What you should know about PO boxes

PO 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 deliveries to PO boxes and how to ship to a PO box. But what is a PO box exactly and what can you use it for? And what are some common problems when delivering to a PO box? We will answer these and many more questions in the article below.

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What is a P.O. box?

PO box is the common abbreviation for Post Office Box, sometimes also called Postal Box. Located on the premises of a post office station, a PO box is a uniquely addressable lockable box. Both private individuals and businesses can rent a PO box and the term of the agreement is usually a month or a year, while the price depends on both the size and location. In general, courier services providers do not deliver to PO box addresses, however, there are some cases in which it is still possible. Keep reading to find out the best way to ship a parcel to a PO box.

In the past, PO boxes were mostly used to receive mail when an address wasn’t within the delivery range of the postal service, usually from people who lived in remote areas and couldn’t receive regular mail service directly at their house. Nowadays, people use them for several 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.


PO box FAQ

How do shippers use PO boxes?

When shipping to a PO box, it is important to remember that the address specified must be the PO Box address and not the street address. As with any shipment, the first and last names of the recipient need to be specified, together with the company’s name (if needed), the city and the country.

Here’s an example of how the information on the mail or envelope should look like:

John Smith

PO Box 14040

London, SW1A 2WH

England, United Kingdom

 

What is a PO box called in other languages?

The chart below includes local translations of PO box or local services that count as a PO box. This way you will know how to ship to a PO box abroad.

  • France: Post Restante a la Post
  • Germany: Das Postfach, Packstation
  • Sweden: Post Restante
  • Spain: Apartado de Correos
  • Netherlands: Postbus
  • 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 below 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.


What should you keep in mind when renting a PO box?

When renting a PO box for the first time, there might be some things you are not aware of and should take into consideration.

PO boxes can’t be used for registration of a company, for this, you need a physical address.


Depending on the size of your PO box, it can get full easily. So, don’t forget to empty it to avoid it from flowing over.


You have to visit your PO box frequently and depending on the location that may take up a lot of time.

 

What are the rules and regulations regarding owning a PO box?

Regulations regarding PO boxes differ from country to country. For example, the kind of ID you need for renting a PO box or the number of people who have access to it. Not being aware of this may lead to problems when delivering to a PO box. For the details regarding your region, please contact your local or national post office station.

Should you need a shipping service to ship large and heavy items that cannot fit a PO box, we advise you to request an individual offer. Our logistics expert will organize a tailored shipping based on your needs and requirements.

Ship anything you want


Shipping packages to PO boxes | Courier delivery to PO boxes

 

Shipping a parcel or a package to a PO box: will it work?

A PO box address is ideal for receiving mail or envelopes, however, shipping a parcel or a package to a PO box address may have a different outcome, as the parcel might not fit the dimensions of the PO box. In this case, a notice will be left in the box, and the parcel will be held at the post office counter.

 

When can courier companies deliver to PO box addresses?

One of the most frequently asked questions from shippers all over the world is whether there are couriers that deliver to PO box addresses. If you are one of them, you should know that courier services providers usually do not deliver to PO boxes, for the following reasons:

  1. Couriers are supposed to track the pickup and delivery of the parcel, as well as the time and the date. A courier delivery to a PO box wouldn’t allow this, as there would be no one to sign upon the driver’s arrival.
  2. Courier companies need a valid postal address in order to deliver the parcel.
  3. PO boxes are mostly linked to postal services, which means the shipping service is not carried out by a courier company, but rather from the national post service.

Nevertheless, there are some exceptions of couriers that do deliver to PO box addresses in certain parts of the world, such as USA, France, Croatia, Greece, Iceland, Portugal and in the Middle East region.

 

So why don’t all the couriers deliver to PO boxes?

Some courier companies, such as UPS or FedEx, can deliver to PO Box addresses under certain conditions and within certain countries. For instance, if the phone number of the receiver is included on the shipping label, the courier can call the consignee and arrange the delivery in an alternative location. Some courier providers may even deliver directly to PO boxes whenever they have special agreements with local or national postal offices.

 

Alternatives to PO Boxes’ delivery

PO boxes are permanent addresses and allow the receiver to safely get their shipment delivered at the local post office. However, due to the limitations and restrictions of the service when it comes to courier companies, some alternatives can come in handy.

  1. If you’re worried you won’t be able to be at the delivery address to receive your package, or the address you live at is difficult to locate, you can always provide the address of a friend or a neighbour upon booking.
  2. If you spend most of your time at the office, delivering your parcel there can be a good option: be sure to inform the receptionist in advance to avoid misunderstandings or delays!
  3. Parcel lockers and pick up points are also a great alternative to PO boxes: they usually have longer working hours than the post offices and are often open on Saturdays. You’ll be able to get your shipment whenever suits you better and keep your mind free of hassle!

At Eurosender, you can book door to door shipping services worldwide: we will pick the best courier service for your request, amongst our trusted international partners. If you have already placed your order with Eurosender and provided a PO box address, it may still be possible to change the delivery address of your booking. Do not hesitate to contact our customer support team to learn more about PO boxes!

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