Mos|
|PO Box Size 1 (XS)||$58.00|
|PO Box Size 2 (S)||$88.00|
|PO Box Size 3 (M)||$156.00|
|PO Box Size 4 (L)||$319.00|
|PO Box Size 5 (XL)||$513.00|
Note: In the case of cancellation, if you canceled within the first 3 months of the service, you get refunded the last 3 months. However, if you cancel after the first 3 months, you don’t get the remaining amount.
Check out Competitive Post Office Box Prices and Services to learn more about P.O box price rates and policies!
4-How Can You Pay for a PO BOX?
You’ve 4 different options for making PO box payments. They are:
- Online using a credit card or debit card
- At a Self Service Kiosk. Click here to find out the one nearest to you
- Pay by sending a check or mail order payable to the USPS
- Pay in person at the post office where your PO box is located using cash, transfer, debit, or credit card
5-How to Get a PO Box?
How to Get a P.O Box Online
Now that you’ve settled on a PO Box size and location, the rest is easy! You can sign up for this service online through the USPS website.
- Search for a Post Office nearby using your zip code.
- Choose one of the available PO Box sizes.
- Pick a payment plan (3 months, 6 months, 12 months).
- Click reserve now.
When you’re finished, you can head to your chosen Post Office and pick up the PO Box keys.
How to Get a PO Box In-Person?
If you have a certain Post Office in mind, you can just walk-in during their working hours and rent a PO Box. You’ll fill in a rental form 1583 and present two forms of ID (one must be a photo ID, and one must contain your residential address). You’ll be required to present forms of ID when applying online as well.
However, before going to the Post Office, check online to make sure the box size you want is available at this Post Office. Once you’re done at the Post Office, you’ll get two keys for your PO box, and no security deposit is needed.
Acceptable Types of ID when Renting a PO Box
You’ll be required to provide two IDs – one of which should be a photo ID while the other will be evidence of your residential address.
- Valid Photo IDs: The most common IDs used are passports and driver’s licenses. If you don’t have these, you can use a state non-driver’s identification card, which you can apply for in the nearest Department of Motor Vehicles. You can also use your certificate of naturalization or alien registration card. ID cards from recognized government agencies and universities are also acceptable.
- Valid non-photo IDs: These IDs serve as evidence of your residential address. You can use a current lease, deed trust, mortgage trust, or even your home insurance policy. Just make sure you add your valid photo ID to it.
6- Apply for a Change of Address:
Once your new PO box is active, you need to apply for a change of address, you can get the form from your Post Office or apply online with USPS.
This is to change your mailing address and start receiving mail at your PO box instead of your old address. Read more about changing your mailing address with USPS.
7-How to Cancel your PO Box?
Thankfully, USPS made it really easy to cancel your PO Box online or at the Post Office with just a few steps, whether you want to cancel because you’re moving away or no longer need one.
- Log into your USPS account
- Go to “Manage your Account”
- Submit a cancelation request
- then drop off your PO Box keys at the Post Office.
8-How to Request a PO Box refund?
For an inactive PO Box
If your PO Box is inactive (meaning you’ve never received your PO Box keys) then you can cancel your PO Box online by submitting a request within the first 30 days of your subscription plan. Also, if it’s been inactive for 30 days and then you submit the request, you’ll still get a refund.
For an active PO Box
If you’ve been actively using your PO Box and want to cancel it, the refund policy varies according to your payment plan.
3-month payment plan: you’re not eligible for a refund
6-month payment plan (also the most popular one!): then you can get a 50% refund if you cancel your plan within the first 3 months. If you cancel your PO Box after that, you don’t get a refund so be sure to test out this service in the beginning in case you change your mind.
12-month payment plan: the refund policy is even more flexible. You get a 75% refund if you cancel within the first 3 months, a 50% refund if you cancel within the first 6 months, and a 25% refund if you cancel within the first 9 months. However, if you cancel your PO Box after that, you’re not eligible for a refund.
9-Types of PO Box Services
There are two types of PO box services, the standard, and the premium.
Standard PO box services are the traditional PO box service that everyone knows. Premium PO box services are offered free by USPS at some locations, mostly in competitive areas.
Premium PO box services include taking care of extra-large packages, receiving smartphone alerts when you get new mails, and offering extended lobby hours. These premium services are worth asking about!
10-What is a better alternative to a PO Box?
A better alternative to a PO Box would be using a virtual PO Box, which offers all of the same perks as a physical PO Box – but with better and easier mail handling. With a physical PO box, you always need to be on top of your mail so your mailbox doesn’t overflow and you can only see your mail at the Post Office.
But with a virtual PO box, you’ll receive instant notifications online with all new mail & packages and can see and handle each mail item by logging into your online account.
CMRAs (commercial mail receiving agents) offer multiple PO box addresses to choose from, where you can quickly register your PO box and have 24/7 access and control over it.
Instead of driving to the Post Office to handle your mail, you can have it forwarded to you in addition to sending other handling requests like mail scanning, shredding & recycling, and physically or digitally archiving any mail item! Once your request is sent in, mail operators can take care of it. You’ll never have to deal with paper mail again.
*Image Credit: USPS PO Box Registration