PO Box, also known as a Post Office Box, is a convenient way to have small packages or documents delivered safely. The PO Box is a specific addressable lockable box housed on the premises of a post office.
These lockable boxes can be rented by both businesses and individuals, and the agreement is normally for a month or a year, with the fee depending on the location and size.
How Do I Ship a Package to a PO Box?
Generally, courier companies do not deliver to PO Box addresses; only USPS does. Additionally, the size of these boxes sets a limit for packages that can be delivered.
In order to avoid delays in delivery or keeping parcels outside the box, it is important to know the proper way to package and send parcels meant for a PO Box. If you have to ship large packages, you read up our previous article on How to Ship Large Items. However, you can follow these steps to ship to a PO Box successfully.
Addressing the Letter or Parcel
- The delivery address should begin in the middle of the envelope. The name and full address of the person or organization to whom the letter is addressed should be prominently displayed. Putting these crucial details in clear view will make it easier to organize and deliver the mail. If the mailing address isn’t clear or is written wrong, it’s unlikely that the mail will be handled wrong.
- The first line should include the recipient’s first and last name. This information is usually enough to deliver the letter to the appropriate box. If you know it, you can also mention the person’s middle initial to avoid any mistakes. It’s a good idea to give their complete name if there’s any doubt about the actual recipient of the letter. If necessary, identify the receiver by a formal title such as “Mrs.”, “Dr.”, or “Jr.” Making the address as specific as possible will help to avoid any mistakes.
- Take note of the business or organization. If your letter is addressed to an official, the name of the organization or firm should appear after the person’s name. You can write the first 2 lines in the format below:
“Dr. John Doe
Brand New Firm Inc.”
- Specify the recipient’s PO Box number. The words “PO Box” usually appear first, followed by the specific box number, which is typically a 2–5 digit number. When filling up PO Box addresses, USPS recommends that all punctuation should be removed. For example, instead of “P.O. Box,” use “PO Box.” Because many companies (and some people) receive letters at post office boxes instead of conventional street addresses, you’ll only have to address either of the two, not both. Here’s an example:
“Dr. John Doe
Brand New Firm Inc.
PO Box 12345″
- Write the city, state, and postal code on the last line. Finally, indicate where the mail will be sent in general. Using a comma, separate the city and the state, and put a gap between the state and the postal code. Use the two-letter abbreviation for your state that your local postal authority recommends, such as “Florida, FL” or “Texas, TX.”
“Dr. John Doe
Brand New Firm Inc.
PO Box 12345
Dallas, TX 10001″
Important Tips for Shipping to a PO Box
- Lookup unknown PO Box numbers. If you’re replying to a letter, the PO Box can be located on the upper left side corner of the envelope on the second line of the return address. To find a PO Box number that’s not posted publicly, call Directory Assistance or fill out a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request form.
- Create legible writing. Check your handwriting after you’ve completed addressing your letter to make sure it’s legible. Remember that your letter will be processed, categorized, and delivered by someone else, who will need to be able to read it quickly. Handwritten information should always be printed. Cursive and other fancy scripts are notoriously difficult to read. If your handwriting is sloppy or rushed, writing in all capital letters may assist.
- Add the return address. It’s helpful to include your address on the top left side of the envelope or parcel. You can make the return address slightly smaller than the delivery address. Otherwise, it could be confused with the shipping address.
- Attach the appropriate postage. Stick a shipping label or stamp close to the top of the envelope. Ensure the label does not cover the necessary shipping information.
- Check for errors. Before sending your letter, double-check the information you’ve supplied and make sure it’s accurate. It’s very critical that you get the numbers right. Place your letter in the mailbox or take it to the post office for delivery when you’re through.
The Shipping Limitations to PO Boxes
It can be difficult to ship to PO boxes. The United States Postal Service has been the only carrier that can deliver to PO boxes. Furthermore, there are restrictions on the size of the package that can be shipped.
If your shipment does not fit, USPS will place it on hold. However, the hold is only in effect for ten working days. If the shipment is not claimed within 10 days at the post office, it will be returned to the sender.
The following are the five sizes of postal boxes:
You can contact a recipient whose address is entered as a postal box. If your shipment won’t fit, ask for the size and note the 10-day pickup window. Customers wouldn’t have to worry that their package wasn’t delivered because they could pick it up at the counter.
Challenges of Shipping to PO Boxes
The United States Postal Service is the only carrier that consistently delivers to mailboxes. Still, there are a few circumstances whereby FedEx can deliver, so it is essential to remember these limitations:
Limited options for couriers: Aside from USPS, FedEx SmartPost is the sole courier option for delivering to PO boxes. USPS takes care of the last part of delivery, so you can have your product sent to your PO box.
Tracking can be tricky because the package may sit in the recipient’s PO box for a while, delaying tracking updates until the package is picked up. This can be frustrating for merchants who want to know if their customers got their orders.