Remember the big stink the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) made about how users of private mailbox services listed their addresses a few years ago? If you recall, the USPS wanted private mailbox users to put a “PMB” before the box number instead of a number sign (#) or the word “Suite”. Supposedly, this was to prevent people from assuming that the box number represented the location of a physical office.
The small business community raised a ruckus about the new regulations which caused the USPS to abandon the requirement.
Post Office emulates private mailbox services
Now the USPS has announced that it is offering something similar, what they call “street addressing”,for holders of USPS p.o. boxes. No doubt, this is an effort to entice customers away from private mailbox services.
Here’s how “street addressing” with USPS p.o. boxes works. Instead of putting “P.O. Box 100” as the street address, box holders can now use the street address of the post office followed by the box number. For example, “1000 Main St #100”, 1000 Main St being the street address of the post office where P.O. Box 100 is located. The USPS will deliver mail addressed in this manner to the p.o. box. Note: You must follow the USPS guidelines for “street addressing” or the item will be returned to the sender. For example, you cannot use “suite” or “apt” or “room” before the box number in the street address.
The USPS prohibits the use of the p.o. box street address as a physical address either for yourself or your business in legal documents.
Now small businesses operated out of the home can have a street address for the business without having to list their home address by renting a USPS p.o. box and using street addressing.
Advantages of USPS “street addressing” over private mailbox services
Of course, this could be achieved by using a private mailbox service. However, the USPS p.o. box offers some advantages over private box services:
- USPS box rental rates are less expensive than private mailbox services.
- USPS box rental offers a more permanent address than private mailbox services which go in and out of business and move locations. (This may be less of an advantage as the USPS downsizes and closes locations.)
- USPS will forward its box mail after the box is closed at no additional charge. USPS will not forward mail from closed private mailbox services.
The USPS will not only receive letter mail and packages sent through the postal service that are street addressed to the p.o. box, but it will also receive packages delivered by private carriers such as UPS and FedEx that are street addressed. Now you don’t have to plan your workday around package deliveries. The post office will receive them for you and put them in a secure lockbox if one is available. The key to the lockbox is placed in your p.o. box, so you can pick up the package at any time. Otherwise, you can pick it up at the service window during business hours, which may mean waiting in line (not an advantage).
Acceptance of packages delivered by private carriers is limited to items that qualify for mail delivery. For example, you may not use “street addressing” for delivery of shipments of wine or other alcohol, items over 70 pounds, or items prohibited by Postal Service policy (see the Domestic Mail Manual, Section 601).
A glaring flaw in “street addressing”