How Do I Change My Address to a PO Box?

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Using a PO Box helps protect your privacy and keeps your mail safe.

Maybe you're looking for better security after a rash of mail theft in your neighborhood, or you're uncomfortable with people having your physical street address. Maybe you receive a lot of time-sensitive mail and packages and want to be able to receive them more quickly than your home mail delivery allows, or maybe you've moved somewhere too remote for mail carriers to visit. Whatever your reason, using a PO Box as your mailing address may make getting your mail easier, and the United States Postal Service (USPS) makes the switching process pretty simple.

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Changing your address to a PO Box starts with reserving a PO Box at a local post office and paying for at least the first three months of service.

Planning for an Address Change

Make sure you're prepared for all the consequences of changing your mailing address to a PO Box. The cost of maintaining a PO Box may be a burden that you haven't anticipated. Box service is only available in three-month, six-month, and 12-month increments. Fees range from around $47 for three months for the smallest box to more than $200 for three months for the largest box. Paying for 12 months in advance cuts the per-month cost slightly.

One of the other big disadvantages of using a PO Box is that non-USPS carriers can't deliver to these boxes. For most packages that are delivered via FedEx, UPS, and other carriers, you'll need to provide your real street address or an alternate physical address.

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If mail security is your primary motivation for changing your address to a PO Box, consider other options for protecting deliveries at home. Installing a locking mailbox offers better security than a standard mailbox. Once the mail carrier puts the mail and small packages into the box, you'll need to have your mailbox key to remove them. If space allows outside your door, set up a locking delivery box that works like a much larger version of a locking mailbox. For even better security, use a locking weatherproof delivery box, which major delivery services can access and lock. It connects to your doorknob to prevent the entire box from being stolen.

Obtaining a PO Box

The first step in obtaining a PO Box is determining what size you need. Currently, USPS offers boxes in five sizes (XS to XL), ranging from 3 x 5.5 inches to 12 x 22.5 inches. The bigger the box, the more you'll pay, so think about how much mail you expect to accumulate in your box between your pickup visits. Note that your options will be limited to what's available at your chosen post office. Some don't have the XL boxes at all, and certain box sizes may be entirely reserved already.

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See what's available at post offices in your area using the USPS website. Reserve and pay for the one you want and then visit the post office with two forms of ID to pick up the key or combination for your box.

Changing Your Address

Once you have the key to your PO Box, submit a change-of-address request with USPS. This can be done online at USPS.com or in person at a post office using PS Form 3575. Enter your PO Box number in the street address field of the new address section. It may take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks for mail to start being forwarded. You can verify that your mail is being forwarded using the USPS website.

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Mail will be forwarded to your PO Box for up to a year after your request is accepted. As new pieces of mail are forwarded to the new address, contact the senders to update their records.

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Kathryn has been a lifestyle writer for more than a decade. Her work has appeared on USAToday.com and many other national websites.