DMM Revision: Competitive Post Office Box Service Features

Effective November 4, 2013, the Postal Service™ will revise Mailing Standards of the United States Postal Service, Domestic Mail Manual (DMM®) 508.4 to incorporate standards for Competitive Post Office Box service and its available enhancements and condense the standards for Post Office Box service within this section.

After starting Competitive Post Office Box Service at 49 locations in January 2011, the Postal Service expanded the Competitive service to many more designated locations nationwide on January 22, 2012. Competitive Post Office Box service includes several enhancements such as: including electronic notification of the receipt of mail, use of an alternate street address format, signature on file for delivery of certain accountable mail, and may include additional hours of access and/or earlier availability of mail in some locations.

Additionally, as part of a continuing effort to reduce redundancy, and to simplify and consolidate mailing standards, this article condenses sections of 508.4 to eliminate any unnecessary wording without changing the general standards for Post Office Box service.

While the Competitive Post Office Box standards will not be published in the online DMM until November 4, 2013, these enhancements are currently available as introduced in January 2012.

Mailing Standards of the United States Postal Service, Domestic Mail Manual (DMM)

* * * * * 

500 Additional Mailing Services

* * * * * 

508 Recipient Services

* * * * * 

4.0 Post Office Box Service

[Make a global change to 4.0 in its entirety to replace references to PS Form 1093 with Form 1093 and replace references to Post Office Box with PO Box.]

[Delete current 4.1, Fees for Post Office Box Service, in its entirety and renumber current 4.2, Basic Information for Post Office Box Service, through 4.9, Service Refusal or Termination, as new 4.1 through 4.8, and then revise the title of renumbered 4.1 to read as follows:]

4.1 Basic Information and Fees for Post Office Box Service

[Revise the text of renumbered 4.1.1 to read as follows:]

4.1.1 Purpose

Post Office Box (PO Box) service is a premium service offered for a fee (See Notice 123 — Price List) to any customer and for no fee to customers who are not eligible for carrier delivery (also see 4.5.2). The service allows a customer to obtain mail during the hours the box lobby is open or access is otherwise available, and is provided only through receptacles owned or operated by the USPS or its agents. PO Box service does not include alternate means of delivery established to replace or extend carrier delivery service. A Postmaster (or designee) and a box customer may not make any agreement that contravenes the regulations on PO Box service or its fees. Competitive Post Office Box service (see 4.5.4) is available in designated postal locations and offers service enhancements for PO Box customers.

4.1.2 Definition

[Revise the text of renumbered 4.1.2 to read as follows:]

Post Office Box, PO Box, or the # symbol when a Post Office street address is used as allowed under 4.6.4, designates this service in an address. Competitive PO Box service is available for customers located within the service area of a competitive mailbox service provider. Market-Dominant PO Box service is available to serve customers not served by a nearby competitor. Box customer applies only to the person who signs the application as an individual or to the organization on whose behalf an individual signs the application.

4.1.3 Box Size

[Revise renumbered 4.1.3 by revising the text and inserting the chart as follows:]

There are five box sizes and availability of sizes varies by facility. A customer is assigned a box size based on the customer’s needs and the availability of boxes. The Postmaster may require a customer to use a larger size box if the customer’s mail volume increases beyond the capacity of the present box. The fees for boxes increase with box size. The following chart describes approximate box capacities and frontal dimensions.


Box size

(Cubic Inches)

Width and Height


Under 296

3 by 5.5


296 through 499

5 by 5.5


500 through 999

11 by 5.5


1,000 through 1,999

11 by 11


2,000 or more

22.5 by 12

* * * * * 

4.1.5 Box Availability

[Revise renumbered 4.1.5 to read as follows:]

When no box of the appropriate size is available, the Postmaster may handle the application for box service in one or more of the following ways:

a. Refer the customer to another postal facility with available capacity.

b. Place the customer’s name on a waiting list for box service.

c. Provide general delivery service until an appropriate size box becomes available.

d. Offer a smaller or larger box, or caller service, at its applicable fee.

4.1.6 Unavailable Box

[Revise the first sentence of renumbered 4.1.6 to read as follows:]

Online customers cannot apply for a box that is not available but can place themselves on a waiting list for the box.***

4.1.7 Service Period

[Revise the second and third sentences of renumbered 4.1.7 to read as follows:]

***The 3-month option requires establishing an automatic recurring renewal payment available online or at select Post Offices with automatic recurring payment functionality. The 3-month option is not available at Post Office locations on the semi-annual (April/October) payment schedule.

4.1.8 Limitation on Service

[Revise renumbered 4.1.8 to read as follows:]

The Postmaster may require a box customer to use caller service under 5.0 based on the volume of mail received, or the level of service requested by the customer, or the availability of boxes. A customer required to use caller service in this manner may submit a written request to the Postmaster for a new determination not more than semiannually. Existing box customers will not be allowed to use additional boxes at Post Offices having a waiting list for PO Boxes.

4.2 Service

4.2.1 Application

[Revise renumbered 4.2.1 by deleting items b5 and b6 (context of text relocated within revised text of 4.2.1) and revising the text to read as follows:]

A customer may apply for PO Box service by completing a Form 1093 at a Post Office or online and presenting it to any postal retail facility. When the application is presented, the applicants (including both spouses or any other individual listed but minors) each must present two items of valid, current identification; one item must contain a photograph of the applicant and the other must contain sufficient information to confirm the applicant’s identity. Furnishing false information or refusing to furnish required information may be sufficient reason for denial of the application or discontinuance of service. When any information required on Form 1093 changes, the box customer must update the application. Application procedures are as follows:

a. In all cases:

1. Spouses may complete and sign one Form 1093.

2. Other adult persons, employees, or other representatives of organizations, or minors under a parent or guardian, who receive mail in the Post Office box, or additional box users authorized to pick up mail from the box, must be listed on Form 1093.

3. Customers applying for Competitive Post Office Box services must also complete and sign a Customer Agreement when selecting any of the service enhancements described in 4.6.4.

4. Minors (a person under 18 years of age) may be provided with PO Box service, unless the minor’s parent or guardian submits a written objection to the appropriate Postmaster, but are ineligible to apply for PO Box service online.

5. Acceptable forms of photo identification are: valid driver’s license or state non-driver’s identification card; from a U.S. State, U.S. armed forces, U.S. government, university located in the U.S., or corporate identification card of a corporation located in the United States; or U.S. passport, U.S. alien registration card, or U.S. certificate of naturalization. Acceptable forms of other non-photo identification are: current lease, mortgage, or deed of trust; voter or vehicle registration card; or home or vehicle insurance policy.

b. Under these additional conditions when applying online:

1. An applicant searches for and selects a box and the service time period.

2. The applicant must complete all required items on the online Form 1093, and read the Privacy Act statement.

3. The applicant must complete the payment information.

4. The applicant must present an unsigned printout of the online Form 1093 in person to the Post Office and, upon approval, receive the box number and keys or lock combination.

[Delete renumbered 4.2.2 in its entirety, context of text relocated to 4.2.1.]

[Renumber previously renumbered 4.2.3 as new 4.2 2.]

4.2.2 Transferring Service

[Revise second sentence of renumbered 4.2.2 to read as follows:]

***To transfer service, the box customer must submit a new application to either facility.***

[Delete renumbered 4.2.4, Minor, in its entirety (context of text relocated to renumbered 4.2.1).]

4.3 Conditions of Use

4.3.1 Mail Receipt

[Revise renumbered 4.3.1 to read as follows:]

In accordance with the standards in 4.2, any individual box customer or organization may receive through the box any mail properly addressed to the box number.

* * * * * 

[Revise the title and text of renumbered 4.3.3 to read as follows:]

4.3.3 Accumulation and Overflow of Mail

A box customer must remove mail promptly from the box. If mail will not be removed from the box for more than 30 days and an overflow condition is probable, the customer must make prior arrangements with the Postmaster. When mail for a customer’s PO Box exceeds the capacity of the box on 12 of any 20 consecutive business days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and national holidays), the box is in an overflow condition. Customers whose box is in an overflow condition must use caller service, change to a larger box, or use one or more additional boxes to which mail will be addressed.

* * * * * 

[Delete renumbered 4.3.4, Overflow, in its entirety (context of section relocated to 4.3.3) and renumber previously renumbered 4.3.5 through 4.3.7 as new 4.3.4 through 4.3.6.]

4.3.6 Address Change

Customers may file change-of-address orders as follows:

* * * * * 

[Revise the text of renumbered item 4.3.6b to read as follows:]

b. Residential box customers, Fee Groups 1 through 7 and 30 through 44. Only the box customer listed on the Form 1093 may file change-of-address orders, and is responsible for forwarding mail to other persons receiving mail at the box.

* * * * * 

4.4 Basis of Fees and Payment

4.4.1 General

[Revise renumbered 4.4.1 to read as follows:]

PO Box fees are based on the box size (see 4.1.3) and the fee group to which the box’s 5-digit ZIP Code is assigned.

[Delete renumbered 4.4.2, Box Size (text and chart relocated to 4.1.3), and renumber previously renumbered 4.4.3 through 4.4.10 as new items 4.4.2 through 4.4.9]

* * * * * 

4.4.3 Payment

[Revise the first sentence of the text of renumbered 4.4.3 to read as follows:]

All fees for PO Box service are for 3-, 6-, or two 6-month (semi-annual) prepaid periods, except as noted under 4.4.5, 4.4.7, and 4.4.9.***

[Revise item 4.4.3d as follows and delete item e in its entirety (item e incorporated into revised item d)]

d. Online at using a credit card, including for online automatic PO Box renewal.

4.4.4 Payment Period

[Revise the first and last sentences of newly renumbered 4.4.4 to read as follows:]

Except under 4.4.6, the beginning date for a PO Box fee payment period is determined by the approval date of the application.*** Fees for service renewal may be paid any time during the last 30 days of the service period, except under 4.4.3, but no later than the last day of the service period.

* * * * * 

4.4.7 Change of Payment Period

[Revise the first and third sentences of newly renumbered 4.4.7 to read as follows:]

Except for customers at Post Offices subject to 4.4.6, a PO Box customer of record may change the payment period by submitting a new application noting the month to be used as the start of the revised payment period.*** The unused fee for the period being discontinued may be refunded under 4.6, and the fee for the new payment period must be fully paid in advance.***

* * * * * 

4.5 Fee Group Assignments

[Revise the title and text of renumbered 4.5.1 to read as follows:]

4.5.1 Basic Information on Fee Groups

PO Boxes are assigned to fee groups; see Notice 123 Price List or contact your local Post Office, and classified as competitive or market-dominant based upon the Post Office location.

[Revise the title and text of renumbered 4.5.2 to read as follows:]

4.5.2 Free Group E — Free PO Box Service

Customers may qualify for Group E (free) PO Box service at a Post Office if their physical address location meets all of the following criteria:

* * * * * 

[Revise item 4.5.2c to read as follows:]

c. USPS does not provide carrier delivery to a mail receptacle at or near a physical address for reasons in 4.5.3b. “At or near a physical address” is defined by reference to how carrier delivery is established in a particular locale or ZIP Code.

4.5.3 Additional Standards for Free PO Box Service

Only one Group E (free) PO Box may be obtained for each potential carrier delivery point of service, under the following conditions:

* * * * *

[Revise item 4.5.3d to read as follows:]

d. The online application tools described in 4.2.1b cannot be used for free PO Box service.

[Insert new item 4.5.4 to read as follows:]

4.5.4 Additional Standards for Competitive PO Box Services

New customers in competitive locations receive 13 months of service for a 12 month PO Box payment, are not required to pay the key deposit for the first two PO Box keys, and may receive expanded hours of PO Box access and earlier deposit of mail into the PO Box. Customers in competitive locations may also complete a customer agreement to receive one or more of the following enhancements:

a. Street Addressing — the option to use the Post Office street address for their mailing address along with the box number as follows:

John Smith
123 Main Street, #4567
Any Town, NY 10001

b. Real Mail Notification — the option to receive an email or text message to inform them when they have new mail in their PO Box.

c. Signature on File — the option to simplify receipt of Priority Mail Express, mail insured for more than $200, and Signature Confirmation items, all of which may include an electronic Return Receipt request, by providing a signature kept on file by the Postmaster.

* * * * * 

4.7 Keys and Locks

4.7.1 Key Deposit

[Revise the text of renumbered 4.7.1 to read as follows:]

Two PO Box keys are initially issued to each new box customer. Except for new customers in Competitive PO Box groups 30-44, which has no key deposit for the first two keys, box customers must pay a refundable key deposit on each key. When box service is terminated, the key deposit is refunded to the customer for each key (including additional keys in 4.7.2) that is returned to the Post Office where the box was issued.

[Revise the title and the text of renumbered 4.7.2 to read as follows:]

4.7.2 Additional Key Fee

A box customer may obtain additional keys at the Post Office where the box is located by submitting Form 1094 and paying the refundable key deposit (4.7.1) and the non-refundable key fee (see Notice 123 — Price List) for each additional key. Worn or broken keys are replaced without charge when returned to the Post Office where the box is located.

* * * * * 

4.7.4 Lock Replacement

[Revise the text of renumbered 4.7.4 to read as follows:]

The box customer may request that the PO Box lock be changed by paying the non-refundable lock replacement fee in (see Notice 123 — Price List). Lock fees are charged for replacing keyed locks and for re-setting combination locks. Customers may turn in PO Box keys for the old lock and get a refund of the key deposit. Two keys are provided with the new lock, with a refundable deposit for each key charged under 4.7.1.

[Insert new item 4.7.5 (formerly the last sentence of item 4.8.4, Lock Replacement) to read as follows:]

4.7.5 Late Fee Payment

The lock replacement fee also applies as a late payment charge when the customer renews a box more than 10 days after the renewal due date, whether or not the lock is actually changed.

4.8 Service Refusal or Termination

[Revise the title and text of renumbered 4.8.1 to read as follows:]

4.8.1 Refusal or Termination

A Postmaster may refuse to approve or may terminate PO Box service, including that of a Group E (free) PO Box customer, if: the applicant or box customer submits a falsified or incomplete application for box service; within the 2 years before submitting the application, the applicant physically abused a box or violated a standard on the use of a box; refuses to update information on the box application; conducts himself or herself in a violent, threatening, or otherwise abusive manner on postal premises or there is substantial reason to believe that the box is being or will be used for unlawful activities as described in 4.3.5 and 4.3.6. The customer is notified of the Postmaster’s determination to refuse or terminate service and of the appeal procedures.

[Delete renumbered 4.8.2, Termination, in its entirety (context of text relocated to new 4.8.1) and renumber previously renumbered 4.8.3 through 4.8.5 as new 4.8.2 through 4.8.4.]

4.8.2 Customer Appeal

[Revise the second sentence of renumbered 4.8.2 to read as follows:]

***The filing of a petition prevents the Postmaster's determination from taking effect and transfers the case to the USPS Consumer and Industry Affairs, which issues the final agency decision.

4.8.3 Surrendered Box

A Post Office box is surrendered if:***

[Revise newly renumbered item 4.8.3d to read as follows:]

d. A box customer, or an appointed executor or administrator of a deceased box customer, submits a permanent change-of-address order, except as provided in 4.8.5d.***

4.8.4 Boxes Not Surrendered

A PO Box is not surrendered if:

* * * * *

[Revise renumbered item 4.8.4c to read as follows:]

c. Except as provided in 4.8.5d, a change-of-address order is submitted by any person other than the box customer, or an appointed executor or administrator of a deceased box customer, for mail addressed to the box.***

* * * * * 

We will incorporate these revisions into the November update of the online DMM, which is available via Postal Explorer® at