Whether you run a small business, are ineligible for carrier delivery, or need more privacy when it comes to your mail, Post Office (PO) Boxes are convenient ways to secure your mailings.
Run by the United States Postal Service (USPS), PO Boxes ensure you receive your mail and packages.
Typically located in safe and secure interior spaces, PO Boxes eliminate the middleman of the delivery, giving you fast and reliable postal service.
How Much Does A PO Box Cost?
PO Boxes start at $4.33 a month and can run as high as over $21.50 a month, with the average cost being around $9 per month.
There are many cost variables when it comes to renting a PO Box, such as location, size of the box, and length of rental time.
Prices are subject to change based on the USPS’ pricing schedule.
PO Boxes must be paid in advance in three, six, or twelve-month increments.
By going to USPS.com and typing in your zip code, you can easily see what PO Box options are available near you.
If you have additional questions, you can always go to your local post office and inquire.
How Does Box Size Affect Rate?
The size of the PO Box you want to rent has a lot to do with its monthly rate.
There are five different size boxes available for rent by the USPS: extra small, small, medium, large, and extra-large.
Each has different dimensions and can hold different amounts of mail.
Extra small PO Boxes (Size 1) are 3” x 5.5” in dimension and can hold ten to fifteen letters and three rolled magazines, or under 296 cubic inches of material.
Extra small boxes are ideal for small business owners or small households.
It’s important though that if renting an extra small box, you can pick up your mail frequently, as these boxes tend to fill up fast.
Extra small PO Boxes start at $4.33 a month.
Small PO Boxes (Size 2) are 5” x 5.5” in dimension and hold 296 through 499 cubic inches in capacity or over 15 letters, 5 rolled magazines, or 1 Small Priority Mail Flat Rate Box.
A small PO Box is best for small business owners and households who receive a good amount of letters, bills, and one or two bubble envelopes or magazines throughout the course of the week.
It’s still best to empty a small PO Box frequently to avoid overflow.
Small PO Boxes start at $5.50 a month.
Medium PO Boxes (Size 3) are 5.5” x 11” and generally hold stackable large envelopes and magazines, as well as two small Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes, or 500 through 999 cubic inches.
This size box works well for small business owners and medium size households who get a lot of mail each day or are picky about their large envelopes and magazines not being folded.
Medium boxes start at $8.17 a month.
Large Boxes (Size 4) are 11” x 11” cubes, pull-out drawers that hold 1,000 through 1,999 cubic inches of mail, or the equivalent to small and medium Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes while allowing room for 10-15 more letters.
Large boxes are ideal for small business owners who regularly receive packages, boxes, or multiple letters each day or for frequent online purchasing households that still want space for regular mail.
Large boxes start at $12.33 a month.
Extra-large Boxes (Size 5) are 12” x 22.5” size pull-out drawers that hold 2,000 or more cubic inches, or multiple larger size packages.
Extra-large boxes are great for small business owners who receive multiple packages and mail of all sizes frequently, as well as for households that receive a lot of packages from online purchases.
Extra-large PO Boxes start at $21.50 a month.
How Does Location Affect Cost?
The location has a lot to do with the rate of a PO Box rental.
Market Dominant Boxes (basic or standard PO Boxes) are broken up into seven fee groups, based on zip codes.
Group 1 contains higher income and economically advanced zip codes while Group 7 contains lower-income and economically challenged zip codes. The five groups in-between fall somewhere within that spectrum.
Since PO Box rates are measured by either a three (quarterly) or six (bi-annual) month or yearly rental length, Group 1 rates range from $40 – $289 quarterly, depending on box size, or $67 – $480 bi-annually.
Depending on box size, Group 2 rates range from $32 – $238 quarterly or $54 – $395 bi-annually.
Group 3 costs anywhere from $27 – $194 every three months or $46 – $323 every six months.
Group 4 rates go from $23 – $164 quarterly or $37 – $272 bi-annually.
Group 5 rates range from $20 – $117 quarterly or $33 – $174 bi-annually.
Group 6 rates are $17 – $94 quarterly and $29 – $155 bi-annually.
Group 7 rates range from $16 – $77 every three months or $26 – $129 every six months.
There’s also a special group, Group E, that may qualify for a free PO Box if the USPS chooses not to deliver to an address that is still within the geographic delivery boundaries as deemed so by the USPS, but is still a “potential letter carrier delivery point of service.”
Customers may also qualify if they do not “receive letter carrier delivery via an out-of-bounds delivery receptacle.”
However, fee groups are not set in stone, and sometimes zip codes are moved into different groups.
The Manager of Special Services can move a zip code into either the next lowest or highest group once a year if they deem it appropriate.
PO Box renters do not have to pay any added fee for this until the next billing cycle.
They are also not eligible for retro pay if their zip code is moved into a lower group.
Are Only Basic Delivery Services Available With A PO Box?
In addition to the basic PO Box services provided with the Market Dominant groups, some locations have started Competitive PO Box services.
Though not available everywhere, Competitive PO Box services allow for extra features that the Market Dominant services don’t provide.
These service enhancements include electronic notification upon receipt of mail, alternate street address format use, signature on file for delivery of certain mail, and may even include additional hours of access and/or earlier availability of mail in some locations.
Competitive PO Box service is provided to those located within the service area of a competitive mailbox service provider, while the Market Dominant PO Box service is for customers located in areas not served by a nearby competitor, such as Fed-Ex, UPS, or DHL.
There are fifteen fee groups (C30 – C44) for Competitive PO Box service, with three month rental prices ranging from $37 – $86 for Box 1, $48 – $155 for Box 2, $75 – $201 for Box 3, $90 – $230 for Box 4, and $125 – $345 for Box 5.
Check with your local post office to see if Competitive PO Box services are available to you.
Are There Any Additional Fees?
There are only a few additional fees when signing up for a PO Box.
These include a $1.00 deposit on each issued key, while additional keys, duplicate keys, and replacement keys cost $4.40 each.
A PO Box lock replacement costs $11.00 each if initiating lock changes.
How Do You Sign Up For A PO Box?
To sign up for a PO Box, first, use the “Find a PO Box Near You” feature to find a desired location.
After choosing where you’d like to rent the PO Box and for how long, then you must complete the online application, along with your payment and billing information.
Within 30 days of submitting your application online, bring a printed version, along with two valid forms of ID to the location you’d like your PO Box to be located, and speak with a post office representative.
Valid forms of ID must be current and at least one form must have a photograph.
Examples of valid forms of ID include a valid driver’s license or state non-driver’s identification card, and armed forces, government, university, or recognized corporate identification card, a passport, alien registration card, or certificate of naturalization, current lease, mortgage, or deed of trust, a voter or vehicle registration card, a copy of your home or vehicle insurance policy.
If online access isn’t available to you, you may also fill out a Form 1093, and bring it to the local post office, along with your two forms of valid ID.
In addition, spouses may complete and sign one Form 1093, but each spouse must still present two items of valid identification.
Minors are eligible for a PO Box, as long as a parent or guardian lists the names and ages of each minor on Form 1093.
Anyone else that the PO Box renter wants to give access permission to must be listed on Form 1093 and must also present two items of valid identification to the post office.
If you have a small business and would like employees to have access to the PO Box, they must also be listed on Form 1093, and each of those people must have two valid forms of identification and must be able to, upon request, present their ID to the Postal Service.
What Are The Advantages Of Using A PO Box?
There are many advantages to renting a PO Box, but the main appeals are privacy and security, especially if living in an apartment building or complex where multiple people reside.
Mail and packages in these locations can often get lost, misplaced, mishandled, or even stolen.
The assurance that you’ll always receive your mail without having to go look for it is comforting and a big draw for many PO Box renters.
Other advantages include convenience, as most PO Box locations are accessible 24/7.
This means you won’t need to adjust your schedule or hurry through your day to get to the post office before it closes.
For small business owners, PO Boxes are ideal, as they provide a secure way to separate your business and personal life.
Besides accruing much more mail when running a business, you don’t always want customers or clients to know your personal address.
This is a major bonus when renting a PO Box.
Plus, having a PO Box address looks more professional than using a personal home address.
You’ll also save your post office carrier a lot of trouble by opting for a PO Box for your business, as this avoids carriers having to make multiple and extra trips for delivery.
Also, when you use a PO Box, if you receive packages too large to fit in your rented box, all you have to do is take the notification slip to the counter to pick up.
Renting a box allows you to keep your signature on file, so you won’t need to sign every time you have pickups, where applicable.
PO boxes now offer something called “Street Addressing” at some locations.
With this additional service, you can combine the address of the post office location that your PO Box is at with your actual PO Box address, using it as your mailing address.
This allows shipments from carriers like FedEx, UPS, Amazon, and DHL to be deliverable to you.
Street Addressing is a great service for small business owners.
Are PO Box Payments Refundable?
Yes, but there are stipulations.
Three-month payments are not refundable, but the box can still be easily closed online if needed.
Six and twelve-month PO Box payments are refundable if you decide to close your box service.
Because payments are paid in advance, however, you’ll get refunded for the amount of time you didn’t use on the advanced payment, in three-month increments.
For example, if you signed a six-month rental agreement and want to close it after two months, you’ll get back 50% of your payment, as you’ll still need to pay for the first full three months.
If you signed a twelve-month agreement and want to close it after two months, you’ll be refunded 75% of your payment.