If you’re a budding entrepreneur who is running a startup from a residential address, you might want to consider opening a PO Box for your business. It isn’t as expensive as you might think, and it’s a small price to pay for peace of mind and a professional-looking address.
Not all businesses have physical addresses. This is especially common in a world where so many entrepreneurs launch their startups from home. While it’s fine to put your home address on your tax forms, it turns into a privacy and safety issue once it’s publicly listed on your company’s website.
Simply put: You probably don’t want customers mailing back goods to your actual address. You definitely don’t want a disgruntled customer to be able to go to your home. Whether you opt for a USPS or UPS PO Box, you can use the address as your business mailing address instead.
Not only does this present a more professional and credible image than using a residential address but it also keeps you safe. Plus, you don’t have to worry about packages being stolen from your front porch.
To pick the best place to rent a PO Box, follow the mail. Many mail carriers — from USPS to UPS to independent mail centers — offer PO Boxes or private mail box equivalents. All PO Boxes reside on the premises of a post office, so you’ll want to pick something close to where you actually conduct business.
USPS is the standard for PO Boxes and offers a variety of options. You can rent a box for three months, six months or a year, but the price is dependent on size and location. In some places, a six-month lease will cost you as little as $19.
UPS PO Boxes (or business mail boxes) are similar to USPS PO Boxes, but they’re located at UPS Stores rather than a post office. They offer a full street address instead of just a PO Box address and will even text you when a package arrives. The price of mailboxes vary from place to place, so check with your locale.
The size of a PO Box is important. Your mail might be returned to the sender if it doesn’t all fit in the box and you don’t upgrade. Remember that PO Boxes are a business, so you can’t cut corners by ordering a box that’s way too small without consequences.
USPS offers boxes in five sizes. These range from 3” x 5.5” x 14.75” to 22.5” x 12” x 14.75.” The smallest fits 10 to 15 letter-sized envelopes or two rolled-up magazines, and the largest fits flat-rate boxes. The UPS Store offers similar sizing options.
If you’re opening a PO Box for a business — whether it’s a UPS PO Box or with USPS — you need two forms of identification. One of these must be a primary source of identification, which includes:
- U.S. government IDs (drivers' licenses, permanent resident cards or certificates of naturalization or citizenship)
- Corporate identification
- U.S. university identification
If you don’t have two forms of primary identification, you’ll also need a secondary form of identification. This includes:
- A lease, mortgage or deed of trust
- A voter or vehicle registration card
- A home or car insurance policy
- A utility bill
- Form 1-94, arrival and departure record
You can apply either in person or online and even pay with a credit card, but you’ll have to present your identification when you pick up your keys.
Once you have a PO Box, you’ll probably need to forward your mail. This is an easy process. Simply visit USPS.com/move to change your address. It costs $1, and you can pay online with a credit card.