For many reasons, traditional mailboxes aren’t right for everyone. Fortunately, many alternatives could fit your lifestyle or your business’ needs. One of the most common alternatives to a regular mailbox is a Post Office Box (PO Box).
PO Boxes are quite popular because they help address some of the limitations of a physical mailbox, like security and privacy. In this post, we’ll explain how PO Boxes work, why people decide to rent them, and shed some light on how to get a PO Box without a physical address.
What is a PO Box?
USPS PO Boxes are lockboxes housed at local post offices. PO Boxes are probably the most common alternative to traditional mailboxes, and individuals or businesses can use them. PO Boxes typically come in a range of sizes and are available at post offices. Access to PO Boxes in some post office locations is available 24/7 for convenience.
Why do people sign up for PO Boxes?
PO Boxes are generally considered to be a more secure option than traditional mailboxes. A common reason people sign up for mailboxes is to maintain their privacy because PO Boxes are tied to mailing addresses, as opposed to physical or residential addresses. PO Boxes offer people a way to receive postal mail without having to tell senders where they live. Additionally, unlike most mailboxes, PO Boxes are locked or require a code to access. This adds another layer of security than most mailboxes.
People sign up for PO Boxes because they may not regularly have access to their physical mailbox. For example, people who travel for work or for extended periods of time are not necessarily able to keep up with their physical mailbox without the help of a friend or neighbor. This can pose other security risks, of course.
The Limitations of a PO Box
While a PO Box certainly has many benefits, there are some things you’ll want to consider before renting one. Most notably, if you are a frequent traveler or lead a nomadic life, keep in mind that you will still not be able to keep a close eye on what you receive.
Of course, you can pair a personal PO Box with Informed Delivery and stay abreast of what you receive. Informed Delivery is a free service offered by the USPS that sends users pictures of the outside of incoming postal mail pieces. Informed Delivery keeps you posted about what pieces of postal mail you’re receiving. However, even if you know you are receiving something important or time-sensitive, you won’t be able to see your postal mail contents with Informed Delivery, much less act on it.
If you frequently receive packages, a PO Box is probably not the best option for you. Major carriers like UPS and FedEx will not deliver packages to PO Boxes provided by USPS. Even if senders are not using these carriers, you may still run into issues because of the PO Box size. In that case, the post office will typically hold onto the package for you at the desk, but this can still be a nuisance if you plan to regularly receive packages.
How Can I get a PO Box Without a Street Address?
One of the biggest limitations of a USPS PO Box is that you must provide a permanent, physical address to be eligible for one. This poses an issue for nomadic people who don’t maintain a traditional, permanent residence.
That being said, there are still options. If you don’t mind not being able to open or act on your postal mail remotely, you can research private PO Box services offered by companies instead of the USPS. Depending on your service provider, you may not need to have a permanent address to sign up. Of course, you’ll also want to look into any restrictions about packages for your service provider.
However, there is one alternative to a traditional PO Box that doesn’t have the same restrictions and gives you more power to act on your postal mail. A virtual mailbox or virtual PO Box, like the ones we offer at Earth Class Mail, offer you much of the same security that a PO Box does. With a virtual mailbox, you will receive a virtual address. This address is a real, physical address offered by the service provider and is not tied to where you live or work.
Earth Class Mail accepts postal mail on behalf of its customers, scans the content, and uploads copies as PDFs available within their account, just like email. Earth Class Mail does not have carrier restrictions for packages, and we can receive and forward packages or physical copies of your postal mail as needed. A virtual mailbox or PO Box will give you all the security benefits of a traditional PO Box while also offering added capabilities and convenience.
Is a PO Box right for me?
PO Boxes are a very common alternative to traditional mailboxes and for good reason. They offer enhanced security for your postal mail and depending on your location and needs, can be very convenient in terms of proximity.
Overall, a traditional PO Box can certainly help address any security concerns you have about your current mailbox. However, they are not the best choice for everyone. If you plan to receive packages frequently or don’t want to wait until you are able to visit your mailbox to act on your postal mail, you should consider a virtual mailbox provider like Earth Class Mail.
A virtual mailbox will offer the same security benefits as a PO Box, but without some of the limitations. Sign up today.