Planning to move soon? Moving is a stressful and busy time. It's easy to forget you need to forward your mail. With all you have going on, changing your address is just a frustrating chore most people don't even consider while moving to a new place.
Unfortunately, if you don't change your address, you will probably end up in a world of trouble. If you use a P.O. Box, it is also a good idea to find one in your new town or state. If you need to change the location of your P.O. Box address, here is a quick rundown on how to do it.
First, what is USPS P.O. Box?
A post office box (usually called a P.O. Box) is a lockable box with a real-street address at a local post office station. A P.O. Box address is a numbered box located in a post office where a person's postal mail is kept. In most cases, it is a two- to five-digit number that represents the location of the postal box. It is commonly rented by both individuals and businesses from the post office for predefined times (three, six, or 12 months). P.O. Box is considered to be a very secure way to receive mail when you don't want to share your private address. Sometimes it is difficult for you to get your mail delivered to your home directly, and P.O. Boxes can help you make sure your mail is safely collected. Of course, you can still use your home address for private purposes and use a P.O. Box for business purposes if you want to. A Post Office Box is securely locked—it is set up for you, and only you decide who can access it. It can be as small as a drawer or much larger—it depends on your needs. Your P.O. Box is usually available in most post office lobbies. Some stations even provide 24/7 access.
How does a USPS P.O. Box work?
Using a P.O. Box is both easy to manage and affordable. First, if you want to set up your P.O. Box, find a P.O. Box location that you are comfortable with. Usually, the popular option is choosing your local post office. However, you may want to select a P.O. Box located close to your workplace or even near where you commute. So, it is up to you what location you will choose. When you sign up for a P.O. Box, you need to change your mailing address to that new box address. Changing your address guarantees that within approximately a week all your mail is going to be redirected to your new USPS P.O. Box.
How to write a P.O. Box address?
Writing out a P.O. box address is easy. First, write the recipient's first and last name in the middle of the envelope. Then, write the delivery address—this is the P.O. Box number—on the next line underneath the name.
Keep in mind that it is easier for the USPS if you leave out all punctuation; it helps keep the filtering and scanning process smooth. The last line should include the ZIP code, city, and state. The second step is providing the return address in the upper left-hand corner. Lastly, double-check the delivery address and return it to the sender's address. You should carefully look through everything you have written on the envelope.
An example of P.O. Box address format:
P.O. Box 1234
City, State 01011
USPS P.O. Box rental available sizes
There are five box sizes available for rental. The size you choose is dependent on your needs. If you don't receive much mail, the small or extra small will be enough. If you run a business and receive many packages, you may even need the extra large. Please see below the table with all the box sizes described:
If you're unable to decide on the size of the box you need, think about the type of mail you expect to receive. The frequency of mailings also matters. In case your package turns out to be larger than expected, the local USPS post office station allows you access to a larger private locker to get your packages.
USPS P.O. Box prices
Prices of USPS P.O. Boxes vary. This is why it is always a good idea to contact your local post office station and make sure about the price of the chosen box. There are two individual fee structures. One is identified as the competitive, and one is identified as the market dominant. This means that in larger cities and urban areas, P.O. Boxes are a bit more expensive than boxes in more rural locations. USPS P.O. Box rental cost depends on location, box size, and rental term length.
- Location: There are competitive and market-dominant areas. Competitive ones are allowed to charge higher fees. In fact, they often offer additional services for free. These may include a signature on file, electronic notification, etc.
- USPS P.O. Box size: There are five sizes, ranging from extra small to extra large. The bigger the box, the more expensive it usually is.
- Payment period: You can choose to rent a box for 3 and 6 months. Some USPS stations also offer a 12-month rental. The most profitable option is to pay for 6-12 months at a time.
Please note the following additional fees:
- Key deposit: $4 (plus key duplication or replacement if needed: $8); two first keys are free in competitive areas.
- Late payment or lock replacement: $23.
How to change your P.O. Box address
If you need to change your P.O. Box address, the first thing to do is submit a change of address request with USPS. You can do it online or in person at your local post office using PS form 3575.
Usually, changing your address takes anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. When you set a new P.O. Box address, your mail will be forwarded there for up to a year after your request is accepted. Keep in mind, you should still contact your family and friends to inform them of your new address.
Notify your network directly
Even with your change of address orders in effect, you may still want to ensure that important senders know your new address.
Share your new address with your colleagues, friends, and family with a simple email or text. Or if you want to get creative, mail out a postcard informing your inner circle.
Where do you need your residential address or business address updated?
Where you need to change your address will vary depending on if you're relocating your residence or business. Sit down and make a note of all the places your address could be listed. We've thought of a few important areas that we don't want you to forget about:
- Bank statements. Make sure you don't miss any important financial information. Update your address with your bank, credit card company, and other places you receive bills from.
- Your employer (or third-party human resources). Inform your employer about changes to your address to make sure tax forms and paychecks have the correct address. (even if you have direct deposit) That way, when it's time to file your tax return, it will go to the right address.
- Business registration and listings. If you change your business address, you will need to update your company's registration with local and state registrations. If your business is listed in any online or local directories, inform them of your address change as well.
- Business marketing collateral. Your company's website, marketing materials, email signatures, and business cards. As a business owner, you know everywhere your old address could be listed, from a company Facebook page to your printed marketing collateral. Update all of them.
- Driver's license and other ID cards. If you're moving your residence, you will also need to update the address on your driver's license. You'll also need to update your vehicle registration. You can do this on your state's department of motor vehicles website where you can make a change of address request.
What about mail forwarding?
If you want to change your address at USPS, you have two options. You can do it online (go to the USPS website and fill out the online form). There is a $1.10 charge for identity verification, and you need your credit card to do it.
You can also go to your local post office and request the Mover's Guide packet. Inside the packet, you will find PS Form 3575. You have to fill it out and give it to a postal worker behind the counter. You will receive a confirmation within five business days.
If you are wondering which option is better, both have their own pros and cons. Online changes take less than 5 minutes, but it costs $1.10. In-person changes are free, but you have to drive to your nearest post office station and wait in line.
How long does changing your address last?
As stated above, you can forward your address for up to a year. It all depends on the type of mail service you choose. You can forward your First-Class Mail, Priority Mail, and Priority Express for 12 months, and your newspapers and magazines for 60 days. Junk mail is not forwarded at all.
How much does it cost to change your address?
In-person changes are free of charge and online changes cost $1.10. Online changes take effect within seven to 10 postal business days after the start date, as do in-person changes. Watch out for scammers—you should never pay more than around $1.10 to change your address with the post office.
Never want to change your address again? Consider a virtual mailbox
Changing your address can become a tedious task if you are an expat, business owner relocating, or you move your home base more often than you'd like. A virtual mailbox can allow you to move offices or homes as many times as you want, without requiring you to go through the steps to change your address.
A virtual mailbox allows you to receive postal mail online with the use of a virtual address. Instead of going into your mailbox, the mail goes to a processing center where it's sorted, scanned, and uploaded online.
Learn more about our different virtual mail plans and which one might work for you.
As you can see, changing your P.O. Box address is easy as 1, 2, 3. You can do it with the USPS service in less than five minutes online for a fee of around $1.10, or wait in line at the post office station and do it for free. You can change your address temporarily, while retaining your original address, or change it permanently to save it as your address at USPS.
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