PO Box – for the Virtual Entrepreneur
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A post office box, or PO Box for short, is a unique address and lockable box located at a post office. The United States Postal Service ("USPS") calls a PO Box the "safe and convenient way to get your mail." While many people don’t use PO boxes in the U.S., in other countries such as Africa, a PO Box is the only way to receive mail. This may sound surprising to most people, but many countries don’t have the adequate means of delivering mail door-to-door at people’s homes and businesses.

Now, we’ve all seen PO boxes at the post office. They’re usually located in a separate lobby from the customer service desk. In that separate lobby, there may be anywhere from under 100 to over 100,000 PO boxes available for use, depending on the size of the post office.

In the U.S., there are generally 5 different sizes of PO boxes that can usually be rented by the month, half-year, or year. It’s generally best to select the size that will suit the type of mail you expect to receive. For example, if you expect to receive larger envelopes and/or legal sized documents, you’ll naturally want to purchase a larger PO Box. If you receive a parcel that does not fit into your PO Box, the postmaster (i.e. person who delivers your mail into your PO Box) will (i) leave a note telling you to pick up the package at the service desk or (ii) leave you a marked key in your PO box to use to unlock a separate larger box with your package (you may want to ask where this larger box is located). Additionally, you’ll likely receive a letter to pick up registered mail, i.e. mail that you often have to sign for to receive.

With all of that said, using and setting up a PO Box for a business is just about identical as for setting it up for an individual. The only real difference is the paperwork involved.

Upon last check, to purchase a PO Box you’ll have to present 2 different forms of identification with at least 1 valid photo ID. You also have to fill out the address where you live (we’ll discuss why later). If you’re going to use the PO Box for business purposes, you’ll have to write down the name of your business and your affiliation with that business. For example, if you’re "partner," "CEO," or "member," you’ll have to state that on the form. That’s about the only difference in setting up the PO Box as a business, as opposed as an individual. So, it’s fairly straightforward.

Next, we’ll go over the pros and cons of setting up a PO Box.