Shipping Tips & Solutions

How to Ship to a PO Box

Shipping to a PO box? We'll give you the full rundown on how to ship to a PO box without any hassle.
How to Ship to a PO Box
Alexandra Ortolani

By Alexandra Ortolani


October 18, 2021

PO boxes, or Post Office boxes, are lockable boxes with a unique address available for rent at a local post office. People use PO boxes to receive mail away from home for the sake of privacy or convenience. Meanwhile, PO boxes allow individuals without a fixed address to receive mail in a nearby post office (van lifers, for example).

One day you might have to ship to one of the over 21 million PO boxes in the US. The thing is, only USPS ships to these locations (with one exception). In addition, the small size of these lockboxes limits the size of the parcels accepted. Customers will get frustrated if their package isn’t in their postal box, so it’s important to know what happens in these circumstances.

Considering these challenges, we'll outline all the restrictions so you can ship to a lockbox without any headaches.

Table of Contents

The Restrictions on Shipping to PO Boxes

Shipping to PO boxes can be a pain. USPS is the only carrier that can ship to PO boxes. Plus, there are limitations when it comes to the size of the parcel that can be delivered.

If your package doesn’t fit, USPS will hold your package aside. But – the hold only applies for ten business days. So if the package is unclaimed at the Post Office window after ten days, the parcel will be returned to the sender.

Postal boxes come in five sizes, listed below:

If a customer enters their address as a postal box, you might reach out to them. Ask them for the size, and mention the 10-day pickup window if your package may not fit. This will also ensure customers claim their package at the counter rather than assuming it wasn’t delivered.

Challenges of Shipping to PO Boxes

USPS is the only courier that ships to postal boxes reliably. However, there are a couple of cases in which FedEx can deliver, so keep these restrictions in mind.

  • Limited courier choice: Other than USPS, the only way to deliver to PO boxes is via FedEx SmartPost. This service actually uses USPS for the final leg of delivery, which makes it possible to ship your order to your PO box
  • International shipping is a hassle: FedEx Express is available to ship PO boxes to some international destinations and Puerto Rico. Though, you’ll need to provide a valid phone number or fax number
  • Tricky tracking: The shipment might sit in its PO box for a while, meaning the tracking updates won’t update until the recipient picks it up. This issue can be frustrating for merchants looking to see if their customer received their items

Related post: FedEx PO Box Shipping: What You Need to Know

Steps to Ship to PO Boxes

The critical difference between shipping to a residential address versus a PO box is that you’ll insert the PO box number in place of the regular street address.

Let’s break down the process into several easy steps.

Step 1. Start at the center of the envelope

It’s essential to write the name and address of the letter or package visibly. Failing to write the recipient’s address and name correctly can result in a mishandled letter or package. Or, you may face further delays.

Step 2. Write the recipient’s first and last name on the first line

Make sure to write the recipient’s first and last name. Though optional, you can add the recipient’s middle initial or name to ensure the wrong recipient won’t intercept it.

If the recipient goes by a formal title (i.e., Dr. Jane Doe), be sure to include it. Being as specific as possible is always the best way to ensure there won’t be issues with shipping to a PO box.

Step  3. Note the company or organization (optional)

This step only applies if you’re writing to a representative of an organization or company. The company or organization’s name goes directly under the recipient’s name.

At this point in the process, your address should look something like the following:

Dr. Jane Doe

ACME Innovations Inc.

Step 4. Provide PO box number

The recipient’s PO box number, and any PO box in general, begin with the words “PO Box,” followed by a 2-5 digit number.

USPS requests senders leave out all punctuation when addressing a letter or package for a PO box. Your address should look something like the following:

Dr. Jane Doe

ACME Innovations Inc.

PO Box 12345

Step 5. Add city, state, and postal code to the bottom line

Finally, you’re at the last step of addressing a letter or package for a PO box. This section is where you’ll specify the city and state or province. Make sure you separate the city and state with a comma.

Now, the address should look something like the following:

Dr. Jane Doe

ACME Innovations Inc.

PO Box 12345

New York, NY 10001

How Easyship Can Help

It’s essential to understand how to ship to PO boxes with eCommerce booming. Millions of individuals utilize PO boxes for various reasons, so you’ll want to keep up with the trends as an eCommerce merchant.

USPS is the only postal service that ships to PO boxes, though FedEx SmartPost offers delivery service to PO boxes since USPS handles the final leg of delivery. So if you’re looking to use UPS or other FedEx shipping services, you’re out of luck.

Connect with a reliable shipping platform like Easyship to save big when it comes to shipping. We offer up to 70% off discounted shipping rates, especially USPS.

Ready to ship to PO boxes with Easyship? Create a free account today and start shipping.

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