PO Box vs. Street Address: Delivering Postal Mail via USPS

FILE - In this Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013, file photo, packages wait to be sorted in a Post Office as U.S. Postal Service letter carrier Michael McDonald, gathers mail to load into his truck before making his delivery run, in Atlanta. The financially struggling U.S. Postal Service said Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013 it is revamping its priority mail program as part of its efforts to raise revenue and drive new growth in its package delivery business. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

The USPS offers a more cost-efficient delivery service for PO Boxes than street addresses. Instead of transporting letters from the post office to home and business locations, postal mail can be quickly deposited directly into assigned PO boxes – no extra transportation time needed! This efficient system saves the USPS money while giving customers access to their postal mail in one central location, just like if it had been delivered straight to your door.

PO Boxes are an increasingly popular way for people to receive mail. Understanding how these address systems differ can be useful when deciding which option is best suitable for you and your needs. 

Here, we break down the advantages of PO Boxes such as security and privacy, explain the process of renting them, compare their differences from street addresses in terms of USPS delivery options and provide insights on making a decision concerning whether or not to use one with regards to mailing postal mails safely.

This article will go over the basic differences between a PO Box vs a physical address while also bridging the gap between common postal mail questions with included examples. Finally, we will offer further insights into Address Guard, which is an advanced address verification tool for growing e-commerce brands.

What is a PO Box address?

P.O. Box listing

P.O. Box, or PO Box, stands for Postal Office Box, and it is a unique address used by individuals and businesses that want to keep their physical address private. P.O. boxes would be rented from the post office and assigned a unique P.O. box number so that mail can be sent directly to the P.O box instead of needing to go through a physical address line. Earning yourself a P.O box doesn’t need to break the bank; P.O boxes are inexpensive services offered at just about any post office and they make it easy to receive mail without divulging your private residential or business address – making them ideal for busy entrepreneurs, remote workers, and small business owners who operate out of their home or move frequently during the year but don’t want to miss out on important mail or packages..

Why do people sign up for PO Boxes?

P.O. Box mail delivery

PO Boxes are generally regarded as safer alternatives to traditional mail boxes. A common reason people subscribe to mailboxes is to protect privacy. The PO Box has a postal address instead of a physically located address. PO Boxes offer a way of mailing without telling the sender where the mail is. In addition, unlike other mailboxes, postal boxes can only be accessed using an access code. Adding a security layer is a better choice for many mailbox systems. Some individuals sign up for a postal service because of lack of physical mailboxes.

There are also a few common reasons why a consumer or business may open a P.O. Box address:

  1. You want to maintain your privacy – A postal envelope can protect your address and prevent identity theft.

  2. You want a secure mail option – Like most regular email, the mailboxes are opened only by keys. So the PO Box is the safest possible choice

  3. You want an alternative address for mail forwarding – some businesses may want an additional address for certain types of mail which is different than their business address. In this case a physical mailbox is an easy and secure way for delivering postal mails.

The Correct Way to Use Your PO Box Address

P.O. Box address formatting

It’s quite easy to manage your postal address format, particularly because you’re simply replacing your address and street address by your new PO Box number. 

Let’s say for example you just opened a new business and you plan to work from home. Since you’re not using a physical street address for your business, instead a virtual office address can be established. In this example, that virtual office address is in the form of a po box number.

When a consumer mails a package or letter to your business, the formatting would look like:

Ryan Smith

PO Box 1234

Orlando, FL 34787

If you intend to use a physical street address instead, than the formatting would need to look similar to:

Ryan Smith

123 Main Street

Orlando, FL 34787 

The correct way to utilize the po box address format is to ensure the P.O. Box is situated on Line 1 of the address line, right below the name of the person or company that this item being mailed to. 

Writing an Invalid & Valid Address in the Same Address Line

Continuing the examples we have given above, let us take the same po box street address on a traditional mailed envelope and combine the first and second addresses. The first street address will look something similar to the one in the following box: The USPS system will first standardize the address as usual. The system detects this by adding it at the beginning and assigning it as address line1. The invalid part of the address “Po Box 123 Orlando,” originally located on the first address line, has been moved into the second location by the standard USPS address system.

One of the clear benefits of utilizing Address Guard is its ability to not only validate an address to accuracy but to also format it according to standards set by the postal authority for the country the item is being mailed to. In this example, we are looking at the USPS post office to determine the correct way to format a po box address versus a physical address.

In this situation, if Address Guard reads an address where Address line 1 and Line 2 are combined , it will properly separate out the content (ie: standardization).

PO Box Vs. Street Address

Street address

You can use a PO Box address if you do not use a street address, so that your personal address is not known. You don’t need a postal address for street addresses. This is because postal offices are unable to meet requirements for street or physical addresses. This PO Box does not contain an physical address. A street address signifies your location and a postal mail address does not say so at all. A huge change is the PO box address format. As we learned above, street addresses and PO boxes differ significantly in writing style.

What address should I use for my business?

Those who wish to portray a professional image require a commercial address. Commercial addresses relate to businesses rather than residential properties. If there are offices in your area they can be easily accessible to your clients. The commercial address is also important for protecting your data. While a home address might allow some use (such as registration in a state) for business purposes, a business address is not. In addition, a post office box will have limitations over a commercial physical mail address due to box sizes or mail carriers (ie: UPS or Fedex).

The Trouble with Traditional PO Box Addresses

P.O. Box troubles

Although there are many advantages to using PO Box addresses, there are also several limitations. First of all, changing a postal address at home can be very difficult. Secondly a typical postal office boxes are not as secure and private for a local resident as some people believe. It can be difficult if someone digs into someone’s address from a local post office – postal address and thereby compromises your privacy and protection.

Delivering postal mail & parcels through USPS to a physical address over a PO Box address

Have you ever been unsure of which address to put first when sending a package or letter? If both your PO Box and street addresses are included (and are a valid address), the USPS prefers delivering mail sent to the PO Box (ie: a post office box is the preferred address). To avoid confusion between primary and secondary destinations, make sure that your preferred mailing location is listed on top – followed by a backup address with ‘backup’ clearly written next to it. This way there’s no doubt about where exactly the postal mail or parcel should be delivered.

USPS Pub. 28 states that all you need to do to ensure your postal mail is securely delivered is a properly formatted address in the first and second lines with the physical street address listed first – easy as that! So if you correctly fill out both lines, rest assured knowing USPS has got your back ensuring secure delivery of postal mail right to its intended destination.

Delivering Postal Mails Through USPS to a PO Box Address Over a Physical Address

For this example, we are going to flip the address types to learn how the USPS handles delivery to ensure all postal mail is delivered.

Let’s say you need to send mail to a usps po box instead of a physical address? All you have to do is switch the address lines on your envelope – listing the PO Box at the top. By prioritizing this delivery option, your USPS mail carrier can guarantee that your postal mail will be delivered where it’s meant to go.

How to write both the USPS PO Box and Street Address in the 1st Address Line 

When addressing a letter, the USPS has declared they prefer to deliver directly to PO Boxes. To ensure delivery either way, it’s important that you list your primary destination as the first line of address on any envelope. But what if both addresses need to be listed? The usps postal service allows for two formats: one with just street address and another combining both PO Box and physical location together – so sending those letters is no problem at all.

While both examples can be valid addresses, the formatting is slightly different:

1st example: 

1234 Main Street

PO Box 567

Orlando, FL 34787

2nd example: 

PO Box 567

1234 Main Street

Orlando, FL 34787

As you now know, the preferred method for sending mail is through a PO Box address, however if wanting to make sure your letter arrives at the physical residence of its addressee it’s best practice to include both on the envelope. By writing the primary address and secondary addresses respectively in first and second lines there won’t be any doubt as to which destination you wish your correspondence delivered.

Sending mail to a PO Box Number via UPS and FedEx

Ups and FedEx shipping validation

Both shipping companies; UPS and FedEx don’t send packages to P.O. Box numbers due to their own internal policies. This prevents PO Box owners from receiving business mail or personal mail. 

The good news is that you can solve this problem with an easy change in address format when writing your mailing address. These formats are called PO Box street addresses. It is possible to send a package to a PO box through any retail store or delivery service such as UPS or FedEx. PBSA is a combination of the postal address and the street address of the postal agency.

What is a PO Box Street Address? 

When you need to send mail in a hurry, the PO Box Street Address is an efficient way of forwarding your letters with accuracy. For example: If you are sending a package to PO Box 87 located at “1300 Legion Pl Orlando, FL 34787,” then the correct PBSA would look like this – combining both street address and post office box number for timely delivery:

1234 Main Street #567

Orlando, FL 34787

Addressing your mail with a PBSA and verifying it through an advanced tool like Address Guard is sure to give you the peace of mind knowing that you are provided a standardized mailing address.

One major difference in the standardized PBSA is that instead of saying “#,” it would say “unit,” for example, “1300 Legion Pl Unit 13”.

Not only will this ensure successful delivery for both street address or PO Box addresses, but it will also ensure large parcels are delivered on-time. Packages are therefore safely stored in back rooms until owners pick them up after receiving notification via slip on their box.

Last notice regarding PBSA addresses 

Proper maintenance and use of your company’s PO Box format address with PBSA is integral for maintaining the safety and security of your customers. With a few simple steps, you can ensure smooth transitioning between Post Office Box (PO) formats to Postal Body Services Address (PBSA), including submitting change-of-address forms that are identical in both addresses. Taking these measures will guarantee successful mail delivery.


To ensure that your postal mail is delivered  without any hiccups, it is important to validate both usps po boxes and physical street addresses. Sending out postal mails with incorrect or invalid addresses can prove costly for businesses in terms of wasted resources and money. To avoid such scenarios, companies should employ an advanced address verification tool like Address Guard which efficiently validates all kinds of addresses for accurate deliveries. Address Guard also helps you cleanse, format and standardize address data across 240 countries to ensure valuable time & effort are saved while achieving desired results.