Postal customer looking for his P.O. box
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Renting a post office box, or P.O. box, is a convenient way to improve the reliability and security of your mail, while also making it easier to maintain consistent service if you move around a lot.

Three factors determine the cost of renting a P.O. box:

  • The length of time it will be rented.
  • The size of the box.
  • Its physical location.

Renting a small P.O. box for six months costs as little as $19 in some locations, while in other locations the cost is $75. A full breakdown of the costs in each region is available on the U.S. Postal Service website.

Length of rental time

P.O. boxes are available in rental periods of six or 12 months. It is more expensive to constantly renew for shorter rental periods. If you think you’ll need the P.O. box for at least one year, it’s cheaper to apply for an annual rental from the start. Your rental can keep renewing if you opt to have the fees charged automatically to a credit card. Use a rewards credit card and collect points as you collect your mail.

Box size

There are five sizes of P.O. box, but not all sizes are available in every location. Smaller boxes are less expensive.

Box type Dimensions Capacity
Extra small 5″ x 5 1/2″ x 14 3/4″ 10-15 letters (or)

2 rolled magazines

Small 5 1/2″ x 11″ x 14 3/4″ 10-15 letters (or)

5 rolled magazines

Medium 5 1/2″ x 11″ x 14 3/4″ Stack large envelopes flat
Large 11″ x 11″ x 14 3/4″ 10-15 letters (and)

2 shoe boxes stacked flat

Extra large 12″ x 22 1/2″ x 14 3/4″ Flat-rate boxes and parcels

Geographical location

In places where the postal service controls enough of the market to set P.O. box prices without competition, prices can change annually. In some markets, private-sector companies offer similar products that can help hold down prices.

Additional fees

The USPS charges a $3 deposit for the first two keys, and a $6 fee for additional duplicate keys. The post office also has lock replacement and late payment fees of $20.

Applying for a P.O. box

There are two ways to apply for a PO box: online and at the post office. You need two valid forms of identification, at least one of which must have your photograph. One ID must show your physical address.

Advantage of renting a P.O. box

Renting a P.O. box offers a range of benefits.

  • Security: The box is located inside the post office and is accessible only with a key or combination code. A P.O. box also masks your real address, helping to maintain your privacy.
  • Fast delivery: Since the boxes are at the post office, you often get your mail more quickly.
  • Permanency: If you move or travel a lot, a P.O. box is a good way to ensure you’ll still receive your mail. This also reduces the risk of identity theft, as there is no chance of your mail going to a previous address by mistake.

Conclusion

A P.O. box is a convenient way to take control of when and how you receive mail. It’s particularly useful if you want to keep your address private, or have a home business that receives mail that you want to keep separate from your personal mail.

The price of a box rental varies by region but starts from as little as $9 for a small box for three months, going up to $625 for an extra-large box for six months.