Most people receive their mail directly to their home or apartment. However, there are some cases where it might be beneficial to rent an online PO box or virtual mailbox. These types of mailboxes may be more convenient for receiving your mail, particularly if you travel a lot or you want more privacy for your home or personal address.
After reviewing the pros and cons below, you may find yourself asking, where can I find an online PO box?
Online PO Box vs Virtual Mailbox
A PO box (also known as a Postal Box or Post Office Box) is a lockable box at your local post office, which you can rent to receive mail. This type of mailbox has existed for many decades and was mostly applicable to people who live in more remote areas where mail delivery isn’t available.
Virtual mailboxes are a newer invention, using internet technology to provide your mail to you virtually. Since the mailbox is online, you can access your mail 24/7, receive email notifications about new mail, and manage your mail from wherever you are.
Pros of an Online PO Box or Virtual Mailbox
There are lots of perks of a virtual mailbox or online PO box, mainly if you prefer to keep your home address private or you’re traveling. Some of the strongest pros of these types of mailboxes include:
- Convenience. With a virtual mailbox and online access to your mail, you can view your mail online even if you’re not home. You can also receive real-time notifications when new mail arrives at the post office, so you can access it immediately from wherever you’re located.
- Privacy & Security. If you have your own business or you want to keep your personal address private for other reasons, managing your mail virtually is a more private way to get your mail. Since the physical mailbox is locked and located inside a securely monitored post office, it may also be safer than your home mailbox, where anyone could gain access. If you have concerns about identity theft, an online mailbox may offer the security you need.
- Document Management. With immediate access to your mail and the digital capabilities offered with a virtual mailbox, you can manage your documents and keep records easily.
- Check Depositing. For digital nomads and those traveling full-time, a virtual mailbox makes it easy to receive and deposit your paycheck. When each check arrives, you can ask the post office to send it to your bank for depositing, and you’ll have access to your funds within a couple of business days (depending on your bank).
Cons of a Virtual Mailbox or Online PO Box
Despite the perks, there are some drawbacks of a virtual mail management solution, and it might not work for everyone:
- Extra Fees. You may have to pay extra for specific services with an online mailbox, beyond the rental fee. For example, you may have to pay more for virtual scanning or mail forwarding. Mail forwarding fees may also vary based on the size, weight, fragility, or the urgency of the shipment.
- Unprofessional for Businesses. PO boxes may not be a good option for your business. Not only are PO boxes not accepted for the address if you are the business’ registered agent (specifically with the Internal Revenue Service or state officials), but a PO box will not provide a professional image. In these cases, a virtual mailbox may work, but not in all scenarios.
- Ineffective for Receiving Packages. Forwarding packages from your virtual mailbox can be expensive, and online PO boxes are limited to receiving mail only through USPS (packages from other carriers like UPS or FedEx are not accepted). Additionally, if your package is too large, it may be returned to the sender or misplaced if it doesn’t fit in your box.
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