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Minnesota Office of the Secretary of State

FAQs: General Questions and Answers About Safe at Home

How many people living in Minnesota are Safe at Home participants?
What is Safe at Home?
How does the Safe at Home Program work?
Who must accept the Safe at Home address?
What does a Safe at Home address look like?
Is every Safe at Home participant assigned a lot number?
What is a Safe at Home lot number?
Am I required to accept a PO Box address from a Safe at Home participant other than PO Box 17370 in St. Paul?
How does service of process work for Safe at Home participants?
How do I contact the Safe at Home office?
How will I know if someone is a Safe at Home participant?
How can I find out if someone really is a Safe at Home participant?
Does Safe at Home assign participants a fake address?
Because Safe at Home is a newer program in Minnesota, how large is the program expected to grow?
Does someone have to actually live in Minnesota to be in Safe at Home?
What makes someone eligible to be a Safe at Home participant?
How does a person enroll in Safe at Home?
Does Safe at Home charge a fee for being in the program?
What is the length of enrollment in Safe at Home?

Q: How many people living in Minnesota are Safe at Home participants?
A:
As of December 31, 2012, there were more than 1200 active Safe at Home participants. Since Safe at Home began on September 1, 2007, the program had served more than 2200 Minnesota citizens. 
Q: What is Safe at Home?
A:

Safe at Home is an address confidentiality program offered through the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State and is available to people who have personal safety concerns and who have an actual residential address in Minnesota. 

Safe at Home participants are often survivors of domestic violence, have been victimized by the stalking behavior of another, or have been sexually assaulted. People also enroll because they have safety concerns due to their profession, such as law enforcement professionals. Whatever the reason, a person enrolls in Safe at Home because they have a significant safety concern and have decided that keeping their residential address, school address, or employment address confidential is an appropriate part of their personal safety plan.

 

Q: How does the Safe at Home Program work?
A:

When eligible people enroll in Safe at Home, they must submit an application. When Safe at Home receives an application, it must be approved (certified) within two business days, as long as the application contains all of the required information. One requirement is that the applicant must disclose to the Office of the Secretary of State their actual residential address. That information, along with all other participant information, is kept under security and is maintained as private data.

Upon certification, the new Safe at Home participant is assigned a new address and mailed an information packet, which includes a Safe at Home program participation card for each household member listed on the application. The participation card displays the participant's complete Safe at Home address.

Minnesota Statutes Chapter 5B allows a Safe at Home participant to use the newly assigned address for all purposes in the state of Minnesota. All private and public entities must accept the newly assigned address as the participant's actual address of residence, as their school address, and as their address of employment. During interactions with other entities, a Safe at Home participant cannot be required to answer questions about the circumstances regarding his or her participation in the program.

Because the participant then uses their newly assigned Safe at Home address for everything, all of a Safe at Home participant's mail goes to their newly assigned address, which is a post office box in St. Paul managed by the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State. The participant does not pick up their mail from that post office box. Safe at Home staff pick up the mail and the Safe at Home office forwards all of a participant's First Class Mail to the participant's real residential address. If a participant is using the program effectively, the only mail they receive at their real address is mail sent by the Safe at Home office, because only Safe at Home knows their real address.

Although Safe at Home forwards all of a participant's mail, it does not forward Standard Mail ("junk mail"), or Periodicals (magazines, newspapers, etc.). Safe at Home does not forward packages unless the packages are clearly marked that they are being sent from a government agency or unless they are clearly identifiable pharmaceuticals. This policy is in place for security reasons.

Safe at Home will only disclose a participant's real residential address to a third party in response to a valid court order, or it may disclose it to law enforcement authorities who request a disclosure by utilizing the law enforcement data request procedure, which requires them to make a request through the Duty Officer at the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

Q: Who must accept the Safe at Home address?
A:
All public and private entities in the state of Minnesota must accept a participant's assigned Safe at Home address (PO Box) as the participant's actual address of residence, school address, and address of employment. This requirement is mandated by Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 5B.
Q: What does a Safe at Home address look like?
A:
All Safe at Home participants share the same post office box, but each household is assigned a unique lot number. Occasionally, different adults within the same household will be assigned different lot numbers. A Safe at Home address is not complete without the lot number. A Safe at Home address looks like:

Participant's Name
Lot ###
PO Box 17370
Saint Paul, MN 55117-0370

Every Safe at Home address is a Saint Paul address, no matter where a participant lives in Minnesota. The only Safe at Home post office box is the one indicated above.

Q: Is every Safe at Home participant assigned a lot number?
A:
Yes. There are no exceptions. The lot number is a required part of a program participant's Safe at Home address.
Q: What is a Safe at Home lot number?
A:

The lot number is an important part of a participant's Safe at Home address. 

All Safe at Home participants share the same post office box number. However, each household is assigned its own unique lot number. Sometimes adult participants within the same household are assigned different lot numbers. A participant's Safe at Home address is considered incomplete without their lot number.

The lot number helps the Safe at Home office distinguish mail for sorting purposes. When the lot number is included in the address of a piece of mail being sent to a Safe at Home participant, it helps Safe at Home staff sort mail more efficiently. If mail being sent to a Safe at Home participant does not contain a lot number in the address, there can be no guarantee that the piece of mail will reach the program participant in a timely fashion or even reach the participant at all. This is similar to sending correspondence to a person who lives in a large apartment complex, but not identifying the apartment in which they reside.

 

Q: Am I required to accept a PO Box address from a Safe at Home participant other than PO Box 17370 in St. Paul?
A:

No. By law, you are only required to accept the following PO Box address from a Safe at Home Participant:

PO Box 17370        (This is the same for all Safe at Home participants.)
Lot ###               (This is different for each Safe at Home household.)
St. Paul, MN 55117 (The Safe at Home PO Box is only in St. Paul.)

You are not required to accept any other PO Box address or any other alternate address a Safe at Home participant may offer you.

Q: How does service of process work for Safe at Home participants?
A:
When people join Safe at Home they assign the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State as their agent to receive service of process. A participant's real residential address is not required for service of process purposes.

For service of any legal documents by First Class Mail, including Certified Mail:

Envelopes containing documents to be served by mail, including writs, notices, motions, orders, judgments, demands, summons, subpoenas, or any other legal documents, must be clearly marked "Service of Process" on their exterior. This will ensure proper record-keeping of service received.

For service of process in person:

If personal service is required, please serve the documents upon the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State. Clearly mark the exterior of the envelope containing the documents "Service of Process," and include the participant's name and complete address, including the lot number. No fee will be charged for accepting service. 

Serve the documents between the hours of 8:00 am and 4:00 pm in care of the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State at the following address:

State Office Building, Room 180
100 Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd
St. Paul, MN 55155

Q: How do I contact the Safe at Home office?
A:
You can contact the Minnesota Safe at Home Office at:

PO Box 17370
St. Paul, MN 55117-0370

Local:                       651-201-1399
Toll Free:                   1-866-723-3035
MN Relay Service:        1-800-627-3529 or 711

Email:  Safe.athome@state.mn.us

Q: How will I know if someone is a Safe at Home participant?
A:

A Safe at Home participant is encouraged to tell others with whom they interact that they are a program participant.

If someone does not disclose that they are a Safe at Home participant, but they give an address of Lot ###, PO Box 17370, Saint Paul, MN when asked for their address, that is also an indication they are a Safe at Home participant. This Saint Paul address is the only post office box address for Safe at Home participants.

Lastly, although they are not required to carry it with them at all times, every participant is issued a Safe at Home program participation card.

Q: How can I find out if someone really is a Safe at Home participant?
A:
Safe at Home will confirm or deny program participation to third parties who give Safe at Home the full name and lot number of a potential program participant.

Q: Does Safe at Home assign participants a fake address?
A:
No. The address assigned to Safe at Home participants is a real mailing address.
Q: Because Safe at Home is a newer program in Minnesota, how large is the program expected to grow?
A:
Because Minnesota is the first and only state with an address confidentiality program that requires both public and private entities to accept the participant's substitute address, it is somewhat difficult to compare the growth rate of Minnesota's program to any other state. A general prediction indicates Minnesota's address confidentiality program will continue to grow until it reaches its peak somewhere between 3,300 and 5,000 participants. At that point, program growth will level out and a participation rate somewhere in that range will be constant, with people entering and exiting the program on a daily basis.
Q: Does someone have to actually live in Minnesota to be in Safe at Home?
A:
Yes. A person has to actually reside in Minnesota to participate in Safe at Home. They cannot reside in another state or be a Minnesota resident living in another state.
Q: What makes someone eligible to be a Safe at Home participant?
A:

Eligibility requirements to join Safe at Home are:

1) A person must reside in Minnesota; and

2) A person must be afraid for their personal safety, or for the safety of their child or ward; and

3) A person cannot be a registered predatory offender, or a predatory offender required to register in any state; and

4) A person must agree to abide by the program requirements.

Q: How does a person enroll in Safe at Home?
A:
Eligible people enroll in Safe at Home with the help of Safe at Home Application Assistants. An application assistant is an employee of a victim service agency who has been trained to assist with the Safe at Home application process. There are approximately 200 Safe at Home Application Assistants located in various communities throughout Minnesota.
Q: Does Safe at Home charge a fee for being in the program?
A:
No. The Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State does not charge a fee to participants to be in Safe at Home.
Q: What is the length of enrollment in Safe at Home?
A:
The length of enrollment is four years.

  • A participant may renew their enrollment at the end of four years.
  • A participant may voluntarily withdraw from the program at any time.
  • Safe at Home may cancel a person's participation in the program with cause.

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