Post office box

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A post office box is a facility of most postal companies in the world where the customer can collect his mail in a lockable box at a post office . Based on this, a user account is often referred to as a "mailbox" in e-mail programs .


Lockable pick pockets, "letterboxes" (after the usual banking name), was the first to the Postal Administration of the United States of America offered for mail pickup, in the 1850s was the term "lock boxes" . In Europe, the American example was followed by Switzerland in 1873, Belgium in 1881, France in 1887, Austria in 1888, Italy in 1889, Russia in 1891, Norway in 1893. From the previous German postal administrations, Württemberg introduced lockers in 1878 and Bavaria in 1883. The Reichspost first made experiments with lockers at the post offices in Bremen and Mannheim in 1878 and 1882. In general, the post office boxes were not introduced in German territory until 1901, after the law on the postal tax system was changed on March 11, 1901.


The mailboxes are usually numbered. The PO box number is divided into groups of two from the right, there are no leading zeros. The postal address is (according to DIN 5008 ):

Max Mustermann 
Postfach 8 15
12345 Musterstadt

In Germany , larger companies can do without the PO box number and have their own postcode instead. In this case the address would be

12346 Musterstadt

without reference to a street or post office box number.

Since the switch to five-digit postcodes in Germany, each postcode has its own postcode, which is based on the location of the building where the postbox is located. There are currently 50 such locations in the German capital Berlin alone.

Internationally, the abbreviations POB or POB for Post Office Box are in use. The rules for address and usage are similar to those in Germany. In some countries, such as Namibia , PO boxes are the only delivery method nowadays as there is no home delivery.

Benefits for the PO box owner

One of the advantages of a post office box is that the recipient can pick up the post at a freely selectable time. He is from the point sequence irrespective of the postal carrier, and can get ahead by the deliverer his mail in general. In addition, the post office box owner does not have to give the sender the home address. Regular mail will not be placed in the house letterbox if the Post has received a notification. For many years, Swiss Post has specifically promoted this offer by only charging a fee when registering the post office box, so that up to a certain number of items could be used practically free of charge. Registered mail and items of value can also be delivered to the post office box. The free offer in Germany expired on February 28, 2017.

Another advantage is the security for mail items, which is otherwise only given with a comparably secured and individually lockable house mailbox. A post office box therefore also offers the convenience that shipments can lie there for a few days and are still safely stored. A forwarding or storage order is therefore not required in the event of short-term absence. In Germany, the rule applies that the shipments must be picked up at least once within seven working days. Another person can be commissioned to collect the goods; the PO box key is usually sufficient.

Benefits for the postal service provider

Customers of the postal service provider with large volumes of shipments do not have to be supplied through the delivery agent. You can collect your incoming mail from the post office box at your own expense.

Disadvantages and obligations of the PO box owner

In many countries, a PO box address is no substitute for a summonable address . The PO box owner must have a deliverable home address in Germany, otherwise the establishment in Germany is not possible. Some items such as telegrams, parcels and parcels are not delivered to the post office box in Germany, so that this creates additional work for some companies. Private postal services usually have no access to the mailboxes. In connection with the closure of post offices in Germany, this led to companies doing without a post office box.

At Deutsche Post, the owner has to empty his mailbox so often that it is not overcrowded. Therefore, if there is a corresponding amount, a larger compartment than the standard compartment may have to be rented if it cannot be emptied daily.


  • In Germany , Deutsche Post AG has around 818,000 PO boxes in its branch network of 12,500 branches. Until the early 1980s, a minimum fee of DM 12 per year was charged. In the meantime, standard-size mailboxes have been offered free of charge. From March 1, 2017, an annual rent of 19.90 euros was payable; in 2020 the annual rent is 22.90 euros.
  • In Austria , the PO box at Österreichische Post AG costs from 9 euros for private customers and up to 26 euros for business customers per month (as of November 27, 2014) . The PO box can also be booked for a period of just four weeks for 9 euros (formerly known as the vacation box ).
  • In Switzerland , Swiss Post has been offering the basic range of postboxes at counters since April 1, 2012 for a one-off flat rate of CHF 12.00; ordering via the Internet is free.
  • A PO box at the Namibia Post costs from N $ 198.70 per year (around 20 euros) (as of April 18, 2010).


See also


  • Federal Ministry for the Post and Telecommunications (Ed.):
  • Max Aschenborn : The law on the postal system of the German Empire of October 28, 1871 and the provisions of the Reich constitution on the postal and telegraph system (Articles 48–52) explained ; Julius Springer, Berlin, 1908; P. 297
  • Scholz: The post, telegraph and telephone law systematically presented. Offprint. Handbook of all commercial law, edited by Viktor Ehrenberg, Volume 5, Section II .; OR Reisland, Leipzig 1915; P. 50 ff., P. 79 ff.
  • German traffic newspaper :
    • 1901 p. 99 ff.
    • 1902 p. 34 and p. 275 ff.

Web links

Commons : Post office boxes  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ↑ Concise dictionary of the postal system, p. 664
  3. Post box service description: “The following items will be placed in your post box”, accessed on August 7, 2015.
  4. a b General Terms and Conditions of Deutsche Post AG for the use of PO boxes (GTC PO Box) ( Memento of the original from May 15, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (PDF; 761 kB), accessed on May 11, 2011 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  5. Price information from Deutsche Post AG ( memento of the original from April 19, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  6. , accessed on May 6, 2020
  7. The PO Box - your first address for early delivery, as of June 1, 2015