Choose a post office that suits your situation. You might choose the closest post office to your home to purchase a Post Office (PO) box to have your mail sent to, but this could result in you coincidentally bumping into friends, neighbors, or even your parents. This might raise questions that you'd rather avoid. The safest option for secretive mailing might require you to travel to a post office farther away, like one in a neighboring town or on the other side of your city.
Most national postal services have online locators to help you find local branches. You can do an Internet search for “post office locator,” but some common branch locators include:US Postal Service: https://tools.usps.com/go/POLocatorAction!input.actionUK Postal Service: http://www.postoffice.co.uk/branch-finderCanada Postal Service: https://www.canadapost.ca/cpotools/apps/fpo/personal/findPostOffice
Bring the necessary information and forms to the post office. You will need to fill out Form PS 1093 to apply for your PO box. You'll also need to provide the post office with a home address, a phone number, and a list of minors who will be receiving mail. You'll also need to provide two forms of identification when you apply with at least one ID bearing your picture.
Print out Form PS 1093 before you go to apply for your PO box. This will give you time to familiarize yourself with what you'll need and fill out necessary information. This way you're not scrambling or scratching your head trying to fill out the form at the post office.
Accepted forms of photo ID include: valid driver's license or state issued ID card, armed forces, government, university ID card, passport, passport card, or alien registration card.
Accepted forms of non-photo ID include: current lease, mortgage, or deed of trust, voter or vehicle registration card, Home or vehicle insurance policy.
Getting the right ID necessary for your PO box can be tricky, but minors 16 – 17 years old can apply for passports with the proper documents without parental consent. Your second piece of identification could be a state issued ID, which most states will issue you regardless of age with the proper documentation.
Choose your PO box size. Some PO boxes, especially those intended for commercial purposes, can be quite large. You will, however, likely have to pay extra for a larger box. A smaller box should suit your purposes just fine; even in the event you have a large package shipped, if it is too large for your box, it will be held behind the counter of the post office.
Larger packages that don't fit in your PO box will be indicated by a slip that will be put in your box by post office staff. Simply present this slip to the postal worker at the counter and your package will be given to you.
Explain your reasons. Explaining why you need a PO box will likely put the postal worker helping you with your purchase more at ease. There are many acceptable reasons you might want to get a PO box; telling the postal worker handling your PO box request why you need it can help them understand your situation. Some reasons you might need to apply for your box might include things like:
“I'm a collector and I buy a lot of stuff through online vendors. My parents were worried that something valuable might be stolen so they told me to come down here and get a PO box.”
“This is part of a school assignment. I'm setting up a small business as my final project for my business class.”
Postal workers are within the scope of their duties to call or mail your parents to verify they know about your PO box purchase. Even with a good reason for your box, they still might want confirmation from your parents. If you are worried, get a friend in on this and tell them to expect a call from the post office.
Calm your nerves. You may be nervous when you go to apply for your PO box, but the United States Postal Service allows minors to get a PO box unless your parents send a written letter saying otherwise to the postmaster. Acting suspicious or overly nervous while applying for your box may lead to a postal employee calling the phone number you provided or sending a notification to your home address.
Sometimes running through what you will say can help you be more comfortable with the situation. You might even benefit from writing a loose script of what you plan on saying when you rent your box.
Pay for your PO box. Cash will prevent a suspicious charge that your parents might notice from appearing on your bank statement or credit card bill. Most post offices will require you to rent your PO box for six months to a year, and the cost of your box will depend on the post office and the size of the box you are renting. In most cases, $100 should be enough to cover the cost of renting the smallest PO box available for six months.
Make sure you get a copy of your receipt for the rented PO box. This will serve as verification that you paid in case you need proof. Additionally, a receipt may be required if you decide to cancel the service and get a refund.
Use your PO box to receive your mail. Use the information provided with your PO box to receive all incoming mail that you want kept private from your parents. Don't forget that you'll have to renew your box. This usually is required every 6 to 12 months, and to keep suspicious activity from showing up on your bank statement or credit card, you should continue to pay for your box in cash.
Choose a trustworthy friend or relative. Your parents might not approve of your online purchase, but your friend's parents or a relative, like an aunt, uncle, or grandparent, might be more understanding. With the approval of a friend or relative, you could have your item shipped to their house instead of yours.
There's always a chance the first person you ask might say no. Make a short list of people who might be willing to help and rank them from most to least likely to help. This way you have backups ready, just in case.
You'll need to be careful about who you choose for this purpose; in some cases the person you ask might inform your parents of your plans. The simple act of asking someone to help you could get you in trouble with your parents.
Explain your situation. If you feel comfortable enough, or if you know for a fact your friend/relative supports you ordering your secret item through the mail, you might want to be honest and tell them exactly what you're ordering. The person helping you may feel betrayed if you lie to them about the thing you are ordering. On the other hand, a simple excuse may make your situation seem less strange.
You might say something like, “I'm ordering something for mom's birthday. I want it to be a surprise. If she sees a package, she'll know something's up! Will you help me?”
Come up with a plan, if necessary. While your friend might be comfortable with you mailing your secret item to his address, his parents might not be. And even if your aunt has no problem with you receiving a package at her home, your uncle might think it inappropriate. In these kinds of situations, you may need to have your accomplice keep a close eye on the mail until the package is received so that others don't become suspicious.
You might want to wait until less understanding people (for example, your friend's parents or your aunt's husband) are out of town or occupied with something out of the home. This way there is even less risk of your mail being discovered.
You should also discuss with your accomplice what your story will be if the item you are having mailed gets found out. This way, if your mail is found out by someone else, inconsistencies in your story and the story of your accomplice don't make others suspicious.
Mailing something to an address without the homeowner's approval and retrieving that mail could get you into trouble. Be sure you have permission before mailing anything to an address not your own.
Order your item and show your appreciation. Without the help of your friend or relative, you might not have been able to get your item. You could show your appreciation by saying “thank you,” but you might want to do something special to show how grateful you are. Some ways you might show your appreciation include:
Picking out a card and writing a short thank you message. This way when you go to pick up your item from your friend/relative's house, you can exchange the thank you card for your mail.
You could treat your friend or relative to a special lunch or dinner. This can be done as simply as saying, “Hey, I really appreciate you helping me out. Let me say thank you by taking you out to dinner this weekend.”
Showing your appreciation isn't simply good manners. Showing your gratitude will also make your accomplice will be more likely to help you again, should you need it.
Use mail tracking services. Many items you order online today can be tracked online through a tracking number. You may also be able to sign up for email or text alerts so you have a better idea of when your package is arriving at your home. This way, you don't have to waste your time waiting at home for your item while it's still en route.
Economy mail services sometimes don't give you an option for mail tracking. In this case, you might consider paying a little extra for a premium shipping service. These usually include a tracking number with your mail order receipt.
Discover the mail delivery schedule. If you've ordered something through your national postal service, like the US Postal Service, you can usually count on mail being delivered on a relatively regular schedule. Private delivery companies, like FedEx or UPS, will likely have a less regular schedule. For these companies, you may not be able to pin down a regular schedule.
If you and your parents don't receive mail very often, you may want to place an order or two that your parents will be alright with first. Stagger these orders so each arrives on a different day. Then keep your eyes peeled for the delivery person to establish a general schedule.
To confirm the mail delivery schedule most precisely, you may need to spend the day at home keeping on eye on the mail. This might require you to faking sick so you can stay home from school.
The day your item is delivered, you might call the delivery service you are using to ask what time your item will be delivered. Simply say something like, “I have some errands to run today but I'm expecting a package/envelope. I was wondering if you could tell me about what time it might be delivered? My address is…”
Verify your parents schedule. It might ruin your plans to recover your mailed item without your parents knowing if they decide to come home early and beat you to the mail. You should check in with your parents the day your package is supposed to arrive to keep tabs on their schedule. In some cases, you might need an excuse so your parents don't get suspicious as to why you're checking in with them.
You might send your mom a text early in the afternoon saying something like, “Mom, what time are you and dad going to be home tonight? I'm starving already. When are we eating dinner?”
You could order your secret item to be delivered while your parents are out of town to eliminate the risk of having your parents show up unannounced. Even if you find out last minute that your parents are going away for a day or two, next day shipping can help you get your item before your parents get home.
Order your item and snag it before anyone realizes. Even if your parents are home at the time, quick thinking on your part can still save the day. Of course, if your parents aren't home when your item arrives, there will be little to no chance of them finding out about the package being delivered. However, if you meet the postman at your doorstep or retrieve it before your parents realize, you can tuck your item away somewhere until your parents are distracted. Then you can bring it into your home in a more permanent hiding spot.
For example, if your mother's home when the mail comes and you're worried you won't be able to sneak your item past her, you might hide it under the doormat outside your home, in the bushes around your house, or somewhere else. Later, you can go outside with your backpack so it's hidden when you go back inside.
You might be able to smuggle your item into your home more easily with loose fitting clothes. Hoodie sweatshirts often have large pockets or a pouch where you can hide your item, or you could tuck it into the waistband of your pants.