NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Post Office to Regulate Private Mailboxes

July 8, 1999

Small business firms that want to establish respect among their clients have for years rented private mail boxes from mailing firms such as Mail Boxes Etc. and used the word "suite" in their business addresses. Now the U.S. Postal Service has decreed that such mail must bear the label PMB -- for private mailbox -- or it will be returned as undeliverable mail. In addition, mail box renters will be required to provide two forms of identification with their physical address.

The Postal Service says it is out to discourage fraud. Others think it is just jealous of all the business its competitors are getting.

  • About 2 million Americans rent boxes at 10,000 stores operated by private mailing services, and the number of such stores has grown from 7,000 just a decade ago.
  • The USPS received over 8,000 objections to its new rules - - and 10 comments in support.
  • The PMB requirement is to take effect by April 2000; but Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) has filed a resolution that would nullify the changes.

Since the rules also require the holder of a private mailbox to report his address to the post office, advocates for the homeless are joining the fight -- pointing out that the homeless have no addresses.

Source: Michael Brick, "Private Mailbox Services Call New Postal Rules Unfair," New York Times, July 6, 1999.


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