How much is a PO box & how do I get one?
6 min read
November 28, 2023 • Block Advisors
Suppose you are a small business owner without a physical location. Or perhaps you have a home office and are concerned about maintaining your privacy. In these cases, and others, a Post Office box (PO box) is an excellent solution. If you want to receive business mail at an address other than your personal residence, keep reading. You’re probably wondering, “How much does a PO box cost?” and “How do you get a PO box?” Below we’ll outline the details. Now let’s learn about post office box set-up, what you can expect to spend on a rental, requirements, and why having one may be especially helpful to small business owners.
What is a PO Box?
A PO box is a personalized, secure mailbox you can set up with the United States Postal Service (USPS). Small business owners often use it as an alternative to a physical street address. It serves as a centralized mailing address separating their business mail from personal mail.
Business owners can rent a PO Box from the USPS. When you set one up, you’ll receive a unique number for sending and delivering mail. When someone sends mail, it’s delivered to the PO box. Owners then obtain the mail using a key or combination supplied by the mailbox provider.
Cost breakdown of a PO box
A PO box is a useful tool for many small business owners. As you consider options for your business, there are a few factors to keep in mind: rental duration, box size, location, and fees.
PO boxes are available in various rental periods. Common options are monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, and annual rental time frames. Shorter rental periods are typically more expensive than renting a box for the entire year. While the upfront price for a longer rental period is generally higher, the monthly cost will often be lower than a shorter rental period.
Another upside of renting a PO box for a full year is that you won’t have to keep renewing to extend your use. Also, remember that you may be able to set up your PO box to auto-renew. This can be favorable for businesses that don’t want to hassle with the paperwork that comes with renewing manually.
Most post offices have several PO box sizes to choose from. They range from extra-small to extra-large. Choose your size based on the quantity and type of business mail you receive.
See the chart below for the standard USPS PO Box sizes, dimensions, and price ranges*:
|3” x 5.5”
|~$4 to 28 per month
|5” x 5.5”
|~$5 to 38 per month
|5.5” x 11”
|~$8 to 67 per month
|11” x 11”
|~$12 to 76 per month
|12” x 22.5”
|~$21 to $115 per month
Your PO box price will also depend on where you’re renting in the United States. For example, a box is likely more expensive in Manhattan, New York than in Manhattan, Kansas.
The USPS charges a deposit fee for the first two keys. There are additional fees to receive duplicate keys, to replace a lock in the event of a lost key, and for late payment.
What is the best structure for my business?
Answer these six questions to find your fit.
How to set up a PO Box
If you’re wondering how to get a PO box, luckily, it’s straightforward. Simply follow these steps:
1. Apply for a PO box in person or online.
To apply in person, go to the customer service desk and request a PS Form 1093. Then, fill the form out. To apply online, you’ll first need to create a USPS account. After that is complete, begin the online application using your new account.
2. Submit your PO box application.
Next, you’ll need to submit your application materials to the USPS. If you’re in person, you’ll hand over the following items to the USPS customer service desk:
- Your PO box application (PS Form 1093)
- Two forms of photo ID (ex. driver’s license, passport, or government-issued ID)
- Proof of address (ex. utility bill, mortgage, or lease agreement)
If you started your application on the USPS website, you’ll need to print off your application. Then take a trip to the associated USPS office to submit the application along with the materials listed above.
3. Check out your new PO box!
Next, you’ll find out the approximate cost of your PO box. To finish things off, pay your rental fee, receive your PO box number, and obtain your lock combination or key. Write down your new combo or keep your key in a safe place – don’t forget you’ll have to pay a fee if you must replace the lock! It may be a good idea to locate your box immediately and test out the combo or key. If you run into any problems, USPS customer service employees can help you.
4. Check your PO box periodically.
Keep an eye on your box with routine visits to make sure it doesn’t get full. If it happens to fill up, or you get mail too large to fit in your box, you’ll get a notice. To retrieve your mail, take the notice with you to the USPS counter during their stated business hours.
More business PO box details
There are a few things to keep in mind when opening a PO box for your business:
- When you set up your account, you can sign up for package notifications and text or call-in mail check services.
- The USPS allows you a change of address if you cancel.
- Some USPS offices won’t sign for packages from FedEx or UPS. But, if your box is eligible for premium services, packages from any shipper can be held at a Post Office location.
- If you’re an LLC or a corporation, you can’t use a PO box as the physical address on your business license or for taxes. Your business address must be a legally valid physical address of your primary place of business.
- Want to bypass an in-person trip to USPS? By creating a USPS account, you can set up auto-renewal online to pay dues using a credit or debit card. Just go to the Manage PO Box page.
Small business tasks don’t have to be overwhelming
Whether you are setting up a PO box or handling other aspects of your business, a little help can make an overwhelming task list feel more achievable. Luckily, Block Advisors has your back. Let our experts lighten your load, in person or virtually, year-round – as always – backed up by the Block Advisors guarantees. Our taxes, bookkeeping, payroll, and incorporation services are designed with small business owners like you in mind.