Obtaining a post office box as a minor: overview
Some readers under 18 living at home decide it is safer to have transition-related
items shipped to a Post Office Box. Some readers who plan carefully have set
up a mailing address without the knowledge of their parents or guardian. I provide
this information as part of a harm-reduction model, for young people who are
concerned they might be subjected to violence or kicked out of the house.
It is completely legal for minors to get a post Office Box.
There is no reason to be scared or nervous when you go in to do this.
On 16 November 2004, I went to the local Post Office and asked about how to
get a Post Office Box for a minor.
The image above is from the form you will fill out. You can download a copy
The highlighted part says: Post office box or caller service may be provided
to minors unless parents or guardians submit a written objection to the postmaster.
If for some reason, the person helping you does not know about this rule, you
can show them right on the form, under Terms of Service. In some smaller towns,
they might not be used to requests like this, but dont worry. Tell them
you know someone else your age who did this in another town, and they will usually
Before you go
Its pretty easy, but you will need to have a few things ready when
you come in.
Decide on a post office
You can find ones near you here:
Some people decide to go to a different neighborhood or town to set up a
Bring with you
Form PS 1093
I strongly recommend printing out the Form
PS 1093 at home so you can see what they need. Its a very simple
To open this, you may need to get need a PDF reader like Adobe
Reader. This is a free program.
There are only a couple of things you need to have prepared:
Item 5. Address to use
You will need to write down a street address. Some people put down their
own address, but some people who wanted to make sure nothing ever got sent
to their home address have put in the address of a friend, or accidentally
wrote it down wrong.
Item 6. Phone number to use
If you have your own phone, this is easy, but if not, you might consider
putting in the number of a friend who has his or her own phone.
Item 8. Box size needed
Get the smallest one, usually called #1 (usually 3 inches by 5.75 inches).
Sometimes they are out of a certain size, so you may need to get a bigger
If you can afford a bigger one, you can pay the extra money for a #2 or
#3. Almost anything youd order would fit in a #3.
Tip: If you get a package that wont fit, they will put a slip of paper
in your mailbox, which you take to the counter to pick up. You will need
your ID if this happens.
Item 14. List of minors receiving mail
This should only list you. I strongly recommend not getting any mail in
other names at first.
TWO pieces of identification:
They will ask to see two piece of ID.
One must have a photo of you. You might use any of the following for this:
* = recommended
State ID *
School ID *
Credit card or bank card with photo *
Public library card with photo
Club membership card with photo
Yearbook with your name and photo
News article with your name and photo
The second piece of ID can be any of the following items:
Social Security card *
Birth certificate *
School ID without photo *
Credit card or bank card without photo *
Public library card without photo *
Club membership card without photo
I strongly recommend bringing in AT LEAST two of the items with * next
to them. This will make that part of things go very smoothly.
Cash to pay
I strongly recommend paying in cash and keeping the receipt. You can usually
pay for a six-month rental or a one-year rental. Six months may cost $50 or
more, so bring $100 to be safe. If you pay in other ways, it will show up
on your checking or credit card statement.
Though it probably wont happen, the younger you are, the more likely
they will ask you questions about why you want a mailbox. It is good to have
an answer ready. Here are some suggestions:
I am doing this as part of a class project on setting up a business. I
make _____. *
* (greeting cards, needlepoint, etc.)
I collect ____ * and dont want things
I buy on eBay or online auctions to have my home address.
* (Beanie Babies, movie memorabilia, etc.)
People told me it is safer to get mail from overseas friends delivered
here than to have my name on my website.
Checking with parents
There is a chance the post office may ask to reach your parents, to make
sure this is OK. Some people with their own phones give that number and have
a message that sounds very adult on it, or set it to the default computer
answering message. They make sure they have their phone turned off in the
post office so it doesnt ring when the post office calls. After they
leave, they call back and give permission to have the post office box.
Using a private mail box (PMB)
Some people decide to use a private mailbox instead of one through the Post
office. The official name for these is a Commercial Mail Receiving Agency
This is another option for minors, though how strict they are with application
policies varies significantly by location and company. A smaller place will
probably be a little less strict than a big chain like UPS
Store, but its hard to say.
You can find local ones listed in the phone book or online under Mail, Mail
Boxes, or Mail Receiving and Forwarding.
Just like applying at the post office, you will have to fill out a couple
One is an Application of Delivery of Mail Through Agent (PS Form 1583). The
form requires the same information youll need at the Post Office, as
The form states that you have to fill out a separate form for each name,
but you dont need to worry about that when you set it up. Its
unlikely they will give you problems if other mail comes in your previous
or new name.
You will have to provide two forms of ID. Some may require payment with a
credit or debit card instead of cash.
You will probably have to sign a service agreement as well, indicating that
you agree to the costs and the rules.
Heres a checklist of how some people have had success:
Fill out Form 1093 (print the PDF or get one at the post office)
Have two pieces of ID, including one with a photo
Decide what address you will put down
Decide what phone number you will put down
Put adult-sounding message on phone if using it for application
Bring $100 in cash
Turn off phone before going in post office if using it for application
Return post office call if they left a message on your phone
Some dos and donts
Do test it by sending a postcard to yourself
Do test it by signing up for a couple
of free catalogues
Do test it by buying a book or video online,
or an eBay item.
Do check your mailbox every week or so
if possible. Unclaimed packages that dont fit in your mailbox are returned
to the sender after a certain time, an you will have to pay for postage again.Summary
Dont get mail sent in other names,
like your girl name
Dont tell friends about it
Dont let friends use it, especially
Dont order pornography
Dont order items that might be illegal
for someone under 18 to possess
This might seem as if its a lot to do, but its not that hard. As
long as you plan carefully, you will be able to get this done with no problems,
then you are ready to get items delieved to you safely and privately!