October 3, 2019

What Is a Safe Deposit Box?


A safe deposit box, or “safety” deposit box,” is an individually secured box inside of a bigger safe or vault. Imagine a large, secure room filled with many little safes. Customers rent the little safes for personal use. Banks, post offices, and private storage facilities all offer safe deposit boxes. At Safely Deposit, we help you find the right size safe deposit box near you.


Most facilities offering safe deposit boxes use a two-key access system. You receive one key as the safe deposit box renter and the vault facility retains one key as the storage provider. Each safe deposit box sits inside a specially designed safe that only unlocks when both keys turn into place. In this way, safe deposit boxes cannot be accessed by the storage provider without your presence and approval as the renter.


Safe deposit boxes stand behind several layers of protection. In a safe deposit box, your valuables remain inside a secure container stored inside of a private safe nested inside of a solid vault built inside of a secure building. Many facilities construct vaults from steel-barred concrete and often equip them with heat, motion, vibration, and humidity detection devices. In addition to all of this, banks and private storage facilities regularly employ a combination of armed security guards and closed-circuit surveillance cameras to further protect property.

Of course, no system is perfect. In rare cases, bank employees may mistake records or natural disasters may penetrate vaults. However, a 2015 report by Safe Deposit Box Insurance Coverage, a specialty insurer, found that 99.9% of safe deposit boxes across the USA experienced no such damage and remained totally safe.

Home crime rates comprised 73% of all burglaries and 17% of robberies in 2014 according to the FBI. Bank robberies accounted for a mere 1.8%.


Personal documents… birth certificates, social security cards, marriage certificates, divorce papers, prenuptial agreements, passports, residency cards, naturalization documents, living will, health care proxy, medical directive, estate plan, adoption papers, elder care arrangements, disabilities documentation, child identity cards, and more

• Professional documents… employment contracts, retainer agreements, payment agreements, military discharge documents, and more

• Legal documents… wills, contracts, power of attorney forms, property deeds, asset titles, and more

• Financial documents… crypto currency paper wallets, bond certificates, stock certificates, mortgage agreement, loan agreements, brokerage statements, tax records, trust records, beneficiary designations, bank or credit union documents, retirement account records, veterans’ benefits records, alimony records, lease agreements, child support documents, insurance records, asset inventories, and more

• Valuables… jewelry, watches, gems, precious metals, fine art, and more

• Heirlooms… photo albums, family trees, antiques, souvenirs, collectibles, and more

• Family mementoes… baby clothing, awards, medals, trophies, books, school work, and more

• Digital media… flash drives, solid state drives, hard drive discs, security key backups, and more


Here are some things to keep in mind when renting a safe deposit box:

• You do not have to tell anyone what you plan to store in your safe deposit box, but most rental agreements explicitly forbid firearms, drugs, and hazardous materials

• Banks or other vault facilities should offer you access to a private room when you want to sort through your safe deposit box

• You might want to take a photograph of the contents of your box to remember what you stored

• Decide whether you need insurance and sign up for the appropriate policy or rider policy

• Tell your family or someone you trust that you have a safe deposit box and plan accordingly to pass on the contents when necessary

• Store your items in sealed containers to further protect against the risk of water, humidity, or smoke damage

• If you plan to store cash, first consider whether you may want to open a deposit account or savings account where you may earn interest and receive FDIC insurance

Good news! Our experts at Safely Deposit can help with all of the above. Email info@safelydeposit.com to learn more.


If you decide that a safe deposit box does not meet your needs, you can also consider a home safe or strong box. Often, these options are more expensive or less secure. The price of a home safe or strong box can quickly increase depending on the size and safety features. Your home is likely more vulnerable than a safe deposit facility and, unless your safe or strong box is bolted to a solid fixture, bad actors could steal the entire safe rather than needing to “crack” it on-site.

However you decide to secure your valuables, be sure to carefully consider all of your options. Do not wait to “do it later,” as every day that your items are not stored they remain at risk for theft, damage, or loss.

If you are interested in opening a safe deposit box with Safely Deposit, email our secure storage exports today at info@safelydeposit.com to learn more.


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