How to get a PO Box for free in 2024 (USPS guide)

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It is indeed possible to get a PO Box without spending any money. In fact, acquiring a free PO Box is easier than you might imagine. A PO Box is essentially a secure and numbered mailbox situated within the premises of a post office.

By renting a PO Box from the United States Postal Service (USPS), you are allotted an exclusive address where all your mail is delivered and kept until you retrieve it.

This can be an excellent option for those who want to keep their mailing address private or secure, or for those who frequently move or travel. However, it is true that rental fees are often charged for the use of a PO Box, but there are ways to get a PO Box for free, which we can explore.

How much does a PO Box cost?

Renting a small PO box for 3 months can cost as low as $16, while an extra-large box for a 6-month period may cost up to $600.

The cost of a PO box depends on factors like your location and the box size you need.

Can you get a PO Box for free?

The figures indicate that PO boxes can be expensive. If you’re facing financial challenges, renting one may not be feasible.

The United States Postal Service provides free PO box services for customers without carrier delivery. This is beneficial for individuals without a permanent address.

You may qualify for a free PO box if you’re homeless or live a nomadic lifestyle without a permanent address.

How to get a PO Box for free

The USPS strives to provide mail access for the homeless population. As mentioned earlier, you may qualify for a no-fee PO box service if you are homeless or live a nomadic lifestyle without a fixed address.

To begin, fill out PS Form 1093, which can be found online. Complete the form and bring it to your nearest post office.

When filling out the form, avoid completing the greyed-out section reserved for Post Office use. Only fill in the white space.

Why you should take the form to the Post Office is so that you can present your ID to a Postal Service employee.

On the application, you’ll notice a reference to ID.

The form specifies that you must present two valid forms of ID (one with a photo and one without) when collecting your keys or combination from the Post Office where your box is situated. Both IDs must be valid and up-to-date.

Accepted forms of photo ID include:

  • Valid U.S. driver’s license or state non-driver’s ID card.
  • U.S. Armed Forces, government, university, or recognized corporate employee ID card.
  • Passport, passport card, alien registration card, or certificate of naturalization.
  • NEXUS or Matricula Consular card.

Non-photo ID alternatives include:

  • Current lease, mortgage, or deed of trust.
  • Voter or vehicle registration card.
  • Home or vehicle insurance policy.
Read Also:  How to address an envelope to a PO Box

The Post Office does not accept Social Security cards, credit cards, or birth certificates as valid forms of identification.

Getting an ID when you’re homeless can be challenging. Eligibility requirements for homeless individuals vary slightly.

If you’re homeless, you can get approval for a PO box application under these conditions:

  • The window clerk or Postmaster recognizes the applicant.
  • An unknown applicant submits a valid ID.
  • The applicant provides a verifiable point of contact, like a workplace, shelter, charitable institution, or social services office.

You will be assigned a PO box and provided with a key upon approval.

Post Office locations vary in their accessibility for PO box users. Some provide 24/7 access, while others offer extended hours. However, certain places only allow access to your mail during standard Post Office opening hours.

Visit the USPS website for information about your local Post Office’s opening hours.

Why was your application for a free PO box denied?

Your free PO box application may be denied for a few reasons. A crucial requirement is providing an ID. Without proper identification, obtaining a PO box becomes challenging.

As mentioned, the USPS provides free PO boxes for homeless individuals who meet specific requirements. This includes presenting a valid ID or being recognized by the window clerk or Postmaster.

If you fail to meet the requirements, like being recognized by the window clerk or Postmaster or having a verifiable point of contact, then you have a lower chance of approval.

What to do if you don’t meet the requirements for a free PO box

If you don’t meet USPS conditions for a free PO box, you might qualify for indefinite General Delivery service upon approval from the local Postmaster.

General Delivery is a mail service designed for individuals without a permanent address. It serves as a temporary mailing address.

General Delivery is a service the Post Office offers where mail is held at a designated location for customer pickup. However, it may not be as convenient as a PO box since it is only accessible during retail hours.

For additional details, reach out to your nearest post office.

Do you need a street address for a P.O. Box?

If you’re comfortable with not accessing or managing your postal mail remotely, consider exploring private P.O. Box services from companies other than the USPS. Some providers may not require a permanent address for sign-up. Additionally, check for any package restrictions imposed by your chosen service provider.

How to write a P.O. box address?

When sending a letter to a P.O. Box, place the P.O. Box number where the street address is usually written. Properly address the letter by writing the recipient’s name on the first line, followed by a company name if applicable. Below that, write the P.O. Box number, then the city, state, and ZIP code. Follow USPS guidelines for the address format to ensure smooth delivery.

The bottom line

If you lack a permanent address and need a PO box for receiving mail, you might qualify for a free one from the USPS. Follow our tips on getting a free PO box. If you don’t meet the criteria for a complimentary PO box, consider opting for the General Delivery service as an alternative.