P.O. Boxes have existed since there has been mail to deliver. Getting a P.O. Box is considered one of the safest ways to receive and manage mail. You can get your mail at a location other than your home, which guarantees a safe delivery and prevents any theft activity. However, people often wonder how much a P.O. Box costs. Let's dive deeper into this and answer the commonly asked question: how much does a P.O. Box cost?
How do P.O. Boxes Work?
Before we explain the common P.O. Box prices, let's take a look at what a P.O. Box actually is. A P.O. Box, or post office box, is a lockable mailbox that is in a post office location, usually in the post office's lobby. You can rent it at the nearest post office if you cannot or do not want to receive mail directly at your home. This is a great option if you are looking for a safe place to receive your mail or want a portion of your mail, such as mail for a home-based business, diverted to a different address. You can rent such a box for three, six, or 12 months. A great thing is that most post offices offer 24-hour access, seven days a week, and come with a unique P.O. Box address. Usually, you access your P.O. Box with a lock and key. Some post office stations also have combination locks.
How much is a P.O. Box?
P.O. Box rental prices vary widely—it depends on several different factors. You can either spend as little as $15 for a 3-month rental at one of the cheapest locations, or as much as $ 345 at an expensive one. You can find a thorough overview of the pricing on the U.S. Postal Service website. You can also contact your post office location to find out if there are currently any boxes available. You can usually pay for P.O. Box rental online or at a self-service kiosk. Payments online or in person are also available.
P.O. Box price-determining factors
As mentioned above, prices vary. There are three factors that determine the cost of renting a P.O. Box: the length of time you will rent it, the size of the box, and its physical location.
Length of rental time
Depending on the post office, you can choose to rent and pay for your P.O. Box in three, six, or 12-month periods. Some post offices only offer yearlong rental terms. You can usually get the best deal if you pay upfront for 6 to 12 months. It costs much more to constantly renew the P.O. Box for shorter rental periods.
If you already know you will need your P.O. Box for at least a year, you will save money by selecting an annual rental from the start. Some post office stations also offer a "baker's dozen" promotion—you reserve a P.O. Box for 12 months and you get the 13th month for no extra cost. Keep in mind that your rental can keep renewing if you choose to have the fees charged automatically to a credit card.
The size of the box
In most cases, smaller P.O. Boxes cost less. In general, there are five sizes of P.O. Box, ranging from extra small to extra large. However, not all sizes are available in every location. The table below presents the boxes according to their sizes. Most boxes are 14.75" deep. If you want to find out what P.O. Box options are available in your area, an Interner search for "P.O. Box near me" is an easy way to find post office locations and P.O. Box companies in your area.
Box size, Dimensions, and Capacity:
Extra small (3" x 5.5", 2 rolled-up magazines or 10-15 letters)
Small (5" x 5,5", 5 rolled-up magazines or up to 15 letters)
Medium ( 5.5" x 11", Many magazines and large envelopes stacked flat)
Large (11" x 11", 2 shoe boxes, and 10-15 letters)
Extra Large (12" x 22.5", Multiple Flat Rate Boxes and parcels)
What happens when your mail exceeds the capacity of the box? It is called an overflow condition. If this is something that has happened to you, you should change to a larger box or use one or more additional boxes to receive mail.
There are two fee structures for P.O. Boxes, depending on the location. The postal service identifies these locations as either “competitive" or “market dominant."
Competitive locations for P.O. Boxes charge higher fees. Usually, the bigger the city, the more expensive the P.O. Box. For example, a small P.O. Box in a town in a rural area may cost $26 for a 3-month rental and the same sized box for the same period in a big city will cost you over $40. Also, P.O. Box prices can change annually in places where the postal service controls enough of the market to set prices without competition.
Summing up, you will find the average P.O. Box cost depending on size, location, and rental period in the table below:
Why should I get a P.O. Box?
A P.O. Box brings you a lot of benefits that look really appealing. First of all, P.O. Boxes are fully secure. They are located inside the post office. They can only be accessed with a key or combination code. This is a huge step towards maintaining your privacy, as P.O. Boxes mask your real address.
P.O. Boxes can help you keep your home business mail separate from your personal mail. By getting a P.O. Box, you get a new mailing address that you can use for selected contracts and transactions.
You also might notice faster delivery speed. You usually receive your mail faster than you would at your home address, since the mailbox is located right inside the post office lobby. Your new mail is usually available before noon and you don't need to wait for the postman. Finally, it's a great option if you move constantly. You don't have to change mailing addresses for bills, bank statements, magazine subscriptions, etc.
How to set up a P.O. Box
Setting up a P.O. Box is simple. First, you have to select a location. According to regulations, you can get a P.O. Box at most post office locations, no matter where your home or business is. Obviously, most people choose their P.O. Boxes near their home or place of business.
Once you decide on the location, select the size of your P.O. Box. You select out of the general sizes: extra small, small, medium, large, and extra-large. The price of your P.O. Box will depend on the chosen size and location. The next step is choosing a rental term and completing the one-page form to confirm your identity. You can apply online or go in person. Then, you have 30 days to activate your P.O. Box and pick up the keys. When you receive your keys, you can start sharing your new address and redirecting your mail.
Limits of P.O. Boxes
Although P.O. Boxes offer convenience, they have their limitations. These include:
- You must provide a permanent, physical address to be eligible for one. This poses an issue for nomadic people who don't maintain a traditional, permanent residence.
- In most U.S. states, you can't use a P.O. Box to register a business. You'll need a real street address to use instead.
- P.O. Boxes don't accept shipments from all carriers, such as FedEx or UPS.
Alternative to P.O. Boxes
As you can see, setting up a P.O. Box is both beneficial and affordable. P.O. Box prices vary, depending on size, location, and rental period but it's not difficult to choose the right option that will fully satisfy your needs. Some P.O. Boxes are as cheap as $13 and some extra-large boxes may even cost as much as $625.
If you need maximum convenience, you can also consider a virtual P.O. Box. It's a real street address or virtual P.O. box address you can easily access online. It has been designed for both personal and business use.
How does it work? You rent a virtual P.O. Box from Earth Class Mail, a LegalZoom company, and the virtual mailbox service delivers mail to your email as a high-resolution PDF. Getting such a P.O. Box is extremely easy.
Similar to a regular P.O. Box, you choose a mailing address where your mail will be delivered. You choose a plan, file the form, and redirect your mail. These plans start at $19 a month, similar to the price of a P.O. Box without a trip to the post office.
Interested? Check the available plans and pricing here.
LZ Virtual Mail solutions