Does USPS offer a virtual address? The answer, at this time, is no.
The United States Postal Office does not offer any virtual address services in 2022.
However, this does not mean that they never will.
The USPS “Virtual Post Office Boxes” White Paper
In a blog post all the way back in April 2013, The Inspector General Office of the USPS talked of a white paper that raised the prospect of “Virtual Post Office Boxes” within the USPS service infrastructure.
Clearly, that’s now almost 10 years ago. The hiatus could well be due to so many administrative changes, budget cuts, and most recently the strain of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Implementing the technical overhaul to provide virtual address facilities would be massive.
However, it is interesting to see that the idea was being floated at a top level within USPS.
You can read a PDF of the White Paper here. Essentially, the service would be a virtual address only.
The wider facilities of a normal virtual mailbox service, such as scanning, and shredding of mail items, were notably absent.
In essence, USPS was comparing their version of a potential virtual address as an extension of the well-established P.O Box service.
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In the words of USPS:
“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 white paper also covered how customers would receive notifications via email or text when mail items arrive, and then be able to manage its redirection.
However, “destruction of the mail would not be an option”.
There was no indication of the potential cost of such a service, although one would assume it would not be that different from the current P.O Box rates, with a pricing structure based on the location of the virtual address and the types of forwarding you request.
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Small Businesses & International Shoppers
What is also interesting is that USPS saw where the virtual address could be advantageous to users such as small businesses and international shoppers.
For the latter, they state that a USPS virtual address would “Allow foreign customers to shop online and provide merchants with a U.S. address for parcel delivery and returns.”
To think that USPS could enter the package fowarding industry as a virtual address and carrier, would be an unprecedented shake-up.
It would also lead to lower prices and better options for customers too. We sincerely hope it happens.
However, benefits for small businesses if USPS were to launch a virtual address service seem limited.
USPS state that it would, “provide small businesses the ability to possess a vanity address and use the Virtual PO Box as a micro-warehouse.”
That might be so, but a business-focused virtual mailbox provides much more than that.
The ability to scan the contents of mail items, sort, and safely shred at the customer’s request is a major reason for using a virtual mailbox. USPS just would not be able to compete if these features were absent.
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For now, though, the argument is purely academic. There has been no real progress on USPS releasing a virtual address service.
It doesn’t look likely that there will be one anytime soon.
I’m a 25 year veteran of USPS. I’m retired now, but as the editor of Mailbox Master, I can’t quite remove myself from the carrier industry just yet. 🙂