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Street Address vs PO Box: Which to Use When Delivering through USPS

If you’re grappling with the choice of using a street address vs PO Box, this comparison will provide clarity on which suits your needs for security, privacy, and convenience. From understanding the inherent differences to evaluating their impact on business operations or personal use, we dissect each option without the jargon in the context of street address vs PO Box. 

Additionally, you’ll discover the related costs and some modern alternatives. By the end, you’ll be equipped to choose confidently between a P.O. box vs street address.

Key Takeaways

  • PO Boxes offer enhanced security and privacy for mail reception, providing a separate mailing address from the individual’s or business’s physical location.
  • Street addresses provide convenience for deliveries, services, and visitors, with the added benefit of direct mail delivery by multiple carriers.
  • Renting a PO Box is straightforward and can vary in cost based on size, location, and rental term, with alternative mailbox services like UPS Store mailboxes and virtual mailboxes offering additional features.

Understanding PO Boxes and Street Addresses

When it comes to receiving mail, you typically have two options: A street address or a post office box. Both serve as valid addresses, but they have distinctive characteristics that set them apart. Understanding these differences can assist you in choosing the most suitable address for your mailing needs.

The choice between a street address and a PO Box often depends on factors such as:

  • Privacy Needs
  • Mail Security
  • Cost
  • Convenience

For instance, a business might prefer a street address for its credibility, while an individual might opt for a PO Box for privacy and security.

What is a PO Box?

  • A Post Office Box, more commonly known as a PO Box, is a lockable mailbox located within a post office. It serves as the official or permanent mailing address for an individual or a company.
  • Renting a PO Box provides a safe and secure way to receive mail.
  • It’s often chosen for its privacy features, as it allows the PO Box owner to keep their home or business address confidential.
  • Moreover, it’s more cost-efficient for the USPS, as it eliminates the need to transport mail to individual street locations.

What is a Street Address?

  • A street address refers to a physical address, which is a location that can be used for personal and commercial purposes.
  • Unlike a PO Box, a street address provides specific details about an individual’s residence or a business’s location.
  • Street addresses are versatile and are used for various activities, such as:
    • Determining locations for deliveries, services, and directing visitors to residential or commercial sites.
    • Receiving packages from different carriers.
    • Providing a visible and fixed location for conducting business or personal affairs.

Comparing PO Boxes and Street Addresses – What’s the Difference

  • When comparing PO Boxes and street addresses, it’s crucial to consider three main aspects: security, privacy, and accessibility.
  • Street addresses and PO Boxes both come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages, and the choice between the two often depends on the specific needs of the user.
    • While street addresses are physical locations used for both personal and commercial purposes, PO Boxes are secure mailing addresses typically used for protecting privacy.
    • Street addresses may be more prone to mail theft, whereas PO Boxes offer locked storage within the secure environment of a post office, thus enhancing the mail security and privacy.

Security Differences

  • When it comes to security, PO Boxes have a clear edge over street addresses.
    • Located within a post office, a PO Box offers a secure environment for mail storage.
  • Access to a PO Box typically requires a key or a code, providing a level of security that protects the contents from unauthorized access.
  • Packages sent to a PO Box are stored securely within the post office until the box holder or an authorized individual picks them up.
    • This significantly decreases the chances of mail theft or tampering compared to mail delivered to a non-secured street address.

Privacy Concerns

  • Privacy is another area where PO Boxes stand out. For individuals and businesses alike, PO Boxes offer an effective way to maintain privacy.
  • A PO Box provides a mailing address without disclosing a residential or office location. This feature is particularly beneficial for PO Box owners, such as:
    • Home-based business owners who prefer to keep their residential address private from customers and business associates.
    • People who want added privacy.
    • People who want secure mail options.
    • People who lack access to a residential mailbox.
  • Many people prefer PO Boxes over street addresses for the above reasons.

Accessibility and Convenience

  • When it comes to accessibility and convenience, both PO Boxes and street addresses have their benefits. The choice largely depends on individual needs and circumstances.
  • Customers can select a PO Box location that’s convenient for them, often closer to their work or home.
  • A PO Box address remains constant, reducing the need to update printed materials with new addresses, even if the customer moves within the same town.
  • Plus, mail delivery to PO Boxes often occurs earlier in the day, offering customers quicker access to important correspondence.
  • On the other hand, street addresses provide direct mail delivery, an important convenience for people with limited mobility or without means of transportation, as long as they have a valid address.

Renting a PO Box: Process and Costs

  • Renting a PO Box involves a straightforward process, whether done online or in person. However, it’s important to understand the associated costs, which can vary based on the size of the box, location, and rental term.
  • To rent a PO Box online, one must search for Post Office locations, select a location and size, complete the application, and reserve the box.
  • After reserving a PO Box online, the box must be rented within 30 days, with two forms of ID brought to the Post Office.
  • The cost of renting a PO Box varies and can start as low as $4.83 per month, depending on the box size, location, and rental term selected.

How to Rent a PO Box

  • Whether you choose to reserve a PO Box online or apply for one in person, the process is relatively simple and convenient.
  • To reserve a PO Box online, follow these steps:
    • Search for Post Office locations.
    • Choose your preferred location and PO Box size.
    • Submit an application.
    • If your desired PO Box size is unavailable, you can choose another size, find another location, or join a waitlist.
    • Once notified of availability, you have two days to reserve the box before it’s offered to another customer.
    • After reserving the box online, you must print the completed form.
    • Visit the chosen Post Office with two forms of acceptable U.S. identification within 30 days to collect your PO Box keys.

PO Box Sizes and Rental Terms

  • PO Boxes come in different sizes to suit various needs.
  • From extra small to extra large, there’s a size for everyone, whether you’re an individual receiving letters or a business expecting packages.
  • Rental terms for PO Boxes typically span six or twelve months, with options for 3-month periods that require automatic renewals.
    • For 6 or 12 months rental terms, customers can opt out of automatic renewals.
  • Long-term rentals often prove to be more cost-effective compared to multiple short-term renewals.
  • If your desired PO Box size isn’t available, you can be placed on a waiting list and will be notified when the box size becomes available.

Cost of Renting a PO Box

  • The cost of renting a PO Box can vary according to the size, location, and rental term.
    • Prices can start as low as $4.83 per month, making it an affordable option for many.
  • Payments for PO Box rentals can be made through various channels, including online, at self-service kiosks, by mail, or in person.
  • If you decide to close your PO Box, you may even receive a partial refund depending on how long you’ve used the box.

Alternative Mailbox Solutions

  • While PO Boxes and street addresses are the most common choices for mail delivery, they aren’t the only options.
  • Alternative mailbox solutions like UPS Store mailboxes and virtual mailboxes can also be excellent choices depending on your needs.
    • Each of these alternatives offers its unique set of benefits.
      • UPS Store mailboxes offer a real street address for personal or business use.
      • Virtual mailboxes, on the other hand, provide a digital version of your mail, which you can access from anywhere using your mobile device.

UPS Store Mailboxes

  • UPS Store Mailboxes are a popular alternative to PO Boxes.
  • Besides receiving mail and packages, UPS Store mailboxes offer several additional services that make them an attractive option for many.
  • These mailboxes offer a real street address for personal or business use, providing advantages for official documents, banking purposes, and maintaining a professional image.
  • Customers can receive deliveries from all shipping carriers, including the postal service, at UPS Store mailboxes, and some locations offer 24-hour access to the mailboxes, often with extended operation hours beyond those of USPS.
  • While generally more expensive than USPS PO boxes, UPS Store mailboxes provide a suite of services and a rental process tailored to customer needs.

Virtual Mailboxes

  • Virtual mailboxes offer a unique and innovative solution for mail delivery.
  • They provide a service that digitizes received mail, allowing users to access their mail from any device, anytime, anywhere.
  • In addition to mail digitization, virtual mailboxes offer additional online mail management services, including mail forwarding, secure document destruction, and automatic check deposit.
  • Some virtual mailbox services even offer integrations with applications like Dropbox and QuickBooks, enhancing the convenience of managing mail and documents digitally.
  • Virtual mailboxes are particularly useful for business owners, frequent travelers, and those seeking freedom from a fixed physical location for postal services.

Receiving Mail from Different Carriers

  • While USPS delivers to both PO Boxes and street addresses, private carriers like UPS and FedEx usually don’t deliver to PO Boxes. However, there’s a workaround: using a PO Box Street Address.
    • A PO Box Street Address is a method that allows the use of the PO Box number combined with the post office’s street address, creating a PO Box address format.
    • This format facilitates the delivery to a PO Box by different carriers, including private ones like UPS and FedEx.

What is a PO Box Street Address?

  • A PO Box Street Address (PBSA) is formed by combining a PO Box number with the street address of the post office where the box is situated.
    • This allows the recipient to receive mail at the post office’s physical location.
    • It offers several benefits, especially for those expecting packages from various carriers.
      • A PBSA increases security and privacy, provides a stable mailing address, and potentially offers faster mail delivery.
      • More importantly, it allows private delivery companies like UPS and FedEx to deliver packages to a PO Box, something they typically don’t do with standard PO Box addresses.

Setting Up a PO Box Street Address

  • Setting up a PO Box Street Address is a simple process.
  • It involves a visit to the local post office and filling out a customer agreement. This agreement outlines the allowable uses of the PO Box Street Address format.
  • Once this is done, you can start enjoying the benefits of receiving mail from different carriers at your PO Box.


  • Choosing between a PO Box and a street address for mail delivery through USPS ultimately depends on your specific needs.
  • Each offers unique advantages in terms of security, privacy, and accessibility.
  • Before making a decision, it’s crucial to understand the differences, benefits, and potential drawbacks of each.
  • Remember, you also have alternatives like UPS Store mailboxes and virtual mailboxes to consider.
  • Ultimately, the goal is to choose the solution that best fits your mail delivery needs, whether it’s a PO Box, a street address, or a virtual mailbox.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How does a PO Box Work?

  • A PO Box, or Post Office Box, is a secure mail-receiving service offered by postal services.
  • To acquire one, you apply at your local post office, select a box size, pay a fee, and receive keys or a combination for access.
  • You can then use the assigned PO Box address for receiving mail, providing a convenient and private option.
  • Retrieving mail involves visiting the post office during operating hours, using your access method to open the box.
  • Some services offer mail forwarding, and renewal is typically required at set intervals to maintain the PO Box.

Does USPS deliver to a PO Box?

  • Yes. The United States Postal Service (USPS) delivers mail and packages to PO Boxes.
  • A PO Box serves as a designated and secure location for individuals and businesses to receive mail, offering an alternative to traditional street addresses.
  • PO Box holders can access their mail by visiting the local post office during its operating hours.
  • USPS staff places the mail directly into the assigned PO Box, ensuring a convenient and centralized method of mail delivery for those who opt for this service.

Can I use my PO Box as a physical address?

  • Unfortunately not. A PO Box cannot be used as a physical address. It isn’t a proper street address and using it as such may lead to legal consequences or closure of the PO Box by USPS.

Will USPS deliver to my house if I have a PO Box?

  • Yes. USPS will deliver to your house if you have a PO Box, but they’ll only deliver packages to the address specified on them, whether it’s your PO Box or home address.

What is an example of a street address?

  • An example of a street address is 123 Main Street, Anytown, USA, 12345. It includes the street number, street name, city, state, and zip code.

What’s the difference between a postal address and a street address?

  • The mailing address is used for receiving mail, while the physical address is the actual location of a place or person.
  • It’s important to distinguish between the two when sending or receiving correspondence.

Should I use a PO Box or street address?

  • You should use a street address if you need to receive mail and packages from different carriers, but consider a PO Box for privacy and cost savings for USPS. It ultimately depends on your individual needs and preferences.

What are the benefits of a physical address over a PO Box address?

  • Opting for a physical address over a PO Box address offers several advantages. Firstly, physical addresses are often more convenient, especially for receiving packages from various carriers that may not deliver to PO Boxes.
  • A physical address also enhances professionalism, as it’s perceived as a more traditional and established form of contact. 
  • Privacy and security are strengthened with a physical address, as it conceals the fact that your location is a PO Box, providing an added layer of confidentiality.
  • Additionally, when it comes to business registration, many official entities may require a physical address for legal and regulatory purposes, making it a practical choice for businesses seeking formal recognition and compliance.