December 22, 2022 | 5 min read
Have you ever thought about having an off-site, secure, confidential address to receive your mail efficiently and confidentially? A P.O. Box may be a convenient way to accomplish this.
A P.O. Box is a physical, secure, numbered box at a Post Office or a local mailbox business center, such as a UPS Store. With a P.O. Box, your postal mail remains in your box until you stop by to physically collect it.
Consider a P.O. Box if it’s difficult for your mail carrier to deliver directly to your physical home mailbox or if you have security concerns and/or want a business address separate from your home’s physical address.
Around for almost 200 years, P.O. Boxes have been used historically to offer privacy and flexibility for people and businesses.
5 Steps To Getting a P.O. Box
1. Decide the Best Location
Convenience is key. It’s not always possible, but finding a Post Office, UPS Store, or shipping and packing store close to home or your business is advisable. You’ll have to stop by often to pick up your mail, which is much easier when commute time to your P.O. Box is reasonable. Time is money.
Apply for the box in person or online. You’ll need two valid forms of identification. One has to be a photo I.D. And one of your I.D.s needs to show your current physical address.
2. Consider Options
- Rental Periods - Most physical locations offer rental periods ranging from three months to a year. It’s usually cheaper if you’re willing to be locked into the annual rental period, which might make sense if you’re relatively sure you’ll be using the P.O. Box for at least that amount of time.
- Notifications - Some Post Offices or business centers offer notifications, so you know when mail arrives at your physical box. This could be an email or a text. You’ll have to shop for the best options and spend some time researching to find a Post Office or business center that offers the notifications you need.
Cost - The cost will depend on factors such as the box size and the rental period. The U.S. Postal Service has pricing that ranges from $4.33/month for their extra-small box to over $21 a month for their most oversized P.O. Box that handles multiple packages.
UPS Stores and independent mailbox business centers also sometimes offer business mailboxes, which can often run roughly double the cost of USPS boxes. Keep a close eye on setup fees, key fees, and 24-hour FOB access fees. With physical P.O. Boxes, these fees can add up quickly, so stay alert.
3. Select the Box Size You Need
Your box size will depend on how much mail you expect. As an example, the U.S. Postal Service offers five sizes, ranging from extra small to extra large. Availability varies, so check that your local post office has box sizes available to fit your needs.
- Extra Small - It holds three rolled magazines and 10-15 letters. You can use this option if you’re a small business owner who doesn’t get too much mail and you check your P.O. Box frequently to keep things from piling up.
- Small - Holds over 15 letters, five rolled magazines, or one small priority mail flat rate box.
- Medium - This holds large envelopes, stacked magazines, and two small priority mail flat-rate boxes. It usually works for small business owners or households that receive several pieces of mail daily and want their envelopes unfolded.
- Large - The box holds medium and small priority flat rate boxes and leaves enough room for 10-15 letters.
- Extra Large - The box has enough room for multiple packages.
A shipping and packing store can offer varied sizes for a P.O. Box, so it’s good to check around for options, but prices are generally higher for P.O. Boxes outside of a Post Office location.
4. Complete USPS Form 1583
Anyone who wants to rent a P.O. Box, postal mailbox, or virtual mailbox in the United States must fill out the USPS Form 1583
. To use a P.O. Box, you must complete USPS Form 1583 and submit it to the USPS (or the UPS Store location or mailbox business center you select) along with two forms of identification, one of which must be a government-issued I.D.
The USPS Form 1583 is required to authorize the USPS or mailbox business center to receive and manage postal mail on your behalf. It also ensures that a responsible party is linked to the P.O. Box.
Don’t overlook it; the USPS Form 1583 is essential in setting up and using a P.O. Box.
5. Have Your Mail Redirected
Once your new P.O. Box is activated, you’ll need to apply for mail redirection by submitting a request for a change of address. Redirecting your mail is a relatively simple process that you can complete through the USPS website.
You’ll need to verify your identity and complete the appropriate online form. Once the USPS sends you a confirmation email, you can use it to modify your request and start receiving mail at your new P.O. Box.
Are There Alternative Options to a P.O. Box?
Yes, if you don’t want to go through the hassle of getting a P.O. Box, there are alternative options. You can use your home address, office address
, or possibly consider a virtual mailbox.
Take note, though, that your home address may increase your privacy risk, while an office address may be expensive since the option will usually require you to rent office space.
But what exactly is a virtual mailbox? A virtual mailbox allows you to access your physical mail from anywhere in the world, using only your computer or mobile device.
With a virtual mailbox, you can have your mail delivered to a physical address, where it will be scanned and uploaded to a secure online platform. This allows you to view, manage, and download your mail from anywhere with an internet connection.
A virtual mailbox
is an alternative to a P.O. Box worth considering, as you’ll get a real street address that isn’t your home address, thereby adding a layer of safety and privacy. You can use it as your business address for a more professional look, as well as be able to receive unrestricted parcels with no size limit or having to choose what size box you need.
A virtual mailbox is also safer, more convenient, and more cost-efficient than a P.O. Box, and you can manage your mail from anywhere using your mobile device.
Convenience and Cost Value of a Virtual Mailbox
Virtual mailboxes keep your mail secure and accessible. A virtual mail service provider like Anytime Mailbox
will give you a permanent street address that you don’t have to physically visit to retrieve your mail. You’re sent a real-time notification when you receive any piece of mail at Anytime Mailbox. You can request to open and scan, forward, shred, or even deposit a check.
And, unlike renting a physical P.O. Box, with a virtual mailbox, you don’t have to worry about what size box to rent. You can receive all of your postal mail and online purchases worry-free.
When you compare the cost of a virtual mailbox vs. a physical P.O. Box, you’ll find that a virtual mailbox, starting at around $6.99 per month, is an option that offers modern convenience and practicality with a price that’s hard to beat.
Most virtual mailboxes are month to month, and you can cancel anytime, whereas with P.O. Boxes, it’s often a longer timeline. Plus, there’s never a waiting list for a virtual mailbox!
If you’re considering the value and convenience of a virtual mailbox, you can start by browsing Anytime Mailbox locations
across the U.S. and internationally.