How Much Does a P.O. Box Cost a Month?

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June 22, 2023

With more and more people turning to the convenience of direct shipping and the growth of the online retail industry, lost parcels, package theft, and porch pirates are becoming a significant concern for many across the United States. 

If only there were secure and reliable mail delivery options. Enter P.O. Boxes. These boxes have long been a trusted method of eliminating the risk of leaving valuable shipments unattended and vulnerable to theft.

Despite the many benefits of using a P.O. Box to receive mail and packages, this method has its fair share of disadvantages. One of the many concerns Americans have is cost. But how much does a P.O. Box cost?

In this article, we’ll explore the potential costs of using P.O. Boxes and how they can offer mail and package security solutions.

Discover the convenience and security of using a P.O. Box with FindPostOffice.org. We offer information on 31,330 post offices in Seattle, New York, San Francisco, San Antonio, Denver, and other cities in the U.S. allowing you to reap the benefits by connecting you with the one closest to you.

What Is a P.O. Box?

A P.O. Box, short for Post Office Box, is a lockable compartment within a post office you can rent. It’s a service introduced by the United States Postal Service (USPS) that allows you, other individuals, and businesses to receive and manage mail safely.

P.O. Boxes offer an alternative to using a home address for mail delivery, which can be beneficial if you’re a frequent traveler, living in an area with limited mail delivery, or want home privacy.

The central premise of using USPS PO Boxes is to allow you to receive your mail securely when and where you want it. Many post office lobbies offer 24/7 access and have a lock and key security system, with some offering combination locks.

Guidelines and policies for P.O. Boxes can vary per post office. Visit FindPostOffice.org to determine how your nearest post office handles lobby hours and security.

TL;DR

Too long, didn’t read:

  • A P.O. Box is a locked box you can rent.
  • Post office boxes offer a secure way to receive and manage mail.
  • Many post office locations offer 24/7 access.
  • Post office lobbies typically use locks and keys and sometimes combination locks.
  • Policies and guidelines for P.O. Boxes may vary.
  • Visit FindPostOffice.org to get information on your nearest post office.

Why Rent a P.O. Box

Security

One of the primary reasons to rent a P.O. Box is enhanced security. It allows you to store and take your mail any time you want, which means no packages will be waiting at your doorstep, reducing the chances of your parcel being lost or stolen.

By allowing you to use a separate mailing address from your residence and business, P.O. Boxes can protect your personal information and minimize the risk of identity theft, another increasing problem in the U.S.

Privacy

Renting a P.O. Box helps keep your home address private. This privacy can be highly beneficial if you’re a professional, running a business, or want to keep your residential address away from the public eye.

A P.O. Box can also help separate your personal, professional, and business mail, making managing and sorting your packages easier.

Flexibility

Do you love to travel or move a lot? No problem! A P.O. Box lets you get your mail and packages according to your schedule. USPS also allows you to choose a quarterly, semi-annual, and annual rental term if you need to change your physical address for various reasons.

Some PO Box locations offer extended operating hours as part of the post office’s premium services. In contrast, others have round-the-clock access, giving you the freedom to pick up your mail without worrying about regular operating hours.

Speed

Postal services generally use sorting centers or regional facilities to get everyone’s mail quickly and efficiently to where they’re going. However, if you live in a rural area with limited courier services, receiving your parcel can still take time.

With over 31,000 facilities across the country, many open for longer hours, a P.O. Box can make receiving mail faster, especially compared to home or business deliveries. This efficiency can be particularly advantageous for time-sensitive documents.

Additional Benefits of Renting a P.O. Box

In addition to the core advantages, renting a P.O. Box offers further benefits. For one, USPS allows mail forwarding, allowing you to receive mail even when you’re away or when you move.

While P.O. Boxes are generally reserved for USPS mail and packages, Street Addressing allows you to receive parcels from carriers like Amazon, DHL, FedEx, and UPS. You can also keep your signature on file, avoiding the hassle of signing every package while ensuring security.

Why Shouldn’t You Get a P.O. Box?

While P.O. Boxes have numerous advantages, you must consider a couple of drawbacks before getting one. Such disadvantages include:

Rental Costs

The cost of a PO Box varies based on factors like box size, rental period, and location. Larger boxes and longer rental terms generally incur higher fees, especially if you’re in a competitive area.

In other words, renting a P.O. Box can be expensive if you need additional or premium services like mail forwarding or day-and-night access.

USPS Only

P.O. Boxes are primarily operated by USPS, which means you can only receive mail from USPS and certain private carriers. Sure, Street Addressing can allow you to get packages from other carriers. However, that option is subject to the availability and restrictions of your post office.

You can find out if your P.O. Box can accept packages from other courier services like FedEx and UPS by checking out FindPostOffice.org’s extensive post office database.

Limited Locations

P.O. Boxes are available at specific post office locations. Suppose you live in a rural area with limited post office access. In that case, you may resort to door-to-door delivery and risk losing your mail and packages. Or worse, you may need to travel far to pick up your mail.

Looking for a post office to handle your mail can be time-consuming, considering there are thousands of these post offices nationwide. But don’t worry! FindPostOffice.org can help you find and connect with a post office near you.

How Much Does It Cost to Have a P.O. Box?

The cost of having a P.O. Box depends on various factors, including the box size, rental period, and location. Depending on your area, you can pay as little as $4.50 monthly for an extra small box.

Here are vital factors that influence the cost of a P.O. Box:

P.O. Box Size Options

When renting a U.S. Postal Service P.O. Box, you can choose from a range of box sizes offered by most post offices. PO box sizes generally range from extra small (size 1) to extra large (size 5), with most having a depth of 14.75 inches.

That said, not all sizes are available and the same in all locations. Pricing for each box size can be different, too. Check FindPostOffice.org’s extensive facility database to determine your nearest post office’s available P.O. box sizes and prices.

Larger Packages for P.O. Boxes

If your P.O. Box isn’t big enough to fit all of your mail and packages, you have several options:

  • Pick up from the Counter: When your parcels are too large to fit inside your P.O. Box, you’ll receive a notice from your post office. You can receive overflow packages during your post office’s regular operating hours.
  • Secure Parcel Locker: Some post offices offer secure parcel lockers besides P.O. Boxes. This locker lets you conveniently store and retrieve packages at a time that best fits your schedule.
  • Street Addressing: Other post offices offer premium PO Box Services known as “Street Addressing,” which allows you to use the lobby’s street address followed by your PO Box number. These services enable you to receive large shipments, even from private carriers like UPS and FedEx.

XS – Size 1

The extra small PO Box, known as size 1, has dimensions measuring 3” x 5.5”. It can accommodate 10 to 15 letters and three rolled magazines.

Starting at $4.50 a month, extra small P.O. Boxes can be cost-effective if you need to check your box frequently and if you need a dedicated mailing address.

S – Size 2

Size 2 P.O. Boxes offer a slightly larger capacity to accommodate various mail items. It measures 5” x 5.5” and can hold over 15 letters, five rolled magazines, or a small Priority Mail Flat Rate box (8.68” x 5.43” x 1.75”).

Small P.O. Boxes start at a monthly price of $5.83, perfect if you receive multiple letters, bills, and a few bubble envelopes or magazines regularly.

M – Size 3

Medium-size boxes measure 5.5” x 11”, offering increased capacity for large envelopes, stacks of magazines, and even two small Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes.

Expect to pay $8.67 for a size 3 box. Rent this P.O. Box when you want to preserve the condition of your parcels, as it allows you to receive them without the need to roll or fold these parcels.

L – Size 4

If you need space to accommodate small and medium Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes along with 10 to 15 letters, choose the Large PO Box. Size 4 boxes measure 11” x 11” with a monthly price of $12.83.

Large P.O. Boxes can give you peace of mind that your packages are stored securely yet still have ample space to prevent creases and damage to essential documents and larger parcels.

XL – Size 5

At $22.50 monthly, extra-large boxes give you the most space to accommodate significant mail volumes or more oversized items. This box measures 12” x 22.5”, making it the most cost-effective choice if you frequently receive a high volume of packages.

Size 5 P.O. Boxes can also be worth considering if you run an eCommerce business or like to shop from one, as they have sufficient room to receive and store order supplies.

Length of Rental Time

The length of time or rental period for a P.O. Box can range from three months to a year, with some post offices offering longer rental terms. Generally, renting P.O. Boxes for extended periods is cheaper due to discounted rates than renewing every three months.

3-Months in a Competitive Location

For a three-month rental in a competitive location, the cost may range from $39 to $367, depending on the P.O. Box size.

3-Months in a MarketDominant Location

In a market-dominant location, the three-month rental cost can range from $17 to $303, depending on the size of the box.

6-Months in a Competitive Location

Renting a P.O. Box for six months in a competitive location can cost anywhere from $69 to $639, depending on the box size.

6-Months in a MarketDominant Location

In a market-dominant location, the six-month rental cost might range from $27 to $505, depending on the P.O. Box size.

Geographical Location

The cost of a PO Box can vary based on the location of the post office. Competitive locations or areas with high demand might have slightly higher rental fees than places where USPS is market dominant.

Here’s the average cost per month you’re looking at when renting a P.O. Box based on a 3- and 6-month rental period and the location’s competitiveness:

Size 1Size 2Size 3Size 4Size 5
Competitive 3-Month Period$18.22$23.37$37.15$44.24$62.02
Market-Dominant 3-Month Period$8.90$12.57$20.42$36$58.38
Competitive 6-Month Period$15.84$20.32$32.3$38.51$53.98
Market-Dominant 6-Month Period$7.26$10.30$16.83$30.07$48.54

Note that these average prices are based on USPS’s June 14, 2023 price list and are subject to change. To determine your area’s specific P.O. Box prices, visit FindPostOffice.org.

Additional Fees

In addition to the rental fee, additional fees may be associated with renting a P.O. Box. For instance, a $5 deposit may be required for each key you need. There’s also a $10 fee per key if you need a duplication or replacement.

You can expect a $25 fee when you need a lock replacement. This $25 fee also applies during late payments. However, no deposits are required for your first two keys if your P.O. Box is in a competitive location.

How Much Is a P.O. Box per Month?

Based on USPS’s current pricing and whether there are additional fees, P.O. Box prices start as low as $7.26 a month for a size 1 box on a 6-month rental term and in a market-dominant area.

However, renting a P.O. Box can cost you as much as $62.02 a month for an extra-large box on a 3-month rental period and in a competitive location, give or take $5 to $25, depending on whether there are additional fees.

The USPS Premium PO Box Services

As mentioned before, in addition to the standard P.O. Box services, USPS also offers premium services that provide added convenience and benefits. 

Using a Street Address

In locations with Premium P.O. Box Service and Street Addressing, you can use either the street address of the post office where your PO Box is located or your PO Box address as your mailing address.

Street Addressing allows you to order online and receive package deliveries from private carriers like UPS, FedEx, DHL, or Amazon, which require a street address for delivery.

However, if you’ve signed the customer agreement, you shouldn’t submit a change of address (COA) from your P.O. Box to the associated street-style address. Both addresses will ensure that your parcels will be delivered to your P.O. Box, ensuring you receive all your mail and packages conveniently.

No Key Deposit

When opening a new P.O. Box online, you generally pay your rental period fee plus $2 for the key deposit. Fortunately, if your P.O. Box is in a competitive area and your post office offers premium services, you don’t have to pay for your first two keys.

Keeping Your Signature

Not all packages must be signed when you receive them, as the sender can choose whether a signature is required. However, you may need to sign specific parcels, such as essential documents or firearms, to indemnify the shipper from liability.

With premium services, USPS can keep your signature on file for convenient delivery confirmation or registered mail items. This feature helps reduce the amount of time you need to wait in line to sign your name.

Longer Hours

USPS Premium P.O. Box service provides extended business hours, with some post offices offering 24-hour lobby access. This convenient feature lets you access your P.O. Box and collect your mail at more convenient times.

What Options Do I Have for Making a Payment on My P.O. Box?

When making a payment for your P.O. Box, you have four convenient options to choose from:

  • Online Payment: Easily renew your P.O. Box service by visiting the P.O. Boxes Online application page. Click “Renew” to access the “Manage P.O. Box” page and select “Renew P.O. Box” for a one-time payment.
  • Self-Service Kiosk (SSK): Locate a nearby self-service kiosk using FindPostOffice.org’s “Find USPS Locations” tool and make your payment conveniently.
  • Payment by Mail: You can write a check or send a money order payable to USPS to the postmaster at the location of your P.O. Box. Don’t forget to include your P.O. Box number on the memo line if you’re issuing a check.
  • In-Person Payment: You can pay traditionally by visiting your P.O. Box’s post office. You can pay using cash, a debit card, a check, or a credit card.

How Can I Get a P.O. Box?

Obtaining a P.O. Box is straightforward. You can apply for a P.O. Box online or visit your local post office. USPS must verify your identity and real street address during the application process.

Here are important notes to remember when you apply:

  • There can only be one official or primary box holder.
  • Spouses can complete one PS Form 1093 and present two forms of identification.
  • You must list the other individuals who will use the box on PS Form 1093 and provide two forms of identification.
  • The official box holder can file a change of address (COA) order.

Go Online

To start your P.O. Box application online, visit the USPS website at usps.com and navigate to the P.O. Box section. Then, follow these steps:

  1. Search for an available P.O. Box by entering your permanent physical address or ZIP Code under “Reserve a New PO Box.”
  2. Choose an available P.O. Box location from the list or map.
  3. Select your desired P.O. Box size and preferred rental term.
  4. Complete the PO Box Online Application (PS Form 1093) and agree to the terms and conditions.
  5. Provide payment information and select the preferred payment method.
  6. Review the refund policy and accept it if applicable.
  7. Double-check your application and payment details for accuracy.
  8. Submit your P.O. Box application.
  9. After submission, view the confirmation page with your order details and activation instructions.
  10. Within 30 days, bring the printed PS Form 1093 and two acceptable forms of ID to the reserved post office location to receive your keys or box combination.

Go in Person

If you want to inquire about additional information on P.O. Boxes and their policies, you can visit your local post office. The post office staff will assist you in completing your application.

Here are the steps to apply at a post office:

  1. Print a copy of the PS Form 1093 and complete all the required information.
  2. Bring a copy of the completed form and two acceptable forms of identification to your local post office.

That’s it! It’s essential to remember that the post office where you’re submitting your application can be different from your desired P.O. Box location.

You must also ensure that the identification you bring includes one acceptable primary form and one acceptable secondary form. 

Lastly, supplying false information or refusing to provide the required information may result in your application’s rejection or the discontinuation of your service.

Acceptable Types of ID to Rent a P.O. Box

To rent a P.O. Box, you must provide specific forms of identification.

Photo ID

Acceptable forms of photo ID for the P.O. Box application must include a clear photograph. These primary forms of U.S. identification include:

  • U.S. government-issued U.S. access cards, such as a USAccess card or personal identity verification (PIV) card
  • Tribal identification card
  • U.S. Certificate of Citizenship or Naturalization
  • U.S. permanent resident or other identification cards issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
  • Uniformed Service ID card
  • U.S. Department of Defense Common Access Card (CAC)
  • State, territory, or tribal nondriver’s identification card
  • State-, territory-, or tribal-issued driver’s license
  • Passport
  • Matricula Consular (Mexico)
  • NEXUS (Canada)
  • U.S. Corporate Identification (limited cases)
  • U.S. University Identification (limited cases)

Non-photo ID

Secondary forms of ID are required if you don’t have a photo ID or to verify the validity of your address. You can present two forms of nonphoto identification, which include:

  • Lease, mortgage, or deed of trust
  • Voter or vehicle registration card
  • Home or vehicle insurance policy
  • Form I-94, Arrival and Departure Record

P.O. Box Near Me

You can use the “Find USPS Locations” feature on FindPostOffice.org to find a post office in New York, Georgia, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Colorado, and other states that has P.O. Boxes. Just follow these steps:

  1. Enter your city and state name or ZIP code.
  2. Select the desired “Location Types.”
  3. Choose the radius area for your search.
  4. Click the “Find” button.

Are P.O. Box Rental Fees Eligible for a Refund?

When renting a P.O. Box, you must pay the entire rental period fee upfront. However, if you decide to close your P.O. Box before the end of the rental term, you may be eligible for a partial refund. The refund amount will depend on how long you have had the box.

If you wish to request a refund for your PO Box rental fee, follow these guidelines based on the status of your box:

How to Request a Refund — Inactive P.O. Boxes

The USPS categorizes P.O. Boxes as “inactive” if you haven’t used them in 30 days or never picked up the keys, regardless of your rental term. In these scenarios, you’ll be eligible for an automatic full refund.

However, this refund policy only applies to P.O. Boxes reserved online after the launch of the PO Box Online (POBOL) service on June 25, 2017.

Requesting a Refund — Active PO Boxes

The P.O. Box refund policy for active boxes depends on your rental term. Generally, you aren’t eligible for a full refund once you pick up your box’s keys, regardless of the rental period.

That said, you can request a partial refund depending on the duration of the box usage on semi- and annual rental terms.

For a 6-month box, here are the refund guidelines:

  • You get 50% of your payment when you request a refund within the first three months.
  • After the beginning of the fourth month, you will no longer receive a payment refund. 

Here are the guidelines for a 12-month box:

  • Within the first three months, you can get a partial refund of 75% of the payment.
  • You only get 50% of your payment if you request a refund during months four through six.
  • You’re still eligible for a 25% payment refund during months seven through nine.
  • After the beginning of the tenth month, you’re no longer eligible for a refund.

You can contact your local post office if you need more information regarding the refund policy for P.O. Boxes. To find the nearest post office in your location, visit FindPostOffice.org.

Alternative to P.O. Boxes

Alternative options are available if a USPS P.O. Box doesn’t meet your needs. Private mailbox services, such as those offered by shipping and business centers, can provide similar benefits like package forwarding and mail scanning.

If you get a P.O. Box to protect your information and sensitive documents, you can consider virtual P.O. Boxes. Unlike traditional boxes, virtual boxes allow you to receive digital mail, which you can access from your phone or computer.

Other Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Is a P.O. box free?

No, P.O. Boxes are generally not free. They involve a monthly rental fee based on the box size, rental period, and location. However, there are situations where you may be able to get a free P.O. Box, such as when you don’t receive carrier delivery or if you’re homeless.

  1. How frequently do I have to pay for my P.O. Box?

You must pay the monthly rental fee for your P.O. Box regularly to maintain its active status. How frequently you pay depends on your rental term. For 6- or 12-month periods, you can renew automatically.

  1. Can I renew my P.O. Box online, or do I have to do it in person?

Either. P.O. Box renewals can typically be done online through the USPS website and in person at your local post office.

  1. When do I need to pay my P.O. Box account renewal fee?

To keep your P.O. Box active, submit your payments when they are due by the 10th of the month. If you don’t, USPS may close your P.O. Box on the 11th of the month.

  1. What is a ghost address?

Your P.O. Box is a ghost address. Ghost addresses refer to alternative locations different from your residential address.

  1. What are USPS Flat Rate boxes?

USPS Flat Rate boxes are shipping boxes offered by the United States Postal Service for Priority Mail shipments. Flat Rate boxes allow you to maximize the shipping value, letting you send items at a consistent flat rate.

  1. Which carriers will deliver to a P.O. Box?

Technically, only USPS can deliver mail and packages to a P.O. Box. However, Street Addressing can allow you to receive packages from private carriers if they follow USPS’s mailing guidelines.

  1. Is getting a P.O. Box worth it?

Generally speaking, renting a P.O. Box is worth it, especially if you receive parcels frequently. You must also factor in the box size, rental terms, and location, as they influence P.O. Box pricing.

  1. Is it cheaper to get a P.O. Box at USPS or UPS?

USPS P.O. Boxes are generally cheaper than UPS boxes. This is considering that UPS boxes only have three sizes, which means you need to rent more if you receive large volumes of mail regularly. UPS mailboxes also have additional fees, like setup charges, which make them more expensive.

  1. Did P.O. Box Prices go up?

USPS pricing tends to change annually, and P.O. Box prices did increase. There’s been a 6.5% price hike in P.O. Boxes, which can be around $4 to $40, depending on the box size and location.

Get your own P.O. Box

Do you want to avoid missed deliveries, cluttered mailboxes, or worse, having your packages stolen? It’s time to get your own P.O. Box. Keep your privacy and secure your parcels with a P.O. Box, which you can access at your convenience.

Take the first step by visiting FindPostOffice.org, the go-to tool for locating a nearby post office that offers P.O. Box services.