Shipping packages to yourself is common practice, even if you’re not going to be at home for a while.
But is there a way you can prevent delivery of these, and instead have the post office hold onto them instead?
Better yet, can you ship a package directly to the post office, without having it delivered to your home address?
It turns out you can, and doing so is incredibly easy. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about shipping packages to the post office.
Can You Ship A Package To A Post Office, And Pick It Up Later?
Yes. Packages can be shipped to post offices, and they will be held at the post office for pickup for up to 30 days.
To do this, simply address it to your name, and put the post office address on the package. On the second line of the address (after your name), you should write ‘General Delivery’. So, the full address format should look like this:
CITY STATE ZIP CODE
General delivery is a service offered by USPS, that is typically used for people that don’t have permanent addresses in the city that they’re staying in. It is a useful service for those that travel or move around a lot, where renting a PO box isn’t warranted.
When you go to receive your package, make sure you have your government issued ID to properly identify yourself. Otherwise, you may have problems picking up your mail.
Additionally, like other USPS services, general delivery mail is not delivered on Sundays or federal holidays. This should be kept in mind for time-sensitive deliveries.
General delivery may not be available at every post office. Typically, each town has one post office where general delivery is available.
Why Might You Want To Ship Mail To The Post Office?
There are plenty of perfectly legitimate reasons why you might want to send important mail directly to the post office, rather than having it delivered to your house or legal address.
Let’s look over a few of them now. Note that depending on your reason, there may be other services USPS offers that may be a better fit. This is especially true if you plan to send a lot of mail, or you’ll be away from home for a lengthy period of time.
1. You’re Traveling, And Can’t Fly With Your Purchases
This one is very common.
Let’s say that you’re traveling in a new city, and you end up purchasing a large number of souvenirs.
However, because of the weight limit on airplanes, you have no way to get it home.
Of course, one way to handle this problem is to simply mail it to your home address. But what if you aren’t sure if it will arrive safely, or package theft is common in your area and you won’t be back in time?
This is a perfect situation where it may make sense to have it held at the post office for pickup.
Simply drive to the local post office in the town you are visiting, or drop the package off in one of USPS’ blue boxes. The postal system’s blue boxes are emptied daily (except for Sundays), so you can be sure it will get shipped safely.
2. You’ll Be Away From Home For An Extended Period Of Time
If you’re heading on vacation or you’re simply traveling out of town, you won’t be able to safely collect your mail.
This isn’t only a problem for you, but for USPS as well.
While you can certainly send specific packages to general delivery, a more effective option in this circumstance is to utilize USPS’ hold mail service, which can be accessed by clicking here.
This will hold all mail that is scheduled to be delivered to your address, for up to 30 days. For time periods longer than 30 days, USPS recommends signing up for their mail forwarding service.
This option is really neat, because it ensures the safety of ALL mail, even recurring deliveries that you may not know about. This prevents you from having to potentially update your address with dozens of companies.
The mail holding service offered by USPS can be scheduled as little as one day in advance, to as many as 30 days.
You should definitely consider taking advantage of it!
3. You Want To Conceal Your Address From Someone
In some instances, you may have someone mailing you a package that you want to conceal your address from.
So, you can have them mail it to the post office instead, then simply pick it up at a convenient time.
This can work well, but it has a few caveats.
Your legal name must be listed as the recipient of the package, and you may be required to provide photo ID when collecting it. Because your legal address is public information, usually someone’s name is enough to find out where they live.
So, it is certainly not an ideal solution for receiving packages anonymously.
This is one area where a post office box can help. Using a PO box, you can have the packages addressed to “Postal Customer”, along with your PO box number and post office address.
While this still reveals your city, it protects your name.
How Long Will General Delivery Mail Be Held?
General delivery mail is held by the post office for up to 30 days. If the mail is not collected within 30 days, it will be returned to the sender.
If you believe that you will not be able to pick up your mail within 30 days, it is recommended that you rent a PO box, use a mail forwarding service, or mail packages to the addresses of friends or family instead.
This way, everything will be safely received when you’re able to pick it up.
Can You Ship UPS, Fedex, Or DHL Packages To General Delivery?
No. Only packages and letters sent using the United States Postal Service (USPS) can be held at the post office for general delivery.
If you attempt to mail a package using an alternative courier (such as UPS or Fedex), the package will likely be returned as undeliverable.
Alternatively, it will be held in the regional UPS or Fedex center until the issue can be sorted out.
Therefore, if you want your packages to be held at the post office, you should ensure that they are being mailed via USPS.
The United States Postal Service allows you to mail packages directly to post offices, and pick it up whenever it’s convenient for you.
However, mail is only held for 30 days before it is returned back to the original sender.
Therefore, you should plan accordingly to ensure that you receive your mail safely.
I hope that you’ve found this article helpful. If you have any other questions about shipping with USPS, feel free to ask using the comment form below.
Wishing you the best,
– James McAllister