Yes, it is really possible to get a free PO Box. And getting a Free PO Box isn’t as hard as you may think!
A PO box is a secure, numbered box, which is located on the premises of a Post Office. You can rent PO boxes from the USPS, and any mail that is delivered to your PO box is kept there until you collect it.
A PO box can be a good alternative to a traditional mailbox.
Unfortunately, you typically have to pay to rent a PO box.
What will I learn?
How Much Does a PO Box Cost?
It can cost as little as $16 for a small PO box and a 3-month rental period, and as much as $600 for an extra-large box for a 6-month rental period.
There are many factors that can determine the cost of a PO box, such as your location, and the size of the box you require.
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Can You Get a PO Box for Free?
As you can see from the figures above, PO boxes are not cheap and if you are struggling financially, paying to rent one may not be possible.
Thankfully, the United States Postal Service offers no-fee PO box services to customers who do not receive any kind of carrier delivery. This is useful for those who don’t have a permanent address.
If you are experiencing homelessness, or live a nomadic lifestyle, and you don’t have a permanent address, you may be able to get a free PO box.
How to Get a PO Box for Free
The USPS works to ensure that the homeless population continues to have access to mail. Like I said above, if you are homeless, or you live a nomadic lifestyle, and so don’t have a fixed address, then you may be able to get access to a no-fee PO box service.
The first step is to complete PS form 1093. You can get the form online here. You will need to complete the form and then take it to your local Post Office.
When completing the form, be careful not to fill in the greyed-out area, as this is for Post Office use only. So, stick to the white space when completing the form.
The reason you need to take the form to the Post Office is so that you can provide ID to a Postal Service employee.
Now, as you will see on the application, it mentions ID.
On the form, it states that you will need two valid forms of ID (one photo and one non-photo) when you obtain your keys or combination at the Post Office where your box is located.
Both IDs must be current.
Acceptable forms of photo ID include:
- Valid U.S. driver’s license or state non-driver’s identification card.
- S. Armed forces, government, university, or recognized corporate employee identification card.
- Passport, passport card, alien registration card, or certificate of naturalization.
- NEXUS or Matricula Consular card.
Non-photo ID options include:
- Current lease, mortgage, or deed of trust.
- Voter or vehicle registration card.
- Home or vehicle insurance policy.
According to the Post Office, Social Security cards, credit cards, and birth certificates are not acceptable forms of ID.
Now, if you are homeless, then obtaining ID can be difficult.
So, there are slightly different eligibility requirements for homeless people.
If you are homeless, you may be able to have the application for a PO box approved under any one of the following conditions:
- The applicant is known to the window clerk or Postmaster.
- An unknown applicant submits proper ID.
- The applicant provides a verifiable point of contact, such as a place of employment, shelter, charitable institution, or social services office.
If you are approved, you will be assigned a PO box and receive a key.
Depending on the Post Office location you use, they might even offer round-the-clock access to your PO box. Other places may offer extended hours. Some locations though may only allow you to get your mail during Post Office opening hours.
You can find details on your local Post Office opening hours on the USPS website here.
Why was your application for a free PO box denied?
There are a few reasons why your application for a free PO box might be denied. As I mentioned above, you need to provide an ID in order to get a PO box, and if you don’t have an ID, this can make it difficult.
As I also said above, the USPS does allow homeless people to get a free PO box if they meet one of the requirements, such as submitting a proper ID or being known to the window clerk or Postmaster.
If you don’t meet these requirements, such as being known to the window clerk or Postmaster, or have a verifiable point of contact, then you’re less likely to be approved.
What to do if you don’t meet the requirements for a free PO box
If you don’t meet the conditions required by the USPS to get a free PO box, you may instead be eligible to receive indefinite General Delivery service if approved by the local Postmaster.
General Delivery is a mail service for those without a permanent address, and it is often used as a temporary mailing address.
With General Delivery, the Post Office holds mail at one of its locations, so that customers can come to collect it. The downside of General Delivery though is that it may not be as accessible as a PO box. General Delivery is only accessible during retail hours.
You should contact your local Post Office for more information.
If you need a PO box to get mail, as you don’t have a fixed address, then you may be able to get one for free from the USPS. Try our tips on how to get a PO box for free. And, if you don’t qualify for a free PO box, then you may be able to get a General Delivery service instead.