Getting a PO Box is a pretty simple process. 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 online. We'll show you how to get a PO Box without hassle in 3 easy steps.
Step 1. Pick a PO Box Location and Size
Before you get a PO Box, you need to decide where you want your PO Box to be located and how big you want your mailbox to be based on your expected monthly mail deliveries.
PO Box Location
Selecting your PO Box location should be your primary consideration when you rent a PO 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.
Can I get a PO Box in another state? Yes, you can also get a PO Box in another city if you prefer the city name (eg. New York) over convenience. To look for a PO Box location in another city you can learn more on the USPS website.
Overall, to find the best PO Box location you should consider the amount of mail and packages you expect to receive on a weekly and monthly basis as well as how often you willing to travel to pick up your mail and packages.
Find post office locations on the USPS website.
PO Box Size
How big is a PO Box? Across the U.S. Postal Service, PO Boxes are available in 5 sizes. However, not all Post Offices have every size. USPS offers post office boxes in various sizes.
- X Small size 1 - 3" x 5.5" - It generally fits 10-15 letter-sized envelopes or up to 2 rolled magazines.
- Small size 2 - 5" x 5.5" - It can normally accommodate 10-15 letters or up to 5 rolled magazines.
- Medium size 3 - 11" x 5.5" - The medium size is wide enough that large envelopes and magazines can be stacked flat.
- Large size 4 - 11" x 11" - Easily stacks 2 shoeboxes inside this PO Box, and still have room for 10-15 letters.
- X Large size 5 - 22.5" x 12" - This is the largest option for Flat Rate Boxes and parcels.
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.
General Guidelines For Picking a PO Box Size
- 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 - often times a PO Box isn’t for you because you expect more mail and packages than the sizes listed, another alternative is a virtual mailbox. Read to the bottom to see how a virtual mailbox can solve your overflow and travel problems you’ll get with a PO Box. Avoid the headache and get a virtual mailbox vs PO Box.
How Much is a 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.
The minimum rental period for a PO Box is 3 months; however, you can pay for a PO Box rental for up to a year. If you decide to cancel your PO Box before the rental period is up, you can get a 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.
Step 2. Get a PO Box
Once you decide on a location and size, you are ready to get a PO Box. There are two options to get a PO Box. You can either reserve a PO Box online or go to the post office in person.
Both ways require that you fill out a Form 1583 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.
Did you know that you’ll need the USPS Form 1583 for a virtual mailbox too? Since you’ll already need it you can opt for the online virtual mailbox instead.
We cover what you will need to open a PO Box online and in person below.
How To Get a PO Box Online
- To get a PO Box online Go to PO Boxes Online.
- Reserve a mailbox by selecting a location and a mailbox size.
- Bring two form of ID and Form 1583 with you to the post office where your postal box is located.
- Get the keys for your PO Box.
How To Get a PO Box In Person
- Bring two forms of ID with you.
- Go to the post office where you want your PO Box located. Save yourself a trip and go online first to check if the size of the PO 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 to your PO Box.
Step 3. Redirect Your Mail
Once you have your PO Box, the next step is to redirect your mail and packages to this new PO 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
A PO Box address format is fairly specific and is always in the form of:
PO BOX <your box number>
City, State Zipcode
Fun Fact - The last 4 digits appended to the end of the 5-digit Zipcode+4 code
Example: 90000-1234, is usually the same as your box number.
Need a Better Mailbox? Get a Virtual Mailbox!
PO boxes are not always the best choice under certain circumstances. As an alternative you might want to consider VirtualPostMail for more sophisticated uses and needs and make life easier with a virtual mailbox.
VirtualPostMail provides you with a street address to receive postal mail. The unopened envelopes are scanned so you can view your mail online at your convenience. Then, you decide whether to have the mail opened and scanned, mail forwarded, or destroyed. Managing your postal mail online is so easy; you’ll never want to handle mail the traditional way again. Get a virtual mailbox now.