P.O. Box for Business

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March 26, 2024

USPS (United States Postal Service) operates more than 33,000 retail locations, serves 152.7 million residences and 12.7 million businesses — usually six days per week — and attracts 10 million daily visitors to USPS.com.

These figures suggest that the demand for P.O. (post office) boxes is still high.

Suppose you are a business owner who frequently travels or receives regular mail. In that case, securing a P.O. box can be an optimal solution for your mailing needs.

But how do P.O. boxes work for businesses? What benefits can you expect from these mailboxes? What sizes are available?

This article explains how P.O. boxes can help safeguard your mail at a post office and how much renting one costs. 

It also discusses the application process for a P.O. box and its associated limitations.

If you want to locate a post office that offers a P.O. Box, FindPostOffice.org’s online search tool will help you find a postal facility near you.

The Basics: P.O. Boxes for Business

In today’s e-commerce, using P.O. Boxes for business has become integral to logistics and communication. The following sections explore the crucial aspects of using P.O. Boxes for business purposes.

What Is a P.O. Box?

A P.O. box is a sealed, numbered box at the post office used for storing mail until you can collect it.

Is a P.O. Box Good for Business?

A P.O. Box can provide value for some businesses, offering a range of benefits such as security, privacy, and a separate mailing address. However, its suitability to the business depends on the specific needs and nature of the enterprise.

Use P.O. Boxes, Mail Pickup, and Forwarding Services

Mail pickup, P.O. boxes, and forwarding options can streamline businesses’ mail management.

Premium Forwarding Service Commercial lets business customers with an active P.O. box or street address temporarily forward all mail to their local business address via Priority Mail Express or Priority Mail.

This forwarding service is ideal for remote businesses or frequent travelers, ensuring they receive crucial mail wherever they go.

How Do Business P.O. Boxes Work?

Whether you run a side hustle or a physical store, having a professional address that P.O. boxes offer can help keep your personal and business lives separate. 

USPS vs. Private Service Boxes

An alternative option to renting a USPS P.O. box is setting up boxes with private services, like the UPS’ (United Parcel Service’s) The UPS Store.

Private services let you receive mail and packages using the private center’s street address or a P.O. Box number.

These centers provide 24/7 access, all-carrier delivery acceptance, mail holding, mail forwarding, and store supplies. Some also let you call ahead to check if you have any packages.

Meanwhile, virtual services or mail-forwarding firms allow you to set up a business address and receive mail at your home location.

Why Should You Reserve a P.O. Box?

P.O. Box rental has several pros and cons. It is essential to understand them to help determine whether P.O. boxes can resolve mail management problems. 

The following sections explain the potential benefits of renting a P.O. Box.

Secure Your Mail at a Post Office

You can safely store your personal or small business mail in a P.O. box. Here’s how to rent a P.O. box:

  1. Reserve online: Locate, reserve, and purchase a box at a nearby post office.
  2. Pick up your keys on site: Submit a completed application plus two forms of I.D. to the local post office (where your box is) to obtain your keys.
  3. Get mail at a time that fits your schedule: Flexible hours let you check your P.O. box when convenient.

Business Mailboxes

The UPS Store, a private mailbox provider, offers business mailboxes to its customers. These commercial or business address mailboxes are postal mailboxes used by organizations and firms to store and manage mail and parcels.

A UPS business mailbox has an actual street address, providing one-stop access to mailing services a small business needs.

Here’s What You Get:

Here are some features you can get when accessing a business mailbox at The UPS Store:

  • An actual street address for your small business
  • 24-hour access at select The UPS Store branches
  • Package acceptance from all shipping companies
  • Mail and package receipt confirmation
  • Mail forwarding and holding
  • Call-in Mail Check for prompt delivery progress reports

Business Mail Pickup

Suppose you receive a very high volume of mail that P.O. boxes can’t hold. You can reserve a timeslot to pick up mail or packages at your local post office.

Why Should You Get Mail Pickup?

Here are some reasons to use Business Mail pickup services:

  • You receive more mail than fits in that largest P.O. box.
  • Multiple mail pick-ups would improve business operations.
  • You’re awaiting the availability of a P.O. box.
  • As your business grows, you are considering relocating.

Premium Forwarding Service Commercial

USPS reships mail by Priority Mail or Priority Mail Express to another business address in bulk on a scheduled basis.

Features

One of the primary reasons business customers choose Premium Forwarding Service Commercial is to speed up delivery to a subsequent location. 

This feature enables businesses to optimize operations and allocate staffing resources to process incoming mail volume.

Fees

As of 2023, you might pay the following fees to access Forwarding services:

  • Premium Forwarding Services
    • Residential (Priority Mail Only)
      • Enrollment (retail): $25.45
      • Enrollment (online): $23.40
      • Weekly shipment charge: $25.45
    • Commercial (Priority Mail or Priority Mail Express)
      • Shipment charge (sacks): Costs vary depending on weight and location
      • Annual Enrollment (online): $23.40
      • Priority Mail Express
        • Full Tray: $129.10
        • Half Tray: $65.15
      • Priority Mail
        • Full Tray: $51.90
        • Half Tray: $28.40
  • Extended Mail Forwarding
    • Extension Period
      • 6 Months: $19.95
      • 12 Months: $29.95
      • 18 Months: $39.95

Get Started: Why Rent a P.O. Box?

As mentioned, there are various reasons to open a USPS PO box. For instance, P.O. boxes can provide privacy, security, and flexibility to your mail.

Security

USPS holds your parcels and mail at your preferred post office. Only you or a designated individual you specify has access to these items. 

You can rely on this security feature, especially when expecting high-value letters or mail.

Privacy

Consider a P.O. Box as a safe situated outside your home. With a P.O. Box, you can accept confidential and essential documents without the shipper knowing your home address.

Flexibility

You can select various P.O. box sizes and rental terms, allowing you to choose how you want to receive your mail. 

Additional Benefits of Renting a P.O. Box

Aside from the above advantages, renting a P.O. Box may benefit small businesses. 

A P.O. Box offers a business mailing address and keeps private and business activities separate. In addition, P.O. Box mail is usually delivered earlier than mail sent to a residence or business.

Where a P.O. Box Won’t Work

To prevent fraud, some government agencies and private organizations require your street address before allowing any transactions. 

For example, you must use a street address to incorporate your small business or renew your incorporation.

Many creditors and suppliers require a street address to verify your identity and locate you if you ever leave town.

P.O. Boxes Aren’t Real Street Addresses

Unless you apply for USPS Premium P.O. Box Services offering an actual street address, a P.O. Box address isn’t a real one. 

P.O. Boxes Can’t Be Used for Different Business Registration Needs

Incorporating a business in the U.S. requires a business address.

So, a P.O. box address may not work for registering companies in some states, filing tax returns, or setting up a business bank account. 

P.O. Box Size Options: What P.O. Box Size Should I Get for a Business?

One factor to consider when renting a P.O. Box is the box size. It will help to determine whether the box size fits your package and mail management goals. 

Below are the P.O. Box sizes USPS offers, including their features:

XS: Size 1

These boxes measure 3 inches by 5.5 inches, accommodating three rolled magazines and around 10 to 15 letters.

What Fits?

The extra-small (XS) P.O. Box is ideal for households or small business owners looking for a P.O. Box address. 

They can monitor their box regularly to ensure it is not overloaded with mail.

S: Size 2

The compact (S) boxes measure 5 inches by 5.5 inches. They can accommodate five rolled magazines, over 15 letters, or even a small Priority Mail Flat Rate box.

What Fits?

The compact P.O. Box is perfect for individuals and small enterprises receiving letters, numerous bills, and occasional magazines or bubble envelopes during the week.

M: Size 3

Medium (M) boxes measure 5.5 inches by 11 inches. They are suitable for accommodating stacked magazines, envelopes, and two small Priority Mail flat-rate boxes.

What Fits?

The USPS medium-sized P.O. Box is an excellent choice for customers who receive a large volume of mail and need to store magazines and most larger envelopes without folding them.

L: Size 4

A sizable (L) box measures 11 inches by 11 inches. It can hold a range of 10 to 15 letters and small and medium Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes.

What Fits?

Large P.O. Boxes are ideal for small business owners who receive packages, boxes, or letters daily.

XL: Size 5

XL (extra large) boxes can hold multiple parcels. An XL box measures 12 inches by 22.5 inches.

What Fits?

The extra-large P.O. Box is a good choice for small business owners who get a large volume of mail and parcels of different sizes.

The size is also ideal for a household regularly receiving items from online vendors.

Larger Packages for P.O. Boxes

Here’s what to expect when you receive large packages that do not fit into your P.O. Box:

  • You can pick up your package from a USPS parcel locker anytime, provided the post office lobby is open.
  • You can get a slip to get them at the counter during standard business hours.

Note: Most P.O. Boxes measure 14.75 inches in depth. Still, sizes and prices between USPS facilities may differ based on the post office’s location.

Payments

Here are three essential things to remember about P.O. Box payments:

  • USPS will cancel your P.O. Box service if the post office doesn’t receive payment 10 days after the due date.

In that case, the post office will return all incoming mail or packages to senders.

  • You must pay in person to reopen your box. You might be charged a handling fee or a lock change aside from unpaid P.O. Box fees.

Renew on time to avoid this inconvenience and the additional charges.

  • Suppose you chose a three-month payment term. In that case, you should sign up for automatic renewal. 

USPS will bill your card every three months automatically.

How Frequently Do I Have to Pay for My P.O. Box?

You have three rental terms for a P.O. Box: three, six, or twelve months. Each agreement specifies payment terms and conditions. 

For example, a three-month payment term requires you to agree to automatic renewals without an opt-out option. 

In contrast, you can refuse the auto-renewal if you select a six- or 12-month contract.

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

You have four different options for making a P.O. Box payment:

  • Pay via mail: Submit a check or money order addressed to “U.S. Postal Service” to the postmaster of the area in which your P.O. box is located. Put your P.O. Box number on the check’s memo line.
  • Pay at an SSK (self-service kiosk): You can locate an SSK using FindPostOffice.org’s search tool.
  • Online with a debit or credit card: Visit the P.O. Boxes online application page and click “Renew” on the “Manage PO Box” section. Then, select “Renew PO Box” to make a one-time payment. 

You can access this feature 30 days before your next payment is due. 

Note: The USPS system lets you store up to three debit or credit cards safely and conveniently when you pay with a credit or debit card.

  • Pay in person: Pay at the local post office managing your P.O. box using a check, credit card, cash, or debit card.

Can I Renew My P.O. Box Online, or Do I Have To Do It in Person?

There are four ways to renew a P.O. Box:

  • At a self-service kiosk: You can locate participating retail facilities offering SSKs using FindPostOffice.org’s directory.
  • Online with a debit or credit card: Visit the P.O. Boxes Online application page and choose “Renew.” This step takes you to the “Manage PO Box” page. Then, select “Renew P.O. Box.” 

This feature is accessible 30 days before the due date of your next payment.

  • Renew by mail: Write a check or money order payable to the “U.S. Postal Service” or the postmaster of the area where your  P.O. box is located.
  • Visit the post Office where your box is located: Pay by credit card, cash, or check.

When Do I Need To Pay My P.O. Box Account Renewal Fee?

Pay your balance on the 10th of the month when it’s due.

The post office will terminate your P.O. Box rental on the 11th of the month unless you meet the payment deadline.

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

You pay for a P.O. Box rental upfront. If you close your box, you may qualify for a partial refund, depending on how long you’ve used it.

USPS lets you request a partial refund for active 6- or 12-month boxes online.

How Do I Start My Own Business P.O. Box?

To rent a post office box for mail delivery, you must decide on a few things, such as the box size and location. The following sections discuss these factors briefly.

How To Choose Your Location

As discussed earlier, location is a factor to consider when getting a P.O. box.

You can choose a P.O. box in a post office near your residence or workplace, whichever is more convenient. But you can also get a P.O. box in other places, even if your home or business address is in another state.

Fill Out the Paperwork

You must provide two forms of ID in most cases. One must be a business-, government-, or school-issued photo I.D., like a company employee badge, driver’s license, or passport. 

Additionally, you will need a secondary I.D., such as a utility bill, voter registration card, business card, or mortgage or rent document.

Access and Services for Your P.O. Box

The following sections explain how to optimize your P.O. Box access and services for convenience and efficiency, ensuring this USPS service meets your unique needs.

“I Recently Opened a P.O. Box. How Do I Get My P.O. Box Number and the Keys for My Box?”

You will get two keys for your box after completing the following tasks:

  • Reserve the P.O. box
  • Complete and submit PS Form 1093 (P.O. Box registration form)
  • Pay the rental fee
  • Verify your two forms of valid I.D. at the retail location that holds your box

If you want more than two keys, you can order more for an additional fee.

“Can I Access My P.O. Box Any Time of the Day?”

Most P.O. box locations offer 24/7 access to your P.O. box. However, hours vary by post office location. Check the operating schedule at the facility where you intend to rent a P.O. box.

“I Am a Small Business Owner. Are There Additional Features or Services I Can Get With My P.O. Box?”

Suppose you operate a small business. In that case, you can access Caller Service, a USPS feature designed for customers with six or more P.O. boxes at one location. 

You can also use this option if you get a high volume of mail that may not fit in the largest P.O. box.

Say your USPS box overflows with mail. USPS holds the mail for you to pick up at your convenience.

“Can I Change My Personal Account to a Business Account or Vice-Versa?”

You can modify your personal account to a business one by clicking “Your Profile” and selecting “Edit.” 

To convert your personal account into a business account, click “Change to Business Account” at the top right of the screen.

However, you cannot turn your business account into a personal one. Instead, you should set up a separate personal account and authenticate your identity.

“How Do I Manage My P.O. Box Account Online?”

You can access and manage your P.O. Box account online by logging in with your credentials. Once logged in, you can perform these actions:

  • Edit user profile details
  • Set up a new P.O. box
  • Add or manage a credit card for payment
  • Add your current P.O. box to your online account
  • Check your online payment history

“What Is Street Addressing, and How Can I Get It for My P.O. Box?”

Some locations offer Premium P.O. Box Services that you can combine with Street Addressing. 

This feature (Street Addressing) lets you have the following mailing addresses:

  • The street address of the post office where your P.O. box is located, followed by “#” and the box number
  • “PO Box” followed by the box number

Street Addressing facilitates package acceptance from private shipping companies, including Amazon, FedEx, UPS, and DHL, provided they comply with USPS mailing requirements.

“How Do I Close a P.O. Box if I Move?”

You can end your P.O. Box rental by doing the following:

  1. Click “Manage PO Box”
  2. Log in to your account
  3. Select the “Close/Request Refund” link next to the box

Additionally, you can close your account by notifying the post office’s retail associate of your box’s location.

After the system deactivates your P.O. Box, you can submit a Change of Address (COA) form.  

This option might help you when moving to a new business or home address.

You can get the COA form online (in the “Close/Refund Confirmation” section) or at your local post office. USPS will forward your package or mail to the new address for up to one year.

“Can I Receive Items That Need a Signature on My P.O. Box?”

Yes. USPS affixes a delivery note inside your P.O. box for items requiring your signature.

You must sign for and receive your parcel at the post office’s counter. Suppose you signed up for the free Signature on File service. In that case, USPS will leave the package in your P.O. Box.

More on P.O. Boxes

Here are additional details regarding P.O. Box:

  • You should be 18 years or older to reserve a PO Box online. The post office will validate your I.D.

If you are under 18 and want a P.O. box, check with your local post office for eligibility requirements.

  • The following are acceptable forms of ID when applying for a P.O. box:
    • Valid driver’s license or state non-driver’s I.D. card
    • Mortgage, current lease, or deed of trust
    • Vehicle or voter registration card
    • Armed forces, university, government, or recognized corporate I.D. card
    • Passport, certificate of naturalization, or alien registration card
    • Vehicle or home insurance policy

What if the P.O. Box I Want Is Not Available?

Suppose the P.O. box you want is currently unavailable. In that case, you have the following options:

  • Select another box size
  • Find a box at a different facility
  • Apply to be included on the wait list (at a post office or online)

Say you requested to be added to the waitlist. USPS will add your name to the list for the box type at your requested location.

USPS will contact you via phone or email once the box becomes available.

Note: You must reserve the box within two days. If you fail, the P.O. box will go to the next person on the waitlist.

“Can I Get a P.O. Box in a Different City or State?”

Yes. Suppose you move to another location. You can register for a P.O. box through USPS’ website or at a USPS retail facility.

Either way, the verification procedure will only proceed once you go to a local post office with a signed application and two acceptable U.S. IDs.

USPS will review your application within three days. Upon verification, a USPS representative will contact you to finalize the application process. 

After you move, you must go through the verification process at your new address.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How do I open a mailbox?

It is best to contact your nearby mailbox service provider to discuss the specific process for opening a mailbox. 

But you may have to provide two valid forms of ID, one of which should include a photograph.

UPS says one primary difference between private mailboxes and P.O. boxes is that mailboxes provide your business with an actual, physical street address. 

In contrast, a P.O. box cannot be an official address for your business for filing paperwork or a searchable site listing in Google. 

This feature can boost your business’ credibility and integrity to potential customers.

  1. What is a UPS mailbox service agreement?

The mailbox service agreement binds The UPS Store location and the primary box holder for as long the customer gets mail at that location. 

  1. How much does a mailbox agreement cost?

The answer to this question depends on which service provider you choose. For example, The UPS Store operates individually owned facilities, resulting in price differences.

  1. What is the minimum length of a UPS mailbox agreement?

The minimum length of the mailbox agreement varies depending on the policy of individually owned and operated The UPS Store facilities.

  1. How much mail can I receive in my UPS mailbox?

The answer to this question depends on your mailing requirements. The UPS Store representative can help you determine the ideal mailbox size for your business or personal needs.

  1. What happens if I receive more UPS mail than can fit in my mailbox?

Say you expect a continued increase in the volume of incoming mail. In that case, consider upgrading to a larger mailbox more suitable for your mailing needs.

  1. Can I transfer my mailbox agreement to another The UPS Store if I relocate?

Yes. But it is best to check with a nearby The UPS Store facility since each branch is individually owned and managed, and transfer policies differ.

  1. Can I receive packages in my UPS mailbox from other carriers?

Yes. You can receive parcels from any carrier through your UPS mailbox agreement.

  1. I’m moving to a different area. Can I open a UPS mailbox before arriving at my new location?

Yes. You can contact The UPS Store location where you will relocate for requirements and details.  

Say you are a mailbox customer at a different The UPS Store location. You can ask for your mail to be forwarded to your new location.

  1. Can UPS forward my mail if I am away?

Yes. The UPS Store provides mail-forwarding services for users with mailboxes. The staff members at The UPS Store can forward your mail wherever you prefer. Additional costs may apply.

  1. Can UPS hold my mail if I am away?

Yes. The UPS Store provides mail-holding services for mailbox holders. The UPS Store can hold your mail while you are away for an extended business trip or a relaxing vacation. Additional charges may apply.

  1. Can I call to check if I have UPS mail?

Yes. The UPS Store offers Call-in MailCheck for mailbox holders. This feature can help you save time and money by letting you check your items without visiting a The UPS Store facility.

  1. When can I pick up my UPS mail?

Suppose you are a mailbox holder. In that case, you can pick up your mail whenever you want.

UPS locations keep your mail secure. Most UPS sites offer 24-hour access.

  1.  Can other people pick up my mail or package at my mailbox?

Yes. You can list the names of people authorized to get mail at your mailbox. 

Each recipient must submit two valid I.D. forms to finish the required PS Form 1583.

  1. Can other people pick up my mail at my mailbox?

Yes. People can pick up your mail if you give them the key to your mailbox. 

Possessing the mailbox key constitutes evidence that the key holder is duly authorized to retrieve mailbox contents.

  1. What are UPS mailbox sizes?

UPS offers standard sizes of mailboxes at UPS stores: small, medium, and large.

  1. What is the difference between a P.O. box at the post office and a mailbox at The UPS Store?

As mentioned, a mailbox at The UPS Store offers you an actual street address, not a P.O. Box number.  

Additionally, The UPS Store offers many features that a post office might not, such as parcel acceptance from all couriers, package notification, and Call-in MailCheck, designed to save you valuable time.

  1. What does my mailing address look like?

Your mailing address is that of The UPS Store location, with the pound symbol (#) or PMB (private mailbox) indicating your box. Instead of “The UPS Store,” your name shows first.

Here’s an example:

Jane Smith
PMB XXX or # XXX
12345 Anywhere Street
Specific city, state, or ZIP 

  1. What is a virtual mailbox?

A virtual P.O. box or mailbox service lets you have a virtual business address, an actual, physical address not restricted to where you work or live. 

  1. What are the key differences between P.O. box vs. virtual office?

P.O. boxes can accommodate deliveries for residential and commercial purposes. 

On the other hand, virtual offices cater primarily to businesses wanting an official local presence, offering access 24/7 during standard business hours. 

As such, virtual offices may be an ideal solution to meet the company’s operational needs, enabling constant access during the day and night.

References

  1. Top Facts
    https://facts.usps.com/top-facts/
  2. Manage Your Business Mail
    https://www.usps.com/business/manage-mail.htm
  3. PO Boxes
    https://www.usps.com/manage/po-boxes.htm
  4. Business Mailboxes
    https://www.theupsstore.com/mailboxes/business-mailboxes
  5. Premium Forwarding Service Commercial®
    https://faq.usps.com/s/article/Premium-Forwarding-Service-Commercial-Reshipment-Service
  6. Price List
    https://pe.usps.com/text/dmm300/Notice123.htm?_gl=11hwhts9_gcl_au*MTc3ODkzMTU4Ny4xNjk3NDYxNTI0#Premium%20Forwarding%20Service
  7. Advantage — P.O. box!
    https://about.usps.com/postal-bulletin/2008/html/pb22223/html/news_005.html
  8. Premium PO Box Service Street Addressing
    https://postalpro.usps.com/mailing/competitivepoboxes
  9. PO Boxes Online Frequently Asked Questions
    https://about.usps.com/postal-bulletin/2008/html/pb22239/html/POBoxkit_004.htm
  10. Personal Mailboxes
    https://www.theupsstore.com/mailboxes/personal-mailboxes
  11. Why a mailbox is better for your small business than a PO box
    https://www.theupsstore.ca/why-a-mailbox-is-better-for-your-small-business-than-a-po-box/