Are you moving out of your old home before your new one is ready? Or are you planning to stay in temporary places between moves? In these cases, handling your mail may be a bit difficult. Most people decide to rent a P.O. Box as their solution. Forwarding your mail to a USPS P.O. Box is both convenient and easy. P.O. Box also works well for businesses that need to know their mail is secure, even if they cannot check it daily.
What is USPS P.O. Box?
Post Office Box (usually called a P.O. Box) is a lockable box with a real-street address at a local post office station. It is commonly rented by both individuals and businesses from the post office for predefined times (3, 6, or 12 months). P. O. Box is considered to be a very secure way to receive mail when you don’t want to share your private address. Sometimes it is difficult for you to get your mail delivered to your home directly and P.O. Boxes can help you make sure your mail is safely collected. Of course, you can still use your home address for private purposes and use a P.O. Box for business purposes if you want to. A Post Office Box is securely locked - it is set up for you and only you decide who can access it. It can be as small as a drawer and much larger – it depends on your needs. Your P.O. Box is usually available in most post office lobbies. Some stations even provide 24/7 access.
How does USPS P.O. Box work?
Using a P.O. Box is both easy to manage and affordable. First, if you want to set up your P.O. Box, find a P.O. Box location that you are comfortable with. Usually, the popular option is choosing your local post office. However, you may want to select a P.O. Box located close to your workplace or even near where you commute. So, it is up to you what location you will choose. When you sign up for a P.O. Box, you need to change your mailing address to that new box address. Changing your address guarantees that within approximately a week all your mail is going to be redirected to your new USPS P.O. Box.
USPS P.O. Box address format
If you want to send a letter or a parcel to someone who is using a P.O. Box, make sure you use the correct USPS P.O. Box address format. Start with writing the delivery address in the center of the envelope. The name and the address of the recipient should go front and center. Write the recipient’s first and last name in the first line. You can add a formal title. Note the company or organization if you’re writing to a representative of a group. Then, provide the P.O. Box number (a 2-5-digit number). Finally, add the city, state, and postal code to the last line.
USPS P.O. Box rental – available box sizes
There are five box sizes available for rental. The size you choose is dependent on your needs. If you don’t receive much mail, the small or extra small will be enough. If you run a business and receive many packages, you may even need the extra large. Please see below the table with all the box sizes described:
If you’re unable to decide on the size of the box you need, think about the type of mail you expect to receive. The frequency of mailings also matters. In case your package turns out to be larger than expected, the local USPS post office station allows you access to a larger private locker to get your packages.
USPS P.O. Box prices
Prices of USPS P.O. Boxes vary. This is why it is always a good idea to contact your local post office station and make sure about the price of the chosen box. There are two individual fee structures. One is identified as the competitive and one is identified as the market dominant. It means that in larger cities and urban areas, P.O. Boxes are a bit more expensive than boxes in more rural locations. USPS P.O. Box rental cost depends on location, box size, and rental term length.
Location – there are competitive and market-dominant areas. Competitive ones are allowed to charge higher fees. In fact, they often offer additional services for free. These may include signature on file, electronic notification, etc.
USPS P.O. Box size – there are five sizes, ranging from extra small to extra large. The bigger the box, the more expensive it usually is.
Payment period – you can choose to rent a box for 3 and 6 months. Some USPS stations also offer a 12-month rental. The most profitable option is to pay for 6-12 months at a time.
To see the details, go to the table below.
Please note the following additional fees:
Key deposit - $4 (plus key duplication or replacement if needed - $8). 2 first keys are free in competitive areas.
Late payment or lock replacement - $23.
Pros and cons of P.O. Box
As with everything, also P.O. Boxes have their pros and cons. When it comes to advantages, using a P.O. Box is extremely convenient. Delivery is faster as the USPS personnel don’t have to travel to your residence or office. If you move a lot, it is the best option to maintain a steady address for priority shipments and mail you don’t want to miss.
Some P.O. Box services may include smartphone notifications that let you know when a shipment has arrived which is really handy. Another thing is that P.O. Boxes are fully secure. They are in post office stations under tight surveillance, and they are only accessible via key or combination lock. Another benefit, your packages aren’t susceptible to strangers like shipments left on doorsteps. Your mail, both private and business, is secure and accessible.
There are over 21 million P.O. Boxes in the United States so it’s really easy to find a location that fully meets your needs. Another thing is that any USPS mail class can be sent to P.O. Box, even if it requires a signature. If a signature is needed, a notice is sent inside the box for the customer to pick up the mail or parcel at a designated USPS location within a certain period.
And what about disadvantages?
Any disadvantages? Some people complain about limited space – if you don’t pick up your mail regularly, the box will overflow. It is impossible to have a professional address listing with a P.O. Box if you run a small business that operates from your home. Finally, some stations don’t provide 24/7 access.
As you can see, USPS P.O. Box rental may be a great option. It’s an affordable solution designed for those who move often or need an address that would be easy and safe to share with others. However, as we live in the age of rapidly growing technology, there are digital alternatives to P.O. Boxes.
One of them is a business mailbox. Signing up is similar to setting up a P.O. Box, however, the whole process is fully digitalized. When you sign in, you receive a physical address to use. Each mail that arrives will be digitally scanned and you can access it in real-time. You manage the system online which is really convenient and extra secure. Interested? Check the available plans!
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