Address in one postal district, PO Box in another?
January 7, 2008 4:53 AM   Subscribe

Can I get a PO Box without proof of an address that's *in that post office's district*?

(I want a regular USPS PO Box; private mailbox services are way more expensive.)

I'm moving soon, to a place several miles away (several post office districts away) in the same NYC borough, and for personal security reasons I want to have no connection in anyone's records between my new physical address and my PO Box address.

The application at the USPS page about this is ambiguous but suggests you do need to prove your address. First it says you just need two pieces of ID, one with photo -- but then it has a box for the initials of the USPS employee who "verified physical address."

It also doesn't specify whether the physical address has to be in the same postal district as the post office where you want a PO Box. On that page it says, "Choose a location close to work or home—whatever fits your needs." But that could mean you can choose any location, OR it could mean that the location can be by your work if you can prove your work address.

ID documents I could show them:
- U.S. passport
- social security card
- credit cards
- proof of my *current* address (utility bills, tax returns, etc.).

There are related AskMes but they don't answer the specific question of where the address you have documentation of has to be located in the same PO district as the PO Box.
posted by sparrows to Law & Government (14 answers total)
Sorry, I missed clarifying that I want my new PO Box to be in my new neighborhood, not my old one. I'm trying to get a PO Box in the new district without telling anyone the new physical address -- but I'm fine sharing the old address since soon I won't live there anymore.
posted by sparrows at 4:57 AM on January 7, 2008

I've gotten po boxes out of district before ... and wasn't even aware of this requirement. just go into your new post office, provide your old address, and you shouldn't have any problems.
posted by lester's sock puppet at 5:35 AM on January 7, 2008

The PO Box can be anywhere. It doesn't matter if it's where you live or not. You could get a PO box in California and live in New York, if you wanted. However, postal regulations do require you to give the Post Office your current home address in order to get a PO box, and update them if you move. But you could lie and you'd probably not be caught, at least not in the first year or more. I'm not sure if the post office is sophisticated enough to detect that you have moved from your former address and also flag your PO box for needing a new address when it needs renewal in 6 or 12 months. My guess is that you could probably keep the box going for many years, but I don't know. I also have no idea what the penalty is for giving the PO false information, should they catch you.
posted by blue mustard at 5:36 AM on January 7, 2008

Awesome, thank you both!
posted by sparrows at 6:04 AM on January 7, 2008

You have to have an address anywhere. I have a PO Box close to where I work, in a different zip code than where I live; all I had to do was give them my home address.

I've moved several times since getting this PO Box, I don't know whether they have my updated address on file or not. Certainly there was no correspondence regarding my change of address in connection to my PO Box, though I'm pretty sure that if they needed to find me, they'd look me up and find my current address.
posted by desuetude at 6:25 AM on January 7, 2008

I've been refused a P.O. Box when I didn't have an in-district address because that post office had a shortage of boxes and made that rule. I never got around it, even though I was planning to move into the area and really wanted a local address to facilitate the move. Don't know what to tell you other than be extra nice to the clerk so that s/he will be inclined to help you.
posted by Capri at 6:27 AM on January 7, 2008

I've been turned down in Texas (at three different post offices) when I tried to do exactly what you are doing. I still had an address in Michigan (wife lived there), was temporarily living with a friend (i.e., no official address in Texas) and was told by all three post offices that I had to have an address in the are that office served in order to get a P.O. box there. I think the deal is that this is the official stance, but some offices don't enforce it.
posted by Doohickie at 6:28 AM on January 7, 2008

are = area
posted by Doohickie at 6:29 AM on January 7, 2008

I was able to rent a PO Box when I moved to a new state and did not yet have a physical address. They did require to have a street address on file once I found a place. They won't give out your street address if that is what you are worried about.
posted by 45moore45 at 6:47 AM on January 7, 2008

The thing about the Post Office is that regardless of what the Postal Manual says, local post offices make up a lot of their own rules and regs. They do not even have standard office hours from one post office to the next. So, blue mustard is correct, but your results may vary.
posted by beagle at 7:31 AM on January 7, 2008

In NYC, I live in the delivery zone for Hamilton Grange post office and have a PO Box at Rockefeller Center post office. The only problem w/ me not living in the district was that the reason for getting the box was that delivery to my address was unreliable and they verify the address by sending you a certified letter, the notices for which of course went astray, because I wasn't getting reliable delivery. But it was eventually sorted out.

One trick w/ post office boxes, they keep track of how often you overflow the box and can force you to switch to a bigger & more expensive one, if you do so to often, so oddly you still have to file hold mail notices when you go on vacation so that that overflow doesn't count against you even though they would hold all your mail at the post office anyways.
posted by Jahaza at 7:40 AM on January 7, 2008

Once I'd registered my PO box, they never asked me for an address again -- as long as you keep the bill paid, they don't seem to really care. So I think you could indeed get away with giving them the old address, no problem.
posted by at 9:00 AM on January 7, 2008

If your PO wants proof of an address in their district, usually they will accept a lease. In this part of the country, it's common for landlords to be individuals, and for a lease to be some sort of standard form that doesn't include any contact information for the landlord. It's also not unknown for a residence to lack a mailbox, which would make delivery of a registered letter to verify that you live there rather difficult.
posted by yohko at 11:43 AM on January 7, 2008

My grandmother has a post office box in a different district (in fact, it's in a different 3-digit zone even though it's the closest post office), and she can't receive mail at her home address (no box, and possibly no delivery to her entire street).

I have a post office box in a different state from where I live, but it is near where I work, and more convenient than the post office near where I live.
posted by oaf at 6:27 AM on January 8, 2008

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