How To Get a PO Box (And 3 Reasons Not To)

USPS PO Boxes

Post Office boxes have been around as long as there has been mail to deliver. They’re considered a reliable and safe way to receive mail.

But these days, people are used to a different level of convenience.

The modern digital lifestyle lets you avoid banks, skip lines at restaurants, and have groceries delivered to your door.

This raises an important question: Why do you still have to go to the Post Office to check your mail?

That’s why we’ve put together this quick guide. While it might still be useful to know how to get a PO box, it’s more important to look at the future of mail delivery, how it’s changing, and how that affects you.

How to Get a PO Box in Three Easy Steps

Getting a PO box is incredibly simple. Here’s the process in just three quick steps:

Step #1: Choose a Location

One of the first considerations everyone using a PO box should consider is the location. You can get a PO box from the United States Postal Service at most of their Post Office locations, even if your home or business is in another state.

That said, most people prefer to get a postal box near their home or place of business for maximum convenience.

Step #2: Choose a Size

Once you’ve selected a location, you need to consider what size of PO box will work for you. Depending on how much mail you plan on receiving (or whether you intend to get parcels*), you’ll need to pick from the following general sizes:

  • Extra Small - 3” x 5.5” - Usually fits anywhere from 10-15 letters or two rolled magazines.
  • Small - 5” x 5.5” - Fits 15-20 letters, or up to five rolled magazines.
  • Medium - 11” x 5.5” - Big enough to accommodate larger envelopes, or even flat-stack multiple magazines
  • Large - 11” x 11” - Can fit roughly two small boxes inside, with room for letters
  • Extra Large - 22.5” x12” - Largest option, can fit most flat rate boxes or moderately sized packages

*As noted below, UPS and regular FedEx do not deliver to USPS PO boxes.

Step #3: Finalize Your Selection and Redirect Your Mail

Once you’ve picked your size and location, you’ll need to choose a lease term of six or twelve months and complete the Form 1583, a simple one-page form to confirm your identity. You will need two forms of ID, one of which must be a photo ID. Once you get your keys, you can start sharing your new address and redirecting your mail.

Overall, the process is simple and has been in use for many decades.

But should you get a PO box at all these days?

Now, 3 Reasons You Shouldn’t Get a PO Box

PO boxes are old-school. In a world that’s becoming increasingly digital, they fail to keep up. Here are three reasons why you should skip the PO box and look for a better solution:

Reason #1: PO Boxes Are Inconvenient

Is there anything in your life that you purposefully put in a spot that’s out of your way?

Probably few things, because you value convenience. Right?

Convenience is why people buy washers and dryers for their homes instead of making trips to the neighborhood laundromat, and why you order food from Grubhub. It’s much easier.

PO boxes are the pinnacle of inconvenience. You must go somewhere offsite, every day, just to check your mail. What a colossal waste of time!

And you may have to travel way out of your way to get the right size PO box.

You’re also locked into a specific rental period and might have to pay extra if you cancel too soon.

If you move your home or business and need to change your PO box, that will add even more inconvenience. You will fill out forms, pay new fees, and then wait to get confirmation in the mail.

Plus, your mail is totally inaccessible when the Post Office is closed.

If you’re looking for convenience, PO boxes shouldn’t be high on your list.

Reason #2: PO Boxes Have Limited Mail and Package Receiving Capability

FedEx and UPS will not deliver to a PO box. If you or your senders prefer one of these services to the USPS, you’re out of luck.

If you order PO box that is too small, all your mail may not fit inside.

What happens when your mail doesn’t fit, or you get a package? Well, that depends.

You may receive a note in your PO box to retrieve your mail at the service counter or get a key to a larger storage box.

If your volume of mail becomes an ongoing problem because it will not fit in your PO box, your postmaster will likely ask you to get a larger PO box size. Not only will you need to pay more per month, but you will need to change you mailing address for the new PO box number and inform all your senders.

Reason #3: The Future of the PO Box is Already Here

Believe it or not, traditional PO boxes are already obsolete. Digital mailbox options are available, and you can now have all the benefits of a PO box without stepping foot in a post office or a mailbox store.

Virtual addresses, which are sometimes called virtual PO boxes, allow you to have your mail delivered off-site like you would with a PO box. But instead of checking your box every day, an automated system scans the outside of your mail or packages and delivers the image to you digitally in your personal digital mailbox.

All you have to do is use an app or go online, choose which letters you want to forward, discard or open and scan, and then read your mail on your phone, tablet, or desktop computer.

Plus, since digital mailbox providers like iPostal1 use real street mailing addresses, you can have packages delivered via any carrier. You get to pick your address from a huge selection of locations for added flexibility. Since your mailing address is a real street address, not a PO Box, you can also use it to register your business. This will save entrepreneurs time and money, while upgrading your business image vs. using your home address for business.

Conclusion

If you’re considering a PO box for your mail, you’ll be happy to know they’re pretty easy to get.

But “easy to get” doesn’t mean convenient. You have to go to the post office to check and retrieve your mail. Who has time for that?

If you plan on receiving parcels from UPS or FedEx, or want to register your business, you might as well forget it! You’ll need a real physical address. And if you need to get a larger PO box, what a hassle!

That’s why you should consider an online PO box instead. They’re the modern solution to your mail needs and will save you time and keep you in touch with your mail, no matter where you are, either with an app or online.

Be honest. Aren’t you ready for a mailing address solution that’s super-convenient, flexible, and fully meets your personal and business needs?

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