Post Office Box: What it is and How to Get One

You’ve got mail? In this day and age, most people get theirs digitally. Some online businesses get theirs through virtual mail boxes. Either way, electronic mail delivery may be an efficient and safe way to get mail and parcels without making your address known to everyone. If digital mail doesn’t work for you, a post office box is a good option.

What’s a Post Office Box?

A post office or po box is an addressable lockable that’s located at a post office. Some people may use post office boxes because they tend to move from one place to another. Without a permanent physical address, receiving mail and packages will be a problem. You wouldn’t know where to send expected parcels, or worry about missing a letter or package because you may not be home. Getting a po box address should solve that problem of dealing with the mail.

You can usually rent a postal box at the post office. But some commercial receiving agency (CMRA) also offers po boxes, accepting mail from the U.S. Postal Service on behalf of its customers. These places are also known as mail drops, and depending on the agreement between the customer and the CMRA, the mail or package may be forwarded to the customer’s address or held at the agency’s street address for pickup.

How Can I Get a PO Box?

post office boxes in old building
Photo by Barbara Jackson on Pixabay

It’s easy enough to get a po box address, and it’s even convenient. You can apply for a po box online or in person. And the steps for each will differ, with in-person application having the shortest steps.

Applying for a po box in-person

1.Download an application form online and fill out. Bring the printed PS form 1093 to the Postal Service at your location.

2.Bring two acceptable forms of identification (one photo and one non-photo) along and pay for your po box. Some options include a driver’s license, government IDs (e.g., U.S. Armed Force), corporate IDs, passport or certificate of naturalization.

Applying for a po box online

1.Go to the USPS website and get an online account. Find a location or Post Office facility that suits you, and reserve a mailbox at that location.

2.Complete the PS Form 1093 application.

3.Pay for your po box through through a debit or credit card.

4.Pick up your po box keys at the Post Office facility you picked, providing two acceptable IDs.

Once you’ve got your USPS po box squared away, redirect your mail to that address. Only those who are 18 years old and above may apply for post office boxes.

How Much Does the Post Office Charge for Boxes?

The rental fee for your box at the Post Office depends on the size you’ve picked. PO box sizes come in the following dimensions and rates per month:

Extra Small

  • 3″ x 5.5″
  • $4.33
  • 10 to 15 letters, plus three rolled magazines


  • 5″ x 5.5″
  • $5.50
  • 15 letters, plus five rolled magazines and one small Priority Mail Flat Rate box


  • 5.5″ x 11″
  • $8.17
  • Large envelopes, magazines two small Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes


  • 11″ x 11″
  • $12.33
  • Small and medium Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes, plus 10 to 15 letters

Extra Large

  • 12″ x 22.5″
  • $21.50
  • Multiple packages

Payment terms come in quarterly, bi-annually and yearly. You must pay the full rental period when you get in your po box application. But if you suddenly want to cancel the service and you still have months on it, you can get a partial refund, depending on how long you’ve had the post office box.

How Can I Get a PO Box for Free?

man standing in us post office doorway at night
Photo by Joe Han on Unsplash

Although extra small po boxes are under five dollars a month, you could still get a box for free. If your schedule is erratic or live a nomadic life, making the installation of a mailbox at your home pointless, a USPS postal box will ensure you’ll get your mail or that they’ll be secure.

The USPS, as it turns out, offers no-fee boxes. Across the US, the Postal Office houses 1.3 million no-fee boxes at over 12,000 retail units.

To be eligible for free USPS postal boxes, you must not be receiving carrier deliveries. People who have no permanent addresses, are homeless or are nomadic may also qualify for free po boxes.

To apply for one, you must complete the PS Form 1093 application and provide two acceptable forms of ID. Both must be current. Homeless people, who likely have no current IDs, will be evaluated differently. In place of a valid identification, homeless applicants for US post box may provide a valid form of contact, like a charitable institution they’re affiliated with or a social services office.

Is it a Good Idea to Have a Post Office Box?

A po box can be a convenient and secure option. You get your mail when and where you want since you choose a location that works for you. You also get mail faster through a po box than in your mailbox. You can even reserve the postal box for select mail and transactions if you’d rather not have those letters delivered to your home or business address.

And because some Postal Offices do operate 24 hours, a po box allows you the flexibility to pick up your mail.

All told, a po box is a good idea.

But if you expect to receive bulk mail, this USPS service may not be an ideal choice. The extra large postal box may seem big, but it may not fit in multiple large packages. So if you expect bulk parcels, maybe just have them delivered to your front door or at your place of business.

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