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How much is a P.O. Box?

Joanna Heep

November 19, 2021

How much is a P.O. Box?

P.O. Boxes have been here since there has been mail to deliver. Getting a P.O. Box is considered one of the safest ways to receive and manage mail. You can get your mail at a location other than your home, which guarantees a safe delivery and prevents any theft activity. However, people often wonder how much a P.O. Box costs. Let’s dive deeper into this and answer the commonly asked question: how much does a P.O. Box cost?

What is a P.O. Box?

Before we explain the common P.O. Box prices, let’s take a look at what a P.O. Box actually is. A P.O. Box, or post office box, is a lockable mailbox that is located in a post office station, usually in the post office’s lobby. You can rent it at the nearest post office if you cannot or do not want to receive mail directly at your home. This is a great option if you are looking for a safe place to receive your mail or want a portion of your mail, such as mail for a home-based business, diverted to a different address. You can rent such a box for 3, 6 or 12 months. A great thing is that most post offices offer 24-hour access, 7 days a week. Usually, you access your P.O. Box with a lock and key. Some post office stations also have combination locks.

How much does a P.O. Box cost?

The average P.O. Box cost. P.O. Box rental prices vary widely – it depends on several different factors. You can either spend as little as $20 for a 3-month rental at one of the cheapest locations, or as much as $360 at an expensive one. You can find a thorough overview of the pricing on the US Postal Service website. You can also contact your postal office station to find out if there are currently any boxes available. You can usually pay for P.O. Box rental online or at a self-service kiosk. Payments online or in person are also available.

P.O. Box price-determining factors 

As mentioned above, prices vary. There are three factors that determine the cost of renting a P.O. Box: the length of time you will rent it, the size of the box, and its physical location.

Length of rental time 

Depending on the post office, you can choose to rent and pay for your P.O. Box in 3-, 6- or 12-month periods. Some post offices only offer year-long rental terms. You can usually get the best deal if you pay upfront for 6 to 12 months. It costs much more to constantly renew the P.O. box for shorter rental periods. 

If you already know you will need your P.O. Box for at least a year, you will save money by selecting an annual rental from the start. Some post office stations also offer a ‘baker’s dozen’ promotion – you reserve a P.O. Box for 12 months and you get the 13th month for no extra cost. Keep in mind that your rental can keep renewing if you choose to have the fees charged automatically to a credit card.

The size of the box 

In most cases, smaller P.O. Boxes cost less. In general, there are five sizes of P.O. Box, ranging from extra small to extra large. However, not all sizes are available in every location. The table below presents the boxes according to their sizes. Most boxes are 14.75” deep.

Box size, Dimensions, and Capacity:

Extra small (3” x 5.5”, 2 rolled-up magazines or 10-15 letters)

Small (5” x 5,5”, 5 rolled-up magazines or up to 15 letters)

Medium ( 5.5” x 11”, Many magazines and large envelopes stacked flat)

Large (11” x 11”, 2 shoe boxes, and 10-15 letters)

Extra Large(12” x 22.5”, Multiple Flat Rate Boxes and parcels)

What happens when your mail exceeds the capacity of the box? It is called an overflow condition. If this is something that has happened to you, you should change to a larger box or use one or more additional boxes to receive mail. 

Location 

There are two fee structures for P.O. boxes, depending on the location. The postal service identifies these locations as either “competitive” or “market dominant.” 

Competitive locations charge higher fees. Usually, the bigger the city, the more expensive the P.O. Box. For example, a small P.O. Box in a town in a rural area may cost $26 for a 3-month rental and the same sized box for the same period in a big city will cost you over $40. Also, P.O. Box prices can change annually in places where the postal service controls enough of the market to set prices without competition.

Summing up, you will find the average P.O. Box cost depending on size, location, and rental period in the table below:

bo boxes sizes

Are there any extra fees when I open a P.O. Box?

You should also be prepared to pay extra fees for the following situations:

  1. Key deposits: $4 per key issued for the first two keys, then $8 for any additional duplicate keys. Keep in mind that there are no fees for the first two keys at competitive locations.

  2. Late payment or lock replacement fee: $23.

Why should I get a P.O. Box?

A P.O. Box brings you a lot of benefits that look really appealing. First of all, P.O. Boxes are fully secure. They are located inside the post office. They can only be accessed with a key or combination code. This is a huge step towards maintaining your privacy, as P.O. Boxes mask your real address. 

P.O. Boxes can help you keep your home business mail separate from your personal mail. By getting a P.O. Box, you get a new mailing address that you can use for selected contracts and transactions. 

You also might notice faster delivery speed. You usually receive your mail faster than you would at your home address, since the mailbox is located right inside the post office lobby. Your new mail is usually available before 12 pm and you don’t need to wait for the postman. Finally, it’s a great option if you move constantly. You don’t have to change mailing addresses for bills, bank statements, magazine subscriptions, etc.

How to set up a P.O. Box

Setting up a P.O. Box is simple. First, you have to select a location. According to regulations, you can get a P.O. Box at most post office locations, no matter where your home or business is. Obviously, most people choose their P.O. Boxes near their home or place of business.

Once you decide on the location, select the size of your P.O. Box. You select out of the general sizes: extra small, small, medium, large, and extra-large. The price of your P.O. Box will depend on the chosen size and location. The next step is choosing a rental term and completing the 1-page form to confirm your identity. You can apply online or go in person. Then, you have 30 days to activate your P.O. Box and pick up the keys. When you receive your keys, you can start sharing your new address and redirecting your mail. 

Limits of P.O. Boxes

Although P.O. Boxes offer convenience, they have their limitations. These include:

Alternative to P.O. Boxes  

As you can see, setting up a P.O. Box is both beneficial and affordable. P.O. Box prices vary, depending on size, location, and rental period but it’s not difficult to choose the right option that will fully satisfy your needs. Some P.O. Boxes are as cheap as $13 and some extra-large boxes may even cost as much as $625. 

If you need maximum convenience, you can also consider a virtual P.O. Box. It’s a real street address or virtual P.O. box address you can easily access online. It has been designed for both personal and business use. 

How does it work? You rent a virtual P.O. Box and the virtual mailbox service delivers mail to your email as a high-resolution PDF. Getting such a P.O. Box is extremely easy. 

Similar to a regular P.O. Box, you choose a mailing address where your mail will be delivered. You choose a plan, file the form, and redirect your mail. These plans start at $19 a month, similar to the price of a P.O. Box without a trip to the post office. Interested? Check the available options and pricing!

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