The Pros and Cons of Renting a PO Box from the USPS

The Pros and Cons of Renting a PO Box from the USPS A PO Box is one of many additional services provided by the United States Postal Service (USPS). It is a securely locked mailbox located in a Post Office, which you can rent to receive mail and packages instead of having them delivered to your home address. What are the pros and cons of renting a PO Box from the USPS?

Renting a PO Box: Pros

Privacy and anonymity. People may want to keep their home address confidential for a number of reasons, ranging from running a business from home to not wanting to disclose their residential address for safety reasons (getting away from a domestic abuser, having a stalker, etc.). Renting a PO Box can give them this privacy, since they will be able to use their PO Box address instead of their actual residential address.

Security. All PO Boxes are securely locked, and mail and packages can only be picked by the person who rents the PO Box or people they specify. Since PO Boxes are typically located at Post Offices, there is a lower risk of tampering, mail theft, or even identity theft compared to a regular mailbox or a mail room in an apartment building. PO Boxes are also not exposed to the elements.

Permanent address. A PO Box will provide you with a stable mailing address and a centralized location to collect your mail if you travel or move frequently. If you move into a new house or apartment that is still close to the Post Office where your PO Box is located, you will not have to change the mailing address for your bank statements, bills, etc. and request mail forwarding.

Convenience and flexibility. PO Boxes are normally accessible 24/7, regardless of the operating hours of the Post Office they are located in, so you can come and get your mail whenever it’s most convenient. However, you should keep in mind that some Post Offices do not offer 24/7 access to PO Boxes.

Delivery time. Since PO Boxes are located in Post Offices, mail usually arrives there a little earlier in comparison to residential mailboxes.

Professionalism. Small businesses that can’t afford an office space may benefit from renting a PO Box because it will make them look more professional in comparison to using a home address for business. It also makes it easier for small business owners to separate their personal and professional mail.

Renting a PO Box: Cons

Cost. Renting a PO Box is a paid service. As of 2024, the starting price per month varied from $4.83 to $24, depending on the box size, and the minimum rental term was three months.

Limited space. PO Boxes come in five sizes, from XS (enough for 3 rolled magazines and 10-15 letters) to XL (holds multiple packages). If you choose the wrong size or unexpectedly receive a large package that doesn’t fit into your PO Box, you will have to pick your packages at the counter and maybe even upgrade to a larger box that will cost you more.

Limited package delivery. Private carriers like Amazon, DHL, FedEx, and UPS normally do not deliver to USPS PO Boxes. You can circumvent this by getting a Premium PO Box (at no extra fee) with additional services such as Street Addressing and Signature on File. The Street Addressing Service allows you to use the street address of the Post Office where your PO Box is located as your mailing address for the purpose of receiving packages from private carriers, and the Signature on File service authorizes the USPS to place mail in your PO Box in some cases where signature is required. However, Premium PO Boxes are available only in select Post Offices, so the service might not be accessible to you.

Verification issues. Some businesses or organizations may not accept a PO Box as a valid address, for example, for purposes such as registrations or official documents. In such a case, you will have to use your residential address.

Not always available. Since each Post Office has a limited number of PO Boxes, a PO Box of the size you need may not be available. In such a case, you can choose another box size or a different Post Office, join a waiting list – or decide that a PO Box is not worth the hassle.

Renting a PO Box, like any additional service, has its pros and cons, and it’s up to you to decide whether the pros outweigh the cons, and vice versa. We hope that the information we’ve provided in this article will help you make an informed choice that suits your specific needs, preferences, and requirements.