How Much is a PO Box?
If you’re looking for a more secure option for your mail, or want to keep your home address to yourself, you should know your options, one of them being a post office or PO Box.They’re the most convenient solution for freelancers, city-dwellers, and frequent travelers, just to name a few. Here’s everything you need to know about how to get a PO Box. Wondering, “how much is a PO Box?” We’ll get into that too. There’s plenty to go over so let’s get started!
What exactly is a PO Box?
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of how much a PO Box is and how to get one, let’s first break down just what a PO Box is and how it works. A PO Box is a locked mailbox that can be accessed by key or code, depending on its location. The box is generally situated in the post office lobby and receives the mail that you don’t want to be addressed to your home.
How Much is a PO Box?
You’re probably wondering, just how much is a PO Box? There are a number of factors that go into pricing these mailboxes, such as the size and rental period. So, to figure out how much your mailbox would cost, let’s look at each element.
The location of your PO Box plays a large part in determining its price. So, when you ask yourself, “how much is a PO Box?” remember to also ask, “which post office will it be in?” Different post offices have different price codes depending on how competitive the area is. So, a PO Box in NYC will likely cost more than the same sized box in Waco, TX. This can make a huge impact on how much you'll spend on your PO Box (we’re talking hundreds of dollars each pay period), so keep that in mind when applying.
The next thing to consider when answering the question, “how much is a PO Box?” is the size you want. Depending on the post office, you can usually find PO Boxes in five sizes, ranging from Extra Small to Extra Large. Most PO Boxes are 14.75” deep.
Below you’ll find additional dimensions, their prices for each box size, and an estimation of what they can hold:
Extra Small: (3” x 5.5”) These little mailboxes can hold 10-15 letters or two rolled-up magazines. They cost $12- $75.
Small: (5” x 5.5”) Small PO Boxes hold up to 15 letters and 5 rolled magazines. You’ll pay $16-$150 for a small PO Box.
Medium: (5.5” x 11”) These mailboxes are perfect for large envelopes and magazines to be stacked flat. Expect to pay $25-$250 for a medium PO Box.
Large: (11” x 11”) Twice as tall, the large PO Box is so roomy that you can fit two shoe boxes inside and still have space for 10-15 letters. The extra space will set you back $60-$400.
Extra Large: (12” x 22.5”) The largest PO Box available holds multiple Flat Rate Boxes and parcels. Expect to pay anywhere from $106-$625 for these big PO Boxes.
The other important factor to remember when trying to calculate how much a PO Box costs is the rental payment period. Depending on the post office, you can choose to rent and pay for your mailbox in three, six, or 12 month periods. In general, you get the best deal paying for 6-12 months at a time. Since you have to pay for your entire rental upfront, decide how much you’re willing to spend before renting a PO Box.
If you’re wondering, “how much is a PO Box?” then you should keep these other costs in mind. In addition to the rental fees, you’ll also have to pay a $3 deposit for the first two keys and $6 for any additional keys. Lose your keys or forget your code? That’ll set you back $20.
Why Get a PO Box?
Are you worried about the safety of your mail? A PO Box is the perfect solution. Whether it’s the Amazon packages that never made it or your neighbor’s dog’s affinity for envelopes, understanding how to get a PO Box gives you a secure option for protecting your mail.
Depending on your profession, you may want to refrain from sharing your home address. If you’re a professional blogger, for instance, receiving samples is a must, but you don’t want just anyone knowing your address. If you know how to get a PO Box, you’ll protect both the privacy of your mail and your home address.
Since your PO Box will generally reside in the lobby of the post office, you’ll have access to your mail when the post office lobby is open. Many locations offer 24/7 access to the lobby or extended hours, making checking your mail extra convenient.
One of the biggest advantages of knowing how to get a PO Box is that you’ll often receive your mail faster than you would at your home address. Since your mailbox will be right inside the post office lobby, you’ll save your mail a trip in the USPS mail van. Instead, it’ll go straight into your PO Box. Simple.
How to Get a PO Box
Ready to protect your mail with a PO Box? Thankfully, signing up is easy and you can choose to apply at your local post office or online. The process is fairly straightforward for both, but the steps are slightly different. Either way, be sure to note that there can only be one primary PO Box key holder, but you can give access to others if necessary.
How to get a PO Box Online
On the USPS PO Box page, enter your address or zip code to search for a PO Box near you. Then, select the most convenient post office from the map. When you select it, you’ll be able to see the sizes they have available along with hours and directions.
Select the size of PO Box you’re looking for and you’ll be prompted to either reserve the box or join the waitlist. If the box you want is available, you can also choose your 3-month, 6-month, or 12-month payment preference.
The rest is simple! Just fill out the online application (PS Form 1093), type in your contact and billing information and hit submit! You’ll have 30 days to confirm your identity and pick up your keys at the post office, so remember to print your form, grab two forms of acceptable U.S. identification and hop on down to the post office containing your reserved PO Box before you forget.
How to Get a PO Box In-Person
The in-person application is also a breeze. You still need to complete the online application (PS Form 1093), which you can pick up at your local post office or print out. When you go to the post office, be sure to have two forms of ID (including a photo ID) with you so that they can prove you are who you say you are.
The post office that you hand your application into doesn’t need to be the one holding your PO Box, but it does need to provide window service, so double check before heading out.
Premium PO Box Services
Want to make life even easier? The US Postal Service offers free premium services at some of their locations and they’re definitely worth asking about. From taking care of large packages to offering expanded lobby hours, these premium service are extremely helpful.
Real street address for your PO Box
If you’re an online shopper or receive a lot of large packages, you can use the street address of the post office containing your PO Box for your mailing address. For example, if your post office is on 700 Smith Avenue and your PO Box is number 27, your PO Box address would be 700 Smith Avenue #27.
This way, you’ll be able to receive mail and packages from most carriers including FedEx and UPS. There are some rules and limitations to this, so be sure to thoroughly read through the customer agreement when filling in your information.
Keep a signature on file
Post office lines are the worst. Usually, if you receive specific types of mail such as insured items that need your signature, you’ll have to go to the counter and sign for them. With USPS PO Box Premium Services, however, you keep a signature on file and avoid all of the hassle (and the lines).
Baker’s Dozen promotion
Ever bought 12 bagels and gotten an extra one for free? Well, that’s just what the post office does with their baker’s dozen promotion. Reserve your PO Box for 12 months and they’ll throw in the 13th month for free.
Waved key deposit
The USPS usually charges a deposit for the first two keys to your PO Box. Want to save a few dollars? Set up your PO Box at a post office that offers premium services since they wave this fee. Keep in mind you’ll still have to cover the $6 fee for any additional keys.
Have to work late and can’t make it to the post office during regular business hours? Not to worry. With their premium services, select locations offer extended hours to access the post office lobby and grab your mail.
Disadvantages of Getting a PO Box
Even with all of its advantages, getting a PO Box does have some drawbacks.
Not all mail is accepted
If your local post office doesn’t offer premium services, you won’t be able to receive packages or mail from any carriers other than the USPS. It’s the only company permitted to put mail into your PO Box. So, those Amazon packages or the gift basket from your great aunt will have to be delivered to your home address.
You have to pay to get a PO Box
As you’re aware, PO Boxes aren’t free. They must be paid for and renewed at specified intervals. How much is a PO Box again? Depending on your location, rental period, and the size of your PO Box, you could spend more than you want to on your mail service.
If there’s isn’t a location near you with an available PO Box, you might have to travel to pick up your mail. Not exactly ideal. You could also find that the sized PO Box you need isn’t available at your nearest post office, again causing you to go out of your way to collect your mail.
PO Box Refund Policy
So you figured out how to get a PO Box near you and reserved the best size for six months, only to be relocated for work a few months later. What do you do with your PO Box? Good news! You may be eligible for a refund. To get a refund, the USPS has two policies – one for active PO Boxes and another for inactive PO Boxes. Wondering which one yours is? If you picked up your keys, your PO Box is active.
How to request a PO Box refund
If you want a refund for your PO Box fees, you can make the request either online or in-person at the post office where your PO Box is located. Both options are fairly straight forward.
To make your request online, simply log into your USPS account and visit the “Manage Your Account” page. From there, you can close and request a refund. When making your request in-person, all you have to do is visit the post office containing your PO Box and request a refund at a service window. If you have them, remember to bring your PO Box key(s) with you!
How to get a PO Box refund: Inactive PO Boxes
Thankfully, getting a refund for a PO Box you didn’t pick up the keys for is fairly simple. After 30 days of inactivity, you should see a full refund from the post office. If you cancel within the 30 days, you still get a full refund but you’ll have to make your request first.
How to get a PO Box refund: Active PO Boxes
Refunds for active PO Boxes are slightly more complicated:
If you paid for a three-month rental, you aren’t eligible for a refund but you can still close your PO Box online.
Six-month rentals can receive a 50% refund if you close your PO Box within the first three months. After the beginning of the fourth month, you won’t be able to get a refund.
For 12-month rentals, you get a 75% refund when you close your PO Box in the first three months, a 50% refund in the first six months, and a 25% refund in the first nine months of opening it. After the start of the tenth month, you’ll no longer be eligible for any refund.
Now that you know how easy it is to get a PO Box and how much a PO Box costs, you can go ahead and secure your mail at your local post office. Remember to ask about their premium services!