How to Open a PO Box in Japan

How to Open a PO Box in Japan

There are two methods for opening a PO box in Japan:

Method 1: Japan Post, Japan’s official mail service, provides PO boxes for companies with a large volume of mail (enough for daily pick-ups). 

Method 2: Private PO box companies offer PO services that include mail forwarding, and some also provide virtual access to physical mail, a bill payment service, and other mail-related features. 

Today, we’ll explain how to open a PO box for both methods, breaking it down into easy-to-follow steps. 

Method 1: Japan Post

JapanPost PO box

JapanPost's PO boxes

Japan Post’s PO boxes are lockers with a key attached. Each locker is designated a specific number, and when you sign a contract, you are assigned a particular number/locker where you will receive your mail. 

Requirements for opening a Japan Post PO box

While Japan Post’s PO boxes are free to use, there are conditions that you must fulfill to open a box with Japan Post. 

  1. You must be receiving mail almost every day

  2. You must use the PO box for more than six months

  3. You must be able to pick up mail without delay

Aside from these conditions, you’ll also need to find a post office with available PO box lockers in your area. 

Steps for opening a Japan Post PO box 

Follow these steps to open a Japan Post mailbox:

Step 1. Make sure you are eligible.

Read through Japan Post’s eligibility conditions and determine if you have sufficient mail volume to apply for a PO box. If you don’t have enough mail volume or don’t meet one of the other requirements, refer to Method 2 for opening a PO box in Japan. 

Step 2. Search for availability. 

Not all post offices in Japan offer PO boxes. And those that do may have limited availability. Japan Post has a search tool that lists all the post offices throughout Japan.

JapanPost search

Input your local area, and then call the post offices and ask if they have PO boxes available. Note: You’ll most likely need to communicate with the post office in Japanese. 

Step 3. Bring the required items.

Once you’ve found a post office with PO boxes available, gather the items you’ll need for the application process. 

Step 4. Fill out the application form. 

The application the post office will give you to fill out is the Application for Approval to Use a Japan Post Private Mailbox (郵便私書箱使用承認請求書 = yubin shishobako shiyou shonin seikyusho).

The information requested will be as follows:

  • Name

  • Impression of your inkan

  • Date you want to start receiving mail

  • How long you plan to use the PO box for

  • Your birthdate

Fill out the form and provide your ID. 

Step 5. Wait for the post office to process your application. 

The post office will process your application and make sure you are eligible to open a PO box with them. They will notify you once they have decided on your application. 

Method 2. Private PO box services

Private PO box services in Japan have created an alternative for those who need what PO boxes can offer but aren’t eligible for a Japan Post mailbox. These services average between ¥1000 to ¥3000 per month, depending on the service's features. 

How are Japan Post PO boxes different from private PO box services?

Here are the main points of difference between private PO box services and Japan Post’s PO boxes:

  • Japan Post’s eligibility requirements include enough mail volume for daily mail pickups

  • Private PO boxes have no such eligibility requirements

  • Japan Post’s PO boxes are located inside of your local post office

  • Private PO box services are not affiliated with Japan Post and are thus not located inside local post offices

  • Japan Post’s PO box service relies on the customer to come pick up their mail daily

  • While some private PO box services allow for direct pickup, most provide a mail forwarding service, and some offer a virtual mail dashboard for direct viewing of physical mail

Steps for opening a private PO box in Japan

Here are the steps for opening a private mailbox in Japan: 

Step 1. Evaluate your options. 

The first thing to consider is your comfort level with Japanese. If you can read Japanese with little issue, there are many Japanese PO box services to choose from. Some of the most well-known are PostCast and SRS .

However, if you would appreciate English customer support, English summary translations of your Japanese mail, and virtual mail access to the mail that arrives at your PO box, consider MailMate

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Step 2. Sign up with the mail service of your choice. 

After evaluating your choices, sign up with the service that most makes sense for you. When signing up, you’ll be asked to verify your identity. 

Each service provider will have a different method for this, but, likely, it won’t involve more than uploading some photo ID so they can verify that you are who you say you are. (For example, a picture of your My Number card with your ID number hidden). 

Step 3. Redirect mail to your new PO box. 

There are generally two methods for receiving mail at your new PO box. 

  1. Use Japan Post’s mail forwarding service to deliver your mail to your new PO box. 

  2. List your new PO box address as your point of contact so you start receiving mail there instead of your home address

Step 4. Get notified each time you receive new mail. 

Most private PO box services in Japan will offer some form of notification when you receive mail. The rare cases that don’t might instead bundle all the mail you receive and send it to you once a week or once a month instead of a notification. 

You’ll likely be able to choose which you’d prefer when signing up and choosing your plan. With a service like MailMate, each mail’s outer envelope is scanned into your online dashboard, making it easy to take action on each piece of mail as it comes in. 

Top PO box services in Japan for foreigners

While there are plenty of private PO box services in Japan, there are only a few businesses that provide PO box services in English.

Here are the top options if you're looking for a PO box for Japan that also comes with English customer support.

1. MailMate

MailMate's virtual mailbox dashboard

Image. MailMate's virtual mail dashboard

MailMate provides users with a physical mailing address in Japan where you can send and receive Japanese mail or international mail.

Additionally, one of its unique features is its mail scanning service, allowing users to view contents from the MailMate dashboard where they can check their physical mail online.

Other features include notifications when mail arrives, translation summaries, bill payment, Japanese phone numbers with bilingual receptionist service, plus users of MailMate get exclusive access to bilingual concierge assistant service. Plans include the option of a virtual office address for company registration.

MailMate full dashboard

Image. MailMate's full dashboard, includes many services

Check out the following video for a walkthrough of the MailMate dashboard!

Ideal for: This service is ideal for foreign executives working in Japan who travel a lot and want to stay on top of their Japanese mail, such as utility bills and notices from city office. It's also great for businesses looking to come to Japan and need a physical address for company incorporation.

Price: Starts from ¥3,800 per month.

Want to take a look at the dashboard before deciding?
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2. Dankebox

Dankebox english

Website: Dankebox

Dankebox provides full English-language customer support and various mail forwarding services. This service is particularly ideal for any expat who will be traveling outside of Japan for less than 30 days but needs sensitive documents forwarded to a temporary international address. Note: They do not provide a virtual mail dashboard or translation summaries like MailMate.

It's also suitable for those permanently moving out of Japan abroad and would like to continue receiving mail without notifying the sender of the change of address.

Ideal for: Individuals leaving Japan with a very small volume of mail and who won't mind the delay of international forwarding. (For those who don't want a time lag, MailMate's virtual mail service might be a better fit.)

Price: Signup is currently free, though there is a monthly fee and additional costs for shipping and handling each package you choose to send.

3. Forward2me


Website: Forward2me

Main Features: Forward2me operates a warehouse in East Asia, specifically Japan. They offer a Japanese parcel forwarding service so you can buy products from Japan online and forward them anywhere in the world.

They provide a Japanese shipping address that lets you ship your items to locations across the globe.

Ideal for: This service is ideal for those who are interested in making purchases from shops online to send items to friends and family in other countries. Although it's not the best option for those who wish to receive business or personal mail at a second address.

Price: Use their price calculator tool.

4. PostCast


Website: PostCast

PostCast is a Japanese PO box service that offers a variety of features to cater to different needs. It is recommended for individuals who want to use an address other than their home address for online shopping, flea markets, and website registration.

PostCast can also be used as a second address for those who frequently travel overseas or live abroad, and for those who want to receive parcels and mail under a different name.

Ideal for: Foreigners who can read Japanese as their website and service is only in Japanese.

Price: The service starts from ¥908 per month (tax included ¥998) with an option fee starting from ¥98 (tax included ¥107).

👉 Use our Japan Postal Codes tool to help you find the postal codes for places throughout Japan!

Frequently asked questions

What are the top PO box services in Japan?

The top PO box services in Japan for foreigners are MailMate, Dankebox, Forward2Me, and PostCast. Most of these services provide a rental address and mail forwarding, and MailMate provides a rental address, mail forwarding, and a virtual mailbox service.

What is shishobako = 私書箱?

The meaning of 私書箱 = shishobako in Japanese is "private mailbox."

What are the main differences between private PO boxes and postal mailboxes?

While Japan Post's PO boxes are free, conditions apply. Namely, to open a Japan Post postal mailbox, you must: (1) receive mail or packages daily; (2) commit to using the mailbox for at least six months; (3) ensure timely collection of mail. On the other hand, private PO boxes range from 1,500 to 3,000 yen. But anyone can use a private mailbox as long as they pay the basic fee.

How do I get a PO box number in Japan? 

To get a PO box number in Japan, visit your local post office and register for a PO box. However, Japan Post will often rent their PO boxes to big companies only, so you must write and submit a usage request form to get approval to use a postal mailbox.

In closing

Getting a PO box in Japan is easy once you know your options. If you’re someone who receives mail daily, you’re eligible for a Japan Post PO box. For everyone else, you can use one of Japan’s private PO box services. 

For expats in Japan or those abroad looking to gain an instant presence in Japan, MailMate is the only bilingual PO box option that includes a virtual mail dashboard along with translated summaries of Japanese mail so you can take action on the items received!

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Get a Japanese PO box and phone number—for business or personal use—and all your Japanese mail handled (we’ll even pay your bills if you want). Starts from only $25/mo.✨
By signing up, you agree to our Terms of Service, Privacy Policy, and Handling of Personal Information.

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