A PO Box is short for a post office box and is a personal (or commercial) mailbox located inside of a post office, exactly what the name suggests. You get assigned a specific box number and key and can get ultra-secure drop-offs inside the postal office.
There are now private companies that offer a service called “virtual PO Boxes.” These are not the same thing as a PO box. This offers people the ability to claim an address for their business, then get their mail forwarded to them. Virtual PO boxes are popular with companies that want a mailing address in a major city like New York or Los Angeles, without having to pay a lot of money to rent an office.
Virtual PO Boxes are not managed by the US Postal System, which means that they are not official PO Boxes. Therefore, they are not found in post offices, and being able to access them is not guaranteed in the same way a real PO Box is.
- Apply for a PO Box Online
- Pay for Your PO Box
- Pick Up Your PO Box Keys
- Start Using Your PO Box
1. Apply for a PO Box Online
The first step to renting a PO Box online is to apply for a PO Box on the USPS website. The United States Postal Service has a special form that allows you to apply for one. You can pare down your options by city and state and also choose the size of your box.
2. Pay for Your PO BOX
The next thing you'll need to do is to pay to reserve your PO Box. If you do not pay for your PO Box, you’re not going to reserve it. The USPS website will guide you through the PO Box reservation (erm, purchase) process.
3. Pick Up Your PO Box Keys
Pick up your keys at the post office you chose. Your PO Box will be at the post office of your choice. When you are ready to start using your box, go to the office to pick up your keys.
4. Start Using Your PO Box
After getting your keys, you can start using your PO Box as you please. You can access the mail on any day the post office is open, and in most cases, you can even do so after the office has shuttered for the day.
- Complete PS Form 1093
- Pick the PO Box Size You Need
- Submit the Form and Pay the Fees
1. Complete PS Form 1093
The first thing you'll need to do to get a PO Box is to head to your post office and complete PS Form 1093. This is a form that you can download and print off the net or just show up at the post office to get the form. If you can’t find PS Form 1093, simply request it from the office worker at the desk.
2. Pick the PO Box Size You Need
After completing the form, it's time to select the box size that best suits your needs. Most post offices will have at least three sizes of PO boxes, ranging from small to large. Some will also have extra large boxes. Each box will have its own size and price.
3. Submit the Form and Pay the Fees
After choosing your PO Box size, you'll submit the form to the post office clerk. The clerk will also ask you for payment and then will give you an assigned PO Box. From now on, you can use that as your new mailing address for business and personal needs.
Post offices will need to see two forms of ID for a PO box, one with a photo and one without. The most common ID documents used include:
- Driver’s license
- Professional ID, government ID, or school ID
- Vehicle registration cards
- Lease or mortgage documents
- Social Security card
Yes, a PO Box is not considered a standard service, so you will have to pay a flat monthly fee to get one. How much you need to pay for your PO Box can vary, but the fees are generally reasonable.
Most people who get a PO Box will pay between $10 to $20 per month. Some PO Boxes are more affordable, while others will be more expensive. The exact price of the PO Box you want to get will be written on the USPS website.
1. Delivery time is consistent
If you need to have a lot of stuff that is delivered immediately on time, a PO Box is your best bet. It’s the fastest way to receive almost anything in the mail.
2. Permanent address
Do you hop around from apartment to apartment? You’re not alone. A PO Box is the easiest way to cut down on dealing with lost mail and forwarding addresses.
3. Professional mailing address
If you are a business owner or an influencer needing a way to get mail from fans and clients, then a PO Box is a smart move. It avoids the liabilities that come with a personal home address but also helps add a more professional veneer to your company’s name.
4. Secure mail pick-up
Do you have porch pirates? Secure your mail using a PO Box, and you won’t have to worry about the rising rates of mail theft again.
5. 24/7 pickup in most areas
Most post offices offer 24/7 pick up for people who own PO Boxes. So, even if you’re a night owl, it should be easy for you to pick your mail up.
1. Limited space
If you were hoping for enough space for a bunch of large boxes, you’re out of luck. Most PO Boxes will have enough space for a couple of folded magazines and a large envelope or two. Some will also have smaller box space. However, it’s not a substitute for a mail room.
2. You are responsible for picking up your mail
Picking up mail from your local post office is not as easy as getting all your mail from your front porch. Unfortunately, that means you will have a new chore on your list—the long slog over to the post office regularly.
3. Some locations do not offer 24/7 lobby access
While most post offices are built to offer 24/7 lobby access, not all are. Therefore, you should check out your local post office’s policies before you make a decision.
4. You have to pay a monthly fee
It may not be the biggest bill on your platter, but every penny counts these days. If you are in a financial bind, you may want to look at cheaper alternatives.
5. Mail cannot always be delivered to a PO Box
Certain types of mail cannot be delivered to a PO Box due to legal reasons. This type of mail can include lawsuit summons, court documents, as well as specific types of packages.
If you want to use a PO Box for a specific need, it’s best to find out if you can even deliver things of that type to a PO Box first. Most services will allow for it, but a handful of them may not.
If you want to have a more secure and professional way to receive mail, it may make sense to get a PO Box. PO Boxes are affordable, available everywhere you can find a USPS office, and also offer a lot of timeliness.
Whether or not it is right for you depends on your situation. However, it’s safe to say that having one of these boxes for your own doesn’t hurt.