Even with mailboxes available for many addresses, a lot of people and businesses seek to rent PO boxes for multiple reasons.
A PO Box is a secure way to receive postal mail and packages that isn’t restricted to your home or business address. Whether you’re an expat, business, or live in a remote location, there are many benefits a PO Box has for you.
But first let’s find out what exactly is a PO Box, how to rent one, and if there are any better mail alternatives that you should be considering as well.
What is a PO Box?
A PO Box or Post Office Box is a rented mailbox at the Post Office; it is managed by USPS and is a place where you can receive mail and packages (depending on your PO Box size).
There are over 30,000 Post Offices in the United States. Many people rent PO Boxes because it’s convenience in receiving mail, especially if you live in a remote area where mail isn’t delivered or travel a lot.
How do PO Boxes work?
Renting a PO Box is an easy and quick process that can get done at the Post Office or online in 3 steps. But for both cases you’ll need ID verification, one must be photo ID and the second form must have your residential address.
Step #1: Pick your Post Office:
First you need to decide on which Post Office you want to rent a PO Box in, head to the USPS website and search with your zip code or address to find the closest Post Office to you.
Be sure that your Post Office is near your home or workplace so that you can regularly stop by and pick up your mail. It is recommended to check on your PO Box at least once a week so your mail doesn’t pile up.
Step #2: Pick your PO Box size & payment plan:
There are 5 different sizes available to choose from (not all Post Offices will have all sizes available so you need to confirm with your Post Office that they have the size you want).
The smallest size being XS which holds from 10 to 15 letters and the largest size being XL which holds flat rate boxes and packages. If you don’t get a lot of mail, a small PO Box should be fine but if you like to shop online and expect packages, consider a medium or large PO Box.
More details check How to get a po box.
As for the payment plan, you can rent a PO Box for 3 months, 6 months, or 1 year. You can rent it for 6 months that extend it to a year later if needed.
For the 6-month plan, if you cancel your subscription within the first 3 months, you’ll get refunded for the last 3 months, however, if you cancel after the 3 months, you won’t be refunded. Many people prefer the 6-month plan because the longer the rental time, the better the price.
For example, you could be paying $30 for the 3-month plan ($10 per month) but with the 6-month plan, you’ll be paying $54, so $9 per month. And of course, the annual plan is a lower rate.
The prices vary from one location to another; the Small PO Box can reach as low as $19 with the large reaching up to $200 in some locations, for a 6-month period. Prices of a PO Box can vary depending on location, box size, and demand.
Step #3: Change of Address:
After settling on your PO Box details, you’ll fill in a rental form and go to the Post Office (if you’re doing it online) to receive your PO Box keys. They’re a set of 2 keys; you’ll be charged a $3 deposit for them.
However, if you have a premium account, they’re free. When your PO Box is set, you need to apply for a change of address to start receiving mail at your PO Box. This can be done at the Post Office or you can get it done online.
What are the Reasons to Get PO Box?
Mail & package security:
All of your postal mail will be secured safely at the Post Office, with no packages waiting on your doorstep or getting lost. If your package is too big to fit in your PO Box, it’ll be placed at the Post Office’s lockers.
Permanent mailing address:
Whether you’re moving, abroad, or living in a remote area, you’ll have a stable mailing address to send your mail to at the Post Office.
Privacy of your home address:
Your home or business address will remain protected as you only use your PO Box for personal/ business mail.
Faster mail delivery:
Since the Post Office is run by USPS, your mail and packages will be delivered faster.
What are the disadvantages of a PO Box?
If you’re using your PO Box address for business it wouldn’t look professional, especially when handing out to clients or when advertising your business. You also can’t use this address for business registration.
Only receive mail through USPS:
PO Boxes only receive mail through USPS, not any other mail carriers like DHL, FedEx, or UPS. This can be a big disadvantage if you accept a lot of packages or shop online.
It needs to be checked regularly:
You can’t let your PO Box overflow, USPS will send you notifications to update your PO Box if it keeps overflowing. And so, you need to ensure you always pick up your mail.
You need to physically pick up your mail:
Mail forwarding is quite expensive and that is why you need to regularly pick up your mail. This can get problematic if you have a busy work schedule or live far away.
When is it important to rent a PO Box?
Mail theft is becoming very common in the United States, especially around the holidays. A PO Box is not only a great solution for locals facing this problem but expats and travelers too that are rarely home and want to keep their mail and packages protected.
The inconvenience of a physical mailbox is needing to go pick up your mail but with a virtual PO Box, you’ll be able to log into your account and view your postal mail online.
You can even send out handling request like opening mail, forwarding packages, archiving it, deleting it, shredding or recycling it.
You can log into your PO Box through your smartphone or computer and manage your mail online. A virtual PO Box has the same advantages of a physical PO Box, only better!