Getting a PO Box in the US is a fairly simple procedure. Traditionally, you need to go into your local post office to sign up for a PO Box. However, USPS has made the process easier and now allows you to reserve a postal box over the Internet and even pay online with a credit card. We'll show you how to get a PO Box quickly without hassle.
1. Pick a PO Box Location and Size
Before you get a PO Box, you need to decide where you want your PO Box located and how big you want your mailbox to be.
PO Box Location
Location should be your primary concern when you rent a post office box. All postal boxes reside on the premise of a post office. Most people prefer a postal box close to their home or work for convenience. You can also get a PO Box in another city if you prefer the city name (eg. New York) over convenience.
Find post office locations on the USPS web site.
PO Box Size
USPS offers post office boxes in various sizes.
- Small size 1 - 3" x 5.5"
- Small size 2 - 5" x 5.5"
- Medium size 3 - 11" x 5.5"
- Large size 4 - 11" x 11"
- Large size 5 - 22.5" x 12"
Picking the right size really depends on how much mail you get, what type of mail you receive, and how often you pick up your mail. Based on some statistics plus extra padding, we estimate that a typical mailbox receives less than 6 pieces of mail per week.
- Most small size postal boxes are sufficient for personal or business mail that you pick up once a week.
- If you subscribe to more than one periodical (eg. magazines, newspapers), a medium size PO Box is likely a better choice.
- If you pick up mail once a month, a medium-large box is a good choice.
You can always get a small postal box and then upgrade to a larger one. However, USPS does not like your mailbox to overflow. If your mailbox overflows frequently, they will ask you to move to a larger box. The hassle of moving to a new box is not worth it.
Takeaway advice - you can't go wrong with a medium sized PO Box.
PO Box prices are all different depending on the location and the size. If you're looking for a postal box in an area that has less demand for the box, you will pay less. You can check PO Box pricing and availability online at USPS.
Minimum rental period is 3 months. You can pay for up to a year. If you decide to cancel before the period rental period is up, you can get refund back for the remaining unused period in 3-month increments. For example, if you rent a PO Box for 6 months and you cancel your mailbox during month 2, you will get a refund for the last 3 months.
2. Get a PO Box
Once you decide on a location and size, you are ready to get a PO Box. You can either go to the post office to get one or reserve one online. Both ways require that you fill out a Form 1583 of some sort and present two forms of IDs, one of which must have a photograph of yourself. We have a more in-depth article you can read on what Form 1583 is for and why it's required.
To get a mailbox online:
- Go to PO Boxes Online.
- Reserve a mailbox by selecting a location and a mailbox size.
- Bring two form of IDs and Form 1583 with you to the post office where your postal box is located.
- Get the keys for your box.
- Bring two forms of IDs with you.
- Go to the post office where you want your postal box located. Save yourself a trip and go online first to check if the size of the postal box you want is available.
- Get a PO Box rental form (essentially a variation of Form 1583) at the counter. Fill it out.
- Turn it in at the counter and get your keys.
3. Redirect Your Mail
Once you have your postal box, it's time to redirect your mail to this new box. You can either fill out a Change of Address Form online or pick one up at any post office. Fill it out and submit it. Your mail will then be forwarded to your new address for up to 1 year for First Class Mail.
PO Box Address Format
PO Box address format is fairly specific and is always in the form of:
PO BOX <your box number>
City, State Zipcode
Interesting Fact - The last 4 digits appended to the end of the 5-digit Zipcode+4 code, eg. 90000-1234, is usually the same as your box number.
PO boxes, however, are not always the best choice under certain circumstances. As an alternative you might want to consider Virtual Post Mail for more sophisticated uses and needs for your postal mailbox.