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The difference between PO box and street addresses

For nearly a century, PO Box Addresses have been a feature of the UK postal system. They allow you to have an alternative, secure, and private mailing address other than your primary residential or company location. They are usually found in a Post Office or one of Royal Mail’s sorting facilities. PO Boxes can provide a lot more privacy since they are at a completely different location to the owner’s home or workplace address. However, size and delivery restrictions can also cause difficulties for some businesses. 

What is a PO box and what is it used for?

Originally devised as a way for those living in remote areas, outside of post delivery routes, to have a secure location to receive mail. PO boxes (common shortening for Post Office Box) have outgrown this humble beginning and are now used for a variety of reasons. One particular advantage is that you can use a PO Box to set up a separate business mailing address. As a result, instead of a home or business address, all mail will be delivered to the Post Office delivery office.
There are several reasons why this may be a viable option for you, including:

  • The ability to have a shorter, easier-to-remember address that permits you to remain anonymous
  • For people who work from home, an official business address is available via the PO Box
  • You are free to collect mail whenever it is convenient for you – some are now accessible 24/7
  • To collect, you’ll need a valid ID card to ensure the security of your post

If you want, mail that would ordinarily be delivered to your home address can be rerouted to a PO Box, keeping everything together. Just keep in mind that the mail must be sent to the same address as the PO Box registration.

What are the benefits of a PO box over a street address?

Home-based businesses

Many small businesses that operate from home prefer not to have their physical location exposed to the public. A PO Box provides them with additional security and helps to keep undesirable visitors away from their home addresses. PO Boxes can also help these small enterprises present themselves in a more professional manner.

UK address regardless of location

The number of people who live abroad and require a UK address will surprise you. Expats, in particular, frequently want a physical address in the United Kingdom after they depart, especially if they are still engaging in or own a business in the UK. International firms can also benefit from a PO Box in the UK because it allows them to establish or expand their presence in the country. Many foreign businesses want a presence in the UK in order to trade, and many of them choose a PO Box. These organisations can use a PO Box to get a postal address in the UK without having to pay for office space or recruit workers.

Avoid visitors at office premises

Some large firms and small enterprises do not want clients to show up at their premises without prior notice. PO Box Addresses are used by a variety of businesses, including insurers, call centres, and large law firms for this reason.

If you want to get a PO Box, you must first fill out an application form. You may find this information at your local post office or on the Royal Mail website. Make sure you include proof of address and the right payment when you submit the form

What are the disadvantages of a PO box compared to a street address?

Size Restrictions 

The Most obvious issue, of course, is the size restriction. PO boxes are intended primarily for the delivery of letters. Although they are available in a variety of sizes, the average is between 5″x5″ and 11″x11″. For businesses that sell larger goods, PO boxes can present a real problem as larger deliveries cannot be accepted and will be returned to the sender. 

Can’t hold perishable goods

Beyond size, a further issue is with the delivery of perishable goods that cannot be left unattended in a PO box for a length of time. Some businesses such as food delivery services may wish to block PO boxes from being entered at their checkout all together. 

Royal Mail Only

Most PO boxes in the UK are housed within the Royal Mail post offices and will only accept post delivered by the Royal Mail system. They will not accept deliveries by couriers. this is not always the case and under certain circumstances, certain couriers have permission to deliver. But depending on the location of the PO box in question and which company it is rented from. this could cause difficulties with delivery. 

How to ship to a PO box

Under some conditions and inside certain countries, some courier companies, such as UPS or FedEx, can deliver to PO Box addresses. If the consignee’s phone number is listed on the shipping label, for example, the courier can call the consignee and arrange a different delivery location. When they have special agreements with local or national postal offices, certain courier operators may even deliver straight to PO boxes.

Should I use a PO box address for my business?

Because of their security and inexpensive cost, PO boxes have grown increasingly popular. They also protect your personal information by encrypting your address and preventing mail theft. They may not be appropriate for all legal arrangements; for example, some will require a physical address to deliver some goods which may require a signature. Directors may use a service address instead of their home or office address in specific instances.

It’s a good idea to do some research on rates, services, and limits before deciding on a PO box.

  • Increased personal privacy
  • There are low-cost choices available
  • You have the option of picking up or having your mail delivered to your home
  • Can be monitored
  • If you get a lot of mail, it might get expensive
  • It’s possible that large objects won’t fit
  • It could be construed as unprofessional
  • If you don’t keep an eye on it, it could overflow

Address Validation and Postcode Lookup with Fetchify

Fetchify’s database includes PO box addresses in the UK and internationally, ensuring your deliveries can reach your customers wherever they are. However, PO boxes can sometimes cause issues for eCommerce businesses, often this is because the package will be too large for the PO box, or if the goods are perishable it’s not possible for the items to be delivered there. Fetchify offers businesses the ability to block PO box addresses from being entered if they cause regular problems. With a simple adjustment to Address Auto-Complete, this could save you a lot of time and money in the long run! 

Using Postcode Lookup software and Address Auto Complete technology can benefit your eCommerce business by streamlining checkout and ensuring you collect only accurate address data. Address Validation checks every address that is entered at checkout is valid and correctly formatted. Using gold-standard data providers, including the Royal Mail PAF database, so that failed deliveries to incorrect, or incomplete addresses, or PO boxes, can be avoided before the customer even completes the transaction. So you can reach the right person every time.

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About Fetchify

We are a pioneer in SaaS address lookup and data validation solutions. We process millions of data transactions each day for thousands of clients ranging from small e-commerce startups to large household brands such as Heinz and RBS. Our flagship products Address Auto Complete and Postcode Lookup reduce friction on checkouts, leading to increases in conversion rate of up to 40%, and helps reduce failed deliveries by as much as 75%. Since launching in 2008, we have differentiated by our ease of integration and exceptional support. We provide a full suite of data validation solutions including Phone Validation, Email Validation, UK Bank Validation, and Data Cleansing.