You may have heard of express mail, and if you own commercial properties or own a business, you may have employees or customers who need to use this USPS service to ship goods or important correspondence quickly. Express mail offers next day to 2-day service, and though it is more expensive than standard mail, it has advantages. Sunday and holiday delivery is possible in some cases, and insurance and tracking information is readily available. Proof of delivery is also attractive when you are shipping valuable mail and packages.
However, using express mail most often requires a trip to the post office, and if you or your employees want a more convenient option, express mail centers may be a helpful option.
What Are Express Mail Centers, and What Do They Do?
Express Mail centers act not only as collection boxes for express mail, but they also provide customers and tenants with an on-site means to prepare express mail for USPS delivery. Think of these centers as a combination prep station and outgoing mailbox.
Each Express Mail Center has a flat counter on the top. This counter serves as a convenient area for writing, affixing labels, and handling Express envelopes.
This surface also allows space for a property owner or manager to place instructions on how to use the center. Because the price of Express mail often depends on its weight, there is space for a scale which employees or customers can use to determine the price of each mail piece. This will allow users of the station to apply the correct postage to their mail, and prevent any delays in delivery.
Mail scales are not included with the Express Mail Center.
Once the customer or employee has used the counter area to prepare their Express Mail, the Center then acts much like a standard collection mailbox. A convenient mail slot just below the counter pulls out and allows the depositing of Express mail and small packages. This mail then slides down into a collection area. A second collection door can then drop down and allow a third party to collect the mail and packages within.
Express Mail Centers are easy to spot and are a blue color. They are prominently marked as Express Mail Centers, and as providing next day service. However, they do not have the USPS logo, as they are not USPS property.
What Security Features Do Express Mail Centers Have?
Like all collection mailboxes, Express Mail Centers are made from 16-gauge steel, which is often used in aircraft. This makes these centers sturdy, and helps to keep the mail inside secure until pickup.
The main compartment is also locking, which means that only personnel with a key will be able to access and remove the mail once it is placed down the slot. However, it is highly recommended to keep these mail centers in an obvious, well-lit, and well-traveled area to further prevent any tampering or attempts at mail theft. Keeping these centers indoors is a must, and it is also highly recommended to keep them in a locked area when not supervised. In the unlikely event that theft occurs, contact the postmaster general.
In most cases, placing your Express Mail Station in a mailroom or near a commercial mailbox station will be the best way to install it. A forward-facing lobby that is always supervised is another good choice. The best place for your station may be close to where the USPS delivers every day, so that an employee of your business can empty the box easily and hand to hand to the postal service.
Does the USPS Pick Up Mail Directly from These Centers?
Express Mail centers that are purchased by a property manager, developer, or owner are considered private property, and are not owned by the USPS. They are approved for private delivery and use, which means that the USPS will not pick up mail or packages directly from these centers. Private use means that an employee of a business or property will maintain, access, and manage the center, acting as a liaison between the business and the USPS. In other words, a third party will check the center daily and take all Express mail and packages to the postal service.
Express Mail Centers are not to be confused with the white Priority Express Mailboxes that are owned by the USPS and appear in some businesses. These mailboxes are serviced directly by the USPS and are specially marked with their logo.
Alternatively, a private party can check the express mailbox daily and transfer it to a USPS-approved mail tote or other USPS-approved outgoing mailbox. This is perhaps the most convenient option, and will work the best for larger businesses who utilize a mail room or other designated area.
Before investing in an Express Mail Center, ensure that the center will be emptied of mail each day, and the mail handed over to the USPS on time. Also make sure that you will have the means to maintain the station, as it will be the owner’s responsibility.
Are There Different Express Mail Centers Available?
A few different sizes are available for these mail centers, as they range from 30 to 50 inches wide. Larger sizes can accommodate higher volumes of mail or packages, so if your business or property specializes in sending out larger packages overnight, or higher volumes of mail, the largest size will work the best for you. Take inventory of how much mail you expect to send out each day before choosing your size, and include packages in that estimate.
At National Mailboxes, we ensure that choosing and installing commercial mailboxes and collection boxes of all types is as easy and smooth as possible for you and your tenants or customers. If you have any questions not answered here, be sure to reach out to us today.