Using a Private Mailbox for Your Home Office

An illustration of an overflowing mailbox.
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If you have a home office for your business, or even if you're in an office space that doesn't have people there all the time during normal business hours, you may want to get a private mailbox for better management of your mail and packages.

A private mailbox located at either a UPS Store, from PostNetPakMail or from a locally owned mailbox rental company is much different than just having a post office mailbox (PO Box). It can afford you many advantages over traditional post office boxes. Having a private mailbox for your home-based business will give you:

  • Reliability - No more missed deliveries because they required a signature from the receiver. When you have a private mailbox for your home business, there's always someone there during normal business hours to receive your packages and oversized mail on your behalf.
  • Privacy - Using a private mailbox allows you to keep your home address unpublished, which is great if you don't have a business that requires customers to come to your home.
  • Security - Your mail and packages are kept safe and secure until you pick them up, rather than being subject to possible theft from an unprotected home mailbox. No more packages getting stolen by being left on your doorstep for too long. Also, if you're away from home for a couple of days, your mail won't stack up in your mailbox, letting people know that you're gone.
  • Mobility - If you move within the same part of town, your address can still say the same on all your printed materials, website, business cards and elsewhere. Also, if you're traveling or you're working from another location for an extended period of time, you can have your mail and packages forwarded to you at that new location for a set duration of time from your private mailbox provider.

Now your first reaction may be to go to your local post office to pick out a post office box. While this is certainly a viable option for your home-based business, there are several reasons why you should go with a provider outside of the USPS system. A truly private mailbox offers a couple of advantages over a traditional post office box from the postal service:

  • Full-service package receiving - The U.S. Postal Service will not receive packages from other carriers (UPS, FedEx, etc.), which is a major benefit of using a private mailbox location that's not associated with the USPS.
  • An actual street address - You may find other situations in which you need an actual street address, not a P.O. Box. A private mailbox uses the street address of the mailbox provider plus a "#" sign and your box number, e.g., "123 Main St. #123". The street address also is perceived by some as being more credible. One important note, though - you are allowed to use "#" for the designation of your box number, but do not try to pass it off as a "Suite". The postal service prefers "PMB", but allows "#", which is certainly what I recommend.

    The private mailbox provider also can provide you with a variety of other products and services, such as packaging (USPS won't do that for you) and shipping (most private mailbox providers offer at least one other shipping provider in addition to handling USPS services).

    This alone is a major benefit and will potentially save you a significant amount of money if you regularly ship products. Private mailbox providers are also usually much less crowded than the post office, so you can get in and out of there quicker. Some popular providers of private mailboxes include the UPS Store, PostNet, and PakMail, in addition to independent local providers.

    Alternatively, the proliferation of affordable co-working spaces like WeWork and ImpactHub give home-based business owners even more opportunity for setting up private mailboxes. Most co-working spaces, regardless of their size, offer private mailbox services in tandem with their monthly memberships, and as a nice side benefit, you'll get access to a location where you can get some work done outside of the house when you feel like it.