A good number of Americans in all areas are finding they need a conventional mail solution for easier mail handling. Home-based businesses, rural area residents, expats, and travelers are just some of the many people who can benefit from setting up a PO Box.
If you’re looking to get a PO box, you might be wondering what size is appropriate for your needs. Check out this guide to help make your choice.
What Is a PO Box?
First things first. What actually is a PO box?
While this used to be a highly used term, some people in 2019 haven’t ever used a PO box. Simply put, a PO box or Postal Box is a secure mailbox in a post office station. Traditionally, PO boxes were used to deliver mail to locations where mail isn’t directly delivered to homes.
These days, PO boxes are used for a variety of purposes other than necessity.
The United States Postal Service, USPS, offers the PO box service for people who want to conceal their physical address, live in a rural area or who run a small business. The reason you choose to have a PO box doesn’t matter as much as the fact that you safely and securing receive your mail.
Keep reading to find out more about the different types of PO boxes to choose from.
Choose a Location
The first thing to consider when renting a PO box is location. There are a large number of post offices nationwide to pick from.
This means you can choose the closest Post Office to either your own office or home. Along with this, if you have a home-based business, you can pick one in a major city to boost your professional brand image. A PO Box address in California or New York will seriously amp up your credibility as a small business.
Of course, your PO Box should be somewhere you can easily and regularly (preferably weekly) visit and fetch your mail.
The USPS offers a few different choices for PO box sizes. Your choice depends on the amount and type of mail you receive per month.
Starting with small sizes, the USPS has two box types in this range. The size for the smallest box is 3 inches by 5.5 inches. This would work for you if you only need your PO Box to hold normal letters. The slightly larger option is 5-by-5.5-inch size. This is convenient if you expect larger letters or more mail.
There’s one option that’s considered medium. This box is 11-by-5.5-inch size. If you’re expecting small packages to be delivered often, then this is the box for you. This is a good average-sized box.
If you’re expecting large packages or lots of mail, then there are two options that will suit your needs.
The first is the 11-by-11-inch PO box and the second is the 22.5-by-12-inch box. The 11-by-11-inch box is bigger than the size of A4 paper. This makes receiving large envelopes and mail convenient because you don’t have to worry about them being bent in your box upon delivery. The largest size is necessary if you receive packages of very large items on a regular basis.
Which Size is Right?
We’ve outlined the details about the different PO box sizes below. This gives a clear idea of which size is right for your needs.
- Size 1 – XS: 3” x 5.5” (holds up to 10 – 15 letters)
- Size 2 – S: 5” x 5.5” (holds up to 10 – 15 bulky letters or 5 rolled magazines)
- Size 3 – M: 5” x 11” (holds larger envelopes, magazines)
- Size 4 – L: 11” x 11” (holds 2 shoe boxes and 10 – 15 letters)
- Size 5 – XL: 12” x 22.5” (Spacious enough for flat rate boxes and packages)
Remember to keep in mind how often you’ll be going past your PO Box to pick up mail. This is another factor to take into account when choosing a size. It’s never a good idea to allow your box to fill up and overflow. This doesn’t go down well at any post office.
If you’re unable to pick up your mail regularly, it makes sense to choose a bigger box. USPS will send you notifications to upgrade your box if this happens often.
How Much Does a PO Box Cost?
People often worry about the answer to the question, ‘how much does it cost to rent a PO box?’
Luckily, the cost of a PO box varies according to the size and how long you’re renting it. This means you can find a box and a rental period that best suits your budget. You can choose to rent it for 3 months, 6 months or a year according to what suits you best.
The smallest PO Box cost is around $58 for 6 months, a medium box will be around $156 and the largest will cost about $513. There are options in between these two.
Keep in mind that if you cancel within the first 3 months of the service, you get refunded for the last 3 months. But if you cancel after the first 3 months, you don’t get refunded the remaining 3 months fee.
Benefits of a PO Box
You can expect a variety of benefits from having access to your own PO Box. If you own a small business, a PO Box provides essential protection, personal security, and privacy.
Privacy & Protection
Instead of using your home address, business owners who don’t have a physical business office are encouraged to opt for a PO Box.
One of the most important reasons for a PO Box is to keep your personal address confidential. You never know, a disgruntled customer or someone even more dangerous could show up at your front door.
For this reason, it’s essential to use a PO Box for business websites and for correspondence and billing. Your privacy is very important.
Keep in mind that new business filling is often also public. This means that company forms may end up getting your home address added to various unwanted mailing lists. If you don’t want to be flooded by junk mail at your home, then opt for a PO Box.
As we’ve touched on earlier in the article, customers often view a physical office as more professional than working from home. While this doesn’t always make sense, it’s still important that your business or company comes across as professional as possible.
It’s well-known how expensive it is to rent office space. It’s a massive undertaking and is simply unfeasible for many business owners. Due to this, renting a PO Box provides many of the same benefits for a fraction of the cost.
Along with this, a PO Box allows you to forward your mail to a new location before you move. This means that your mail will be automatically forwarded to your new PO Box location. Simply make sure to update your address by notifying your post office.
Among other benefits, you’re able to show that your business is legitimate and credible by simply choosing to rent a PO Box.
The Next Steps
After you choose the location, size and rental period of your PO box, all that’s left is to make the payment. The USPS offers a few ways to pay for your box. You can pay at your local post office, visit a Postal Center kiosk, or mail your payment.
You can even pay online. Ensure that you renew your PO box subscription on time to avoid any interruption in mail delivery.