What Does a PO Box Cost?
If you are considering using a PO box, you might have some questions. How much does a PO box cost? Is there a PO box near me? What size PO boxes are available? Can I get a refund if I don’t need it anymore?
We’ll give you the answers to these questions and more to make renting a PO box a breeze. When making a change of address, getting a PO box can sometimes be an excellent solution.
At times you don’t have a real street address. This situation will be temporary most of the time, and until such time it changes, a PO box is a helpful workaround.
You can read about the change of address form you will use in the helpful resource above.
Let’s take a deep dive into when you don’t have a home address and a post office box becomes useful. You will learn how to get a PO box, whether for personal or business use.
What is a PO Box?
When you need a secure delivery address that isn’t your own home, a PO box is a good solution. Whether you need it for business or personal mail, a Post Office box is a convenient option.
Perhaps you need a secure new address during a move? If you travel a lot, they can be a good choice for freelancers as well. The PO box USPS service caters to customers who need a secure mailbox for whatever reason.
PO boxes are typically located in the lobby area of a Post Office store. This allows customers to easily access their secure mailbox without entering the main section of the Post Office location. Locked mailboxes can normally be open with either a key or a code when you want to collect your mail.
How Much is a PO Box?
The cost of a PO box will depend on a few things. The factors that decide the cost of PO boxes include the size you need and your location. On top of that, there can be additional fees, and the amount of time you want the box for will also change the price you pay.
Let’s review these factors in closer detail:
Size of P.O. Boxes
Normally you can expect there to be a choice of 5 different sizes from the Post Office location you are using. The choice of PO box size will be one of the most significant factors impacting the price. Most of the boxes will be just under 15 inches deep, and your choices will likely include the following:
If you don’t expect to receive that much mail, the extra small option should comfortably hold at least 10 letters or a couple of rolled magazines.
The small PO box is 5 inches by 5.5 inches and can store 15 letters or 5 rolled-up magazines. Small boxes are also fine if you don’t get a significant amount of mail.
If you expect to receive many magazines in the mail, this box measuring 5.5 by 11 inches might be just the right size. If you receive large envelopes, a medium-size postal box will be the smallest you can go.
Measuring 11 inches by 11 inches, the large PO boxes have enough room for small parcels and plenty of letters.
The largest post office box option will measure around 12 by 22.5 inches. It will be a good option if you expect to receive parcels or a large amount of mail.
It can be difficult to decide which mailbox sizes are right for you, and you don’t want to spend more money than you need to, particularly if you are on a tight budget. As mentioned previously, the size of the box factors into the cost greatly.
It would be best to think about how much mail you expect to receive and how frequently you will check and empty your mailbox. The large post office box will be the best choice if you get a ton of mail.
Location Plays a Role in PO Box Costs
Different Post Office locations charge different amounts for their mailboxes. Some areas will have more demand for P.O boxes, and as a consequence, you can expect to pay more for your mailbox. PO box prices could be higher than you are accustomed to paying.
These competitive Post Office locations might also offer other services when charging more, however. This could mean you get a notification of when mail is received, or they could offer more hours to access your box. Different post offices have differing policies.
Possible Additional PO Box Fees
In Post Office locations considered to be in competitive areas, you won’t have to pay for your first two keys. But if they classify the Post Office location in a market-dominant area, there will be a deposit of $4 per key. If you need additional keys, they charge $8.
Should you lose your keys or forget the code to access the box, expect to pay $23 for the lock to be replaced.
Longer Rental Period Gets Better PO Box Rates
If you want your PO box for longer, you are likely to get a better monthly rate. Typically, they offer 3, 6, or in some locations, 12-month rentals.
You are likely to get a better deal when choosing a longer length of time, like either 6 or 12-month rentals. Sometimes, the location might offer an extra month for free when you rent a box for 12-months.
The Cost of PO Boxes
When looking at how much a PO box costs, it will depend on the size and location. See all the various costs of PO boxes below.
3-Months in a Competitive Location
Extra Small; $13-$44
Extra Large; $64-$360
3-Months in a Market Dominant Location
Extra Small; $13-$34
Extra Large; $64-$249
6-Months in a Competitive Location
Extra Small; $21-$75
Extra Large; $109-$625
6-Months in a Market Dominant Location
Extra Small; $21-$57
Extra Large; $109-$416
As you can see, there is quite a range of prices depending on your location. You can check whether you are in a competitive or market-dominant location on their website or at your local Post Office. This should tell you the fee group your Post Office location is in to give you the exact costs of renting a PO box there.The final cost of renting a P.O. Box will be highly dependant on the size and where you are located.Click To Tweet
What Happens If I Receive More Mail Than Will Fit in My PO Box?
If you receive more mail to your PO box than you expect or cannot empty it as frequently as you expected, what happens if it overflows? Well, if you exceed your mailbox capacity for 12 out of any 20 consecutive days, not including weekends or holidays, your box will be in an overflow condition.
If you find yourself in a situation where your volume of mail is too high, you will need to move to a larger P.O. box or take extra boxes to resolve the situation. This will naturally increase your costs, so you may find it better to increase your PO box visits instead of avoiding this situation.
If you are already using the extra-large box, you might need to switch to the USPS Caller Service. The Caller Service will be the same price as the extra-large PO box cost, and you will pick up your mail from the call window or loading dock at your designated Post Office. However, there may be a restriction on when you can collect your mail, normally when the Post Office is less busy.
What Are The Benefits of Renting a PO Box?
There are some good reasons to choose the PO box USPS service. Let’s review its advantages:
If you don’t want to give your mailing address when running a business from home, this is an option. It will allow you to keep your physical address out of the public eye while still giving you a way to receive mail. It also keeps your business mail separate from your personal mail.
If you have had issues with mail going missing, the security offered by a PO box will prevent further problems. It can allow your packages to be stored somewhere secure for you to collect without them being left outside your home all day. It is a locked mailbox as opposed to an open mail container at your home,
Depending on the Post Office location you are going to use, they might offer around-the-clock access to your PO box. Other places could offer extended hours, or they might only allow you to get your mail during Post Office opening hours.
Since the mail doesn’t have to travel as far to be delivered, it should be available in your PO box faster. This can allow you to get mail sooner, without the need to wait for delivery to your home.
How to Reserve a PO Box
Reserving your PO box isn’t a difficult job. It can be done online or by visiting a Post Office location. The way you do this is a little different through either method:
Reserving Your PO Box Online
If you go to the USPS website and their PO boxes page, you can enter your ZIP Code to see what options are available nearby. This will reveal PO boxes near you, giving you available sizes, directions to the post office, and their opening hours.
You can choose the size you want, and you can reserve or add your name to a waiting list if there aren’t any currently available. If you put yourself on a waiting list, they will contact you by email or on the phone, and you have 2 days to act before they pass it to the next person on the list.
If you can reserve a PO box of the size you want, you need to select how long you want to rent the box. Choose between 3, 6, or possibly 12-months. Complete your application and submit it.
There is a form (PS Form 1093) you need to print out and complete to take to the Post Office. You will then have 30 days to pick up the keys and provide them with two forms of valid ID. One must be a photo ID.
Getting One At the Post Office
When you reserve a PO box in the Post Office, you still need to fill out the same form (PS Form 1093) though you can find this when you are there. While the Post Office you visit to do this doesn’t have to be where your mailbox is located, it needs to offer window service.
PO Box Near Me
When you are new to an area and are not sure of the location of the closest post office, you do an online search. Head to Google and use either PO box near me or PO box rental near me. You should see the closest post office that offers postal box rentals.
Acceptable Types of ID to Rent a PO Box
You will need to bring two types of ID to begin using your mailbox. Both need to be current as well as valid, and one must show your address to prove it is really where you live. You need one photo ID and one non-photo ID. The following are considered valid forms of identification:
- US driver’s license
- State ID card
- US military, government, education, or corporate ID
- Passport, passport card, certificate of naturalization, or alien registration card
- NEXUS or Matricular Consular ID
- Mortgage, deed of trust, or lease documentation
- Voter card
- Vehicle registration
- Vehicle or home insurance policy
What is a Virtual P.O. Box?
Have you heard of a virtual postal box and wondering what they are? A virtual PO box gives you a real street address. You can get a PO box with a mailing address and be able to access your mail online.
Postscan mail provides a PO box with a street address for both business and personal use. Postscan mail offers a physical address in several cities. Their virtual mailbox service delivers mail to your email in soft copy format.
You receive a scan of the envelope showing who sent the mail. You have the option of letting the post office opening the mail and scanning the contents for you.
It is also possible to have mail forwarding to another address of your choosing. In some locations, you can also pick up your mail as well. A virtual PO box with a mailing address can also receive packages. You have a real address but access mail virtually.
The USPS Premium PO Box Services
The Post Office might offer you some free premium services to make your life easier if you are in a competitive area. This could include phone alerts when there is mail in your box, extra access, or dealing with larger packages, check if they are available at the location you will be using. Package acceptance could be a service you need.
Along with these services, they might offer some other useful options:
Using a Street Address
It can be useful to use a street address instead of a PO box number. You can use the street address of the Post Office, followed by a pound sign (#) and your box number. This should make receiving deliveries easier or make a business address look more professional. You need to read the small print before doing this, as they have some rules you will need to follow.
Using a street address is referred to as having a private mailbox. You are assigned a geographical location different from having a standard PO box in the post office. They are often used when you need to convey a professional image.
No Key Deposit
If your Post Office provides premium services, you won’t have to pay $8 for two keys. There will still be a charge if you need more keys than this, however.
Keeping Your Signature
Some deliveries need to be signed for, but they can keep your signature on file if your Post Office offers premium services. This will reduce your hassles with less waiting in line to sign your name.
As part of the premium services, your location might provide longer opening hours to make it easier to pick up your mail. If traveling to the Post Office during their normal opening hours will be an issue, this could make a big difference to you.
Why Shouldn’t You Get a PO Box?
While there are many advantages to using a USPS PO box, there are some disadvantages too.
Since you will have to keep paying for your PO box to receive your mail this way, it might be another expense you could do without. Particularly for larger boxes, the costs are fairly high if you are in a competitive location.
While you might want to use your PO box for your Amazon deliveries, this won’t be possible if your Post Office isn’t offering premium services. If that is the case, only USPS carriers can put packages in your PO box.
You might find that there isn’t the availability you need near to you. This will mean you need to travel further to collect your mail, which will be an added hassle and adds to the costs.
How Do I Get a Refund For My PO Box?
If you reserve a box for 6-months or a year and later find you don’t need it for that long, you can get a refund. You can get a refund easily for inactive boxes when you didn’t collect the keys and provide ID.
You can do this online or take a trip to the Post Office. To do it online, go to the USPS website and log in. Click on the “Manage Your Account” link, and you should see an option to close your account and request a refund.
To do this at your Post Office, go to a service window and ask for a refund on your PO box. You will need to bring your keys to make sure you get your deposit back.
Getting a Refund for a PO Box You Haven’t Used
If your PO box is inactive and you didn’t collect the keys, you should get an automatic refund after 30-days. To make certain, and to get your money back sooner, you should request a full refund.
How Much Money Will the USPS Refund for Your PO Box?
If you picked up the keys, your PO box was active, and the refund you will get will be lower because you have used their service.
However, if you had a 3-month rental, they aren’t going to give you any money back. Even if you only needed it for a single month, you won’t be eligible for a refund.
With a 6-month rental, they offer a 50% refund if you cancel within the first 3-months of the contract. If you don’t close your PO box before the halfway point, they won’t give you anything back. So if you realize you don’t need it for the full rental period early on, make sure to cancel in time.
The 12-month rental contract is more complicated. Request a refund in the first 3-months, and you will get 75% of the price back. If you cancel before 6-months is up, they will give you a 50% refund. If you claim your refund within 9-months of reserving your box, they will give you 25% of the cost back. But if you end the contract with the USPS once you are in month 10, don’t expect to see anything refunded to you.
Hopefully, we have clearly shown how much a PO box is and answered all of your questions about the service. This should help you decide if a PO box is right for your needs and make it easy to reserve one at your nearest Post Office.
Get a UPS Mail Box Instead
One of the often asked questions is how to get a PO box without a street address. UPS is a solution to this problem.
Are there alternatives to a traditional PO box offered by the United States Postal Service? Yes, there is! You may want to consider a UPS Store PO box. At a local UPS store, you can get a real street address. With their mailbox services, you get a secure location for storing your mail and packages.
The UPS mailbox services will send you a text when mail arrives. They offer numerous locations with 24-hour access to your mail.
How Much is a UPS Mail Box?
A small mailbox at the UPS store runs between $10-$30 per month. A medium-size box costs between $20-40 per month. You will pay approximately $30-$50 per month with a large UPS mailbox. Costs can vary somewhat depending on location.
Frequently Asked Questions About PO Boxes
1. What happens if a package does not fit into a PO box?
If a package does not fit into your PO box, you will be notified by the post office. You will have 15 days to pick up your package. You also have the option of renting an overflow box.
2. Will Amazon or FedEx ship to a PO box?
No, they will not. Only the USPS will deliver to a PO box.
3. How long will the USPS hold a package with a postal box?
A mail hold is unnecessary with the USPS with a PO box as mail can accumulate for 30 days.
4. What is a ghost address?
A ghost address is somewhere other than your actual home address. PO Boxes and UPS boxes are used as ghost addresses.
5. What are USPS flat rate boxes?
A USPS flat rate box allows you to send a package or envelope to an address of your choice. The maximum weight of your shipment can be up to 70 pounds. Priority mail at a flat rate is a 1-3 day shipping service.
You should now have a much better understanding of everything you need to know about PO boxes including how much they cost. PO boxes can be useful under quite a few circumstances, especially when you’re moving.
Other Helpful Moving Resources
Use these additional helpful articles to make the best moving decisions.
- Things to know about shipping cars – are you going to be relocating out of state? Do you have cars that need to be shipped? See some of the best tips for moving a vehicle, including the best car shipping companies.
- Who are the best moving companies – when you are moving, one of the most critical tasks will be finding a top-notch mover. See a detailed review of some of the most respected moving companies for long-distance moves.
- What to know about 1-800-Got-Junk – one of the essential tasks before selling a home is to make your home picture perfect. One of the best ways of doing that is hiring a junk removal service that can get rid of things you no longer need. 1-800-Got-Junk is one of the best junk removal companies worth speaking with.
- Furniture donation pick up – sometimes you may have things of value that you don’t want to give to a junk removal company. There are, in fact, many charities that will come to your home and pick up furniture, clothes, and other household items you no longer want.
About the author: The above Real Estate information about how much do PO boxes cost was provided by Bill Gassett, a Nationally recognized leader in his field. Bill can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 508-625-0191. Bill has helped people move in and out of many Metrowest towns for the last 34+ 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.