Getting set up with a PO Box these days is generally pretty simple and straightforward.
All you really have to do is pop down to your local post office, let them know that you’re interested in getting a PO Box, and then they will walk you through the process from start to finish.
Sending mail to a PO Box is also pretty easy, as long as you know what you’re doing.
There’s not all that much of a deviation from sending mail to any other address – though you’ll (obviously) need to know the PO Box number before you can address whatever it is you want sent to a PO Box.
Below we break both of these things down a little more in depth, helping you to knock out the process without any headache and without any hassle.
By the time you’re done with the inside information below you’ll know exactly how to get a PO Box for yourself and how to address mail sent to PO boxes. We even share a PO Box alternative that you’ll want to consider for sure.
Let’s get right into it, shall we?
Making the Most of Your PO Box
If you are interested in signing up for a PO Box you’re in luck – the process is easier today than ever before (and also a whole lot more affordable).
Some people like the privacy and security benefits that a PO Box brings to the table. Others are choosing a PO Box simply because they live in a more rural community and physical mail to their address isn’t available (even through the USPS).
Regardless of the why behind your decision to go with a PO Box, we walk you through the step-by-step process you want to consider before you sign up for this service from the post office.
Choosing the Right PO Box Location
Straight out of the gate, you need to think about where you want your new PO Box to be located.
A lot of people are under the impression that they have to get a PO Box from a post office in their town or local area, but nothing could be further from the truth.
Some people choose to have a PO Box in a city that they work in, even if it isn’t anywhere near where they live, and others choose to have a PO Box established in completely different states – usually for business purposes.
At the end of the day, though, you need to think about where you want your PO Box to be located for your specific needs.
If you’re going to be having residential mail sent to that address it’s probably a good idea to get a PO Box at a post office as close to your home or office as possible.
You don’t want to have to drive clear across town just a pickup your mail every day!
Below we highlight a PO Box alternative that totally eliminates this issue completely, but that’s something we will get into a little more in depth in just a moment.
Choosing the Right PO Box Size
The second thing you’ll need to do is decide what size PO Box you want to go with – a decision that’s going to be heavily influenced by price and the kind of mail flow that you anticipate running through your box from here on out.
The USPS offers five different sizes to pick and choose from at almost all of their locations, broke down like this:
- Extra Small – 3” x 5.5”, this box is really best suited for those that do not anticipate a lot of mail at all. It’s only large enough to accommodate between 10 and 15 letter sized envelopes or two magazines rolled up.
- Small – 5” x 5.5”, this box is a little bit larger (comfortably accommodating 10 to 15 letter sized envelopes) but is still pretty compact.
- Medium – 11.5” x 5.5”, this mailbox is one that most customers are going to want to consider if there looking to save money or if they are single of a young couple with no children, or just don’t have a lot of mail flow to worry about.
- Large – 11” x 11”, this mailbox is big enough to accommodate to all sized shoeboxes and still have plenty of extra room for letters and envelopes. If you’re an average sized family, have a lot of mail coming in, or are even a small business owner this is probably the size for you.
- Extra Large – 22.5” x 12”, this is the biggest PO Box available from the USPS as well as their most expensive. Choose this only if you have a tremendous amount of mail coming in or anticipate a lot of packages arriving regularly, too.
It’s not a bad idea popping down to your local post office just to get your eyes on different sized PO boxes to figure out which one makes the most sense in your situation.
You might think that you need a Large sized PO Box only to discover that a Small makes a lot more sense. But the reverse may be true – you might think that a Medium-sized PO Box is perfect for your business, when really you need something on the Extra Large-size spectrum.
The USPS has a couple of “usage guidelines” that they share with their customers to help them make this decision a little easier.
They recommend smaller size post office boxes for personal or business mail that will be picked up on a daily basis. Medium-size post office boxes are best for those that expect magazines and newspapers to be delivered as well, or those that want to pick up their mail every week.
Larger sized PO boxes are recommended for small to midsized businesses that have a lot of mail flow and expect packages regularly.
Quick Breakdown of PO Box Pricing
There are pricing guidelines for PO boxes that you can use to inform your decision, but it’s important to understand the USPS is able to set specific prices for their PO boxes on a location-by-location basis.
As of January 2021, the average cost of a small sized PO Box ran about $30.
Medium-sized PO boxes or $37 (on average), and large or extra-large sized PO boxes or a little bit more expensive than that.
Most PO Box agreements are going to require you to sign a six month or 12 month “lease” on the PO Box that you have chosen, too.
It’s not a bad idea to sign up for the longest term “lease” you can from the USPS right from day one, either. Not only to lock-in that PO Box address but also to take advantage of the most significant discounts available as well.
PO Box prices drop the longer that you agree to lease your box, too.
You should also expect there to be a couple of other fees when you sign up for your PO Box from the USPS, including a three-dollar deposit for the first pair of PO Box keys you receive.
Extra keys cost six dollars for each duplicate key, and if you have to have the PO Box locks replaced and rekeyed you should expect to pay at least $20 (and sometimes even more than that).
The PO Box Signup Process
As a general rule, the process for signing up for a PO Box is pretty simple and straightforward regardless of whether or not you do it online or pop down to your local post office and knock it out in person.
To get a PO Box online you only have to jump on the USPS website, navigate to the PO BOX section of the site, and then go through the application process.
You’ll have a chance to search for available PO boxes by entering in a specific post office address or a ZIP Code. After that, you’ll be presented with a list of boxes – and box sizes – that you can pick and choose from.
After selecting the box you’d like you’ll be encouraged to “Reserve a New PO Box”. At that point you’ll be asked to choose duration of your PO Box rental – three month, six month, or twelve month leases are generally available – and then you are off to the races.
You’ll be asked to fill out the Post Office Form 1093 (the general PO Box application). After that form has been filled out you’ll be presented with a payment form (all major credit and debit cards are accepted), at which point you’ll pay for your entire lease duration.
After that, you’ll be emailed a receipt of your purchase, a copy of your PO Box agreements, and information pertaining to how you activate your new PO Box address.
You’ll need to visit your PO Box post office location within 30 days of payment online to actually activate your address, bringing with you the Post Office Form 1093 (fully filled out) as well as two forms of identification.
At that point you’ll be given the keys to your new PO Box and you’ll be good to go!
The process for applying to get a new PO Box in person is even simpler and more straightforward than it is online.
Visit the post office that you’d like to rent a PO Box from and tell them which sized box you’re interested in.
The postal employees will let you know which addresses are available, and after you pick one you’ll have Postal Service Form 1093 provided to you to fill out right there on the premises.
Complete the form, show your identification, and pay for the duration of the lease that you are interested in and you’ll be given keys to your new PO Box.
From start to finish, the whole process should take about 20 minutes (or even less).
Managing Your PO Box Mailing Address
Now that you have your new PO Box it’s time to focus on the PO Box address format you’ll want to share with anyone and everyone you expect to receive mail from.
The Correct Way to Use Your PO Box Address
Managing your PO Box address format is really simple and straightforward, especially since you are basically only replacing your physical address or street address with your new PO Box number.
Let’s say that prior to getting your PO Box your address looked something like this:
123 Main Street
Anytown, USA 01011
Well, now your new PO Box address format is going to look like this:
PO Box 1776
Anytown, USA 01011
Just swap out your previous street address (or physical mailing address) for the PO Box number that you have been provided.
After that you are good to go!
The Trouble with Traditional PO Box Addresses
Though there are a lot of benefits to moving forward with a traditional PO Box address, there are a couple of shortcomings as well.
For starters, if you move changing your address is notoriously difficult – and if you move on a regular basis having to update your mailing address all the time is a real pain in the neck.
Secondly, a traditional PO Box address at a post office in your local town or community isn’t quite as private or as secure as you might have been led to believe it to be. A little bit of digging can connect the dots to find your physical address from a PO Box address, compromising your privacy and security along the way.
Lastly, with a traditional PO Box from the USPS you actually have to go down and pickup your mail on a routine basis.
The whole point of the PO Box is NOT to have regular daily delivery at your home, but instead to collect your mail a central location that you have to visit to get your mail yourself.
Can you get a PO box without a physical address?
No. In order to get a PO Box, you need to have a physical address as well as a couple forms of ID.
How do I get a physical address from a PO Box?
You will need to request the physical address from the PO Box owner, by using the appropriate USPS form. Or, look up online where the PO Box is located.
Can a PO Box be a legal address?
No. PO Boxes will only come with a Box number. You can however use a mailbox from the UPS Store, and use that street address as your legal address.
How do you use a PO box as a physical address?
You can’t. A PO Box is not a physical address, and therefore cannot be used as one.
Does USPS offer physical addresses?
The USPS does not offer physical addresses. They do offer however a street addressing service, that can be used instead of a PO Boxuse the address of the Post Office and add unit instead of Box number.
Does PO Box or physical address come first?
When addressing a letter or package to a PO Box, first you add the box number of the recipient and then the physical address. For example:
PO Box 24
Houston, TX 70003
Well, if you have become dissatisfied with traditional PO Box services and wish there was a more modern solution you are in luck.
That’s exactly what US Global Mail delivers!
Providing you with almost all of the same benefits of a PO Box (but even more privacy, even more security, and even more convenience), US Global Mail eliminates a lot of the headache and hassle associated with USPS PO boxes through their virtual mailbox service.
Instead of getting a PO Box number you’ll be given a legitimate physical street address, and instead of having to go down and pickup your mail all of it can be forwarded directly to your address – or any address of your choosing – at 80% off of retail shipping rates.
Combine that with digital mail scanning of every piece as it arrives, check depositing services, package acceptance from all of the major shipping companies (something USPS does not offer), and an address that stays the same no matter how often you move and it’s not hard to see why people choose US Global Mail all the time.
Check out their site today for more details!