The Guide to Having Your Own P.O. Box
Are you looking to get a P.O. box? There are many reasons why you might need a P.O. box. It will give you a consistent address through your home moving process or could be a way of increasing privacy. Perhaps you could keep your mail more organized if you operate a business from home. Whatever your reason, there are some things you need to know before you commit to getting a P.O. Box.
In the past, I’ve discussed how to change your address when moving, along with forwarding your mail. Doing so is one of the most vital steps in the moving process. It might also make sense to rent a P.O box as well.
Let’s take a deep dive into what you need to know about P.O. boxes and how to get one.
How Does a P.O. Box Work?
A P.O. box is a secured mailbox that will usually be located in the lobby of a post office. You will have a key or access code to collect your mail, and it gives you a way to receive that mail even if you are in the process of a difficult move.
How Much is a P.O. Box to Rent?
There are a few different factors that will decide the price you have to pay for a P.O. Box. Let’s take a look.
Your location has a significant effect on the costs of a P.O. Box. If you need a P.O. Box where there is a lot of demand, perhaps in a busy area of a large city, you can expect to pay more.
The size of the box you need will also influence the cost. Typically, P.O. Boxes are offered in 5 sizes. These range from extra small to extra-large:
- XS 3″ x 5.5″
- S 5″ x 5.5″
- M 5.5″ x 11″
- L 11″ x 11″
- XL 12″ x 22.5″
You will generally need to pay for your box in advance, and the period you pay for will affect your costs. If you pay for a year in advance, it will work out cheaper than renting for three months at a time. Though this will depend on how long you need the box for, and only if you are sure of the period required in advance.
Additional fees could also be due, so you need to find out the full costs before you decide to rent a box. You may be charged for extra keys, and you can expect to pay if you lose the key or code to access the box.
How to Get a P.O. Box
You can get a P.O. Box online or in person, let’s look at your options.
If you go to the USPS site, you can apply for a box in your local area. They allow you to reserve a box, but you will need to provide some information to confirm the reservation.
You have 30 days to give them information that confirms your identity. This requires two forms of identification, and this can be presented at your post office of choice.
You will have to choose the size of the box you need, and the payment period that is best for you during the reservation process. Do you need the box for 3, 6, 12 months, or more? The application process is simple, with only the need to provide identification being a potential issue.
You can also get a P.O. Box by going to your local post office. You need to fill out form 1093, which can be found in the post office or printed from their website. You need to bring two forms of ID when you apply in person at your local post office. Even if you don’t want a P.O. box at your local post office, you can present the form and ID there.
Extra Services When Renting P.O. Boxes
There are a few extra or premium services that are offered. These include a non PO Box address so that it appears to be a real street location. Though there is will still be an indication that you are using a P.O. Box, it will look more like an office address if you need that. This can open up more delivery options for you from other carriers beyond the USPS.
They also keep your signature on file, meaning you don’t have to stand in line to sign for delivered items. If you pay for their premium services, you’ll save the cost of a key deposit, benefiting from an extra month for free and extended hours where applicable.
The Benefits of Having a P.O. Box
There are many advantages to having your own P.O. Box, let’s look at the benefits.
You can receive your mail securely. If you have had problems with receiving your mail or packages before now, this shouldn’t be an issue if you are using a PO Box.
If you need a different address for your business or some other reason, a P.O. box is a good solution. It will make sure you still get your mail even if you don’t want to reveal your real address.
Some post offices will let you access your mailbox around the clock. If it is located in the lobby of the post office, they may provide access whenever you need it. Check what your most convenient location has to offer before you commit to having your box at that location.
If you have a P.O. Box, you can expect to get your mail a little bit faster than you otherwise would. As your address is located right in the post office, you will get mail more quickly, though, of course, you will have to pick it up. This might give you a more reliable delivery time, without the need to wait for the USPS delivery van.
P.O. boxes are also great if you are going to be expanding your business into another city.
Having a P.O. Box might make a lot of sense if you are between buying and selling a home. If you are in short term housing, you may not want to be sending your mail to an address that you will be turning around and changing again shortly. You’ll have enough to worry about whether it is finding moving boxes or getting the best moving company you can find.
Negatives of Having a P.O. Box
Not everything is positive when you get a P.O. Box, however. They don’t accept every type of package unless it is delivered by the USPS. If you are hoping to have all of your online deliveries sent to your PO Box, you may be out of luck.
For example, UPS and other companies like them will not deliver to a P.O box; it must be a physical address. Items that will not fit into a P.O. box will be returned to the sender or brought back to the carrier’s facility. Anything piece of mail that requires a signature also will not be delivered to a P.O. box.
Additional downsides include having only so many boxes available. Your local post office might not have the availability you want, either meaning that you won’t get a mailbox, or you may have to rent a size you don’t want. This could leave you having to make a longer journey to collect mail than you might have expected.
Video Getting a US Postal Service P.O. Box Online
Watch this helpful video on how to get your own P.O. Box.
What to Know About Refunds
If you go through the process of getting a P.O. Box, only to find you don’t need it before the contract is over, you may be able to get a refund. They offer a 50% refund on 6-month contracts if you find you don’t need it in the first three months. And a 75% refund on boxes ordered for 12 months when canceling in the first three months or 50% in the first six months. Full refunds are offered if you cancel in the first month.
Most Frequently Asked Questions About P.O Boxes
When it comes to having a P.O box, you probably have lots of questions. The USPS website offers a fantastic resource that will answer the most popular FAQ about renting a P.O. box. Take a look, and I am sure you’ll find the answers you’re looking for!
Post Office Box Alternatives
Are there are any other options besides getting a P.O. box at the post office? Yes, there sure are other alternatives!
A few of the P.O. box alternatives also offer some superior advantages, including accepting packages of any size and from any carrier. Some of these companies also provide registered agent services. This service allows them to receive legal documents and other items that require a signature.
Here are some other methods you may want to consider:
- UPS – While UPS is best known for shipping packages, they also provide several other helpful services to businesses and consumers. If you need to receive mail at a physical address, UPS is an excellent alternative to P.O. boxes. Some of the best features include the following: An actual street address, not P.O.box number, 24-hour access to your mail, packages accepted from all carriers, package, and mail notification, mail holding and forwarding, as well as, call-in mail check.
- Mailboxforwarding – Another terrific P.O.box alternative is Mailboxforwarding. The company provides mailbox scanning services, so you don’t have to check it yourself. Members are provided with a street address in which all types of mail can be delivered to it. Your mail will be sent to one of three locations, including Los Angeles, California, Pompano Beach, Florida, or Grandville, Michigan. When mail comes in, the outside of the package or envelope is scanned. The company then sends that image to you on the Mailboxforwarding site. You just log in to see what you’ve received. They will then follow your instructions, whether it be forwarding to your physical address, opening it for you, or just getting rid of it. All scanning is performed in a secure environment.
- MyMailForwarder – Another popular digital mailbox provider is MyMailForwarder. Their moniker is “the most trusted mail forwarder.” The company can receive mail from all carriers, including those that need a signature. Members rent a mailbox with a dedicated street address. Whenever you get mail, you’ll get an email alert. The service is ideal for anyone living overseas, including international students. Many companies will not deliver oversees – MyMailForwarder does. The company uses reputable carriers for deliveries such as FedEx, UPS, or DHL.
- Traveling Mailbox – The last of our featured post office box alternatives is Traveling Mailbox. The company offers world-class mail scanning solutions that allow individuals and small businesses to view their postal mail online anywhere in the world. They provide a real physical street address that is unique to you. When your mail arrives, they scan the outside of the envelope, and then you tell them to either forward the item, scan the contents, return it, hold it, or shred it.
Final Thoughts on Getting a P.O. Box
When it comes to handling your mail, there are many options to choose from. Renting a P.O. box may or may not be your best option. Hopefully, you have enjoyed this review of what you can do with your mail when you don’t want it sent to your current physical address.
Other Valuable Moving Resources
Get more moving advice in these comprehensive articles found on Maximum Real Estate Exposure.
- Who to let know your address changed – see a very comprehensive list of all the businesses and entities you should let know that you have moved. These folks should be made aware you are moving.
- What to know about renting a moving truck – have you decided not to hire a professional moving service and instead do the move yourself? If so, you’ll probably want to hire one of the reputable moving truck companies. See what you should know about getting your own moving truck.
- How much of a gratuity should a mover get – when you are moving, you’ll quickly discover what hard work it is even for professionals. Like other service industries, you will be expected to tip the moving company. In the article get some sound advice on how much you should tip a mover.
About the author: The above Real Estate information on renting a P.O. box was provided by Bill Gassett, a Nationally recognized leader in his field. Bill can be reached via email at [email protected] or by phone at 508-625-0191. Bill has helped people move in and out of many Metrowest towns for the last 33+ years.
Are you thinking of selling your home? I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise!
I service Real Estate Sales in the following Metrowest MA towns: Ashland, Bellingham, Douglas, Framingham, Franklin, Grafton, Holliston, Hopkinton, Hopedale, Medway, Mendon, Milford, Millbury, Millville, Natick, Northborough, Northbridge, Shrewsbury, Southborough, Sutton, Wayland, Westborough, Whitinsville, Worcester, Upton, and Uxbridge MA.