How do you get a physical address if your business might not have one? Open a PO box. You can get two kinds of PO boxes: post office boxes with combination locks and post office boxes with keys. Either way, opening a PO box can be done in just a few minutes online or in person at your local official U.S. post office.
Why Open a PO Box With a Combination Lock?
There are a lot of great reasons to open a PO box. If you’re functioning as a company but working out of your home, you probably don’t want to include your home address in any mail or paperwork having to do with your business dealings. This especially goes for companies that have returns or receive mail from customers. Of course, you want to only have happy customers, but in the event that someone gets angry, do you really want a potentially disgruntled customer to have your home address?
In addition, a PO box can look more official and professional than a residential address. Other people choose to have a PO box because their mail constantly gets stolen off the street. This is particularly notorious for businesses that operate in urban areas. Yes, Amazon Prime might replace orders that are stolen, but a PO box with a combination lock prevents the need and gives you some peace of mind.
Whether you choose a PO box with a combination lock or key is up to you and the post office you frequent. Post office box combo locks are a little bit easier because you won’t have to remember to always have a key, but you will have to remember a combination. The choice is up to you. Which do you trust more: your memory or your ability to not lose a key?
How to Open a PO Box With a Combination Lock
You can apply for a PO box in person or online through the United States Postal Service (USPS) website. There, you can select the location, size and payment plan. A PO box with a combination lock can range in size from XS (3 inches by 5.5 inches) to XL (12 inches by 22.5 inches). What you choose really depends on how much mail you think you’re going to receive.
Paying for Your PO Box
PO boxes through the USPS have three types of payment plans: either a three-month plan, a six-month plan or a 12-month plan. You can automate payments through their website and pay using your business credit card (American Express, Discover, Visa or Mastercard). You cannot pay this way with cards linked to international addresses, so your business must have a business address on U.S. soil.
Getting Your Combination
Post office box combo locks are pretty secure. Once you sign up online, you’ll need to visit your post office in person to get the code for your PO box combination lock. USPS requires two forms of valid ID, one of which must contain a photo. Social Security cards, credit cards and birth certificates are not valid forms of ID, but you can use:
- A driver’s license or state ID card.
- Passport, alien registration card or certificate of naturalization.
- Voter or vehicle registration card.
- Lease, mortgage, deed of trust.
- Home or vehicle insurance policy.
- Armed forces, government, university or recognized corporate ID card.
How to Open Your Post Office Box Combo Lock
Opening the physical lock to a PO box with a combination lock is really quite easy once you get your combination. It’s four simple steps:
- Turn the dial three times to the right, stopping at the first number.
- Turn the dial to the left, pass the first number and stop at the second number.
- Turn the dial right and stop at the last number.
- Open the box.
When you close your lock, spin the dial around at least once to lock it securely.
- When you close your lock, spin the dial around at least once to lock it securely.
Mariel Loveland is a small business owner, content strategist and writer from New Jersey. Throughout her career, she's worked with numerous startups creating content to help small business owners bridge the gap between technology and sales. Her work has been featured in publications like Business Insider and Vice.