In today’s mobile society, people socialize, shop, work, and play anywhere and everywhere. Yet even as many aspects of communications and commerce have gone mobile, the physical address has remained static. Wouldn’t it be convenient if you could direct your mail to meet you wherever you go? So, instead of going to your mailbox, your mailbox came to you.

In our recently released white paper “Virtual Post Office Boxes”, we consider a concept that would offer portability to your address, just like email and phone numbers. The Virtual Post Office (PO) Box gives customers control over where, when, and how they receive their mail and packages. Much like the venerable PO Box service, the Virtual PO Box would provide users with an alternate address instead of their residential address. Virtual PO Box customers could log into their www.usps.com accounts to link this address with any physical address, including a home or business address, a nearby Post Office, a physical PO Box locker, or even a gopost® parcel locker.

The paper suggests users could accept or redirect letters, flats, and parcels online or from their smart devices to an alternate address, a temporary address, or even a parcel locker in their desired location. Customers could receive immediate notification via email or text message when new mailpieces have arrived. They then could determine where they wanted them delivered. For example, a person on vacation may request that his or her packages be delivered to a nearby gopost parcel locker. In today’s increasingly digital and mobile world, the service would provide a “just in time” element to the flow of mail and give customers numerous options. They could choose from many delivery options, however, destruction of the mail would not be an option.

The capabilities and features of a Virtual PO Box could:

Give a physical dimension to email and smart devices by linking a customer’s email addresses to his or hers Virtual PO Box address and residential address for parcel fulfillment and other activities.
Validate the identity of users for merchants and in peer-to-peer sales, while concealing home addresses and personal information.
Allow foreign customers to shop online and provide merchants with a U.S. address for parcel delivery and returns.
Provide small businesses the ability to possess a vanity address and use the Virtual PO Box as a micro-warehouse.

Some challenges of a Virtual PO Box, range from operations and technical issues to preventing fraud in international shipments. The paper also contemplates some possible future enhancements and best ways to pursue the concept, such as partnering with companies that now provide similar services.

 

If offered, which services would you use? Would you be willing to pay more for premium services, such as international shipments and returns? Do you see any problems with offering or implementing such a service? Share your thoughts below.

Comments (128)

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  • anon

    I think the only issue is checks received, i.e. my bank and my phone do not mesh. I guess for a small fee you could ask for something to be forwarded to another address. Otherwise I am all for this.

    Jul 25, 2016
  • anon

    I notice that this topic came up in 2013, and still it hasn't been implemented. That is disappointing because I would really like to use this sort of service. The part that is most appealing to me is not having to disclose my home address to strangers, although the added advantage of not having to update my address with dozens of companies with whom I do business when I move is very appealing as well.

    Jul 24, 2016
  • anon

    If I understand the service correctly...as a small, start-up business owner, I could have a P.O. Box that I could give to my clients and have the mail directed to my house. Thus, not disclosing my home address. Yes, this is fantastic! Please keep the price low. $15/month and a $120 a year if paid in one payment.

    Jul 23, 2016
  • anon

    This is fantastic. It would be good for victims of abuse who need to move around, students or others who change jobs or internships a lot, and full time rvers

    Jul 19, 2016
  • anon

    This would be a great option from USPS perspective as the mail is being handled in route. It would be a simple redirect to add this capability just like what is available for regular mail forwarding. There are services that already do this by scanning the mail, but I would be fine with a forward that lasts longer than 12 months. What would be a real value add over services already available would be: 1) Exclude bulk mail (this could be a paid for feature) 2) Pay annual fee for long term forwarding (I believe 12 months is currently free) 3) Pay for digital scanning and notification. In this feature, originals are maintained for x days before destruction. Do it!

    Jul 15, 2016
  • anon

    This service would finally be the cry of relief that the millions of OTR truck drivers desperately need. They are the forgotten ones. Many people have absolutely NO IDEA what they go through when it comes to mailing. If the postal service doesn't do it first, I'll have the next Twitter/Uber/Airbnb type business under my belt.

    Jul 13, 2016
  • anon

    this is EXACTLY what i'm looking for. As someone who works all over the country I'm always having to have friends forward me mail from my base pobox...i'd pay more for sure.

    Jul 13, 2016
  • anon

    Yes, this would be a great service. And yes, I would pay extra for international shipping. However, the price should not be set at an outrageous amount given that this will likely appeal to start-up companies that may initially begin their operations in the own home on a shoestring budget.

    Jul 12, 2016
  • anon

    I would 100% pay for this service.

    Jul 12, 2016
  • anon

    Yes, I would pay for this.

    Jul 12, 2016
  • anon

    This is an obviously brilliant idea that ultimately will happen and here's how it needs to work: - customer creates an account with credit card info - customer specifies physical mailing address - customer gets a virtual mailing address, for example: address@atlantis - all new mail directed to virtual address is routed to customer's current physical address - customer pays $25/month for this service, indefinitely - customer changes physical address as needed at no additional cost (except when changing countries)

    Jul 04, 2016
  • anon

    I would love a Virtual PO Box Service especially one that could do forward internationally as I work in adult industry and many people I market for use aliases on their parcels from fan gifts. I'm disabled so going to a physical PO Box is not that convenient

    Jul 03, 2016
  • anon

    PLEASE offer this service. I have been using other VPS services and would really prefer to do it directly with USPS. I would definitely pay a premium for the service. Absolutely. Please offer this yesterday!

    Jun 25, 2016
  • anon

    Yes, please!

    Jun 25, 2016
  • anon

    Yes, I would love to have this service for my personal and business uses. Would make life very easy to have a virtual presence address and then be able to route that mail anywhere like to my home or where I am staying for an extended period. I would even take it a step further and allow for mail digitization on parcels users select rather than delivering them. Some services do this privately and it would drastically reduce carbon footprint. The mailers could even print less if they know how many users are getting digital vs print and still pay the post office the 0.45 per piece to get it to the users.

    Jun 19, 2016
  • anon

    Absolutely!

    Jun 17, 2016
  • anon

    Yes, please!!!!!

    Jun 10, 2016
  • anon

    this would be outstanding. USPS needs to get onboard with this type of service or they will continue to shrink and die

    Jun 09, 2016
  • anon

    If this is available, I would have get one without any reservation, and USPS do not need to make the space available for a virtual PO Box, and customer save trips to the Post Office. It is a win win situation, USPS only need to do a address translation for such address. Due to the limitation of Po Box provide, currently it appears that UPS mailbox fits my need better. Better innovate to help customer out with huge demand.

    Jun 09, 2016
  • anon

    This would be awesome I was just looking up virtual PO box and found this blog. This would be a step in the right direction to say up with today's technology. When can I sign up?

    Jun 02, 2016
  • anon

    I hope USPS offer virtual PO box ASAP, currently I have PO box from USPS and I am thinking to change to UPS store or other company that offer virtual address PO Box, even better if USPS could deliver my mails to my home address. If UPS and other mail service could do it, I believe USPS could do it too.... Please have this service ASAP so I do not need to change my PO BOX to other mail service, just change to VIRTUAL ADDRESS.... Thanks

    Jun 01, 2016
  • anon

    Definitely. The reason this page appeared in my search results is that I am searching for a United States Postal Service Virtual P.O. Box with a street address. I have researched other providers of this service specifically because the USPS does not currently offer this service. I wish to have a street address associated with my P.O. Box address so that clients do not know where I live.

    May 28, 2016
  • anon

    YES! I would be subscribing to this as soon as it was made available.

    May 28, 2016
  • anon

    Love it. Lets do this..

    May 28, 2016
  • anon

    Yes please!

    May 27, 2016
  • anon

    Yes this is a great idea! I'm currently looking for a service just like this and there are a few out there. It would be a great way for the USPS to get into the game. Here is a list of the ones I've found so far: Traveling Mailbox iPostal1 Post Scan Mail Earth Class Mailbox Forwarding Virtual Post Mail Escapees Mail Forwarding Service US Global Mail Physical Address Thanks!

    May 18, 2016
  • anon

    I would love this service even if it automatically forwarded everything to my home address and not held it at the local branch. This way I would not need to use my home address for certain things. Or even provide that as a separate service - a real virtual POBox that is not associated with a physical box.

    May 15, 2016
  • anon

    With an internet-based business, my autoresponder company requires me to list my business address in all my email communications. I hate the requirement but as a consumer as well as a business owner, I do understand the logic of the requirement. Having the ability to list a Virtual, Real Address as my business address would be fantastic. I just received an email notice from a new customer that boldly lists my home address. Seeing it there this time shocked me. Immediately thought of the idea of having a physical P.O. Box, but that would be an over kill. Did a search and found this site. This is the way to go. I want in.

    May 13, 2016
  • anon

    What a wonderful idea! My husband and I travel using our RV and we struggle to receive our mail and online shopping packages. Sometimes, our need to receive a package will determine where we spend a few days in our RV. Move ahead with this, it's a great solution for traveling seniors and others!

    May 13, 2016
  • anon

    I would love this service to maintain my personal privacy. I save time going to the post office, and USPS saves time in delivery and saves money in maintaining fewer physical mailboxes. Win - win. Sign me up.

    May 08, 2016
  • anon

    PLEASE implement this feature. I have had 10 addresses in 10 years (not by choice) and it is a pain to deal with address changes. I have most of my things emailed to me now, but there are situations that require a physical address. I would LOVE having a virtual PO box that I could manage wherever I move.

    May 06, 2016
  • anon

    Develop it. Commercial offerings in this space are either terribly shoddy (e.g. they use unreliable franchise locations) or absurdly expensive (e.g. eathclassmail)

    May 05, 2016
  • anon

    Finally a good idea from an incredibly unreliable post service. I am out of the country for months every year and tried every possible option are in Pittsburgh. Nothing worked. While asking to hold mail some letters went back to the sender (so that I had to reconfirm my address to banks etc) other letters were simply delivered to the mailbox. When I asked USPS to forward my mail to a commercial mail service (which works well) some of my mail ended up in my mailbox again. For this reason I cut back USPS mail wherever possible (I estimate 90%) . That is a loss of USPS business. If you could set up reliable virtual mail box and add features like scanning and sending mail nationally and internationally you my be able to stop the downward spiral. Albrecht Funk

    May 05, 2016
  • anon

    I have a home business, but I don't want people to have my personal address (where my kids live and play). So, if I could have a "virtual address" and have my mail routed to my home that would be ideal.

    May 04, 2016
  • anon

    There are similar services out there now. MyRvMail.com is one. I use this service because we travel A LOT. The address is considered my legal physical address, and they hold all of our mail until we decided we want it. I can go online and see what I have, select which items I want sent to me and which ones to toss. It has been great.

    Apr 24, 2016
  • anon

    I was hoping that it already exists. I would love to have a virtual PO Box that I can give to others and receive my mail on my address without disclosing it. Privacy becomes more and more violated so I would like to protect my home address using a virtual PO box.

    Mar 27, 2016
  • anon

    I have used both EarthClass Mail as well as MailBoxForwarding.com. Currently I'm renting a box from The UPS Store because the post office in my zip code is not very good (30066). I constantly get mail intended for my neighbors delivered to my mailbox instead. It goes without saying that if I'm getting their mail then that are getting mine. All I want is a service that scans in my mail, converts first class mail to PDFs, and blindly rejects any bulk or third-class mail and periodicals. If the USPS can offer this at a competitive price I'm all for it, and I'll gladly pay for it.

    Mar 22, 2016
  • anon

    Great idea, but I hope the USPS is better at administering it than they are forwarding mail from one PO box to another, because the USPS sucks at that and I have returned mail emails and calls to show it.

    Mar 17, 2016
  • anon

    I have been hoping for something like this for years and years. I found this page while looking into virtualpostmail.com, and similar ideas. I cannot stand paper mail or paper receipts. this would eliminate half that problem.

    Mar 13, 2016
  • anon

    Yes, of course. I currently pay for EarthClassMail, but would probably switch to a USPS virtual PO box instead if given the chance.

    Mar 10, 2016
  • anon

    Most just don't want to disclose their mailing address and dislike the inconvenience of going to the Post Office. I love this option.

    Mar 10, 2016
  • anon

    Develop this and I'll be first in line to pay for it.

    Mar 10, 2016
  • anon

    This would make my small business so much easier. I wouldn't have to go to the post office to pick up mail from an actual PO box and still get it all delivered to my home without 3rd parties knowing I'm using my home as my office.

    Mar 09, 2016
  • anon

    LOVE THIS IDEA!!!! Also a photograph of the outisde of the letter sent to email while it is in processing? And then an option to discard before it is delivered.

    Mar 09, 2016
  • anon

    I'd LOVE to be able to see who has my virtual address in their database. Mainly marketers. So I can revoke access if they send me stuff I don't want. Hard to see this happening because that's how you guys make all your money. To make up for it Id suggest you guys charge the marketers to access the list. It's like a mailing list API you'd have. What the marketers would get is a highly accurate list of their customers. And when one customer moves they won't lose that relationship. One challenge: a physical package with your virtual address would have to be "interpreted" at some point and then labeled with the real physical address.

    Mar 07, 2016
  • anon

    This appeals to me in a major way.

    Mar 05, 2016
  • anon

    This would be great for registering my small business, which currently uses my home address but will likely move between various small offices over time.

    Mar 05, 2016
  • anon

    I would even like it if it went a step further, and offered scanning of the mail. If I could have the option to have the envelope opened and the contents scanned and e-mailed to me--maybe for ten cents a page or something to cover the cost of opening and scanning--I would definitely exercise that option.

    Mar 05, 2016
  • anon

    There's just not enough demand to justify the tax payer investment in infrastructure, training, ops, branding, customer service, rates, etc. Only 78 comments (vs how many hits on this page).

    Mar 04, 2016
  • anon

    Sounds like those who waited on internet investment in the 1990's

    Mar 07, 2016

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