P.O. boxes have been around for ages and are a convenient way to receive mail and other things such as magazines and parcels. At Eurosender, we often get questions about courier delivery to a P.O. box and how to ship to a P.O. box. But what is a P.O. box exactly and what can you use it for? And what are some common problems when delivering to a P.O. box? We will answer these and many more questions in the article below.
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P.O. box is the common abbreviation for Post Office Box, sometimes also called Postal Box. Located on the premises of a post office station, a P.O. box is a uniquely addressable lockable box. Both private individuals and businesses can rent a P.O. box and the term of the agreement is usually a month or a year, while the price depends on both the size and location.
What is a P.O. box called in other languages?
In English speaking countries it is called a P.O. box, but what is it called in German or French? The shortlist below includes local translations of P.O. box or local services that count as a P.O. box. This way you will know how to ship to a P.O. box abroad.
France: Post Restante a la Post
Germany: Das Postfach, Packstation
Sweden: Post Restante
Spain: Apartado de Correos
Italy: Casella postale
What is the size of a P.O. box?
The size and variety of sizes differ from country to country. To give you an idea, you can find how much post boxes in the USA can carry. Contact the website of your local post office to see what your options are.
XS/100: For about 15 standard letters.
S/102: For about 10-15 thick letters or 5 rolled magazines.
M/103: For about 10-15 magazines (unrolled) and larger envelopes (A4 size
L/104: For about 10-15 letters and 2 shoeboxes
XL/105: For parcels and flat rate boxes.
Reasons for using a P.O. box
In the past, P.O. boxes were mostly used to receive mail when there was no address or no address within the delivery range of the postal service. Nowadays, people use them for a number of reasons.
Location: The postal service doesn’t deliver to all addresses, so people use a P.O. box to receive their mail.
Privacy: Using a P.O. box you have the privacy of your home address. This can be very useful when you want to separate your personal and business mail.
Delivery speed: Due to their location, receiving mail at a P.O. box is faster than at your home address.
Security: A P.O. box is located within a postal office and is locked, therefore offering more security than a regular mailbox at a private house or an office.
What should you keep in mind when renting a P.O. box?
When it is your first time renting a P.O. box, there might be some things you are not aware of.
P.O. boxes can’t be used for registration of a company, for this, you need a physical address.
Depending on the size of your P.O. box, it can get full easily. So, don’t forget to empty it to avoid it from flowing over.
You have to visit your P.O. box frequently and depending on the location that may take up a lot of time
What are the rules and regulations regarding owning a P.O. box?
Regulation regarding P.O. boxes differs from country to country. For example, the kind of ID you need for opening a P.O. box or the number of people who have access to the P.O. box. When not being aware of this, it might lead to problems when delivering to a P.O. box. For the details regarding your region, please contact your local or national post office station.
Can packages and parcels be delivered to a P.O. box?
When courier companies, for example, DHL, DPD or GLS, make their delivery, they require a signature (to record the date and time of the delivery), which is not possible with courier delivery to a P.O. box. Besides that, courier companies need a valid postal address to make a delivery and therefore a P.O. box is not suitable.
What should I do when I gave a P.O. box as my address for delivery?