How To Use USPS General Delivery When Online Retailers Won’t Ship To A PO Box
You may prefer to use a post office box to handle your mail because it’s easier and more efficient, but sometimes online retailers such as Amazon have products that cannot be shipped to a PO Box. There are other times when you may be traveling or visiting another city, and need to place an online order, but don’t have a workable mailing address where you are staying.
Fortunately, there is an option – an older and almost forgotten, but still entirely functional, mail delivery system within the Post Office itself called “General Delivery” – and Amazon will accept General Delivery orders.
The specific official rules for General Delivery are listed here but here’s how it works in a nutshell:
1. Locate the nearest main post office near you. If you don’t know which one that is, call the USPS at 1-800-275-8777 and ask; they’ll be happy to tell you.
It’s important to note that in larger cities that have several post offices using the same ZIP, one of them will be considered the “main” post office (usually the largest one). Again, if you don’t know which office is the main post office for your area, call the USPS and ask.
2. Address a letter or package to yourself using the following information:
TOWN, ST 12345-9999
If I were to use a local post office in Tampa, Florida, here’s how it would look if if my name were John Doe:
TAMPA, FL 33602-9999
“GENERAL DELIVERY” is the actual address line, and “9999” as the ZIP+4 also means general delivery.
The USPS will hold any package it receives addressed to your name there for 30 days. You can just go to the post office during working hours, go to the counter, and ask for your mail. When you go to pick up your stuff, you will obviously have to prove who you are, usually by means of driver’s license. If you don’t have identification but are personally known to the postmaster or the retail clerk, you can get your package that way.
The next time Amazon or other online retailers says, “Sorry! We can’t ship to a PO box”, you can say, “Okay, use this general delivery address instead”, and it will work.
Important note: If you intend on using the general delivery option, send a test letter to yourself first to make sure you actually receive it at the post office. Better safe than sorry.
Fun fact: You can use this method of getting letters and packages when on the road or on holiday. If for example you took an RV trip a few states away and someone needed to mail something to you, just have them send to the local post office to your name using General Delivery and you’ll be able to receive it.